Best of the Emerald Coast 2010
2010 Best of the Emerald CoastPlay favorites with us at the 2010 Best Of the Emerald Coast AwardsBy Zandra Wolfgram
After a decade, the Best Of the Emerald Coast Awards is still one of the most popular events of the season. After all, it showcases the best food and beverages, shopping, entertainment and services available along the Emerald Coast.
We all play favorites at one time or another. Whether it’s splurging on fine dining, sipping a martini, indulging in a spa treatment or finding the perfect gift for a friend, we are happy to share our best local secrets with anyone who asks. When we find someone reliable to care for our landscaping, handle our taxes or realize our interior design dreams, we are that much closer to being the best we can be.
Are your favorites among the winners? We hope so. Celebrate with them at the annual Best Of the Emerald Coast Awards ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 16, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Destin Commons. The event, which is open to the public, promises an evening of food, fun, fashion and entertainment. Enjoy complimentary food and beverages and sample products and services from many of the “Best Of” category winners.
Tickets are $25 in advance or $35 at the door; proceeds benefit the Junior League of the Emerald Coast. To purchase tickets, visit jrleague.com for a list of ticket locations.
And now, on with the show. The readers of Emerald Coast Magazine cast their votes, and the ballots have been counted. We congratulate the 2010 winners of the Best Of the Emerald Coast and thank them for making our region the best destination ever.
Food & Beverage
Best Appetizer | Bonefish Grill
Bonefish Grill tops the list of favorite appetizers with its Bang Bang Shrimp and Bacon Wrapped Atlantic Sea Scallops — perfect as a first course, or order several and share them with the table. Destin.
Best Bagel Shop | Not Just Bagels
With 22 straight-from-the oven gourmet bagels, breads and pastries, Not Just Bagels will have you in comfort-food heaven. All toppings and fillings are also made fresh every day. For lunch, enjoy the decadent sandwiches on freshly baked rye, focaccia, sourdough, sun-dried tomato or whole wheat bread. Destin.
Best Bakery | Donut Hole
The Donut Hole offers Southern comfort food around the clock and is famous for its homemade key lime pie. Fashioned from an old house, the renovated building has booth and counter seating. Waiting is fun on the swinging deck chair. Destin.
Best Barbecue | Jim ’n Nick’s Bar-B-Q
A 25-year tradition of “patience, passion and pride” makes Jim ’n Nick’s stand out among the crowd. The restaurant refuses to cut corners, instead smoking meats for 14 hours in hickory. The result? Dishes such as slow-smoked baby back and spare ribs, hand-pulled pork and sliced Angus beef brisket are the best. Destin.
Best Bloody Mary | The Red Bar
A favorite among locals, visitors and celebrities, The Red Bar is a must-visit when in Grayton Beach. Come for lunch or dinner (or a little later) to kick back on the funky furniture and listen to live music while enjoying great food and cocktails — especially the award-winning bloody mary. Cheers. Grayton Beach.
Best Breakfast | Another Broken Egg Café
What do you get when you combine a wide variety of delicious breakfast and brunch foods, affordable prices and a warm and inviting atmosphere? An egg-ceptional breakfast experience that earns Another Broken Egg Café its 10th year in the Best Breakfast spot. Destin, Grayton Beach and Miramar Beach.
Best Brunch | Fire
With New Orleans natives in the kitchen, it’s no surprise that this casual fine-dining restaurant is hot. Situated in a small house washed in warm, rich colors, Fire’s menu says its flavors range from adventurous to familiar comfort. Brunch is easily a romantic affair with creative choices such as strawberry, white chocolate and cream cheese pancakes, Eggplant Benedict and Louisiana crawfish frittata. Grayton Beach.
Best Buffet | Golden Corral
This family-style chain restaurant offers the biggest and best buffet in town, with selections of meat, pasta, pizza, fresh vegetables, a salad bar and a meat-carving station. Be sure to save room for the large selection of baked goods and desserts, made fresh every day by the staff. Destin.
Best Buffalo Wings | Buffalo’s Reef
An experiment on a cold, windy night in 1964 led to the creation of Buffalo wings. Several regulars at the Anchors Bar in Buffalo, N.Y., were drinking beer and getting hungry. The barkeep’s mother improvised a snack of deep-fried chicken wings basted in hot sauce and served with celery sticks and bleu cheese. The snack was a hit — eventually spreading to other restaurants in the area and all the way down to the Emerald Coast. You may never make it to that bar in New York, but the wings at Buffalo’s Reef are prepared the same way — and you just saved yourself a 20-hour drive. Destin and Fort Walton Beach.
