Brian Rowe established Piggy's BBQ due to popular demand. Before he owned the venue, the caterer built a network of devoted clients who would repeatedly inquire, "Where's your restaurant?" Brian—whose fondness for barbecue had won him a reputation as the local sauce glossary—built Piggy's BBQ as an answer, piling its buffet-style service line with signature meats. His respect for classic, smoky flavors comes through in the angus brisket, which slow cooks for 14 hours over pecan wood before gracing plates next to sides of handmade onion rings and garlic mashed potatoes. The menu's other meats include ribs, pulled pork, chicken, sausage, and daily specials.
Though he prizes the tastes of barbecue tradition, Brian rarely ignores an opportunity to invent. He's introduced smoked pork wings and barbecue nachos as creative meal options, and he annually updates a special holiday menu to add to Thanksgiving feasts and support new holidays such as Second Christmas. With the Big Pig food truck, he transports his tangy edibles to tailgate parties and celebrations.
Visitors to the permanent location dine in a family-oriented atmosphere that embraces down-home competition—patrons who call a day in advance can try to eat all 6 pounds of the PorkZilla, a 10-inch pulled-pork sandwich that earns its conquerors a T-shirt, a written record of their victory, and a handyman appointment to replace their jaw hinges.
Up in Smoke Pit BBQ's kitchen floods with the aroma of slow-smoking meat, as a team of smoke-savvy culinary artists whip up homemade dishes inspired by barbecue regions across the country. Texas-style Angus beef brisket, Carolina pulled pork, and dry-rubbed Memphis-style ribs pair with homey sides of creamy cole slaw, fried okra, and cornbread muffins. The menu even pays homage to two of the owners' vegetarian wives with meat-free options such as vegan riblets and banana pudding made from sentience-free fruit. Glasses of beer and wine perch upon dining room tabletops, which spread out beneath dark-wood walls and the piercing gaze of a mounted longhorn skull. For breakfast, Up in Smoke Pit BBQ serves up platters of eggs alongside brisket or pit ham, omelets, and breakfast sandwiches.
It’s barely an exaggeration to say that Marlin Grill is a cornerstone of the Baytowne Wharf community—it occupies a grand, two-story corner space in the sprawling Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, its curving façade giving out on a patio facing the Events Plaza. As might be expected of a resort restaurant, the menu is broad and accommodating—there’s even a children’s menu with fried lobster and crab cakes among the chicken fingers—but creative preparations add zip to the steakhouse template. Filet mignon (dry-aged certified Angus, like all Marlin’s beef) is wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon and itself grilled over hickory just to show trees who’s boss, and a pair of cold-water lobster tails splash into kiwi-honey mustard sauce and mango chutney. Sides tend toward the impossibly rich, the mashed potatoes mixed with ricotta and the macaroni 'n' cheese studded with Tasso ham.
The drinks program is appropriately ambitious, covering more than 600 wines, a deep list of scotches and their allies, and fruity martinis, including a $10,000 version complete with one-carat diamond. The beer selection is a little more down to earth, centering on regional brews such as Georgia’s Sweet Water 420 Pale Ale and Florida’s Grayton Pale Ale.
Since his grandfather opened up a restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1905, A. J. "Poppy" Tusa's family has remained in the restaurant business for more than a century. Poppy continues his family's traditions of providing hospitality and authentic Louisiana flavors at Poppy's Crazy Lobster Bar and Grill, where the chef and his crew boil Cajun-style seafood by the pound, assemble towering po' boy sandwiches, and pan-sear blackened Maine lobsters.
Though the food is fresh and flavorful, the restaurant's main draw may be its seaside dining room and dockside patio. Fishermen and generous mermaids can even bring in their freshly caught fish, and the kitchen will cook it up for them. There's live music and entertainment, and the full bar's mojitos, hurricanes, and beers add to the tropical environs.
There are plenty of reasons to come to Groovy Grouper Grill, including its menu. The adventurous bill combines culinary influences from Asia, Central America, Louisiana, and other hubs into dishes that might include meatloaf sliders with chimichurri, flatbread with smoked sirloin and bourbon glaze, or banana creme brulee. Revelry in the space is augmented by hand-crafted cocktails as well as wines from around the world. The space may also fill with pulsing music late into the evening.
Housed inside Fudpucker's sprawling 16,000-square-foot entertainment center, Fudpuckeroni's provides frosty drinks and freshly made pizzas to guests that are hungry after an evening spent shopping or playing arcade games. The sports bar's staff of skilled pizza-makers whips up a variety of specialty pizzas—such as the Redneck Mother with tangy barbequed pork and the gooey Big Cheese—as well as custom pizzas with a choice of cheese, sauce, and gourmet toppings. They layer ciabatta breads with slow-roasted pork and chargrilled chicken to make paninis, and toss plump wings in six different sauces, including tangy caribbean jerk and sweet thai chili.