For our 2011 Annual Spring EAT! Issue, IN staff, with a little help from some anonymous foodies, have put together the first ever "Top 50 Places to Eat Right Now"--according to us--based on food execution, staff, atmosphere and how the meal quality falls in line with cost. No one has ever attempted to put together such a list until now. Dining is inescapably subjective. For some, a sublime meal is one with white linens on the table. For others, it’s a storefront run by an ambitious young chef eager to make his mark, while some find their bliss in comfort foods or a well-run chain restaurant. All of these experiences are represented on this list. Some of you will love it. Some of you will hate it. But alas, dear readers, you'll have your chance to tell us YOUR favorites in our 2011 Best of the Coast Readers Poll coming up later this summer. Believe us, it was tough to narrow down our favorite joints to 50, but we had to cut it off somewhere.
600 South Italian Eatery & Wine Bar
600 S. Palafox, 434-6320, 600southpalafox.com Why We Love It: Its new menu, which features several Italian tapas, has attracted attention, but 600 South’s Sunday brunch is what put the restaurant on this list. 600 South Staff Recommends: Panko and Herb Crusted Grouper ($12 Small, $20 Entrée) Served over linguini with homemade marinara and served with tomato jam
which come raw, baked or steamed. Atlas Oyster House Staff Recommends: Sushi. Atlas serves half-price sushi every Tuesday night from 5-10 p.m., featuring $2 domestic draft pints.
916 E. Gregory St., 444-9661 Why We Love It: Even if the bagels and
913 Gulf Breeze Parkway, # 20, Gulf Breeze, 916-0430 Why We Love It: The best Greek restaurant in the Pensacola area is in Gulf Breeze. You can’t go wrong with any of the seafood, but we love the Seafood Mykonos. The steaks and lamb are excellent, too. The setting is homey, and the wait staff is friendly and attentive.
5147 Elmira St., Milton, 623-1105, blackwaterbistro.com Why We Love It: This Milton restaurant has made its mark since opening in 2009. All of the sandwiches, wraps and salads are excellent, but we can’t resist the Blackened Grouper. Blackwater Bistro Staff Recommends: Pecan Crusted Grouper ($18.95) Fresh grouper filet covered and baked with Renfroe's Fancy Fresh Crushed Pecans and topped with a mornaise sauce and served with a pair of country sides
Blue Dot Barbecue
The Atlas Oyster House
600 S. Barracks St., 470-0003, goodgrits.com Why We Love It: When The Fish House is packed, turn left at the hostess stand and enjoy its sister restaurant. You can partake in all of the menu items from The Fish House, but we go to Atlas for the oysters,
coffee weren’t great, we would recommend this place for its view of Pensacola Bay. Fortunately, it’s also a great place for breakfast or lunch, with friends or alone, to read the latest copy of the IN.
Oysters from The Atlas Oyster House
310 N. De Villiers St., 432-0644 Why We Love It: You go here for the burgers. Stand in line at the counter, place your order, and sit on a picnic bench to wait for the best hamburger in Pensacola to be handed to you in a brown paper bag. That’s how the locals do it.
5025 N. 12th Ave., 471-2324, bonefishgrill.com Why We Love It: This chain restaurant doesn’t feel like one. The seafood menu is extensive. Here is our dream dinner: Appetizer-Bang Bang Shrimp; Soup-Corn Chowder with Lump Crab; Entrée-Chilean Sea Bass with warm Mango Salsa; and Dessert-Key Lime Pie.
Cactus Flower Cafe
3425 N. 12th Ave., Pensacola, 432-8100; 3309 Gulf Beach Highway, Pensacola, 458-3833; and 8725 Ortega Park Drive, Navarre, 936-4111; cactusflowercafe.net Why We Love It: California-style Mexican food never tasted so good. A great change from the other uninspired Mexican eateries in the area. This place is always crowded, particularly the Ninth Avenue location, so take an early or late lunch to avoid the crowd.
3708 W. Navy Blvd., Pensacola, 456-0165; 3601 U.S. 90, Pace, 994-3299 Why We Love It: Best fried mullet dinner in the Pensacola area. You want to get there before the banana pudding runs out. INDEPENDENT NEWS | april 14, 2011 | WWW.INWEEKLY.NET |
Vegan 4-1-1 Going Vegan at Every Corner
By Sarah Kathleen McCartan
Oh Snap! Cupcakes
ver the course of the past decade, eating vegetarian (eliminating meat from one’s diet) and vegan (eliminating all forms of animal products from one’s diet) has become less a fleeting trend and more a way of life. No longer do the excuses of accessibility or affordability fly. Both local and corporate businesses are shifting their ways and becoming more adaptable to the growing concern for health in addition to specific dietary needs. Although it has been a slow process, most places have jumped on board to some extent. Whether you're a vegan looking for a new bite, or someone with the urge to break out of a daily lunch break routine, here is a quick look at a few choice staple eateries plus a few surprise establishments that are sure to make your mouth water. Although Pensacola’s vegetarian and vegan selections extend beyond the city limits, all selected mentions are located conveniently within or in close proximity to downtown and East Hill.