Best Cajun | Louisiana Lagniappe
Just as the name suggests, you can expect to find “a little something extra” here. If the long list of Cajun favorites, such as lobster tail, shrimp étouffée and Cajun seafood gumbo, doesn’t grab your attention, the stunning sunsets over Destin Harbor surely will. There’s no masking it: Louisiana Lagniappe does New Orleans proud. Destin.
Best Casual Dining | Zoës Kitchen
At Zoë’s, using simple, close-to-the-garden ingredients is the foundation of all the recipes at this casual establishment. Whether you choose the grilled turkey and Swiss “Gruben” or the ever-popular Greek chicken marinara, you will always feel at home at Zoës. Destin.
Best Catering | Sarah K’s Gourmet
Ever since this takeout gourmet shop opened, it has received honors on the “Best Of” list. And it’s no surprise. Owner Sarah K. Schreifer makes gourmet easy with a nice selection of chef-crafted, ready-to-heat cuisine — including her world-famous lump crab cakes — made from only the finest ingredients. Destin.
Best Chef | Clovis Da Silva, Fat Clemenza’s Brick Oven Pizzeria
Though Brazilian, Da Silva has been in American kitchens for 18 years. He brought his Italian “chops” to Fat Clemenza’s two years ago. His homemade soups are popular, but this executive chef’s favorite dish is pan-seared grouper with champagne sauce served over angel hair pasta. If you’re lucky, you’ll find it on the blackboard as a weekly special. Miramar Beach.
Best Chinese | PF Chang’s China Bistro
Each dish on their extensive menu is prepared to order using only the freshest and highest-quality ingredients. Is it any wonder that PF Chang’s China Bistro is once again a local top pick? Miramar Beach.
Best Coffee | Starbucks Coffee
Starbucks figures that putting people before products makes good sense. Its relationships with farmers yields the highest-quality coffees, and the connections it makes in communities create a loyal following. Serving the finest coffees in the world with friendly service, Starbucks Coffee is a local favorite. Multiple locations.
Best Dessert | The Melting Pot, a Fondue Restaurant
If you simply melt over delicious desserts, The Melting Pot is for you. The chocolate fondue portion of the four-course meal truly becomes a memorable experience when you dip strawberries, cake and marshmallows into the heavenly, warm dip. Miramar Beach.
Best Fine Dining | Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood
Located on the lower level of Hilton Sandestin’s Emerald Tower, Seagar’s offers the most elegant table on the Emerald Coast. Modeled after the most renowned city restaurants in America, Seagar’s continues to be extolled by critics as one of the best restaurants around. Miramar Beach.
Best French Restaurant | Bistro Bijoux Restaurant and Spirits
Located in The Village of Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin, this French bistro features coastal cuisine and a bit of New Orleans flair in a relaxed, romantic atmosphere. Chef Jack McGuckin favors simple dishes with local, seasonal ingredients. Miramar Beach.
Best Gourmet/Food Shop | The Fresh Market
The name says it all. Fresh food, seasonal selections and an abundance of hard-to-find gourmet items makes a stop at Fresh Market a convenient and delicious shopping experience. Destin.
Best Grocery Store | Publix Super Markets
Perhaps it’s the friendly service, or maybe it’s the abundance of fresh fruits and organic products, that keeps people coming back to Publix. After 80 years, more than 900 locations and another year on the “Best Of” list, the chain is obviously doing something right. Destin.
Best Hamburger | McGuire’s Irish Pub
A longtime local favorite, McGuire’s offers 25 different trimmings for its giant, custom-ground steak burger. While enjoying your burger at this turn-of-the-century style New York Irish saloon, be sure to whet your whistle with some of McGuire’s own brew. Destin.
Best Happy Hour | Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
With 100 wines to choose from, raising a glass with family and friends is easy at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Grand Boulevard. Pair your wine with the finest prime steak, aged to perfection. Hear, hear. Miramar Beach.
Best Hot Dog | Dave’s Dogs
Hot diggity dog. Dave’s Dogs has served more than a million delicious hot dogs to locals and visitors to the Destin area. What’s the secret for serving up the best dog in town? As Dave says, “It’s all in the bun.” Destin.
Best Ice Cream Shop | Cold Stone Creamery
Cold Stone Creamery has made ice cream a deliciously creative experience. Choose your favorite topping and watch the staff hand-mix your treat on a frozen slab of granite. It’s the ultimate ice cream experience. Destin.
