ROAD TRIP: Pineapple Willy’s, Panama City Beach, Florida
If there’s a bigger tourist-driven restaurant in Panama City Beach than Hammerhead Fred’s, it’s probably Pineapple Willy’s. We got an early start in order to avoid the rush and we were glad we did. You can see from the interior photo of the restaurant it was wide open when we got there, but when we left after our meal, there were only two tables left in the entire restaurant and the wait was 45 minutes and growing. This place is huge, with seating both inside and outside, and spacious deck that overlooks the beach and it begins to become carnival-like as dusk approaches.
When we got there, we were seated immediately and had drinks in an instant. Our server was knowledgeable about the menu (inside/outside) and worked his tail off during the meal checking in on us frequently while serving several other tables including a party of ten. He did a magnificent job, so the service gets a five-star rating from us!
We decided the try the Al E. Gator appetizer that is as you might have guessed, small chunks of alligator meat. It was heavily breaded and slightly chewy but very tasty. We wanted the Peel and Eat Shrimp but they only serve it cold and the fact that that wouldn’t serve it steamed disappointed us. Of course, had they not refused to serve the shrimp hot, we never would have tried the alligator so I guess it worked out like it was supposed to.
Melanie had the Grilled Shrimp Dinner accompanied with new potatoes and steamed broccoli. The new potatoes were reminiscent of the Baby Bakers at Hammerhead Fred’s but Melanie said she liked the potatoes even more here. She ended up with three skewers of five shrimp each and it was more than she could eat. I ate one of her skewers and we brought another home (makes a great start to the day!).
I chose the Blackened Mahi-Mahi and I selected the steamed broccoli and corn on the cob. I really kicked myself for getting corn on the cob because, even though I love it, I still feel awkward eating it out in public. The Steamed Broccoli was seasoned nicely and they did a great job of preparing this to be a very nice, healthy side dish.
While the two pieces of Mahi-Mahi were certainly not right off the boat, they were blackened perfectly and two excellent pieces of fish. They were thick, flaky and moist and the flavor of the fish was fabulous. I think my only turnoff was the sauces that come labeled “Ken’s”. That just doesn’t sit right with me.
The food was better than expected, the service was very good – it’s Panama City Beach so it’s going to be aimed at tourists and be ready for the high-volume, table turning dining experience that comes with it. Pineapple Willy’s is a place you HAVE to experience when in Panama City Beach. Guten appetit!