I’ve often driven by Gilligan’s on the Harbor on my way to and from Destin, but I’ve never actually stopped in to see what the little restaurant on the water has to offer. This week I got the chance to check it out. The classic seafood restaurant has been serving Destin since 1990.
Gilligan’s menu has the typical Destin seafood lineup. You’ll find fresh local catch, fried seafood baskets, steamers and sandwiches.
On the day my husband and I visited, the busy summer tourist rush had ended, and there were very few people dining in the late afternoon hours. We chose a picnic table outside under the shade of the old boathouse-like awning and perused the menu.
We went back and forth deciding between coconut shrimp and crab-and-shrimp dip for our appetizer, but once we discovered coconut shrimp could be an entrée, we decided to go for the latter.
The dip was described as “bite size shrimp and crab in a bubbly hot cream sauce, topped with parmesan cheese and served with garlic bread.” However, we were slightly disappointed when the dish arrived at our table because the dip was two-thirds parmesan cheese and bread crumbs and only one-third actual shrimp-and-crab dip.
Next came our entrees. I ordered the Fish of the Day, which was a choice between grouper, mahi mahi or red snapper. I chose grouper and ordered it blackened. My meal came with a side of fries as well as coleslaw and hush puppies, but I chose to upgrade my side for some fried okra.
As for my husband, he ordered the Coconut Shrimp Fried Basket which came with eight fried coconut shrimp, fries, coleslaw and hush puppies.
The coconut shrimp were crispy and piping hot and went well with the provided sweet and spicy sauce. My husband said he only regretted not upgrading his fries for fresh steamed broccoli because he’s not used to eating so much fried food at one sitting.
My fish was delicious, and the fried okra was perfectly crispy. Although I was hungry, I got full after eating only half of my fish and a few of my husband’s coconut shrimp.
Also, for our pint-sized diner, we ordered chicken nuggets with a side of macaroni and cheese from the child’s menu. I was surprised at how extensive the kid’s menu was with six meal options and sides of fries, chips, applesauce, corn on the cob, and macaroni and cheese available. All that and a drink for $5.50.
We were so full by the end of our meal we decided to forgo dessert, but that day they offered Key lime pie and bushwhacker pie.
Gilligan’s on the Harbor is a classic Destin restaurant. The décor is rustic-nautical including signs that read “Send Help” and “Shipwrecked.” There is indoor and outdoor seating available with indoor offering booths and traditional tables and the outdoor deck offering picnic tables.
The deck and picnic tables were noticeably dated but offered a great view of the harbor below. If you happen to rent a pontoon boat or personal watercraft from sister company Gilligan’s Watersports, the restaurant is directly beside the dock, so it is the perfect location for a bite after a day on the water.
On the slow afternoon we dined at Gilligan’s, it seemed there was only one server and one bartender in the establishment. Our server was on-point, however, and checked on us regularly, and brought our food out promptly. We were told to seat ourselves wherever we chose, although we were given direction that if we sat outside, we could choose only from the first nine tables.
A FINAL TASTE
Gilligan’s is a good place for those craving fried food and a laid-back atmosphere.