Best of the Emerald Coast 2012

We give you 124 of the best reasons why you love to live, work and play on the Emerald Coast. In this annual Best of the Emerald Coast issue, we celebrate your favorite picks to shop, dine, relax and take care of business.

After a decade, The Best of the Emerald Coast Awards is still one of the most popular charity events of the season. In fact, our award is such a coveted honor and our event such a fun affair that other publications in the area appear to be trying to imitate them. To that we say, thank you, we are flattered to be the Best and are glad we could provide creative inspiration for yours.

Join us at the party of the season on Saturday, Oct. 13, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the lovely Grand Boulevard at Sandestin. 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 winners.

Tickets are $25 in advance or $35 at the door; proceeds benefit the Junior League of the Emerald Coast. To purchase tickets, visit jlec.org for a list of ticket locations.

We thank all of our loyal readers for taking the time to cast their votes in this annual reader poll, we thank our contest auditors for verifying the results and we thank our event sponsors and charity partners in advance for what we know will be the “best” evening ever. And now, gentle readers, we present The 2012 Best of the Emerald Coast winners …

FOOD AND BEVERAGE

Best Appetizer
Bonefish Grill

Again this year, Bonefish tops the list of favorite appetizers with its famous Bang Bang Shrimp tossed in a creamy spicy sauce. Also, try the Wagyu Beef and Ginger Dumplings, handmade with American-style Kobe and pan-seared with crispy shallots, Thai peppers and soy sauce. Destin and Pensacola

Best Bagel Shop
Not Just Bagels

With two dozen flavors of fresh gourmet bagels, breads and pastries, as well as a variety of cream cheeses, Not Just Bagels will have you in comfort-food heaven. All toppings and fillings are also made fresh every day. And as the name implies, Not Just Bagels serves sandwiches too. Try the delicious chicken salad on a savory Swiss bagel. Destin

Best Bakery
Sugar Mill Sweets

Do you have a sweet tooth? This tasty family-owned business serves up delicious homemade pies, cheesecakes, cakes and breads. Whether you are on the go, looking for a great spot for lunch or need dessert catered, Sugar Mill Sweets is just confection. Fort Walton Beach

Best Barbecue
Jim ’n Nick’s Bar-B-Q

It’s official. Jim ’N Nick’s is the boss of the sauce. The restaurant refuses to cut corners, instead smoking meats for 14 hours in hickory. The result? Dishes such as slow-smoked baby back and spareribs, hand-pulled pork and sliced Angus beef brisket are definitely vote getters. Destin

Best Beer Selection
Miller’s Ale House

Here’s to the Ale House Restaurant! Its full-service bar features wine, liquor and more than 75 varieties of beer. Pair that ale with any number of delicious steaks, seafood, salad and pasta dishes, all served within the casual atmosphere of a neighborhood family restaurant. Cheers! Destin

Best Breakfast
Another Broken Egg Café

Earning Best Breakfast for an entire decade, Another Broken Egg Café boasts the most coveted breakfast in town. The café offers more than 130 delicious, home-cooked breakfast, brunch and lunch foods in a warm and inviting atmosphere. Destin, Miramar Beach and Grayton Beach

Best Brunch
Mama Clemenza’s European Breakfast

Mama Clemenza’s European Breakfast at Clemenza’s Uptown restaurant is a true celebration. Homemade Italian Breakfast Panini with prosciutto,
fresh eggs and Gruyere cheese, Lemon Curd Ricotta Pancakes
and Flourless Espresso Biscuits are all made
from old family recipes. Come hungry and taste the love in every bite.
Fort Walton Beach

Best Buffalo Wings
Buffalo’s Reef Famous Wings

They don’t start cooking until you order, so relax and have a beer. Savor something sweet with the honey barbecue sauce or something zesty with the garlic Parmesan wings. Like it spicy? The hot ‘n’ spicy wings are for you. But if you order them super hot, you’d better be prepared. Fort Walton Beach

Best Cajun
Louisiana Lagniappe

As the name suggests, this New Orleans dining experience serves up “a little something extra.” Louisiana Lagniappe features authentic Creole cuisine such as lobster tail, shrimp étouffée and Cajun seafood gumbo, as well as steak entrees. Enjoying a beautiful sunset while you dine makes for a memorable occasion every time.  Destin

Best Onsite Catering
Eventful Planner

The Eventful Planner, owned and operated by Tammy D’Agostino, is dedicated to providing outstanding culinary excellence to its clients and their guests. Whether you are hosting a small intimate dinner party or a wedding for 300, their freshly cooked food is served in innovative, clever ways that impress every guest. Destin

Best Restaurant/Walton County
The Red Bar

Locals will tell you The Red Bar is one of the area’s most popular indoor destinations. The come-as-you-are restaurant serves up a simple, but delicious, menu and great live jazz music in a casual atmosphere with a funky vibe. Don’t be surprised if you spot a celebrity here; after this many years as the go-to restaurant of Emerald Coasters, the word has gotten out to just about everyone. Grayton Beach