Best Italian Restaurant | Carrabba’s Italian Grill
Carrabba’s blends warm Italian hospitality with family recipes that have been handed down for four generations. One taste and you’ll know why this chain is the top choice for Best Italian Restaurant. Destin.
Best Locally Owned Restaurant | Callahan’s Restaurant and Deli
From burgers to prime rib, Callahan’s aims to please with generous portions of delicious food. In addition to the fresh sandwiches, pastas and salads, the restaurant offers nightly dinner specials. Try the fried grouper tacos — and save room for cheesecake for dessert. Destin.
Best Margarita | Cantina Laredo
This authentic Mexican restaurant pours the best margaritas in town. Cantina Laredo offers an impressive line, such as tequilas from triple-distilled and aged brands that, once again, make the margaritas la fabulosa. Miramar Beach.
Best Martini | Bonefish Grill
The Ocean Trust, Lemongrass, Espresso and Chocolate are just a few of the martinis that draw locals and visitors alike to this hopping restaurant and bar. Enjoy award-winning appetizers and delicious seafood selections. Destin.
Best Mexican/Latin American Restaurant | Pepito’s Mexican Restaurant
Pepito’s serves up delicious and healthy Mexican dishes made with only the freshest ingredients. This attention to detail has earned this authentic Mexican restaurant a longtime spot on our “Best Of” list. Destin.
Best Mojito | Tommy Bahama’s Tropical Café
Raise a toast to living the beach life at this elegant, tropical-themed restaurant with the Million Dollar Mojito and follow with a fine meal of delicious fresh seafood. Be sure to save room for dessert — the Piña Colada Cake is a slice of heaven. Miramar Beach.
Best Outdoor Bar | AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar
Relics of Destin’s past hover overhead and photographs of yesteryear adorn the wooden walls at this famous bar, which overlooks the bustling Destin Harbor. Teeming plates of steamed seafood, juicy steaks, salads, sandwiches and amazing pasta and chicken dishes are on the menu. The Oyster Bar is a hopping place for the entire family, couples or a group of old friends. After drinks or dinner, stroll the Tiki Village and admire the beautiful boats along the boardwalk. Destin.
Best Outdoor Dining | Harry T’s
With a history as long as the neck of Stretch, the stuffed-and-mounted giraffe in the back room of the restaurant, Harry T’s has sailed its way into the hearts of many. The boathouse is a favorite place for sipping suds in the coastal breeze. Destin.
Best Pizza | Fat Clemenza’s Brick-Oven Pizzeria
The menu at this quaint pizzeria is pure Neapolitan, handmade by pizza master Alfonzo D. Bonito. All pizzas are made with homemade dough and pizza sauce, and each pizza is hand-tossed and wood-fired to perfection. Miramar Beach.
Best Romantic Restaurant | The Melting Pot, a Fondue Restaurant
At the Melting Pot, fondue truly becomes a memorable four-course dining experience. Dip into something different and discover all the ingredients for a unique dining experience, including a relaxed atmosphere, private tables, attentive service, fine wines, and signature fondue dinners and desserts. Miramar Beach.
Best Sandwich Shop | Lenny’s Sub Shop
After being greeted with a warm welcome, place your order at the deli bar. Choose from hot or cold deli sandwiches or salads. You build your sandwich or salad the way you like it. The menu features fresh Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, garden toppings and Lenny’s signature pepper relish. Top your lunch with your choice of bagged chips and a freshly baked cookie. Destin and Fort Walton Beach.
Best Seafood Market | Destin Ice Seafood Market & Deli
Everything you need for a cook-at-home meal is at Destin Ice Seafood Market & Deli, which earns it top honors in the Seafood Market category. The market offers a wide selection of fresh fish and seafood, Buckhead meats, desserts, wines, cheese, spices, sauces and seasonings. Entertaining? Try one of the gourmet-to-go selections. Destin.
Best Seafood Restaurant | Dewey Destin Seafood
Taste more than 100 years of Destin history as you bite into a delicious grouper sandwich or dig into the famous smoked tuna dip. A local icon, Dewey Destin specializes in fresh seafood in a relaxed atmosphere. Situated in an old beach house overlooking the romantic Destin Harbor, Dewey’s is a great place for family dining or a romantic date. At the original location, you can enjoy the same great seafood as you sit at rustic tables along a dock overlooking the bay. Destin.
Best Service (Food and Beverage) | Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood
This intimate restaurant offers a total fine-dining experience, including captain service, tableside preparation of select menu items and a cozy lounge with live piano entertainment. The five-star establishment boasts a wine list with more than 800 labels, garnering raves from critics throughout the region. Miramar Beach.
