Brandon Bourdages / ShutterstockPensacola, FL Is the Foodie Paradise You Never Knew About Chris Osburn July 22, 2015 Arts & Culture, Food & Drink, Interests, Shopping 25 Comments 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 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 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 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!