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. Grayton Beach 

Best Chef
Dan Pettis

Chef Dan Pettis draws his inspiration from “daily life, what is fresh and what is local.” The Florida native describes his style as a mix of “South Florida, Pacific Rim and Southern roots.” Chef Pettis is passionate about keeping his food local. A testament to this is his farmer’s market adjacent to his restaurant, One 20 A Modern Bistro. Niceville

Best Chinese
P.F. Chang’s China Bistro

From its famous Ginger Chicken Stir-fry Romaine Wraps to the Shanghai Noodles with Grilled Rib Eye and Broccoli, P.F. Chang’s strives to create great craveable foods you can’t get anywhere else. Each dish on this restaurant’s extensive menu is prepared to order using only the freshest and highest-quality ingredients. Miramar Beach

Best Coffee
Starbucks Coffee

Starbucks figures that putting people before products makes good sense. Its relationship with farmers yields the highest quality coffees, and the connections it makes in communities creates a loyal following. Serving the finest coffees in the world with friendly service, Starbucks Coffee is a local favorite. Destin, Grayton Beach, Miramar Beach and Fort Walton Beach

Best Dessert
Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant & Bar

Their signature dessert, the Piña Colada cake, is what a beach vacation should taste like. The Butterscotch Pudding, Key Lime Pie and Pineapple Crème Brulee whisks you away to “destination relaxation,” too. Though usually enjoyed at the end of the meal, dessert is just the beginning of enjoying the island lifestyle at this coastal-inspired restaurant. Miramar Beach

Best Fine Dining
Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood

A five-star dining restaurant specializing in the finest prime beef and freshest seafood available, Seagar’s offers the most elegant table on the Emerald Coast. With private dining facilities and a wine list featuring more than 800 labels, Seagar’s continues to be extolled by critics as one of the best restaurants around. Miramar Beach

Best French
Restaurant Bistro Bijoux

Located in The Village of Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin, this romantic French bistro serves perfectly seasoned dishes made from the freshest ingredients and presented like a work of art. Try the pan-seared diver scallops nestled in a saffron cream with crispy rice cakes and curried peanuts. Miramar Beach

Best Frozen Treat
(icecream, yogurt, gelato, snow cones)
Twirl frozen yogurt

Twirl infuses its frozen yogurt in-house with ingredients such as fresh berries, real espresso, red velvet cake and homemade Nutella for a more intense flavor experience. At Twirl, though you can load it up with more than a dozen delicious fruit, candy and nut toppings, you never pay for the cup — only the goodness inside! Destin

Best Gourmet/Food Shop
Sarah K’s Gourmet

Sarah K’s Gourmet earned recognition as one of the Top Five Destinations for Crab Cakes in Taste of Home magazine. Sarah’s gourmet shrimp dip was featured in Woman’s World magazine. And her chef-crafted ready-to-heat cuisine has earned her the Best of the Emerald Coast award seven years running. Destin.

Best Gumbo
High Tide

Located east of Brooks Bridge, High Tide is a local’s favorite haunt. In addition to their savory gumbo and their fresh seafood, the come-as-you-are atmosphere and friendly service keep visitors and locals coming back year after year. Fort Walton Beach

Best Hamburger
McGuire’s Irish Pub

An award-winning steakhouse with traditional Irish food and in-house brewery, McGuire’s offers 25 different trimmings for its giant, custom-ground steak burgers. Try the Big Daddy burger with bacon, cheddar and jalapeño or the Terrible Garbage Burger, which piles on some of everything. Destin and Pensacola

Best Happy Hour
Cuvee Bistro

Cuvee Bistro is the place on the Emerald Coast to meet up with friends and business colleagues for Happy Hour. The upscale restaurant has a full bar with an extensive wine and martini menu. Come for Happy Hour, Monday through Saturday from
5 to 9 p.m., and enjoy select martinis, specially priced beer, wine and cocktails, as well as the half-price bar menu that features their popularCrispy Flatbread Pizza. Destin

Best Hibachi
Osaka Japanese Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi Bar

For a memorable and entertaining dining experience where the freshest available ingredients are assembled into artfully prepared dishes at your table, Osaka is the place. The Japanese steak house offers an amazing show as your meal is prepared right in front of you. Destin and Miramar Beach

Best Italian Restaurant
Fat Clemenza’s Brick-Oven Pizzeria

Fat Clemenza’s is a wonderfully authentic Italian dining experience. The checkered tablecloths and old family photos on the wall create an atmosphere of a throwback to an Italian neighborhood restaurant in any big city. Award-winning chefs prepare old family recipes for pasta, fish, chicken and veal with the freshest available ingredients. Miramar Beach and Fort Walton Beach

Best Locally Owned Restaurant
Callahan’s Restaurant and Deli

A multi-year Best of award winner, Callahan’s aims to please with its custom-cut meats and generous portions of delicious food. In addition to the fresh sandwiches, pastas and salads, the restaurant offers nightly dinner specials. Try the New York Strip — and save room for a slice of homemade cake or cheesecake for dessert. Destin

Best Margarita
Cantina Laredo

This authentic Mexican restaurant’s margaritas are made from freshly squeezed lime juice, as well as an impressive line of tequilas that include triple-distilled and aged brands that, once again, make the margaritas fabuloso. Miramar Beach