Sluggo’s Vegetarian Restaurant: Last year’s move to its new location in the
heart of downtown paired with its heightened focus on food have enabled Sluggo’s to become a landmark for vegan eating in the area, not to mention a favored watering hole and longstanding venue. Whether picking up lunch on the go, sticking around for tofu dog happy hour or bringing the family in for dinner, patrons are guaranteed to not go home hungry. End of the Line Cafe: More than just a small coffee shop, this establishment acts as a full-service café and now features all organic ingredients. In addition to the daily menu, Thursday night dinners and Sunday brunches are both multi-course dining experiences that have come to attract quite the crowd. Ever’man Natural Foods: The recent addition of patio tables has allowed for Ever’man to gradually become more of a place to stick around and eat. If you are short on time, the Grab-N-Go case mirrors larger nationally-known health food stores by offering an expansive selection of wraps, salads and snacks you can sneak back into work with you. “It’s encouraging to see local businesses coming to us for organic ingredients and meat alternatives to incorporate into their menus,” stated Alexa Reed, Customer Service Representative.
The Leisure Club: TLC has quickly made its mark serving freshly roasted Intelligentsia coffee along with a flood of delicious gourmet cuisine. “The menu is constantly growing due to our customer demand, and the feedback from local vegans and vegetarians has been great.
Every vegan has experienced going to dinner with omnivore friends and family and struggled to find something to eat other than a bland side salad,” shared TLC barista Sara Beard. Oh Snap! Cupcakes: In just a short time on the scene Oh Snap! has established itself as a one-stop dessert shop. Although selections change daily, typically you can get your hands on a vegan red velvet cupcake and will not be disappointed. The vegan and gluten-free options go fast, so get there early.
The Welcomed Surprises
Faster Food: Everyone knows that although eating late may seem like a crime, it happens to the best of us at some point. The reassuring news is that Whataburger offers its own veggie burger. Try it fully involved with hash brown sticks. Thinking Irish: Although at first glance McGuire’s Irish Pub seems nothing but meat and potatoes, with just a little thought and creativity one can enjoy a full plate of nachos skipping the dairy and meat and adding a vegan staple–peanut butter. Pizza Time: Local pizza eatery Ozone Pizza Pub now offers dairy-free Daiya cheese on their pizzas. Drop in Monday nights for half off large vegan pizzas to enjoy with friends. If you prefer a more low-key atmosphere, Elbow Room, located slightly west of downtown, also offers vegan cheese on their spread of pizzas and sandwiches. Although hard to narrow it down to these mentions, all of these locales are prime evidence that vegan eating does not have to be code for settling for a bland salad or being forced into a dining experience with limited options.
The Elbow Room
Ever'man Natural Foods
McGuire's Irish Pub
Ozone Pizza Pub
2213 W. Cervantes St. 434-0300
315 W. Garden St. 438-0402 everman.org
600 E. Gregory St. 433-6789 mcguiresirishpub.com
1010 N. 12th Ave., Suite 111 433-7336 ozonepizzapub.com
The Leisure Club
Oh Snap! Cupcakes
126 S. Palafox 912-4229 tlcdowntown.com
707-A E. Cervantes St. 387-4777 ohsnapcupcakes.com
Sluggo's Vegetarian Restaurant
End of the Line Cafe 610 E. Wright St. 429-0336 eotlcafe.org
101 S. Jefferson St. 791-6501, sluggos.net
**Please visit the respective businesses’ Facebook pages for locations, menus, pricing, specials and more.
2050 N. 12th Ave., Pensacola, 469-8100 Why We Love It: This beloved neighborhood grocery has daily lunch specials and wine tastings on Fridays. On the weekends, they grill chicken and ribs. We recommend the Muffalata, made with Gambino’s Olive Salad.
10 | INDEPENDENT NEWS | april 14, 2011
300 S. Alcaniz St., 433-1275, dharmablue.com Why We Love It: We love the coastal atmosphere of this restaurant. The menu is an eclectic mix of fresh seafood entrees as
well as steaks, pastas and game, along with salads and quiche. We love Monday nights for the $2 off their sushi rolls. Dharma Blue Staff Recommends: Adobo Shrimp and Chorizo ($11.99) With fresh tomato and cilantro served with French bread
22 N. Palafox, 332-7227, elisecoastaldining.com Why We Love It: Few restaurants have made such an immediate splash in Pensacola. It has earned a nomination as one of the best new restaurants in the country from the James Beard Foundation. IN favorites include the Simple Greens salad, Risotto, Lamb and Custard—and, of course, the bacon that melts in your mouth. Elise Staff Recommends: House Cured Bacon ($9) Served with parsnip puree, lightly pickled beets and caramelized apples
The Fish House
600 S. Barracks St., 470-0003, goodgrits.com Why We Love It: There is a reason why every important politico eats here, and it’s not just the good-looking staff. Its Grits à Ya Ya has become a signature dish for not only Chef Jim Shirley, but also the entire Pensacola area. Fish House Staff Recommends: Grits à Ya Ya ($14.50 Lunch,$19.95 Dinner) Spiced Gulf jumbo shrimp top a sauté of spinach, portobello mushrooms, applewood smoked bacon, garlic, shallots and cream over a heaping bed of smoked Gouda cheese grits.
