Foodie Travels: McGuire’s Irish Pub, Destin, Fla.

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it sure looks like it grows on the walls and ceiling at McGuire’s Irish Pub in Destin. Walking into the restaurant and bar along a gorgeous stretch of Florida’s western panhandle coastline is like entering a laidback, money-covered cave where wondrous food and beverages are served. It’s dark. It’s loud. And a good time is usually had by all. The eatery’s tagline is: Feasting, Imbibery, Debauchery.

I first visited McGuire’s in Destin while I was doing an internship at the Northwest Florida Daily News as a college student back in the summer of 2006. I was 10 hours away from home, working hard Tuesday through Saturday, and needed a place to kick back and treat myself with some great food. That’s what I found at McGuire’s.

Regular #FoodieScore readers know I love a great hand-pattied cheeseburger. Without a doubt, one of the five best cheeseburgers I’ve ever eaten is served at McGuire’s Irish pub. The burgers are large. The beef is tender and juicy. The buns are soft but accommodating for all of the glorious toppings. The choices of special topping styles seem endless. (Seriously, check it out on the menu.) And each comes with pub fries that are crispy and potato-y, all for about $10 a plate.

I took my wife Molly to McGuire’s during a holiday getaway to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary early. We decided to check out the restaurant’s Sunday brunch, something I had never experienced before. And what we discovered was one of the most delightful meals, for the best price, we’ve eaten anywhere during all of our #FoodieScore Travels.

McGuire’s offers every adult the option for a free hot or cold Irish coffee with brunch on Sundays (one fill only). And each table receives a complimentary plate of beignets, a French-style powdered-sugar-covered doughnut famous down the Gulf Coast in New Orleans. (And if you’re ever in The Big Easy, DO NOT MISS a visit to the legendary Cafe du Monde!) I saw the options for the coffee and beignets on the menu at McGuire’s and asked our server while ordering our meal. Can you bring out beignets for us? “Everybody gets beignets,” he replied.

EVERYBODY GETS BEIGNETS at McGuire’s Irish Pub brunch, and they are FREE! So is the Irish coffee! And I highly recommend the iced. It’s like a Frappuccino with kick! I enjoyed mine alongside the brunch burger, which came topped with cheese, crispy bacon and a sunnyside egg.

You can also get a bottomless mimosa at brunch, which will cost you about $6 per person. And we highly recommend the Belgian waffle plate, which comes with delicious syrup, fresh fruit, sweet yogurt, crispy bacon and other accompaniments. Our whole meal including tip cost us less than $30, which felt like a steal to us because of how much great food we had. We even had enough to take a few bites home for another meal.

While in Florida for just a few days, we explored as many restaurants as possible because we love to eat local when we travel and sample a variety of menus. But we found ourselves back at McGuire’s for lunch a few days after our brunch experience. I enjoyed a second burger during our trip while I had the chance, and Molly savored a bread bowl with potato soup, a special the restaurant was offering that day.

McGuire’s often offers live music, such as the day we enjoyed brunch. The restaurant is great about posting upcoming performers on its Facebook page. And, after all these years, McGuire’s is still an amazing place to get a great burger or another more-Irish cuisine selection. Of course, you’ll find all the fish-and-chips, shepherd’s pie and other Irish-style delights you’d expect of such a pub. The restaurant serves fresh bread and butter before its lunches and dinners, and it even makes its own fresh root beer, which you can even buy by the growler!

There’s another pub up the coast in Pensacola, if you take Highway 98 toward Alabama and Mississippi’s Gulf Coast region. But the Destin location, and its gorgeous surrounding beaches and entertainment, will always have my business as long as they’re open and we’re in the area. The place just oozes fun, and the food and prices really can’t be beat.

I don’t like giving my money away, so I’ve never attached a dollar bill to the walls of McGuire’s while I’ve been in the restaurant. But every dollar I’ve spent on food and beverage has been well worth it. I highly recommend you bookmark this place for any visit you make to northwest Florida!

McGuire’s Irish Pub, 33 U.S. Highway 98, Destin, Fla.

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