Best Martini
Tuscany Italian Bistro

Cheers to Tuscany’s fabulous martini menu. Try the Down & Dirty Martini, Disaronno Cosmo, De Stress Martini as well as the Torta Chocolate, or raise a glass to Frank Sinatra with a sip of Old Blue Eyes. For those daring individuals, why not try the Sicilian Kiss? You can sample your favorite for just $5 during Happy Hour every evening from 5 to 7 p.m. along with a half-price menu. Destin

Best Mexican/Latin American Restaurant
Pepito’s Mexican Restaurant

This authentic Mexican restaurant once again earns a spot on our “Best of” list because the restaurant’s delicious Mexican dishes are made with only the freshest ingredients. Olé! The newest location, Crab Island Cantina, is located in HarborWalk Village. Destin, Miramar Beach and Niceville

Best Outdoor Bar
AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar

Come here with the entire family, your special someone or a group of friends to sip a cocktail and drink in the stunning harbor view before dinner or after … or both! This lively outdoor bar is situated on an oversized deck with a sweeping view of the Destin harbor. Come here to enjoy live music and daily Happy Hour specials from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Destin

Best Mediterranean
Aegean Restaurant

The Aegean Restaurant is a family owned and operated neighborhood Greek restaurant with fresh, authentic Greek and American dishes. Come and experience the food and hospitality of The Aegean Restaurant and let yourself be transported to the sunny lands of Greece. Miramar Beach and Shalimar

Best Outdoor Dining
Harry T’s

The circus memorabilia on display at Harry T’s adds to the fun atmosphere at the restaurant, but the boathouse is a favorite place for feasting on fresh seafood, burgers and steaks while enjoying fantastic views and a coastal breeze as well. Destin

Best Oysters
AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar

With a huge outdoor deck offering sweeping views of the Destin Harbor, great entertainment and friendly servers, AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar is the perfect place to down a dozen. Enjoy them raw, steamed or try Oysters AJ — a dozen oysters grilled and topped with jalapeño peppers, Monterey Jack cheese and bacon. Destin 

Best Restaurant/Okaloosa County
Magnolia Grill

The Magnolia Grill, which sits on historic Brooks Street in downtown Fort Walton Beach, is equal parts museum and dining establishment. The delicious steak, prime rib and seafood fare here is just the start of this historic gem owned by Tom and Peggy Rice. The walls of this 1910 catalog house showcase pieces of local history, including photos of people and places that now only exist in the memories of those who grew up or lived
here “back in the day.” Fort Walton Beach

Best Pizza
Helen Back

Helen Back has friendly servers, ice cold beer and a casual, welcoming atmosphere, but it has expanded to five locations all along the Emerald Coast because it bakes the freshest possible ingredients into its homemade hand-tossed pizza. Destin, Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, Navarre and Valparaiso

Best Romantic Restaurant
Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood

The exquisite cuisine designed by Chef Johnny Earles, the elegant atmosphere and attentive five-star service makes this an intimate dining experience. Isn’t it romantic? Miramar Beach

Best Sandwich Shop
Lenny’s Sub Shop

At Lenny’s you really get it your way as you build your hot or cold deli sandwich or salad. The menu features fresh deli meats and cheeses, garden toppings and Lenny’s signature pepper relish, as well as fresh baked bread. Destin, Mary Esther, Fort Walton Beach, Niceville and Crestview

Best Seafood Market
Destin Ice Seafood Market & Deli

Destin Ice Seafood Market & Deli offers the freshest selection of what the Gulf has to offer. Pick up some ready-to-eat or cook-at-home fish, Buckhead meats, decadent desserts and a bottle of wine. Destin

Best Seafood Restaurant
Dewey Destin Seafood

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 fresh seafood as you sit at rustic tables along a dock overlooking the bay. Taste more than 100 years of Destin history as you bite into a delicious grouper sandwich or dig into the famous smoked tuna dip. Destin

Best Service
(Food and Beverage)
Marlin Grill

Quality fine dining begins and ends with great service. Marlin Grill has a loyal following as a popular steak and seafood restaurant, because the quality cuisine, elegant atmosphere and knowledgeable staff combine to make it a memorable dining experience that brings delighted patrons back again and again. Miramar Beach

Best Sports Bar
Johnny O’Quigley’s Ale House

There’s not a bad seat in the house at neighborhood-style Johnny O’Quigley’s. The 48-inch big screen televisions lining the walls offer some of the best sports viewing in town, along with plenty of good food, wine and beer. Touchdown! Destin

Best Steakhouse
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar

Sandestin’s neighborhood steakhouse comes to life with a celebration of great food, wine and memorable times. Fleming’s serves the finest in USDA Prime beef — corn-fed, aged up to four weeks for flavor and texture, then hand-cut daily and broiled at 1600 degrees to seal in all the juices and flavor. Miramar Beach

Best Sushi
Harbor Docks

Though Harbor Docks is a seafood restaurant, the eatery features a large sushi and sashimi selection made fresh daily by master sushi chefs. Inspired by Asian influences, Harbor Docks also serves fresh seafood fried, sautéed or boiled. Destin