Best Sports Bar | Johnny O’Quigley’s Irish Pub & Grille
Johnny O’Quigley’s hits a home run with sports enthusiasts. Not only is the food a winner, but the 48 television sets covering the walls and tableside TVs, showing almost any sport, scores big with sports fans. Destin.
Best Steakhouse | Ruth’s Chris Steak House
When you dine at Ruth’s Chris, you soon understand that this is no ordinary restaurant. From the U.S. Prime steaks, broiled to perfection at 1,800 degrees, to the expertly executed seafood, New Orleans-inspired appetizers, unforgettable desserts and award-winning wine list, this is a steakhouse to which others aspire. Celebrate a special occasion in the private glass room at a table for two, or bring a large party for a holiday event. Destin.
Best Sushi | Harbor Docks
Since 1979, this weather-worn cottage overlooking Destin’s scenic harbor has served up the best sushi in town. There are six sushi bars that feature a large sushi and sashimi selection made fresh daily by master sushi chefs. The menu also features fresh seafood served fried, sautéed or boiled. Look for weekly specials and enjoy live music on the deck. Destin.
Best Thai | Royal Orchid Thai Cuisine
Escape to Thailand at this authentic Thai restaurant. Sink into a traditional sunken Thai table surrounded by pillows or dine American style at a table or booth. The cabbage salad topped with peanut sauce, flavorful soups, fresh spring rolls and hearty rich or noodle dishes are all delicious. The family-operated business offers exceptional service and a just-right touch of Asian ambiance. Destin.
Best Wine List | Vin’tij Wine Boutique
Vin’tij Wine Boutique pours some of the finest wines from the most respected vineyards in the world. This vibrant restaurant, filled with local art, also serves lunch and dinner with impeccable wine pairings from its extensive collection. If you loved your wine, you can purchase it at the wine store. Learn more about wine by taking a wine class or attending tasting events. Destin.
Best Wine Shop | Chan’s Wine World
With an impressive selection of more than 1,000 wines and a casual atmosphere in which to browse, Chan’s Wine World has become a favorite of many. Chan Cox is the go-to wine guru on the Gulf Coast. Chan’s Wine World features weekly wine tastings, annual events and education classes. Destin.
Best Antiques Store | Smith’s Antiques Mall & Interiors Market
Words can’t adequately describe the abundance and grace of this 25,000-square-foot showroom chock-full of antiques and interior wares from 90 different dealers located throughout the country — a must-stop for antiques lovers everywhere. Destin.
Best Bath and Body Shop | Bath & Body Works
Bath & Body Works has reinvented the personal care industry with the introduction of fragrant flavorful indulgences, including shower gels, lotions, candles, accessories and, just recently, hair-care products. Destin and Mary Esther.
Best Beachwear Retailer | Sporty Lady of Destin
Want to find the best swimwear and sportswear on the beach? Check out Sporty Lady of Destin. This premier swimwear retailer has been winning customers over for more than 30 years. Destin.
Best Children’s Clothing Store | Hugs & Hissyfits, a Children’s Boutique
Browse this boutique shop’s selection of adorable designer clothing for little boys and girls. With quality merchandise and friendly service, it’s no surprise that Hugs & Hissyfits has received a “Best Of” honor every year since 2004. Destin.
Best Consignment Shop | Ava’s Attic
This adorable boutique features beautiful furniture, home accessories, bedding and clothing for women and children at great prices. Destin.
Best Eyeglass Store | The Eye Gallery
For the most distinctive fashions in sunglass and prescription eyewear, look no further than The Eye Gallery. The store’s artful collection and superior customer service have won the loyalty of its customers. Destin and Seaside.
Best Furniture Store | Sandcastle Designs
A palette of diverse design influences awaits at Sandcastle Designs. With more than 600 furniture and manufacturers representing every design taste and budget, it’s the one-stop shop for locals. Destin.
Best Gift Shop | P.S. Gifts
The staff at P.S. Gifts helps customers find the perfect gift for any occasion. They specialize in gift baskets but also offer free gift-wrapping — and will deliver your gift with a smile. Fort Walton Beach.
Best Intimate Apparel | Victoria’s Secret
The world’s most glamorous lingerie still wins the hearts of Destin-area women (and men). With more than 1,000 stores across the country, this intimate-apparel shop is the place for chic women’s clothing, swimwear and, of course, lingerie. Destin.
Best Jewelry | McCaskill & Company
This gracious gallery is home to some of the world’s most exclusive jewelry and watch designers. Whether a serious collector or a casual browser, you are welcome to try on the jewelry — and ask owners Bill and Elizabeth about each exceptional piece. Destin.
