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Visit Panama City Beach

Eating My Way Through Panama City Beach

Beachside bites, fine dining, and everything in between

It’s easy to get swept away by the picturesque parks, white sand beaches, and glorious views of Panama City Beach, Florida, and its food offerings are just as impressive. From a beachfront doughnut shop to a restaurant where you dine under the twinkling lights of a tree in the center of the dining room, Panama City Beach has something to satisfy any craving, mood, or occasion.

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Abigail Abesamis

Finns Island Style Grub

The motto at Finns is “Keepin’ It Fresh,” and the food rings true to this promise. This casual outdoor eatery serves tacos, burritos, nachos, ceviche, quesadillas, and more, and everything is cooked to order for optimum freshness and deliciousness. I tried the blackened fish tacos that put Finns on the map, and they were everything I wanted in a fish taco and more: warm, perfectly seasoned fish topped with fresh veggies and cheese, surrounded by a warmed tortilla.

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Schooners Restaurant & Beach Club is the epitome of a local beach hangout spot. The fun, easygoing atmosphere feels completely organic and is so contagious that you immediately settle in, whether you’re a local or a visitor. On the menu is “simple, fresh, and perfect food,” from fried oyster platters and hushpuppies, to gumbos and fresh fish platters. The property is on the beach, where a stage is set up for bands to perform.

I was lucky enough to visit Schooners during its 27th annual Lobster Festival & Tournament, the biggest seven-day lobster festival in Florida, according to the restaurant’s website. The event draws thousands of lobster fans for the food specials. Specials included a rich and creamy lobster bisque, lobster salad, grilled petit lobster tails, and the classic lobster roll.

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Abigail Abesamis

Thomas Donut & Snack Shop

I’d be lying if I said I still don’t dream about the perfection that was the glazed doughnut I had at Thomas’ Donuts. The family-owned, beachfront doughnut shop has been around since 1971. Though it’s famous for its doughnuts (and rightfully so), the eatery also offers breakfast biscuits, muffins, sandwiches, and kolaches.

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The atmosphere at Firefly is simply magical, with a large tree in the center of the dining room decorated with twinkling fairy lights — like fireflies. The tree is an homage to Canopies, the restaurant’s previous incarnation, which was shaded by oak trees that formed a canopy over the restaurant. Firefly offers award-winning culinary creations, including a grouper dish that was served to U.S. Olympians at the London Games. The menu boasts great seafood, steaks, and sushi options.

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Saltwater Grill

Exploring the Breathtaking Wonders of Panama City Beach

The first thing you’ll notice when you walk into the restaurant is its 25,000-gallon tropical saltwater aquarium where brewing vats once sat when it was The Panama City Brewery, the former restaurant at the location. Saltwater Grill serves an impressive selection of fresh, local fish and choice steaks, and its signature white chocolate vanilla bean crème brûlée is not to be missed.