Best Thai
Royal Orchid

Sink into silk pillows around a traditional sunken Thai table or dine American style at a table or booth as you feast on delicious dishes like crispy duck, pad-thai, moo-yang and all sorts of curries. The family-operated business offers exceptional service and a just-right touch of Asian ambiance. Miramar Beach

Best Wine List
Vin’tij Wine Boutique

Its remarkable list of some of the finest wines from the most respected vineyards in the world made Vin’tij Wine Boutique the top choice of the Emerald Coast’s wine lovers. The vibrant restaurant, filled with local art, also serves lunch and dinner with impeccable wine pairings from its extensive collection. Miramar Beach

 

ENTERTAINMENT

Best Art Gallery
A.Wickey Studio-Gallery

World Six is an art-boutique located in Rosemary Beach featuring the work of 30A artists Allison Wickey (2011 Walton County Artist of the Year), Shantell Martin, Francisco Adaro, Steve Wagner and Andy Saczynski (voted Best Local Artist this year), with jewelry by Wendy Mignot and Adorn by Samouce and clothing by Nicole Paloma. Rosemary Beach

Best DJ
DJ Vladi

DJ VLADI is known as much for his excellent customer service, professionalism and passion as he is for getting people on the dance floor. For the past 10 years, his DJ skills have pumped up the entertainment value at private parties, weddings and corporate events.

Best Golf Course
Regatta Bay Golf & Country Club

Positioned among nature preserves along Choctawhatchee Bay, this par-72 course is a true escape into a golfer’s paradise. Designed by Robert C. Walker, Regatta Bay was selected as one of Golf Digest’s “Top Places to Play in North America.” Destin

Best place for Kid’s Birthday Party
Abrakadoodle

With hundreds of lessons and talented teachers, Abrakadoodle art education programs are always new and exciting. But beyond its award-winning art programs, Abrakadoodle is also a perfect place for creative children to party! They provide a teacher, fun activities, art materials and a masterpiece for each child to take home. Choose a theme, or they can create a custom activity for you. Destin

Best Local Artist
Andy Saczynski

Andy Saczynski is known for saying he likes to turn “junk into funk.” Classified as an outside folk artist, he primarily works with acrylic, wood, metal, copper and recycled musical instruments. An award-winning artist born and raised on the Emerald Coast, Andy finds his artistic inspiration through music and in Florida’s architecture, landscape and wildlife. You can visit and purchase his work at the Andy Saczynski Studio-Gallery. Grayton Beach

Best Local Attraction
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park

The state’s oldest marine park is making a splash with exciting new programs, updated facilities and even a new name. In addition to ever popular dolphin and sea lion shows, you can splash with dolphin, feed penguins, snorkel with stingrays, play with sea otters, step in the shoes of an animal trainer to name a few. Fort Walton Beach.

Best Local Event
Digital Graffiti at Alys Beach

Each June Alys Beach stages one of the most innovative art events in the country. During the weekend extravaganza, the coastal community opens its doors, courtyards and pedestrian paths to groundbreaking global digital artists who transform the town’s iconic white walls into vivid works of art. Alys Beach

Best musician/vocalist/band
Heritage

It all started in 2007 with three guys in a backyard playing a ukulele and a set of bongos just for fun. Rising from the backyards of Okaloosa County, Heritage broke into the pop/reggae scene in 2009 with their debut album, Natural High. Now the group is gaining ground throughout the U.S.

Best Place To Be Seen
HarborWalk Village

The heart of Destin is found in one place: HarborWalk Village. This vibrant waterfront village filled with dozens of quaint boutique shops, lively restaurants and family-friendly entertainment, is the perfect gathering place for family and friends ready to begin or end their day. Destin

Best Place To Watch a Sunset
HarborWalk Village

Though there are plenty of gorgeous spots along the Emerald Coast, nothing beats HarborWalk Village at sunset. Overlooking Destin Harbor, it’s the perfect place to celebrate life in paradise. Destin

Best Place To Go Dancing
John Wehner’s Village Door

Owner John Wehner created this hot spot to offer the same eclectic and electric style as his other nightspot, the Famous Door on New Orleans’ Bourbon Street. The 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
Big Kahuna’s Water Park

Thrills, chills and spills await you and your family at the destination for family fun. With more than 40 water attractions and an adventure park, Big Kahuna’s offers something fun for everyone. Featuring dozens of slides and the biggest manmade waterfall in the world, your family is sure to have a blast. Destin

Best Radio Personality
Woofy, 99 Rock

He’s been a fixture on Emerald Coast radio since the early ’90s. And Woofy’s listeners have seen him grow from a single man into a husband and father of two who works to make his community a better place for everyone, earning loyal fans year after year. Fort Walton Beach

Best Resort
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort

The 2,400-acre resort, featuring 30 charming village neighborhoods with stunning beach and bay property, offers a complete resort experience for the entire family. With championship golf, world-class tennis, a vibrant village, a full-service marina, water sports and children’s programs, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Miramar Beach

Best Tennis Facility
Bluewater Bay Tennis Center

With more than 15 USTA and local men’s and women’s teams, over 60 active junior players, 12 annual tournaments and numerous member socials, Bluewater Bay Tennis Center certainly has a tennis game for every age and every level. This newly renovated tennis center features 12 beautifully maintained clay courts, a fully equipped clubhouse and a top-shelf teaching staff. Niceville

