Sunny days, sandy beaches and sensational food – Pensacola is one of America’s tastiest seaside destinations. From farmers’ markets and “flip-flop fine dining” to innovative regional and international haute cuisine, if you’re hankering for something good to eat, this friendly Gulf Coast town has plenty to go round.


MORE: Plan your trip to Pensacola!


Long time locals and in-the-know foodies have been aware of the delectable goings going on around Pensacola for years. But while the rest of the world is just now starting to catch on to what’s on the menu, here’s your chance to keep ahead of the gourmet game! Find out why the catch of the day is served up with so much style and full-on Florida flavor in Pensacola. Yum!

Javier Rosano / Shutterstock

Javier Rosano / Shutterstock

Unique Heritage

Add a dash of Spanish colonial heritage, sprinkle in a few generous drops of Southern hospitality, and mix well with an ample spoonful of contemporary Floridian cosmopolitan culture for one of America’s most distinctive local cuisines. Pensacola’s history dates back to the 1500s with close ties to the bounty of its bay and the harvest of its land. And with its steady flow of tourist and snowbirds mingling with the many members of the area’s military community who’ve worked and traveled across the globe, expectations and willingness to try new foods are very high.


MORE: Pensacola named 2015’s Most Enjoyable City for Travel!


Location

Down home Deep South country cooking with Gulf Coast Creole and Cajun inspiration are the basis of much of what’s most delicious down in Pensacola. And with some of the area’s most highly revered chefs casting their eyes to and tightening their connections with the Caribbean and Latin world, the results just keep getting more and more delicious. But it’s not just what they do with the food there. Pensacola has an enviably scrumptious location with plenty of fresh fish, seafood, and abundant farmland surrounding it. Great ingredients in the hands of great chefs? That equals amazing food.

Pecans!

Perfect on their own as a healthy snack or as a flavorful addition to a meaty main, veggie creation, or indulgent dessert, pecans are among the tastiest of locally produced foods in the Pensacola area. Hoping to pick some up to take back home? Pay a visit to the JW Renfroe Pecan Company, a third generation family owned shop that’s famous for its pecans, fudge, and New Orleans style pralines.

L Jones / Shutterstock

L Jones / Shutterstock

Award Winning Restaurants

With one of the highest numbers of James Beard Chefs in America, relatively tiny Pensacola with its population of 50,000 rubs shoulders with the likes of big city dining scene heavyweights like New York, Chicago, New Orleans, and Miami.

A Great Little Downtown

Some of the city’s best restaurants can be found downtown, where a fairly compact and mostly walkable area means there’s a real buzz and plenty to see, do, eat, and drink. Nightlife in Pensacola is a blast, pairing nicely with food for any occasion, budget, or craving.

Fantastic Local Shops

Across downtown and throughout Pensacola, all sorts of independent shops cater to unquenchable cravings and finicky palates. There’s Joe Patti’s Seafood, where shoppers can arrange to have their seafood shipped anywhere. There’s local favorite Ever’man Naturla Food, stocking the best and freshest regional produce alongside lots of healthy alternatives to typical grocery store staples. There’s the Bodacious Olive with more than 50 different types of olive oils and balsamic vinegars. And of course, there’s SoGourmet, with a professional demo-kitchen set for folks keen on sharpening their cooking skills. And those are but a very few of the many foodie establishments!

sunlover / Shutterstock

sunlover / Shutterstock

A Vibrant Farmers’ Market

Of course, one of the great things about a visit to Florida is the warm weather. So for shopaholics who still hope to soak up some sun, there’s the popular Palafox Market. Don’t worry—there are many trees to shelter in the shade, for those of you not seeking a tan. The market runs every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and offers a chance to check out the best “fresh produce, live plants, baked goods, fine art, and antiques” from northwest Florida. Awesome!

A Calendar Filled with Foodie Events

No matter when you plan to visit Pensacola, odds are there’ll be some sort of festival going on. And it’s almost just as likely that whatever the shindig, it’ll be somehow related to food! Some of Pensacola’s most popular food festivals including Beulahfest sausage festival in March, the Crawfish Festival in April and May, the Bushwacker cocktail festival in July and August, September’s Seafood Festival, a Greek Festival in October, and a Martini Festival every November.

Phew! All this talk about Pensacola has us hungry. Which foodie spots will you be hitting in Pensacola this year? Let us know in the comments!

25 Responses

  1. Eileen

    Pensacola doesn’t have beaches. We’re inland. You mean the town of Pensacola Beach on Santa Rosa Island?

