I associate Panama City Beach more with seafood shacks and frosty drinks enjoyed at seaside picnic tables than I do with fine dining. What a delight to discover Firefly, where we enjoyed a meal fit for the President, who ate here with his family on their most recent visit.
While the beaches of this Florida Panhandle city are some of the prettiest in the world, I was happy to trade my flip-flops for heels when we dined at this gorgeous restaurant. We dined in the “courtyard,” where the soaring oak tree, dark ceiling and arches lining the central area transported us to a courtyard you would find in the Mediterranean. Chef Paul Stellate, one of eight chefs chosen to take Gulf Coast seafood to the London 2012 Summer Olympics, serves up a seasonally based menu with the freshest-possible fish and meats cooked in an 1800-degree broiler. It’s tough to choose an entrée, but every meal must start with a bowl of the restaurant’s famous she-crab soup. The Firefly has two elegant bars, the 535 Library Lounge and the Firefly Bar, perfect for when you’re ready to switch from margaritas to martinis.