With the largest fishing vessel fleet in the State of Florida, locals and tourists alike have branded Destin as “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village”. Along with that title comes an enormous number of legendary fish tales and secret fishing holes, some widely known while others are never to be spoken of.
Every great ‘honey hole’ (ideal spot for catching fish) has a greater story, and so does the hottest new restaurant at HarborWalk Village, Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi.
During the mid 1980’s, the Tenneco 80 rig was dropped off the Emerald Coast into the Gulf of Mexico to create an artificial reef that quickly became the go-to spot for local anglers to catch mammoth Amberjack. During a trip to the rig in the mid 1990’s, Destin Charter Boat Captain Dale Beebe of the Lady EM was fishing with a group of anglers for the celebrated fish, but only caught Barracuda.
On his return to shore, those eager to hear how Captain Beebe scored radioed in only to hear him say, “All I caught today were Jackacudas!” Endlessly intrigued, local fishermen took their boats in search of the infamous Jackacuda, with the tradition continuing today.
Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi was named in honor of Captain Beebe’s tale. The restaurant owners wanted to create the same enthusiasm for the diner that the fishermen felt, by offering exciting food preparations in a relaxing atmosphere with incredible water front views.
Focusing on local caught fresh Gulf seafood prepared with their “New South” culinary techniques and unique artistic sushi, Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi is owned and operated by a tight-knit team of young entrepreneurs.
Tyler Jarvis and Chris Ruyan grew up together and both attended Fort Walton Beach High School. Tyler is the son of Gary Jarvis, a well-known area boat captain who was raised eating fresh seafood right off his Dad’s boat called Backdown 2 (also the name of their most popular sushi roll). Chris Ruyan was involved with the management of several area restaurants and brings his knowledge of the hospitality industry to the hip and contemporary space.
Executive Chef Tyler McMahan (also a life-long friend of Chris and Tyler) was a natural choice to join the team as he takes pride in serving the highest quality local and sustainable seafood, a passion that has earned him numerous awards and accolades. His first order of business was to add Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi to a new sustainable program called Fish Trax Marketplace, where a QR code is served with all seafood orders. This tag alerts diners to where, when and by whom their fish was caught.
Chef McMahan is always looking for top quality proteins and seeks organic, hormone-free meats like the Neiman Ranch bone in pork chop soaked in maple fennel brine. It is pan seared, then finished in the oven and topped with house crafted fig jam, a dish to add to your bucket list!
A twelve-year veteran to the sushi industry and widely known for his creative rolls, Sushi Chef Efrain Tirado joined the Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi team by way of San Diego, California where he honed his craft at restaurants such as Nobu and Zensei Sushi. Tirado uses hand picked produce and house made sauces in his culinary presentations. I indulged in the Coronado roll that is named after the Coronado Bridge in San Diego, thus paying homage to Chef Tirado’s hometown. Brimming with spicy Yellowfin tuna, cucumber, and topped with Yellowtail Amberjack, tobiko (flying fish roe), local micro greens and a house made Serrano pepper with mint Ponzu, it was incredibly fresh and flavorful. The famed Back Down 2 roll (mentioned earlier) was a must on my list to try, and was packed with tempura battered Gulf shrimp, spicy lobster, jalapeño cream cheese, fresh avocado, baked spicy crab then topped with eel sauce. Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi definitely had me “hooked” at first bite.
Jackacudas Seafood & Sushi is located at 56 Harbor Blvd. in Destin. Hours of operation are Monday-Sunday 10 am to 10 pm. Seating is available inside as well as outside on the covered, dog-friendly patio. Gluten-free menu options, daily Happy Hour and a children’s menu that includes a drink for only $2.95 are also offered. Sunday Brunch is popular showcasing bottomless Mimosas from 10am-4pm. For more information visit their website at www.jackacudas.com, follow Jackacudas on Instagram, or call (850) 424-3507.