Best Locally Owned Retailer | Sporty Lady of Destin
When a company has been in business for more than 30 years, you know it’s doing something right. This family-owned and managed swimwear and sportswear retailer strives to give its customers a vast selection of styles in a wide variety of sizes. Destin.
Best Men’s Clothing | Jos. A. Bank
Jos. A. Bank is the expert in men’s apparel, offering business dress, business casual, sportswear styles and formal wear. It’s voted tops by Destin-area men who care what they wear. Destin.
Best Sporting Goods Store | Bass Pro Shops
The 50,000-square-foot sports center features an exhaustive selection of gear and gadgets to suit every outdoorsman. Why wouldn’t it be voted No. 1 among avid sportsmen? Destin.
Best Toy Store | Learning Express
Parents know that the best toys for kids are both educational and developmental. Learning Express always has the perfect toy. Buying a gift? The shop’s expert staff can help you make the best age-appropriate selection. Miramar Beach.
Best Wedding Shop | Simply Elegant Bridal
For the largest selection of bridal and bridesmaid gowns, look no further than Simply Elegant Bridal. This wedding boutique also offers the best selection of tuxedos for the groom and his groomsmen. Fort Walton Beach.
Best Women’s Accessories | Private Gallery
What began as a home-based business with shows held in customer’s homes has grown to a successful chain of 13 stores in five states. What’s the secret to the company’s success? Making shopping for accessories a fun experience for all ages and all price ranges. Destin.
Best Women’s Clothing | Today’s Boutique
Stay in tune with the latest trends with Today’s, located in the Shoppes of Paradise Key. Exceptional service and a large selection of quality merchandise have earned it top honors among Northwest Floridians. This marks Today’s 10th “Best Of” win as it celebrates 29 years in business. Destin.
Best Women’s Shoes | Teena Haven, a Ladies Boutique
Slip into designer shoe wear by Giuseppe Zanotti, Robert Clergerie, Tory Burch, House of Harlow, Barbara Bui and Chloè at this tasteful boutique located between Destin and Sandestin, across from Smith’s Antiques. You’ll also find designer apparel from Elie Tahari, Tibi and Tory Burch, along with the latest handbags and accessories to suit every occasion. Miramar Beach.
Best Art Gallery | The Zoo Gallery
This favorite shop for locals and visitors alike offers an eclectic mix of arts and crafts, including framed art, pottery, jewelry, furniture, accessories and apparel. The casual gallery is always a winner in the “Best Of” competition. Destin, Grayton Beach and Miramar Beach.
Best Golf Course | Regatta Bay Golf & Country Club
This breathtaking 18-hole championship course winds its way through nature preserves and alongside Choctawhatchee Bay, making it a favorite location to enjoy an extraordinary golfing experience. Destin.
Best Local Attraction | Florida’s Gulfarium
Dolphins, sea lions and sharks, oh my! A visit to Fort Walton Beach isn’t complete without a trip to Florida’s Gulfarium. The state’s oldest marine park dates back to 1955 and features live animal shows daily, a huge saltwater aquarium called the Living Sea, and various viewing and touch pools. Don’t miss Fort Gator or the Shark Moat! Fort Walton Beach.
Best Musician/Vocalist | Heritage
A reggae feel, an island rock vibe, funk and R&B. Mix them together and you have Heritage — a bunch of guys just doing what they love, making music and having fun at restaurants, clubs and resorts all along the Emerald Coast.
Best Place To Be Seen | HarborWalk Village
Meander along the beautiful harbor boardwalk filled with vibrant shops and restaurants nestled next to Destin’s only full-service resort. With live entertainment, holiday happenings and special events, there is always something drawing both locals and visitors to HarborWalk Village. Destin.
Best Place To Go Dancing | John Wehner’s Village Door
Straight from Bourbon Street, John Wehner’s Village Door is Destin’s hottest live-music dance club. Linger at the lively bar, grab a table to watch the crowd, or hit the dance floor to party the night away. Miramar Beach.
Best Place To Take the Kids | Destin Commons
This award-winning, open-air lifestyles center not only offers exceptional shopping and dining, it also has a kids club created specifically for you and your family. The unique and educational programs make Destin Commons the perfect place to take the children. Destin.
Best Place To Watch a Sunset | Bud & Alley’s
Founded in 1986 and named for a dog and cat, Bud & Alley’s has been a popular gathering place by loyal patrons for great food, great fun and Seaside’s finest sunsets for 23 years. Listen for the famous bell to signal the sunset hour on the top deck while sipping a margarita and you’ll understand what Bud & Alley’s is all about. Seaside.
