Local Favorites: The best places to eat in Pensacola, Florida.
Five Flags and Endless Food
Pensacola, FL is known as the City of Five Flags.
First colonized over four-hundred and fifty years ago, Pensacola shares in the histories of Spain, France, England and the United States, as well as its brief time as a Confederate state.
Pensacola is a historic seat of commercial fishing, an industry which gave the city a deep-rooted pride in its seafood. The seafood and the city's proximity to diverse local farms and gardens make Pensacola a little-known food lover's haven in the Florida Panhandle.
A lifelong resident of the Pensacola area, I consider myself to be a good cook, and I generally refuse to spend the money to eat out unless I can be guaranteed a meal that is better than something I can make myself. This list represents places where I willingly and eagerly pay for meals, because no matter what I order from the menu, I can be assured of a fantastic dining experience, from taste to atmosphere.
- McGuire's Irish Pub
McGuire's Irish Pub in downtown Pensacola, Florida.
- How to Devour the Sausage Plate: Eating at McGuire's in Pensacola, FL.
A humorous guide to eating the sausage plate at McGuire's in Pensacola, FL. Visitors to Pensacola should always try to eat at least one meal at McGuire's.
McGuire's Irish Pub
No trip to Pensacola is complete without a meal at McGuire's Irish Pub and Brewery. McGuire's reigns as king of the Pensacola steak scene, as it has since McGuire and Molly opened it as a neighborhood pub in 1977.
Whether you drop in for lunch or dinner, McGuire's famously blends top-quality victuals with an irreverent and uproarious atmosphere. Obviously, steaks are the centerpiece of the menu. Your slab of choice beef arrives fresh from the grill, sizzling in its own juices alongside a stuffed tomato.
If a burger is more your style, McGuire's burgers will redefine your perception of what a hamburger should be. The burger menu features more than twenty-five hamburgers, ranging from your basic burger with cheese and fries to a $100 monstrosity served with caviar and champagne. And don't forget to ask about the infamous and terrifying Garbage Burger.
But even though it became famous for its beef, McGuire's hasn't lost its identity as a traditional Irish pub. Savory pub fare such as shepherd's pie, corned beef and cabbage, and sausage platters can be found in perfect preparation.
- Steak, burgers, any dish where beef is the centerpiece.
- The Brewer's Sausage Plate.
- The Global Grill - Upscale Tapas Bar and Restaurant
The Global Grill in downtown Pensacola, Florida.
Global Grill Location
Upscale dining in Pensacola was taken by storm a few years ago when Global Grill opened on Palafox Street in the heart of downtown. Global Grill specializes in tapas, and surrounds the diner with walls full of modern, local artwork for complete dining experience.
The tapas menu includes variations on everything from chicken and vegetables to sausage, seafood and shellfish. Chef Frank Taylor makes full use of local ingredients to craft exquisite dishes that blend the flavors of the Gulf Coast with the traditions of great European cuisines. The tapas menu is virtuoso in its ability to cater to the taste of the individual, but do not let it distract you from the stellar entrees of steak and seafood.
Also, be sure to save room for a dessert. Few experiences are as transcendent as the Global Grill's homemade cheesecake, drizzled with a reduction of port wine and blueberries. Also worth sampling is the creme brûlée, made special with Bailey's Irish Cream.
Author's Top Three Tapas:
- Brussels Sprouts in a gouda cheese sauce.
- Lamb Lollipops
- Lobster Tail Medallions
- Georgio's Pizza of Pensacola
Georgio's is a great friendly environment with the absolute BEST PIZZA and other entrees!
Georgio's Pizza Location
Pensacola is home to a number of excellent local pizza joints. Our local pizza artisans all vie for dominance among Pensacola's "pie elite," but Georgio's Pizza reigns supreme for its commitment to pure ingredients, excellent service and community involvement.
Founded by a Greek restaurateur, the legendary Georgio, the restaurant was purchased after the founder's death by Carl Hixon, who is almost always behind the counter and whose sons now do much of the cooking.
The menu goes beyond pizza to include calzones, salads and burgers, but please trust me when I recommend that you devote your stomach real estate to the gastronomic wonderland that is Georgio's pizza.
Georgio's packs more flavor into a single slice than competitors can get into a whole pie. Every ingredient is prepared with utmost regard for its contribution to the pie as a whole. A crust is rolled to a perfect thickness (thick enough to hold shape, thin enough to not be distracting) and buttered about the rim before it is spread with fresh, herb-laced tomato sauce. The sauce applied, the pie is covered in a liberal deluge of the order's toppings and the entire ensemble is cloaked in a heavy, rapturous layer of Wisconsin cheese. Georgio's pies do not reduce themselves to the lowest common denominator of cheap party food; they are substantial, artisanal meals, and they require appreciation as such.
The sheer gloriousness of its pies is enough to crown Georgio's as the top pizza place in Pensacola, but its ranking is further cemented by its community activity and support of local first responders. Every month has at least one day set aside to support local police, fire and EMT authorities.