 

SERVICE PROVIDERS

Best Heating and Air service
Gulf Shore Air Conditioning & Heating

Serving the Emerald Coast since 1995, Gulf Shore strives to exceed the highest standards for service and training. The company specializes in custom system design, ensuring you’ll be keeping cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Niceville

Best Accounting Firm
Coastal Accounting

Coastal Accounting provides outstanding service to its clients because of its core principals of professionalism, responsiveness and quality. Offering personal financial planning, estate planning, elder care, accounting and tax preparation services for both individuals and businesses, the firm’s primary goal as a trusted advisor is to be available to provide insightful advice so clients can make informed financial decisions. Destin
and Niceville

Best Acupuncture Clinic
Tortoise Clinic

Every patient at Tortoise Clinic receives not only their specific acupuncture but also dietary advice based on 3,500-year-old Chinese dietetics, as well as hot and cold therapy. The clinic also makes its own pain relief liniment based on a 600-year-old formula. Miramar Beach

Best Aesthetician
Melissa St. John

Melissa St. John has been a licensed esthetician since 2005. She has a true passion in the skincare industry, helping her clients achieve optimal results through clinical grade procedures and products. She is also a certified Xtreme Lash Extension stylist, offering lash extensions and fills. Melissa’s sweet and bubbly personality will surely make your experience at Destin Plastic Surgery’s Anti-Aging Clinic a pleasant one. Destin

Best Architect
DAG architects, inc.

Since its founding in 1981 by two individual architects, Charles W. Clary, III, and Samuel Blimling, DAG Architects has consistently provided architectural services throughout Northwest Florida and the Southeast from its original base in Destin. Destin, Pensacola and Tallahassee 

Best Audio/Visual Provider
Audio Video by Stan

Audio Video by Stan was founded by Stan Zawisza in 2009. His dedication to customer service and vast knowledge of new technology has made AV by Stan the best in the business. From design to installation, AV by Stan can customize your home theater system and integrate home automation down to the touch of a button. 

Best Automobile Dealership
Sam Taylor Buick-Cadillac

One of the largest volume Buick and Cadillac dealers along the
Gulf Coast, Sam Taylor Buick Cadillac is dedicated to its customers. It must be working. The staff’s attention to customer service has earned the dealership a return spot on our Best of list
for the fifth year in a row. Fort Walton Beach

Best Automobile Repair
Sam Taylor Buick-Cadillac

Staffed with qualified, professional technicians ready to answer your questions and address your needs, Sam Taylor delivers exceptional automotive service. Fort Walton Beach

Best Bank
Regions

Regions Financial Corporation, with $127 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, mortgage and insurance products and services. Regions is a community-minded bank committed to helping all of its customers enjoy banking with ease. Locations throughout the Emerald Coast

Best Boat Sales and Service
Legendary Marine

One of the top boat dealers in the country, Legendary Marine caters to the needs of the discriminating buyer and 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 and Fort Walton Beach

Best Builder/Contractor
Dixon Kazek Morrison Custom Homes

Having won first place in the Parade of Homes seven times, as well as the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors (ECAR) Realtors Choice Award and the Building Industry Association Builder of the Year award, Dixon Kazek Construction proves that quality construction is the heart of the company’s philosophy. Miramar Beach

Best Charter Boat/Watersports
Destin Vacation Boat Rentals

To enjoy all that Destin has to offer, Destin Vacation Boat Rentals can make it happen. Providing fishing, pontoon or powerboat rentals (including fishing and snorkeling gear) and jet skis, they allow you to have fun in the sun and make the most out of life on the Emerald Coast. Destin

Best Chiropractic Practice
Payne Chiropractic Wellness Center

Dr. Alan Payne and his team at Payne Chiropractic Wellness Center can help get your body back into proper alignment and strive to give people of all ages optimal health through natural chiropractic care. The state-of-the-art healing facility’s services include massage, clinical nutrition with the BioMeridian assessment tool and Aqua Chi hydro-therapy device. Destin

Best Customer Service
Sam Taylor Buick-Cadillac

Since 1974, carrying on the family tradition means ensuring that 100 percent of Sam Taylor customers are satisfied 100 percent of the time. The dealership’s total customer satisfaction approach is the guiding principal that distinguishes it from other dealers in the area. Fort Walton Beach

Best Dental Practice
The Center for Cosmetic and Family Dentistry

Led by Dr. Dennis Lichorwic, who was just elected president of the Florida Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and Dr. Fred Tepedino the Center offers family dentistry and cosmetic dentistry, as well as the Zoom Advanced Power laser teeth whitening system, and Invisalign and Invisalign Teen invisible aligners, earning the practice its ninth Best of the Emerald Coast award. Destin and Panama City Beach

Best Dermatology
Practice/Skin Care Coastal Skin Surgery & Dermatology

Providing a wide array of surgical, cosmetic and medical dermatology services, including Fraxel laser skin resurfacing and Mohs Micrographic Surgery, Coastal Skin Surgery Center is dedicated to providing the finest dermatologic care on the Emerald Coast to maximize your skin’s health. Fort Walton Beach and Miramar Beach