Best Radio Personality | Woofy, 99 Rock
Ask anyone who loves classic rock and they’ll probably tell you that 99 Rock DJ Woofy is like your best drinking buddy. As a second-time winner, the rock jock has won the hearts of classic-rock lovers all along the Emerald Coast. Fort Walton Beach.
Best Resort | Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort
Located on 2,400 acres of stunning beach and bay property, Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort offers a complete resort experience for the entire family. With championship golf, a vibrant village, a full-service marina, water sports, tennis and recreation programs, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Miramar Beach.
Best Splurge for Her | McCaskill & Company
She’ll treasure a gift from this gracious jewelry gallery. David Yurman, Tag Heuer and Jude Francis are just a few of the exclusive jewelry and watch designer lines carried by McCaskill & Company. Choose from the boutique gallery’s extensive collection or design a custom piece with her in mind. Destin.
Best Splurge for Him | Bass Pro Shops
The outdoor lovers heaven, Bass Pro Shops is the perfect splurge for the guy who loves fishing, camping and hunting. The store offers a wish list online at basspro.com so his loved ones will know just what to splurge on for his next big day. Destin.
Best Accounting Firm | Carr, Riggs & Ingram
Carr, Riggs & Ingram stands out among other certified public accounting firms by offering unparalleled intellectual and ethical strength and a passion to serve clients with the best financial decisions. That philosophy has earned the firm top honors among accounting firms in the Destin area. Destin.
Best Aesthetician | Jamie Webb
A licensed aesthetician and skin care specialist, Jamie Webb provides facials, chemical peels, dermaplaning, eyebrow shaping and eyelash tinting at the Destin Center for Cosmetic Dentistry. Destin.
Best Architect | DAG Architects
In the 29 years since DAG Architects was established, the firm has won design awards for projects done throughout the Southeast — ranging from fire stations, hospitals, schools and churches to private coastal residences and multi-story condominiums. Destin.
Best Automobile Dealership | Sam Taylor Buick-Cadillac
Sam Taylor’s full-service auto dealer has been providing quality vehicles to Okaloosa County and Northwest Florida for more than 35 years. Its attention to customer service has earned the dealership a return spot on our “Best Of” list. Fort Walton Beach.
Best Boat Sales and Service | Legendary Marine
This Marine Certified Dealership offers an array of services, from new and pre-owned boat sales to a parts and service department and boat service. The dealership’s commitment to quality and customer satisfaction has made it a local favorite. Destin.
Best Boating Experience | Legendary Marine
When Legendary Marine opened, it focused on creating the “Legendary Experience,” in which customers could enjoy their time on the water without the usual worries of ownership. That premise has earned the marina yet another honor this year — Best Boating Experience. Destin.
Best Builder/Contractor | Crane Ventures Inc.
One of the largest local general contractors on the Emerald Coast, Crane Ventures Inc. has constructed numerous high-profile condominium projects in the Panhandle market. The company is committed to creating high-quality, well-built structures that stand the test of time, on time, at specification and always at competitive prices. Destin.
Best Car Service | Sam Taylor Buick-Cadillac
Sam Taylor’s full-service auto dealer keeps your GM vehicle running at its best. The GM-trained Goodwrench technicians make maintenance simple with the one-stop shop for oil changes, tires, brakes and multi-point vehicle inspections. Fort Walton Beach.
Best Chiropractic Practice | Payne Chiropractic
Dr. Alan Payne and his team at Payne Chiropractic Life Center strive to give people of all ages optimal health through natural chiropractic care. This dedication to the wellbeing of his patients has landed Payne on our list of favorites once again. Destin.
Best Customer Service |Destin Center for Cosmetic and Family Dentistry
Each smile is unique. This respected cosmetic and family dentistry practice in Destin offers patients individualized and careful attention in a calm and pleasant atmosphere. With this level of service, patients are all smiles. Destin.
Best Dental Practice | Destin Center for Cosmetic and Family Dentistry
This premier center offers a full range of dental treatments, from routine exams and cleanings to porcelain veneers, crowns, bridges, root canals, extractions and teeth whitening. With knowledgeable staff, a beautifully appointed facility and excellent customer service, Destin Center for Cosmetic and Family Dentistry delivers the best in dental care. Destin.
Best Dry Cleaner | Bangkok Cleaners
The largest dry cleaner in Northwest Florida, Bangkok handles all your cleaning needs, from wedding gowns, suede and leather to military and band uniforms and drapery. Destin.