Five Sisters Blues Cafe
421 W. Belmont St., 912-4856, fivesistersbluescafe.com Why We Love It: Soul food in a romantic setting in a restaurant in historic Belmont-DeVilliers district. This café is cool. We love the red beans and rice, but the Aunt Sara’s Southern Fried Chicken is our favorite. Five Sisters Blues Café Staff Recommends: Fried Chicken Plates (2-piece $8.25, 3-piece $9.25) Chicken fried to crisp perfection accompanied by your choice of two southern sides
Frank and Lola Love Pensacola Cafe
165 Fort Pickens Road, Pensacola Beach, 916-9755, margaritavillehotel.com Why We Love It: Hotel restaurants aren’t normally high on our list, but Margaritaville has hit a homerun with this one, even though it actually has a Cheeseburger in Paradise on its menu. We agree with the staff—The Crab & Shrimp Mac and Cheese is a must. Frank and Lola's Staff Recommends: Crab and Shrimp Mac and Cheese ($16) Macaroni with a Boursin cheese sauce, jumbo lump crab and Gulf shrimp covered in melted cheese and finished with a golden panko crust
Geno's Italian Restaurant
9276 N. Davis Highway, 477-2365 Why We Love It: This North Davis Highway restaurant is unassuming from the outside, but its pizza, spaghetti and other Italian dishes wow us every time. This is where we get our lasagna fix. Geno's Staff Recommends: Lasagna ($13.50) Served with a salad and garlic bread
ECD eat april 2011 final:Layout 1 3/31/2011 5:02 PM Page 1
lobster tail and shrimp, wild mushrooms, baby bok choy and garlic herb potatoes
Happy Pig Café
200 S. Alcaniz St., 912-8480, thehappypig.com Why We Love It: Our publisher is a barbeque fanatic, and it’s too convenient to have “The Pig” so close to the office. We have to smell what he dripped on his shirt for the rest of the day. He recommends the Happy Pig Pork Sandwich and the ribs.
Signature Dishes. Exceptional Service.
Hopjacks Pizza Kitchen & Taproom
Elise / photo by Samantha Crooke
27 S. Palafox, 469-9966, dineglobalgrill.com Why We Love It: Chef Frank Taylor continues to impress and surprise with his menu creations. This is where we want to take our friends when we celebrate. The service is top-notch, and every meal is a delight. Global Grill Staff Recommends: New York Strip, Blackened with Andouille and Crab Cream ($32) Served with Yukon Mash and Chef ’s Vegetables
The Grand Marlin Restaurant and North Drop Bar
400 Pensacola Beach Blvd., Pensacola Beach, 677-9153, thegrandmarlin.com Why We Love It: The Grand Marlin put casual fine dining on Pensacola Beach back on the map. The view of Santa Rosa Sound is breathtaking. Everything on the menu is worth trying, but we're partial to the Maryland Style Lump Crab Cakes. The Grand Marlin Restaurant Staff Recommends: Parmesan Crusted Flounder ($15.95) Fresh flounder fillet pan seared with Parmesan panko crust, served over garlic sauteed spinach, house-whipped potatoes and topped with a lemon caper brown butter sauce
10 Palafox Place, 497-6073, hopjacks.com Why We Love It: Humongous beer selection, pizza and Belgian fries–the perfect food trinity for the IN staff. It’s hard to imagine downtown Pensacola without Hopjacks. Hopjacks Staff Recommends: Belgian Fries ($5.75) Fresh-cut potatoes fried in duck fat and served with ketchup and a roasted garlic herb dip
Horizon Sushi Restaurant
3103 E. Strong St., 432-7899, horizensushi.net Why We Love It: Nice atmosphere coupled with innovative Asian cuisine put this Japanese restaurant on the list. The sushi and Bento boxes keep us coming back.
Contemporary Dining at its Best. 22 North Palafox Street • Downtown Pensacola 850.332.7272 • www.elisecoastaldining.com
Hub Stacey's Downtown
312 E. Government St., 469-1001, hubstaceys.com Why We Love It: Hub's Hummus is the best in town. All of the sandwiches are great, but we have a particular affinity toward the Romano Sandwich, a classic ruben with a Hub's twist.
