Maybe it’s because it’s Friday and maybe it’s because I am sick to death of making “smart meal choices” (side note, I never say the word diet, just will not happen) but I am craving some Mexican food. I’m not talking about Taco Bell or even the typical #27 from the eight-page menu at any number of Mexican restaurants. I want the good stuff, I know just where to get it and if you keep reading, soon you will too.
Grin-Go’s Tex-Mex Cantina This little gem is tucked away right by the parking deck at The Village of Baytowne Wharf and you won’t find fresher ingredients anywhere. Tim Reese, a Texas native, has a true passion for this unique cuisine and continually works to perfect the menu, using only the freshest ingredients. My current favorite is the Fish Tacos. Tim purchases fresh Mahi-mahi straight from the Destin Harbor and serves it up on warm flour tortillas with housemade savory cilantro lime sauce. If you’re like me, and you prefer corn tortillas, you can get them street style. Is Craft Beer your thing? Grin-Go’s serves Saint Arnold’s in a big frosty mug. It’s Texas’s oldest craft brewery and is a delicious accompaniment to the tacos.
Opens at 9:00 AM and breakfast is served all day.
Insider tip: For $5 you can take a mason jar of Grin-Go’s housemade salsa with you and bring your jar back for a $3 refill.
Fun fact: Would you believe that before they started using fish caught straight from our Gulf, Grin-Go’s only sold around 5 orders or 1 – 2 pounds of fish tacos a week – since he’s made the switch, word is out and he probably goes through 90 – 100 pounds a week.
Pepito’s Mexican Restaurant I love Sunday Brunch just as much as the next girl, but sometimes I just want a big margarita with unlimited chips and salsa. I can get that fix at Pepito’s. Everyone in Destin has probably dined at Pepito’s but until you’ve had their chilaquiles verdes from the Taqueria menu, you really shouldn’t say you’ve experienced Pepito’s. Along with the chilaquiles, I always order one shrimp taco and one steak taco, also from the Taqueria menu and only $2.75 a piece. They are served in a handmade, corn tortilla with fresh cilantro and onions on the side and they are amazing.
Three locations (Destin, Miramar Beach, Niceville) all open at 11:00 AM.
Insider tip: Skip directly to the white page of the menu. This is the Taqueria menu and everything is fresh, handmade and delicious.
Fun fact: Usually, chilaquiles are eaten at breakfast or brunch. Take home your leftovers and serve them for breakfast the next day topped with a fresh egg cooked over easy – you can thank me later.
El Mercadito My last insider’s tip on authentic, delicious, Mexican food in South Walton will probably get me in trouble with the few people who know of this place but you guys come first and it wouldn’t be right to keep it from you…the next time you get a craving for a Mexican coke and a tamale, head over to El Mercadito. It’s not fancy and truly is just as the name translates (a small market) but man, is it good. I hear the Cuban sandwich is incredible but I haven’t tried it yet. Even though this is currently the only place in town to legally purchase an authentic tamale, I tend to gravitate to the burrito and it’s one of the few places left that still serves Mexican coke. I also hear that you can take your own beer but I haven’t tried that yet either.
Located on HWY 98 in Santa Rosa Beach – hours are questionable but they are usually open it seems.
Insider tip: Spice up your order with grilled jalapeños and green sauce – not for the faint of heart but so, so good. Also, brush up on your Spanish or keep your order simple. It’s better that way anyway.
Fun fact: At least four people are going to give me a hard time for giving away this well kept secret.