Best Electrician | MetroPower
The future is bright for MetroPower. The company’s focus is on safety while providing high-quality electrical and mechanical service and construction to its customers. This mantra has earned MetroPower Best Electrician status.
Best Event Planner | Monark Events
Monark Events takes its name from “mono,” meaning “one,” and “A-R-K,” signifying “act of random kindness.” With help from the best event planners who enjoy life for a living, you too can make the most of any moment. Destin.
Best Eye Doctor | Houston Sparks, O.D., Walmart Vision Center
For nine years, Sparks has offered his expertise in optometry, specializing in contact lens exams but also offering eye exams and eye emergency care — all in the convenient Walmart shopping center. Destin.
Best Flooring | Infinity Flooring
For more than 16 years, Infinity Flooring has offered quality hardwood flooring, tiles, vinyl and carpet products at reasonable prices. At Infinity, schedules are kept and customer concerns are promptly taken care of. Destin.
Best Florist | Destin Floral Designs
What happens when artistic talent meets the beauty of nature? Just browse the portfolio of Destin Floral Designs and you’ll see why brides turn to the expertise of master floral designer Joy Segno and her son, Raphael Segno. Destin.
Best Gym/Health Club | Destin Health and Fitness
The Emerald Coast’s first-ever upscale health and fitness center offers the ultimate workout experience in its state-of-the-art facilities. No wonder it ranks No. 1 with our readers. Destin and Miramar Beach.
Best Hair Removal Clinic | American Laser Center
The nation’s largest and most experienced provider of aesthetic services earns top billing in this category. American Laser Center provides laser hair removal, cellulite reduction and skin rejuvenation treatments for the safest, fastest results. Fort Walton Beach.
Best Hair Salon | AvantGarde Salon Spa
Owner Joseph Rogers leads a team of creative stylists, aestheticians, nail technicians and massage therapists dedicated to providing the most contemporary methods of hair and body treatments and services in a truly artistic ambiance at this AVEDA concept salon. Destin.
Best Heating and Air Service | Gulf Shores AC and Heating
This hot company is known for playing it cool. Based on Bluewater Bay since 1995, the friendly staff at Gulf Shores AC and Heating is the best at servicing, repairing and installing HVAC units. Destin.
Best Home Repair | The House Doctor
Owner Dan Huntley and his team of experts have been working miracles in people’s homes on the Emerald Coast since 1980. The House Doctor’s teams are professionals and can complete any project, from major remodeling to the “small stuff.” Fort Walton Beach.
Best Hurricane Protection Store | GCS Building Solutions
Formerly Gulf Coast Shutters, GCS has been locally owned and operated since 2001. The owners, Ed and Melinda Adams, are both degree-holding engineers. Together, they bring more than 30 years of sales, service and executive management expertise honed in positions with Fortune 100 firms. Destin.
Best Interior Designer | Ashley Harkins
Ashley Harkins, a design specialist with Design Avenue, pulls from her 10-plus years of professional experience to create comfortable homes for her clients throughout Northwest Florida. Her friendly personality and eye for design earns her praise from loyal customers. Destin.
Best Interior Design Firm | Lovelace Interiors
The most nationally recognized interior design firm and home furnishings retailer on the Emerald Coast, Lovelace Interiors has a staff of licensed interior designers and interior decorators to create the home of your dreams. Whether staging a room, redesigning interior or designing an entire idea house, Lovelace will create a true sense of place. Destin.
Best Landscaping/Lawn Service | ValleyCrest Landscape Company
ValleyCrest calls it “the business of nature,” providing experienced landscaping and maintenance. The nation’s largest integrated landscape company has built a 60-year reputation for combining knowledge and technical ability with outstanding customer service. Santa Rosa Beach.
Best Law Firm | Matthews & Hawkins
Although Matthews & Hawkins is one of the largest law firms based in the Emerald Coast, it takes a holistic approach to provide comprehensive legal services for each individual client. More than a traditional provider of legal services, the firm strives to find innovative and practical solutions to client problems. Its specializations range from criminal defense to real estate development, as well as land-use, corporate and business law. DeFuniak Springs and Destin.
Best Lighting Store | Beautiful Lights
Since opening its doors in December 2008, Beautiful Lights has provided impeccable service. The shop works with residential and commercial clients to customize perfectly beautiful lighting for all. Destin.
Best Limo Service | 654-LIMO
Arrive in style in one of Florida’s premier limousine rental vehicles. Enjoy a luxurious chauffeured ride in a stretch Hummer, Navigator or Escalade from 654-LIMO, and see why the company is tops in limo service. Destin.