    Reply
    • Ginger

      Pensacola and Pensacola Beach are linked by the Three Mile Bridge. We born and bred Pensacolians think Pensacola is synonymous with BEACH!!!!

      Reply
    • Faith williams

      Excellent article! You need to visit Pensacola again and again because the positive aspects of the City are endless. The reason this city is so uniquely creative and will forever have a place in one’s heart is due to the hardworking friendly people that live and work there.

      Reply
    • Faith williams

      Have you looked at Pensacola on a map. You might want to if you have not.

      Reply
    • Linda

      Pensacola, Florida is definitely not inland and most certainly does have beaches. It is surrounded in the rate and the south by Pensacola Bay plus has several bayous. And Santa Rosa Island, where Pensacola Beach is located is part of the same county as Pensacola…Escambia County…It is not a town.

      Reply
  2. Kate S

    Barbasian! Down Palafox at the fountains. It’s a mix of barbecue and Asian- the pork egg rolls and sauce?? Oh, yum!!

    Reply
  3. Lori Pare

    Thank you for the recognition, Chris! Our Bodacious Family of Shops, which includes So Gourmet, The Bodacious Brew, The Bodacious Olive, and So Chopped, is always a surprisingly wonderful experience for our new customers. We love our SOGO District in Downtown Pensacola, and we enjoy sharing our secret with tourists from all over. There’s amazing cuisine at The Pensacola Blue Wahoos stadium as well! There’s much more to Pensacola than just our beautiful white beaches!
    We hope you’ll come back and visit us soon!

    Reply
  4. Dee Renfroe

    Many thanks, Chris, for the mention of JW Renfroe Pecan Company in your recent blog regarding Pensacola. For visitors coming into the area, Renfroe’s has become a destination location for delicious take home souvenirs. Better yet, customers can sample the homemade fudge, pralines, and Southern Pecan coffee. As we say in the South…Y’all come to see us!

    Reply
  5. Dee Renfroe

    Thanks, Chris, for mentioning Renfroe Pecan Company in your recent blog on Pensacola. We welcome all of our visitors with a sample of homemade fudge, pralines, and a cup of Southern Pecan coffee…so as we say in the South, y’all come to see us!

    Reply
  6. Chris Osburn
    Chris Osburn

    Hey Pensacola people!

    Wow. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment about this post. I can’t wait to get back to your town and enjoy some great Gulf Coast cuisine.

    Take care,
    Chris

    Reply
  7. Kelly

    Who can come here and not visit the iconic Blue Dot. They have the hands down beat burgers in the area. Yummy!!!

    Reply
  8. Paula

    Thank you for the great article!! Next time you’re in town stop in City Grocery. We are a neighborhood deli with the best sandwiches and BBQ around. Not your typical grocery we have unique beer and lots of wine!! Right in the middle of East Hill Neighborhood.
    You should also try The Global Grill. Frank Taylor , the chef is amazing!!

    Reply
  9. Rob

    You have to get to the beach and check out The Grand Marlin. Hands down the freshest and best seafood in Pensacola if not the whole Panhandle of Florida. Chef Gregg McCarthy is a genius in the kitchen. Exceptional service and beautiful views of the Gulf and the Sound. My suggestion would be order the Grouper Picatta. Absolutely Amazing. Everything is made with fresh, local ingredients and the seafood is brought in fresh daily and never frozen. Also, the menu changes daily and Chef Gregg creates a special plate for every menu for each day of the week. Trust me, you have to check it out.

    Reply
  10. PCola

    As well as this article is written, I would appreciate a view beyond that of the Studer Group. They do have some amazing shops, but let’s not take away the entire city. There is much beyond “SOGO” and Downtown. Please visit Five Sisters Blues Café. You cannot pass up The New Yorker Deli. The Cheese dip at The Elbow Room is one of the best kept secrets in town. However, I must mention Pot Roast & Pino’s amazing wine selection, as well as their delicious pork belly deviled eggs!

    Reply
  11. Pam

    Don’t forget NOM Sushi Izakaya, in the SOGO district for the best sushi and house made ramen on the Gulf Coast..!

    Reply
  12. Valerie Waddell

    Global Grill, 5 Sisters Blues Cafe, love Renfroe’s Pecans. Here’s an often missed spot Petrella’s Italian Restaurant. It’s not fancy, but it’s really good. I still love Jackson’s downtown, and for a great custom burger you can’t beat The Tin Cow!

    Reply

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About The Author

Chris Osburn

Chris Osburn is a freelance writer, photographer, consultant, curator, and the driving force behind the long running and award winning blog, tikichris.com. Originally from the American Deep South, Chris has lived and worked all over the world. He's called London home since 2001.