At Harbor Docks, the Morgans have been serving up welcoming smiles and fresh seafood for more than 40 years.
Growing up in Destin, Eddie Morgan spent his childhood watching his father run Harbor Docks, the family restaurant situated on the shoreline just off Harbor Boulevard. From a young age, he observed his father cultivate a superior level of service and an unbeatable menu selection that brought guests back year after year. Since its inception in 1979, Harbor Docks has remained a family-owned and -operated restaurant boasting authentic Gulf-to-table dishes with only the freshest ingredients.
Whether you’re visiting for the first time or are one of the generations of customers who have grown up with the Morgans, the folks at Harbor Docks are sure to make you feel at home. “We have the same folks coming in since we opened our doors,” says Eddie. “We’ve seen families grow up here and bring their kids here. I’ve been working in the restaurant in some form or another since I was 7 years old.”
Keeping things in the family is something his staff has also been a part of, with several children and grandchildren of current employees having worked at the restaurant as well. At least five of them have clocked more than 30 years of dedication, so the Harbor Docks family knows the importance of continuing their traditions. With examples like Jalune McCormick, who has worked as their Thai chef since 1982, and Duster Strawbridge, who started as a dishwasher and is now the head of kitchen operations, Eddie and his family promote loyalty among the staff as well as their customers.
Their Wholesale Seafood Market, which opened two years after the restaurant, is equipped with fishing boats that dock daily. Several are owned by Eddie and his family, but they contract around 100 boats to make it all happen. Visitors can see the vessels making their way in to deliver fresh fish for the lunch and dinner table from across miles of Gulf waters from Panama City Beach to Bayou La Batre, AL.
“We pride ourselves on serving local food, either caught or brought in from local markets,” says Eddie. From offering fresh, Gulf-caught seafood to dishes made from scratch, Harbor Docks has found the recipe to ensure each plate is mouthwatering and the atmosphere is always welcoming. And not much has changed since Eddie bought the restaurant from his dad a few years ago. “We have things on the menu that have been here since we opened our doors,” says Eddie. “We try new things to keep up with the trends, but a lot of our most popular dishes are the original ones.”
Among those most-requested dishes are the Gulf Grouper Parmadine, topped with lump crabmeat, Parmesan cheese, and roasted almonds, served alongside a house salad and Yukon gold mash. But their grilled, fried, and blackened dishes are what keep guests coming back. Since bringing on Yoshie Eddings, their sushi chef of 25-plus years, Harbor Docks has been able to expand its offerings to customers who enjoy exotic styles and colorful presentations. Yoshie, who was brought on because of her extensive skills and experience gathered directly from Tokyo, offers customers the chance to try sushi handcrafted with only the most superb ingredients. With the Back Down and Big Papi as the two most popular among their more than 40 different rolls, diners will have no trouble spicing things up every time they visit.
As if serving the freshest food isn’t enough, the staff and crew also give back to their community by fundraising throughout the year and coordinating a special charter fishing expedition each November for the children in the community. Eddie and his team take close to 300 kids fishing and host a huge fish fry afterward, giving the youngsters the experience of a lifetime.
But it’s not just the kids in the community that Eddie and his family provide for. Every Thanksgiving, Harbor Docks opens its doors to anyone who would like to join them for traditional Thanksgiving dishes free of charge. They encourage anyone to come and sit at their table. “We get everything from second homeowners who are just in town for the holidays to homeless people who are just looking for a hot meal,” says Eddie.
The fresh catches and flavorful favorites served up for lunch and dinner may be what get people in the door, but the inviting family atmosphere and outstanding staff are what keep them coming back. “We are definitely known for our fresh fish. We don’t do anything tricky or try to mask it or hide it,” says Eddie. “We are what we are, and people love it.”
Harbor Docks | 538 Harbor Blvd | Destin, FL, 32541 | (850) 837-2506 | Harbor Docks Website
Coastal Palate Magazine, all rights reserved
This is how we eat!