Best Massage Therapist | Neil Sean, AvantGarde
Indulge in a soothing, sensual and personalized massage experience from Neil Sean, a second-time Best Of the Emerald Coast winner. Neil offers a variety of massages including Swedish, stone, deep tissue, elemental nature, pregnancy and couples massage. Destin.
Best Medical Provider | Sacred Heart Hospital on the Emerald Coast
This state-of-the-art medical center continues to accomplish its mission to improve the health of the community with a wide range of medical and surgical services. Miramar Beach.
Best Medical Practice | White-Wilson Medical Center
One of the largest multi-specialty physician groups on the Emerald Coast, with more than 50 physicians in 20 different specialties, White-Wilson provides a range of health-care services to fit most needs. Fort Walton Beach.
Best Nail Salon | 4 Seasons Nail & Spa
Nail down a date for some “me” time and enjoy a day of pampering. 4 Seasons offers manicures, pedicures, eyebrow waxing, eyelash tinting and more. Destin.
Best Pest Control | Bryan Pest Control
If there’s one thing that three generations of this family-owned pest-control management service has learned, it is how to do business right. Fast, reliable service earns Bryan Pest Control another year as Best Pest Control. Fort Walton Beach.
Best Pet Care | Bark Avenue
The Village of Baytowne Wharf has gone to the dogs — and thank goodness. Bark Avenue is the premier pooch boutique, offering the latest in doggie accessories, home décor and gifts. So collar your four-legged friend and stroll the Avenue. Bark Avenue also has a boutique at Destin Commons. Destin and Miramar Beach.
Best Photographer | Antonio Cesar
Award-winning Antonio Cesar has become one of the South’s most sought-after master photographers. His work has been published in more than 50 publications nationwide. Cesar’s stunning Emerald Coast calendars and “Destin Geographic” coffee-table book are both sold in many local retail stores. Santa Rosa Beach.
Best Pool Building/Service Company | Cox Pools
An award-winning company, Cox Pools provides personal pool-design assistance, as well as a full line of pool maintenance accessories. Destin.
Best Rug Retailer | Rug Décor
Friendly and knowledgeable design staff can assist in selecting just the right rug from the industry’s best names in traditional, modern and contemporary area and accent rugs. Destin.
Best Spa | Serenity by the sea
The best-kept secret of the Emerald Coast is Serenity, a full-service spa, salon and fitness center located at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa. Experience total comfort at this luxe spa and have your wellness needs met in a relaxing and professional manner. Miramar Beach.
Best Surgery Center | Destin Plastic Surgery Center
The center’s mission is to provide first-class surgical services for the local community in a safe, comfortable and welcoming environment. Specialties include general surgery, orthopedic surgery, gynecology and plastic surgery. Destin.
Best Vacation Rental Service Firm | ResortQuest
Looking for the best value and largest selection of condos and vacation homes? ResortQuest has a rental to fit your lifestyle and budget. With unmatched customer service, ResortQuest earns top ratings from customers. Multiple locations.
Best Veterinarian | Airport Veterinary Clinic
Kelly Haeusler, D.V.M., and his dedicated staff offer quality care and excellent customer service, making this full-service clinic a top-ranked service provider among locals and their pets. Destin.
Best Wedding Planner | Shelby Peaden Events
A boutique-style wedding-planning and event-design studio, Shelby Peaden Events offers fresh ideas for the modern bride seeking a luxurious experience. Shelby provides flawlessly executed events so you can sit back, relax and leave the details to her. Destin.
Best Wedding/Reception Venue | Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village
Offering breathtaking views of Destin Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico, The Emerald Grande has reception space indoors and out, in-house catering, audiovisual and production support, and an on-site florist. Destin.
Best Yoga/Pilates Fitness Facility | Barefoot Yoga Studio
The perfect place to unite your mind, body and spirit, Barefoot Yoga has certified instructors who work to fit your needs, from the beginner to the seasoned student, and from prenatal to Vinyasa. Niceville.
Best New Business | Louis Louis Restaurant & Bar
The only thing that isn’t over the top at Louis Louis is the menu pricing. The Moulin Rouge-inspired interior décor is outrageously wonderful. Dine outside or in. The menu has six tasty items, from crab cakes, panned chicken, blackened fish and a few pastas. Six desserts and six items are on the kids’ menu, too. There are daily drink specials that will tempt you to linger at the ostentatious bar. Bon appétit! Santa Rosa Beach.