H20 Cajun Asian Grill
12 Via de Luna (Located at the Hilton Pensacola Beach Hotel), 343-6791, eatath20.com Why We Love It: The restaurant overlooks the Pensacola Beach Hilton’s pool and the Gulf of Mexico. We love Chef Dan Dunn’s signature Beach Style Shrimp, a baconwrapped shrimp stuffed with Gouda cheese over a bed of dirty rice. H20 Cajun/Asian Grill Staff Recommends: Steak Dano ($35) 8-ounce grilled prime filet mignon with General Tso's-style fried
Global Grill's New York Strip INDEPENDENT NEWS | april 14, 2011 | WWW.INWEEKLY.NET |
Why We Love It: We can have a seat at the bar, order a PBR, and enjoy some of the best Tex-Mex cuisine and finest velvet portraits of Elvis in Pensacola.
400 S. Palafox, 469-9898, jacksonsrestaurant.com Why We Love It: This is Pensacola’s premiere fine dining experience. It’s where the power brokers take guests when they want to impress them. Service is world class and Chef Irv Miller always has a unique special that never fails to please. Jackson's Staff Recommends: Gnocchi ($31) (Available on Spring/Summer menu April 22) With Port St. Joe shrimp, Cedar Key clams and Blue Gold mussels served with tomato, garlic, lemon, olive oil, chardonnay, fresh herbs and sun-dried tomato bread
Jaco's Bayfront Bar and Grille
Ichiban Japanese Restaurant
5555-I N. Davis Highway, 494-2227, ichibanpensacola.com Why We Love It: Ichiban's sushi is some of the best around. Our favorite rolls: Pensacola Paradise Roll and Titan Roll.
2907 E. Cervantes St., 434-0050
997 S. Palafox, 432-5226, jacosbayfrontbarandgrille.com Why We Love It: We go to Jaco’s for the sunsets, f latbread pizzas and excellent service. There is no better place to end a rough work day. Jaco's Staff Recommends: 10" Tender Blue Flatbread ($13.95) Very thin f latbread with a blue cheese base and sirloin cooked to your temp sprinkled on top
Jerry's Cajun Café
6205 N. Ninth Ave., 484-6962, jerryscajun.com Why We Love It: Pensacola has lost many of its Cajun restaurants, but Jerry Mistretta has held on, offering some of the best juicy Roast Beef Po-boys, Red Beans and Rice, Boudin Balls, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo and Crawfish Etouffe.
Cheddar Cheese, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, hickory-smoked bacon and vine-ripened tomatoes on multi-grain bread, served with House Ginger Slaw
2815 E. Cervantes St., 433-9910 Why We Love It: This is a place for locals. Corny signs and college pennants cover the wall. Order the cheeseburger, onion rings and a chocolate milk shake and all will be right with the world.
The Leisure Club
126 S. Palafox, 912-4229, tlcdowntown.com Why We Love It: It’s hip, it’s cool, and it’s much more than a coffee shop. The lunch and dinner menus change regularly with creative offerings, and they have some of the best soups and grilled cheese sandwiches in Pensacola. The Leisure Club Staff Recommends: The Ragin' Cajun Panini ($9) Features Boars Head CajunJaco's Bayfront Bar and Grille / photo by Samantha style turkey breast, Boars Head Crooke
The Boardwalk’s NEWEST Dining Experience Casual Dining Southern Tapas, Sandwiches & Entrees Comfort Food With A Flare Over 50 Specialty Tequilas Live Entertainment - Friday, Saturday & Sunday
850.934.5999 portofino boardwalk • 400 quietwater beach rd unit 5 • pensacola beach 12 | INDEPENDENT NEWS | april 14, 2011
lN Sunday Brunch Guide Area Brunch Menus Offer Something for Everyone By IN Staff
unday Funday just got a little better. Check out each of these Sunday Brunch hot spots for some after-church or pre-beach feasting. You'll be so food-drunk you won't even care that you have to go back to work in the morning.
600 S. Palafox, 434-6320, 600southpalafox.com Sunday Brunch Served: 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. 600 South has one of Pensacola's most extensive brunch menus that includes: an assortment of Mediterranean salads; a 12-ingredient omelet station for made-to-order omelets of whole egg or egg whites; fresh seafood selections; five featured chef selections; a carving station with roasted poultry, pork or beef; and dessert pastries from around the world. The all-inclusive brunch is $19.99—$9.99 for children 10 and under—with a free Bloody Mary, champagne, mimosa or screwdriver. Add $5 for bottomless champagne.
▶Atlas Oyster House
600 S. Barracks St., 470-0003, atlas.goodgrits.com Sunday Brunch Served: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Like its sister restaurant, The Fish House, Atlas offers brunch menu items such as sushi, pizza, soups, salads, sandwiches and seafood entrees. However, Atlas also offers a variety of grilled and baked oyster specialties like IN's favorite blackened grilled oysters. Enjoy $2 Bloody Marys and mimosas and $3.95 bottomless glasses of champagne.