Best Dry Cleaner
French Laundry

Having recently spent $100,000 on an environmentally friendly dry clean machine, French Laundry avoids harsh chemicals. They also clean wedding gowns, provide wash-dry-fold services, minor repairs and even clean military and band uniforms at a discounted price. No wonder they were voted the best. Miramar Beach and Santa Rosa Beach

Best Event Planner
Monark Events

Founded in 2007, Monark Events is a full-service event management company that specializes in planning and staging corporate, non-profit and private functions nationwide. Founded on the principals of trust, service, creativity and exceeding expectations, Monark Events’ name is more than appropriate — (MON) “One” (A-R-K) “Act of Random Kindness.” Destin

Best Pet Care/Shop
Bow Wow Meow Pet Company

Bow Wow Meow offers a healthy selection of foods for dogs and cats. When owners John and Natalie Scanlan’s dog, Buddy, experienced digestive problems, they found natural and organic dog and cat food made in the United States and made it available at their shop. A bonus: the self-wash rooms allow pet owners to rinse sand-covered paws. Paws up on that. Seagrove Beach

Best Eye Doctor Practice
Dr. Kevin Wells, O.D.

In practice for more than 14 years, Dr. Kevin Wells is committed to attaining exceptional results for his patients. A leader in the optical industry, Wells Vision and Laser Eye Center offers comprehensive exams, designer eyewear and the most advanced laser correction. Destin and Seacrest

Best Flooring
(carpet/tile)
Infinity Flooring

Once again, Infinity Flooring proves it values its work and its customers. The flooring company offers quality hardwood flooring, tiles, vinyl and carpet products at reasonable prices while schedules are kept and customer concerns are promptly taken care of. Miramar Beach

Best Florist
GG Bloom

Like an Old English garden filled with wonderful and unique aged pottery, beautiful flowers and home and garden accents, GG Bloom has a unique flair for creating amazing flower arrangements and gift baskets. And if you prefer silk flowers that fool anyone, GG Bloom designs arrangements that will stand the test of time. Destin

Best Gym/Health Club/Fitness Center
Destin Health and Fitness Club

The Emerald Coast’s first-ever upscale health and fitness center offers the ultimate workout experience in its state-of-the-art facilities. With a wide range of classes, including the new TRX class (a body weight suspension class), as well as new equipment coming in constantly, no wonder it ranked No. 1 with our readers. Destin and Miramar Beach

Best Insurance Agency
Harris Insurance

Harris Insurance Services is a licensed insurance brokerage firm authorized to serve throughout the State of Florida. A full-service insurance provider since 1965, Harris represents more than 150 insurance companies in order to bring the most reputable, A-rated insurance companies under one roof to provide comprehensive solutions for your insurance needs. Fort Walton Beach

Best Hair Salon
Avantgarde Salon & Spa

Avantgarde Salon Spa is a full-service AVEDA salon and spa offering hair, body and skin services and treatments in two locations (Emerald Coast Parkway and Destin Commons). An Emerald Coast Top Salon finalist in 2011 and 2012, Avantgarde has been named a Top 200 Salon in the United States by Salon Today for 10 consecutive years. Destin

Best Landscaping/Lawn Service
Barefoot Lawn Care & Landscape

Barefoot has serviced the 30A area and Destin since 1997, providing professional irrigation services, sodding, seeding and mulching, and even fountains and water features. Trying to sell your home? Barefoot can improve your home’s curb appeal and value. Santa Rosa Beach

Best Interior Design Firm
Design Avenue

A full-service interior design center, Design Avenue is also a unique destination for fun gifts. Led by Best Interior Designer Ashley Harkins, Design Avenue provides help with every stage of the design process. Destin

Best Law Firm
Matthews, Jones Hawkins LLP

By recently expanding services to Niceville and DeFuniak Springs, and with the addition of Michael Jones to the firm formerly known as Matthews & Hawkins, MJ&H proves client service is key. More than a traditional provider of legal services, the firm strives to find innovative and practical solutions to client problems. Destin, Niceville and DeFuniak Springs

Best Lighting Store
Beautiful Lights

Fitting every need, every whim and every budget, Beautiful Lights has provided impeccable service, from selection (or a custom design) to installation, for four years. The shop works with residential and commercial clients to customize perfectly beautiful lighting for all. Destin

Best Car/Limo/Shuttle Service
654 LIMO

Since 2003, 654 Limo has been the premier luxury ground transportation on the Emerald Coast. Arrive in style in one of Florida’s premier limousine rental vehicles. Or enjoy a luxurious chauffeured ride in a stretch Hummer, Navigator or Escalade and see why the company is tops in limo service. Destin

Best Martial Arts/Karate
Resolute Martial Arts

Resolute Martial Arts provides excellent character-building martial arts classes and fitness instruction in a professional, family friendly and fun environment. Each program is designed to promote mental and physical growth for the whole family. All of the instructors are CPR, first aid and AED certified. Destin

Best Massage Therapist
Neal Senn, Avantgarde Salon & Spa

Neal Senn has the magic touch. The five-time Best of the Emerald Coast winner offers a variety of massages, including Swedish, stone, deep tissue, elemental nature, pregnancy and couples massage. And he’s the only massage therapist in the area to offer scar tissue removal for patients recovering from surgery. We feel better already. Destin

