His ‘hang-out’ is one of the coolest places in Panama City Beach.
But Dee is about as modest as they come. A fixture of the bar and restaurant scene since he was just 18 years old, Dee doesn’t like having his picture taken or being in the spotlight.
In fact, when Destination America’s Last Call Food Brawl wanted him to be part of its Panama City Beach episode, he almost missed the boat. Producers called him over and over, and he kept ignoring the phone because he didn’t recognize the number.
They finally got his attention by e-mail. The episode featured a hot dog challenge, a food truck challenge, and a surprise dessert challenge. Dee came through and won the whole thing!
(Good thing he checks his inbox.)
Super humble Dee has an intimate restaurant of only 12 total tables, along with an oyster bar with open seating. He likes his small restaurant, “because it may be too small for the summer crowds, but it’s just right for when the crowds disappear and the locals are looking for a hearty fish meal.”
In short, if you’re a part of those ‘summer crowds,’ get yourself to Dee’s Hangout early and snag a table. It’s a local favorite you don’t want to miss.
INSIDER TIP: Sometimes there’s up to a two-hour wait at night, so Dee created a VIP card which he calls the ‘DIP’ card. Many area hotel guests buy the card for $25 just to be able to put their name on the list an hour in advance.
Dee opened his Hangout in 2008, but we talked to a local fellow who said he’s been following him around for years. Wherever Dee worked, that was the place to eat. The gentleman travels a lot for work, and Dee’s Hangout is always his last meal before he departs and his first meal when he comes home.
A large lunch special is offered every day for only $9.99. You can’t find this quality food anywhere on the beach for that price.
Dee’s Hangout serves fresh, local fish. The food is New Orleans style, big on flavor. All the employees know how great the food is, and they also love their jobs.
We walked in and said, “Give us your most-ordered dish.”
Our server said, “Order anything on the menu, and you’ll love it …
… and if you don’t love it, I’ll eat it.”
Let’s talk about Chef Dee’s Smoked Tuna Dip. The story goes, Dee started selling his own tuna dip because he used to work at a restaurant where he had to handle ordering the tuna. Dee has bought 40,000 pounds of tuna so far this year. If you eat tuna dip anywhere on the coast, it’s either made by Dee or made from his tuna. He’s now selling it to grocery stores.
Try the Jalapeño Ranch version, and you’ll want to bathe yourself in it or apply it as sunscreen. (Okay, don’t do that. That’s weird.)
The restaurant is small and busy, but the food is served surprisingly quickly. Dee himself can often be seen saying ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to his loyal local customers. He even approves all of his meals before they are served.
There’s lots of memorabilia on the walls – Dee’s accomplishments and Panama City Beach history.
Dee’s Hangout is extremely family and kid-friendly, but because it stays so busy, here’s a hint from us to you. Next door to the restaurant, there is a take-out window, where you can order and pick-up Dee’s food in bulk for your big family when everyone is tuckered out from the sun.
That way, you can enjoy fresh local food right on your beachfront balcony at Beachside Resort. Family portions of the ‘Low Country Shrimp Boil’ can feed up to 12 people.
You must top of your experience with Dee’s famous and delicious homemade banana pudding.
P.S. Cold draft beers are only $2 during Happy Hour.
We’ll drink to Dee!