▶Crab's We Got'Em
6 Casino Beach Boardwalk, Pensacola Beach, 932-0700, crabswegotem.com Sunday Brunch Served: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. For $9.99, choose from five brunch entrees—Crab Cake Benedict, Classic Eggs Benedict, Crab Omelet, The House Denver Omelet, and Rise and Shine— along with $5.99 bottomless champagne, mimosas and bellinis. All brunch entrees are served with home fries, honey buns and fresh fruit.
▶End of the Line Café
610 E. Wright St., 429-0336, eotlcafe.com Sunday Brunch Served: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. End of the Line mixes traditional brunch up a little, offering a different 100-percent vegan brunch menu each
Sunday for an all-inclusive price of only $12. Recent brunch samplings have included: acorn squash and sweet potato bisque; cinnamon spice crostini; braised kale and garbanzos; button mushrooms with kumquat marmalade spring salad with creamy sundried tomato vinaigrette; and blueberry cobbler with mango creme fraiche. Regular or herbal tea is included with your meal.
▶The Fish House
600 S. Barracks St., 470-0003, goodgrits.com Sunday Brunch Served: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. The Fish House brunch menu is one of the area's best, and includes everything from sushi to pizza. Whatever you're hungry for, there's a little something for everyone: sushi, pizza, soups, salads, sandwiches and seafood entrees, in addition to brunch favorites such as Bananas Foster French Toast, Classic Eggs Benedict, Blueberry Belgian Waffle, Eggs Sardou, and of course, the World-Famous Grits a Ya-Ya, to name a few. Enjoy $2 Bloody Marys and mimosas and $3.95 bottomless glasses of champagne.
▶Five Sisters Blues Café
421 W. Belmont St., 912-4856, fivesistersbluescafe.com Sunday Brunch Served: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Five Sisters switches over to a special Sunday-only spread featuring classic brunch selections along with menu favorites that are available during the week. Chicken and waffles and their unique Creole-seasoned shrimp served over cheese grits are two of several choices available only during Sunday Brunch hours. The restaurant also regularly hosts live jazz musicians during brunch; check out their events calendar online for more information. Reservations are recommended for parties of six or more.
▶Flounders Chowder House
800 Quietwater Beach Road, Pensacola Beach, 932-2003, flounderschowderhouse.com Sunday Brunch Served: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Flounders' Champagne Sunday Brunch includes fancy omelets made with six eggs each—Flounders Seafood Omelet and Classic Denver Omelet—and benedicts— Classic Eggs Benedict and Eggs Pensacola Beach. All brunch entrees are served with your choice of home fries or cheese grits, New Orleans beignets and fresh fruit. Enjoy a bottomless glass of champagne with your meal for $5.95.
▶The Grand Marlin
400 Pensacola Beach Blvd., Pensacola Beach, 677-9153, thegrandmarlin.com Sunday Brunch Served: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dine inside The Grand Marlin, with views of Pensacola Bay, or on The North Drop deck, with its live music and vistas across Santa Rosa Sound. Start your meal off right with a Peach Bellini, a Grand Mimosa or the signature TGM House-Made Bloody Mary, and follow with Crab Cakes Benedict, Steak and Eggs, Shrimp Frittata or Green Eggs and Ham, to name a few options.
▶H20 Cajun Asian Grille
12 Via de Luna (Located at the Hilton Pensacola Beach Hotel), 343-6791, eatath20.com Sunday Brunch Served: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. For $26.95, choose from over 40 food choices from Executive Chef Dan Dunn and 32 Bloody Mary options. Add $6.95 for bottomless Bloody Marys and mimosas. Reservations are encouraged.
▶Jaco's Bayfront Bar & Grille 997 S. Palafox, 432-5226, jacosbayfrontbarandgrille.com Sunday Brunch Served: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Jaco's started serving brunch on March 13, and now is the perfect time to sit out on the porch and enjoy brunch on the bay. Choose from eight entrees, including Flatbread Scramble, Stuffed French Toast, Seafood Frittata and Fried Egg and Green Tomato Stack, and accompanying sides that include Creole Grits, Breakfast Potatoes and Capicola Ham, among others. Wash it all down with $2 Bloody Marys, mimosas and champagne.
▶McGuire's Irish Pub
600 E. Gregory St., 433-6789, mcguiresirishpub.com Sunday Brunch Served: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. In addition to killer steaks and burgers, McGuire's also has a scrumptious Sunday brunch menu that will keep you full for a few days. All items on the brunch menu are served with your choice of Irish Coffee (frozen or hot) and their homemade French Quarter beignets. Entrees include massive omelettes—each made with six eggs and served with Potatoes O'Brien and beignets—and benedicts. You can also drink up without dropping a lot of cash—Enjoy Bloody Marys for $2 each and bottomless glasses of champagne for $2.99.
51 Gulf Breeze Parkway, 932-8638 Sunday Brunch Served: 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Unique Café recently expanded into the former Jambalaya's Grill & Oyster Bar in Bay Beach Inn, and the waterfront restaurant offers fabulous view of the bay while you dine. Along with their brunch menu Unique Cafe offers $1.99 mimosas and $3.50 Bloody Marys. Dine on the water with live music every Sunday.