Best Medical Center/Hospital
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, including intensive care, general and orthopedic surgery, cardiology, cancer care, comprehensive radiology and laboratory services, rehabilitation, 24-hour emergency care, women’s health and maternity care. Miramar Beach

Best Medical Practice
White-Wilson Medical Center

White-Wilson Medical Center is one of the largest multi-specialty physician groups on Florida’s Emerald Coast. With more than 70 providers, 20 different specialties and multiple locations throughout Fort Walton Beach, Destin and Niceville, White-Wilson provides a range of healthcare services. White-Wilson employs state-of-the-art technology, coupled with skilled and experienced providers, friendly and caring staff, and the convenience of “one-stop” shopping. Fort Walton Beach, Niceville and Destin

Best Nail Salon
4 Seasons Nail & Spa

Nail down a date soon for some “me” time at Destin’s favorite place to be pampered —
4 Seasons Nail & Spa. A staff of four certified technicians will spoil you with your choice of pedicures, manicures, artificial nails, eyebrow waxing, eyelash tinting and more. Located next to Marshall’s, 4 Seasons is ready to spoil you year round. Destin

Best Photographer
Pure 7 Studios

Take one look at their photos and you immediately see how the photography team at Pure 7 Studios captures the humanity and emotion of their subjects. The images capture the wonderful moments in life with a passion only true artists can attain. Destin

Best Plumbing Fixtures/Service
Fixture Exchange

For more than 20 years, the Fixture Exchange has been committed to fitting the Emerald Coast with quality plumbing fixtures. With access to more than 400 manufacturers, if you can dream it, they can supply it. Destin

Best Pool Building Service Company
Cox Pools

A family-owned business that has been serving Northwest Florida for more than 50 years, Cox Pools provides personal pool design assistance, as well as a full line of pool maintenance accessories. The Pool Wish List on the company’s website lets you design your pool online. What fun! Destin

Best Printing Services
Copy Systems, inc.

Copy Systems is a one-stop shop for all your personal and professional printing needs. This customer service-oriented business offers a wide variety of signs, printing and promotional items that will help your business grow. Copy Systems uses the latest technology to create your products and offer innovative design solutions. Santa Rosa Beach and Destin

Best Real Estate Group
John Paul Somers & Company

With more than 20 years experience, John Paul Somers & Company is the go-to company for Emerald Coast real estate. Selling both residential and commercial real estate and undeveloped lots and land, John Paul Somers is passionate about using his knowledge of the market to help his clients accomplish their personal real estate goals. Destin

Best Rug Retailer
Rug Décor

More rugs, more help, more service — that’s what the friendly and knowledgeable design staff offer as they assist in selecting just the right rug from the industry’s best names in traditional, modern and contemporary area and accent rugs, all shipped at no cost to you. Destin

Best Spa Services
Serenity by the sea Spa

Serenity is the place on the Emerald Coast to be pampered. Serenity is a full-service spa, salon and fitness center located at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa. Whether you select one treatment or make a day of it, you’ll treat your mind, body and soul to total bliss. Miramar Beach

Best Surgical Practice
Destin Plastic Surgery

Dr. William Burden and Dr. Lawrence Scott Ennis are innovative leaders in the field of plastic surgery. Destin Plastic Surgery delivers first-class services for its patients in a safe, comfortable and welcoming environment. Their skilled and friendly support team works seamlessly to present all of your plastic surgery options and achieve your desired goals. Destin

Best Vacation Rental Company/Service
ResortQuest

With superior accommodations, unmatched customer service and exceptional value, ResortQuest earns top ratings from customers. The firm has the largest selection of condos and vacation homes to fit your lifestyle and budget. Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Santa Rosa Beach

Best Veterinarian
Barry Veterinary Hospital

Barry Veterinary Hospital Inc. is a full-service companion animal hospital. Their experienced, professional staff and quality facilities demonstrates their commitment to providing quality veterinary care throughout your pet’s life. Destin

Best Wedding Planner
Shelby Peaden Events

She studied interior design and fine arts, but Shelby Peaden loves designing events and, in particular, weddings. With attention to the smallest details and a personal one-on-one approach, Shelby Peaden Events helps brides and grooms create a magical memory of their special day. Destin

Best Wedding/Reception Venue
Solaris, SunQuest Cruises

A wedding ceremony is special, a wedding aboard Solaris, Sunquest Cruises sailing off into the sunset is a modern day fairytale. This elegant yacht features a full-service bridal consulting team specializing in romantic weddings on the water. Miramar Beach

Best Weight Loss Facility
Dr. Bawa & Associates

Dr. Nitin Bawa is passionate about helping patients feel better by getting to a healthier weight. He uses medications, hormone adjustments and lasers to help with weight loss and is continually researching which trends and options have scientific merit. Santa Rosa Beach

 

SHOPPING

Best Antique Shop
Smith’s Antiques Mall & Interiors Market

Receiving rave reviews since it opened its doors in 1993, Smith’s Antiques’ 25,000-square-foot showroom is full of antiques and interior wares from 90 different dealers located throughout the country, and continues to be an antique lover’s favorite spot. Miramar Beach