If you eat one pizza in Pensacola, let it be at Georgio's.
Author's Favorite Pies:
- Italian Sausage
- Pepperoni with Black Olives
- Hub Stacey's
Web site for Hub Stacey's in Pensacola, FL.
Hub Stacey's Location
With two locations, one in downtown Pensacola and another in Perdido Key, Hub Stacey's full menu of sandwiches and salads rivals anything one could find in a New York deli. In addition to their flagship pastrami sandwich, nicknamed "The Palafox" after downtown Pensacola's main street, Hub offers a full roster of memorably constructed sandwiches. Deli favorites such as the classic Reuben or Club can be found alongside Hub's interpretations of Cuban and even vegetarian sandwiches.
What makes Hub's sandwiches distinctive are not just their generous towers of ingredients, but the establishment's treatment of the bread. Hub respects the important element bookending each sandwich's precious cargo of meat and toppings. When ordering a hot sandwich, such as The Palafox, the bread is not simply a sloppy, greasy obstacle between diners and their sandwiches' contents. Far from it. You will find that the bread is generously buttered and seared on the grill itself, creating a firm, crisp-yet-somehow-juicy atmosphere around a wonderland of fresh meat, vegetables and condiments.
As monumental as these sandwiches are, one must not neglect their sides. When ordering a sandwich, skip the option of Zapp's chips and ask for a helping of Hub's superlative homemade potato salad. The kitchen makes a set amount of it every day, and sometimes you need to ask to make sure that it is there. The house's potato salad is made with rich mayonnaise and flavored delicious spices and chunks of bacon. Need I say more?
- The Palafox (Hot pastrami on rye.)
- The Romano (A classic Reuben, renamed on the menu after one of Pensacola's historic streets.)
- Pensacola's Authentic Indian Restaurant
Taste of India Restaurant in Pensacola, FL.
Taste of India Location
Taste of India
I fell in love the country of India a few years ago. I have eaten both the "sanitized" Indian foods (made in clean kitchens without much spice) as well as fully-spiced, sinus-smelting curries cooked over open fires on busy streets. I love it all.
As such, I have a high standard for Indian food, and that standard is fully satisfied every time I visit Taste of India for a meal. With a lunch buffet and a dinner menu featuring classic dishes from all regions of the subcontinent, Taste of India is Pensacola's best spot for good Indian food.
The lunch buffet is stocked with about fifteen regular dishes. Vegetable dishes, pulses and paneer dishes compliment a variety of chicken dishes, prepared in the tandoori, in a curry sauce, or in milder variations like korma and tikka masala. For the more discerning patron, the full menu is available for individual orders during the lunch hour, or you can wait until dinner, when the buffet is closed and the atmosphere becomes much more sedate and upscale.
The complete menu is daunting in its variety of meat and vegetarian options. Proteins naturally include chicken, mutton and lamb, and the full spectrum of Indian vegetable dishes awaits your selection as either a compliment or as the main course.
If you have a sweet tooth, Taste of India's desserts are as worthwhile as all their main courses. Save room for their decadent homemade mango ice cream, or try the savory-sweet carrot pudding, gajar halwa.
What sets Taste of India apart from other Indian restaurants, aside from the food itself, is the attentiveness and personality of its staff. The managers and owners are guaranteed to visit your table at least once to ensure that your food is satisfactorily prepared. For newcomers, they are ready with recommendations to suit individual tastes. Their warm friendliness is a breath of fresh air in an era when most restaurants' staffs are either coldly distant or bland automatons.
- Tandoori Chicken
- Cabbage in Curry Sauce
- Carrot Pudding
- Joe Patti's World Famous Seafood Market. Florida Seafood, Pensacola Seafood, online Seafood Market,
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Joe Patti's Location
Joe Patti's Seafood
It is a crime (well, not quite, but it should be) to visit Pensacola without paying a visit to Joe Patti's Seafood, an institution now in it's 71st year of operation. They became famous selling their prodigious selection of quality, Gulf Coast seafood to the public at wholesale prices.
Fish, shrimp and other shellfish are brought in daily from the Gulf of Mexico. Feel free to walk around to the back to visit the shrimp boats that haul in the daily catches. Speaking of shrimp, once you have ordered a quantity from any one of their many varieties, you can have the staff season and steam it for you, and it will be ready to eat upon arriving home.
As Pensacola's premier seafood market (a statement which carries great weight), Joe Patti's has expanded its business in recent years to include a gourmet grocery store, a wine shop, and even a coffee and gelato bar on site. Joe Patti's is much more than a seafood shack; it is a one-stop shop where customers can buy everything needed for a gourmet, multi-course meal in a single building.
- Steamed Shrimp
Plaza de Luna - Pensacola's Southernmost Point
Don't just take my word for it...
Come to town and put this article to the test; Pensacola is home to many, many wonderful restaurants. It is bordered by water to the south and farmland to the north, and the best restaurants are the ones that use these advantages to obtain the freshest possible ingredients. Come and find out why Pensacola's food is one of the best-kept secrets of the Florida Panhandle.