▶The Leisure Club
126 S. Palafox, 912-4229, tlcdowntown.com Sunday Brunch Served: 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. The Leisure Club presents "Bubbles & Brunch" every Sunday with Chef Josh House and stellar music by DJ Ram-Z. Enjoy bottomless champagne and mimosas for $7 and $12 Gourmet Brunch Trios where you select three menu items to build your perfect brunch combination—everything from Belgian Waffles to Garden Frittata to Rosemary Sausage Biscuits & Gravy and more. Vegan options are also available. It's leisurely and laid back...TLC at its best.
The Fish House's Eggs Benedict INDEPENDENT NEWS | april 14, 2011 | WWW.INWEEKLY.NET |
Boardwalk Savior Laguna’s Resurrects Casual Fine Dining on the Boardwalk By Grant Hutchinson
aguna’s didn’t open in time to make our "Top 50" list, but they’re quickly becoming a top candidate for next year’s. With a clean, nautical-inspired décor and a roomy, free-flowing design that takes advantage of its beautiful surroundings, Laguna’s adds a much-needed dollop of class to Quietwater Boardwalk. That’s not to say that Laguna’s is stuffy, however. The business crowd comes in their golf shirts and khakis and power blouses, sure, but they’re flanked on every
14 | INDEPENDENT NEWS | april 14, 2011
side by surfer dudes in board shorts and flip-flops and beach bunnies fresh off the sand. The menu offers clever twists on traditional Southern and seafood fare, creating a dining experience that feels simultaneously authentic and unique. The fried oyster tacos deliver a perfect blend of salty, spicy and tangy flavors. The fried chicken and waffles redefine breakfast, creating a meaty, sweet dish that’s gooey and delicious to the last bite. Other main dishes include burgers, chicken and fish sandwiches, crab cakes, chicken and shrimp pasta, roasted free-range chicken breast, the local catch served with grits and spinach, and ribeye steak. A selection of delectable tapas is sure to encourage sharing. From the Frenchbreaded, veggie-infused slider burgers to the New Orleans-inspired baked brie with praline topping, every tongue is sure to find something that pleases it. Rounding out the tapas menu are a “build your own”
mac and cheese, a selection of salsa, BBQ shrimp, seared ahi tuna, lump crab fondue and fried pickles. If it’s spirits you’re after, Laguna’s full bar is highlighted by a wide range of highend tequila selections, from the standard Patron at $8.25 a shot to the $100 Herradura Select. Laguna’s also serves a number of mixed tequila drinks formulated in-house. The Iced Te-Quiller is just what it sounds like—tequila, sweet tea and lemon juice. It’s also surprisingly good—think a Long Island with a bit more kick. If you’re feeling particularly gothic, the Vampirerita margarita combines tequila, blood orange puree, lime juice and triple sec for a tasty blend that would make Dracula proud.
Lillo's Tuscan Grille
5 Via De Luna Drive, 934-5456, lillostuscangrille.com Why We Love It: Its intimate romantic dining area works so well on Pensacola Beach. The menu items are authentic Italian family recipes that have been passed down for generations. We love the Eggplant Parmesan.
Marina Oyster Bar
505 Bayou Blvd., 433-0511, marinaoysterbarn.com Why We Love It: You have to know where this place is to eat there. The gumbo and fried oysters are worth the hunt. This f loating restaurant on Bayou Texar should be on your regular dining itinerary.
McGuire's Irish Pub
600 E. Gregory St., 433-6789, mcguiresirishpub.com Why We Love It: Tourists make this Gregory Street restaurant a must-stop on their visits to the area, but the food, service and atmosphere keep us coming back, too. The proportions are gargantuan, and the steaks are mouth-watering.
Laguna's 400 Quietwater Beach Road #5-A 934-5999 Facebook: Laguna's
5175 Bayou Blvd., 475-7575, mellowmushroom.com Why We Love It: This chain restaurant delivers on its promise to escape from the mundane. The specialty pizzas are imaginative and delicious and the expansive beer selection—one of the IN's favorite restaurant attributes—is impressive.