Best Children’s Clothing Retailer
Hugs and Hissyfits

A nine-time Best of winner and brainchild of owner Lisa McKee, Hugs and Hissyfits offers the best in children’s boutique clothing by designers that include Little Mass, Miss Me, Mimi and Maggie and Bailey Boys, among others. Hugs’ motto is, “If we don’t love it, we don’t buy it.” Destin and Fort Walton Beach

Best Consignment Shop
Ava’s Attic

The second time’s a charm at Ava’s Attic. This cheery boutique is two shops in one. One side features an extensive selection of designer fashions, shoes and accessories for women and children, while the other side features beautiful furniture, home décor and bedding — all at great prices. Miramar Beach

Best Eyewear Store
The Eye Gallery

The Eye Gallery offers the latest in sunglass and prescription eyewear. Its distinctive collection of eyewear ranges from preserving the timeless to inspiring the creative and flattering the beautiful. The Eye Gallery strives to offer the utmost in customer service and has a proven track record of loyal customers since 1991. Destin

Best Furniture Retailer
Sugar Beach Interiors

Referred to as “A Design and Art Gallery,” Sugar Beach Interiors has grown into a team of professional licensed designers. Their steadfast success is attributed to their reputation for business integrity and their commitment to interior design excellence, which begins with their customer service and extends through every department of the firm. Destin

Best Gift Shop
P.S. Gifts

Need help finding the perfect gift for any occasion? The staff at P.S. Gifts helps customers find that special something that’s just right — and also offers free gift-wrapping — and will deliver your gift with a smile. Fort Walton Beach

Best Jewelry Store
McCaskill & Company

Owners Bill and Elizabeth Campbell and their staff offer expert guidance, suggestions and advice as they strive to make each visit to McCaskill & Company a special occasion. Some of the world’s most exclusive jewelry and watch designers, including David Yurman, Tag Heuer and Paul Morelli, mean you get the best fine jewelry selection in the Emerald Coast. Miramar Beach

Best Locally Owned Retailer
Sporty Lady of Destin

Women all over the Emerald Coast are sporting swimwear and sportswear from this family owned retailer. The shop strives to give its customers a vast selection of styles and a wide variety of sizes in its 4,800-square-foot store at the Shoppes at Paradise Key. Destin

Best Beachwear Retailer
Sporty Lady of Destin

A beach-lover’s dream, Sporty Lady of Destin offers expert sizing advice, as well as the perfect suit (or two or three) for all sizes and shapes among its 10,000 swimsuits in inventory, and has been winning customers over for more than 30 years. Destin

Best Men’s apparel
Destin Threads

Retailer Marsha Chouinard has been dressing the Emerald Coast for more than 20 years. Her boutique shop, located in The Shops of Destiny, carries quality men’s apparel brands like Vineyard Vines, Southern Tides, Robert Graham and more. Ladies, don’t worry. Destin Threads carries a nice selection of women’s apparel, too! Destin

Best Outdoor Furniture Retailer
Bay Breeze Patio

Celebrating eight years on the Emerald Coast, Bay Breeze Patio owners Wayne Paul and Susan Kiley are passionate about outdoor living. From grills and fire pits to furniture and accessories, the store features everything that goes into creating the most comfortable outdoor living spaces. Miramar Beach

Best Sporting Goods Retailer
Bass Pro Shops

For the outdoors man, woman or child who loves fishing, hunting, camping and boating, the 50,000-square-foot sports center features an exhaustive selection of gear and gadgets to suit every outdoor lover. Destin

Best Toy Store
Learning Express

For the best selection of unique, educational and age-appropriate toys, Learning Express offers it all. The self-proclaimed “neighborhood toy store” is a hub of activity, a meeting spot for kids and families and a one-stop destination for toys that help raise smart, healthy kids. Miramar Beach

Best Wedding Shop
Simply Elegant Bridal

Celebrating every bride’s special day, Simply Elegant wins again for offering the largest selection of bridal and bridesmaid gowns. This wedding boutique also offers the best selection of tuxedoes for the groom and his groomsmen. Fort Walton Beach

Best Women’s Accessories
Private Gallery

The friendly staff makes each guest feel as if they are in their own private gallery, hence the name. Serving a niche market with an eclectic mix of jewelry, handbags, shoes and clothing, the boutique features top names, as well as up-and-coming designers. Destin

Best Women’s Apparel
Today’s Boutique

Celebrating 31 years in business and its 12th Best of win, Today’s offers exceptional service and a large selection of the latest trends in the Shoppes of Paradise Key. Check out the store’s website for the latest trend report, or just stop in for expert advice from the staff. Destin

Best Women’s Shoes
Sunset Shoes

Inspired by the beautiful beaches and relaxed atmosphere of Northwest Florida, comfort and easygoing style are the hallmark of Sunset Shoes’ footwear collections. With four locations between Destin and Panama City Beach, Sunset Shoes has become the Euro-comfort headquarters on the Emerald Coast. Destin, Miramar Beach and Panama City Beach.

Categories: Best of the EC Results

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