The Native Cafe
45A Via DeLuna Drive, Pensacola Beach, 9344848, thenativecafe.com Why We Love It: This restaurant may do little advertising and be hidden in a strip center on Pensacola Beach, but its food, especially the fish tacos, is fantastic and locals rave about it. You have to try this one. The Native Cafe Staff Recommends: Fish Tacos ($8.99) Three tacos with mahi mahi (flamed sauteed) topped with shredded cabbage, tomatoes and bell peppers, in grilled flour tortillas and served with pico and chipotle mayo
New Yorker Deli and Pizzeria
3001 E. Cervantes St., 469-0029, newyorkerdeliandpizzeria.com Why We Love It: Itâ€™s small and usually crammed, but the food is worth the wait. The salads, hot and cold sandwiches and authentic New York pizzas, calzones and strombolis are excellent. The Italian Sausage and New York Pastrami sandwiches are two of our favorites. New Yorker Deli Staff Recommends: The Reuben ($6.49) Comes with your choice of pastrami, turkey or corned beef, and chips and a pickle
New York Nick's
The Native Cafe's Fish Tacos / photo by Samantha Crooke
9 S. Palafox, 469-1984, newyorknicks.net Why We Love It: Nick, the owner, is grouchy, but he can wave his magic channel changer to get any sports event in the world. We are addicted to the char-grilled wings, but all the sandwiches are great. What we canâ€™t figure out is who's in all the photos on the walls. New York Nick's Staff Recommends: Buffalo Style Char-Grilled Wings ($7.95 for 10, $13.95 for 20) Basket size jumbo
The Oar House on Bayou Chico / photo by Samantha Crooke wings tossed in their recipe buffalo wing sauce then chargrilled.
The Oar House on Bayou Chico
1000 S. Pace Blvd., 549-4444, oarhouserestaurant.com Why We Love It: The atmosphere is relaxed, especially after a long day at the paper. Sitting on the deck with an ice-cold beer in hand watching the boats come in is why we live on the coast, right? We love The Forklift fish sandwich. The Oar House Staff Recommends: Mahi Sandwich-Blackened (New Menu Item)
($11.99) Also prepared grilled, fried or jerked. Comes with your choice of side salad, coleslaw, black eyed peas, hushpuppies or french fries and a pickle spear
4350 Bayou Blvd. # 8, 477-9120 Why We Love It: If you live or work in the Cordova Mall area, this restaurant may be a regular stop for you. The rest of Pensacola may not know of its existence, but its dishes rival the more familiar downtown restaurants. Try the Seafood Extravaganza or the Grilled Duck.
INDEPENDENT NEWS | april 14, 2011 | WWW.INWEEKLY.NET |
The Oyster Bar on Perdido Key
13700 River Road, 492-5600, oysterbar31.com Why We Love It: This restaurant is an institution in the Perdido Key area. Located on the Intercoastal Canal, it is the perfect escape from Pensacola drama. The Oysters Rockefeller are worth the drive.
Ozone Pizza Pub
1010 N. 12th Ave., 433-7336, ozonepizzapub.com Why We Love It: The pizza is amazing, and the conversation is always interesting. Finding the bathroom is also an adventure. Ozone Pizza Pub Staff Recommends: Ponderosa Stomp with Cream Cheese Added (10” $13.95, 14” $17.95, 16” $19.95) A unique blend of barbecue sauce, diced green onions, green peppers, bacon, cheddar cheese blend and spicy chicken; drizzled with honey
Scenic 90 Cafe
701 Scenic Highway, 433-8844, scenic90cafe.com Why We Love It: We love diners. There is something comforting about the atmosphere, whether you're there for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Scenic 90 is a Saturday morning stop for our crew.
Shan Kishi Sushi and Hibachi
804 Gulf Breeze Parkway, 932-8188 Why we love it: One of Gulf Breeze’s newest restaurants, Shan Kishi has attracted our attention with its 10 hibachi tables and over 100 sushi rolls on the menu. Shan Kishi Staff Recommends: Hibachi Steak & Shrimp Combo ($21.95) Served with fried or white rice, shrimp appetizer (two pieces), hibachi vegetables and clear broth onion soup
400 S. Jefferson St., 439-6545, portabellomarket.com Why We Love It: We've fallen in love with this lunch spot's wraps, but the new menu has got us trying new dishes like the Grilled Skirt Steak. The Portabello Market Staff Recommends: The Black and Blue Dry Rubbed Skirt Steak Sandwich ($8.95) Comes with chips, pickle and one of their daily side salads
201 S. Jefferson St., 429-9655, ragtyme.net Why We Love It: If you want to get a peak of the stars playing at the Saenger, you might want to eat at this downtown spot. You never know who might be eating the Jefferson Street Turkey Sandwich or Bud’s Spring Fling Salad next to you. Ragtyme Grille Staff Recommends: Sauteed Crab Claws (Market Price) Sauteed in a white wine sauce and served with French bread
16 | INDEPENDENT NEWS | april 14, 2011 | WWW.INWEEKLY.NET
4801 N. Ninth Ave., 484-6836, thetuscanoven.com Why We Love It: The pizzas are made in the southern Italian style—thin throughout with a nice chewy crust around the edge. The restaurant has a more casual fine dining setting than Ozone, Hopjacks or Mellow Mushroom. The best seats in the
Wine World Wine Bar
16 S. Palafox, Suite 100, 607-2089, chanswineworld.com Why We Love It: This cool spot is located on Palafox in the little alleyway leading from the Jefferson parking garage. It’s a great spot for lunch, dinner or happy hour and offers soups, salads, sandwiches and tapas. We love the Gourmet Cheese Plate with a glass of wine. Wine Bar Staff Recommends: Feta-Cream Cheese BLT ($8) Applewood-smoked bacon, tomatoes and baby arugula with warm feta-cream cheese spread on white panini bread. Served with a small Wine Bar Salad or sea salt and cracked pepper kettle chips firstname.lastname@example.org
By Kate Peterson
The Portabello Market
#2 Via de Luna Drive, Pensacola Beach, 934-3660, sidelinessportsbarandrestaurant.com Why We Love It: It’s a sports bar on the beach–sports on the big screens, bathing suits, cold beer and hot wings. Simple pleasures are the best. Sidelines Staff Recommends: Sideline’s Supreme ($8.95) Fresh catch sandwich topped with grilled onions, peppers, mushrooms and Swiss cheese, served with tartar sauce
house are right next to the oven, where you can watch the pizzas being made.
Whole Lot of Pub Grub IN Searches For Some Grub in a Pub
5100 N. Ninth Ave. #E541, 494-1774, panerabread.com Why We Love It: Ok, ok, it’s a mall restaurant, but we can't even try to hate it. The food is priced right for our tight budgets, and the delicious sandwich, soup and salad combinations are infinite. Not to mention we could eat about eight of the bread soup bowls. 1010 Ft. Pickens Road, Pensacola Beach, 932-4139, peglegpetes.com Why We Love It: The Steamed Shrimp and Crab Combo is our favorite. Away from the commercial core of Pensacola Beach, this restaurant is what we picture when we think of a beach seafood house. The whole family is welcome. Pegleg Pete's Staff Recommends: Oyster Sampler ($12.99) A sampling of baked specialties—Cajun, Parmesan, Rockefeller, Casino, Spicy Lafitte and Imperial.
Sidelines Sports Bar & Restaurant
artaking in libations often makes you yearn for a little something to munch on. We searched the corners of our area and found some great places to have a bite to eat while you're having fun with friends and family.
400 Quietwater Beach Road, 916-9888, bamboowillies.com Bamboo Willie’s Beachside Bar is located on Quietwater Beach Boardwalk and is accessible by car or boat. They feature famous Fat Tuesday frozen drinks, a full bar and a wide variety of domestic and imported beer. On April 14-16 Bamboo Willie’s will have its 10th annual Crawfish Festival, which is scheduled to serve up 10,000 pounds of crawfish. Live bands will include The Revivalists and Zydeco band Tout Les Soir from New Orleans.
65 Via De Luna Drive, 932-0864, facebook.com/group.php?gid=76629763825 What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than to head to Pensacola Beach
and eat some crawfish? Starting at 2 p.m. each Sunday, The Break serves flats of crawfish for $10 until they sell out. Also, every night they serve pizza by the slice and popcorn until the bar closes. The Break is a surfer hangout, with a spot in their hearts for everyone. You often can find a sporting event on the TV's throughout the place, be it skateboarding, surfing, football or Nascar.
2213 W. Cervantes St., 434-0300, facebook.com/pages/the-elbow-room Music playing on the jukebox, locals, tourists, red lights, real cloth napkins and some Star Trek décor is what you encounter when walking into Elbow Room. Open since 1984, so much of the original flair still remains. They have wine, champagne and beer, and they serve food until they close at 2 a.m. such as the Captain Turk—thick oven-roasted turkey breast, topped with sliced Granny Smith apples, melted Swiss cheese and honey mustard, served on a toasted hoagie. Other menu items include hummus, chips and salsa, burgers, dogs, salads and pizza.
2907 E. Cervantes St., 434-0500, facebook.com/jackalopesaloon Located on the East end of Cervantes in an old row house, painted pink, is Jackalope’s Saloon. They feature an eclectic décor, which reminds you
of a bar straight out of Austin, Texas. They serve wine and beer along with a Tex-Mex menu. The raves are for their chicken tacos, cheese dip, pulled pork tacos and a variety of vegetarian selections. Remember to bring cash; they are a cash-only establishment.
▶Paddy O’Leary’s Irish Pub
49 Via De Luna Drive, 916-9808, paddyolearysirishpub.com A real Irish pub on Pensacola Beach, Paddy's features great beer, a full bar and many a singalong. Paddy’s features local musicians—very popular with the patrons. The selection of grub is limited to snack type items such as pizza by the slice and boiled peanuts. However, they do encourage you to order from a local restaurant that delivers. Paddy’s will provide the plates, napkins and service, with a smile.
▶Palace Café at Seville Quarter
130 E. Government St., 434-6211, sevillequarter.com/bar-restaurant The historic quality of Seville Quarter cannot be beat. In addition, the fact that you can grab a cocktail or a beer and have something to eat before you dance the night away makes it even more appealing. Palace Café was formerly known as Palace Oyster Bar. Included in the café is a coffee shop called Stand Your Grounds! Express Yourself!, which opens at 7 a.m. and offers a wide variety of coffee, tea and beignets. The Palace Café serves a full menu from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday.