We’ve all had Grits à Ya Ya. And we all hope it is a dish that will always be around. Most of us Southerners can agree that it doesn’t get much better than one-of-a-kind dishes featuring grits as the star of the show. While Pensacola’s signature grits dish certainly ought not to be downplayed, there are increasingly more one-of-a-kind food and beverage items currently being served around town that likewise shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Whether you have family coming into town for the holidays and want to wow their palates with something a little different or are looking to try something new yourself, we’ve compiled a quick list of local favorites to carry you through the season. Some are weekly specials that go fast, others are dishes that are here to stay, or at least plan on sticking around for the entire season.
We’ve included a couple of longstanding establishments we could never grow weary of, who have added new items to their menus; those who specialize in seasonal delights; and even a few newer kids on the block who have recently broken into the steadily growing local food and beverage scene.
Each item possesses not only a unique taste, but also provides a signature experience. Some make for a quick bite. Others require you to sit down and stay long enough to savor multiple courses. All bring something a little bit unexpected to the table. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy a few of our favorite things to eat and drink right now.
Monday nights at The Magnolia may be reserved for all things Meatless, but Wednesdays, on the other hand, have become religiously devoted to putting a spin on the classic comfort food favorite, Mac N’ Cheese. The only thing that could make a fresh out of the oven bowl of macaroni (mac) dripping with melted cheese even better is to pack it with decadent ingredients. Since the debut of their Lobster Mac, The Magnolia has expanded to include quite the lineup of rotating macs, including the infamous BBB (bacon, bourbon and blue cheese) Mac, Avocado Mac, Green Chili Mac, Pimiento Cheese Mac, Shrimp Florentine Mac, Beer Mac and Buffalo Mac. Rumor has it they are even working on perfecting a vegan mac. The only downside to the mac madness is that it’s in such high demand. If you miss out on Wednesday, you’ll be lucky if there is any left for you on Thursday. The good news is, the mac is set to make a midweek debut at Constant Coffee & Tea in the near future, so there will be a bit more to go around.
WHERE: 2907 E. Cervantes St.
DETAILS: magnoliapensacola.com or 912-6196
Prix Fixe Vegan Spectacular
When someone says the words “multi-course vegan spectacular” chances are End of the Line Café’s Sunday brunch comes to mind. You may even have visions of eggless benedict and biscuits dancing through your head. What if we told you that you could have a weeknight multi-course vegan spectacular that rivals brunch? Well, it’s true. Sunday isn’t the only day of the week that café patrons can be dazzled by course upon course of fresh, organic vegan cuisine. Each Thursday night brings something new to the table, with a different menu every week, planned just the day prior. If items like country fried soy steaks, cranberry-walnut stuffed acorn squash, sweet potato pie, or coconut truffles with blood orange sauce and dark chocolate mud make your mouth water, then trust us when we say that whatever End of the Line’s menu happens to be on your Thursday of choice, it’ll be right up your alley.
END OF THE LINE CAFÉ
WHERE: 610 E. Wright St.
DETAILS: eotlcafe.com or 429-0336
Good news. You don’t have to attempt to make it to Cuba, or even drive to South Florida to indulge upon authentic Cuban cuisine any longer. Thanks to Katie’s Cuban Café, the new kid on the J’s Pastry block of 12th Avenue in East Hill, the neighborhood has been introduced to a plethora of Cuban dishes in recent months. While everyday Katie’s serves an authentic Cuban sandwich, pastries, and coffee, Friday Specials offer an entire plateful of a Cuban culinary experience. One returning feature in these rotating weekly specials is paella—a signature Spanish-born rice-based dish that has quickly been a local favorite. Whether it’s seafood paella or items such as sweet plantains, or the potato-like yucca, each Friday brings a hearty meal of authentic Cuban cuisine to the neighborhood, one that is served all day long with complimentary homemade Sangria for those 21 and older.
KATIE’S CUBAN CAFÉ
WHERE: 2030 N. 12th Ave.
Chances are by now you’ve driven over to Yummi Deli during your lunch break to chow down on one of their signature Banh Mi sandwiches. Or maybe you’ve slurped down some Pho or Bun Bo Hue soups—both recently added as permanent fixtures to their menu. But perhaps, one thing you might not have tried is the Vietnamese deli’s new lunch specials, a prime pick for the especially hungry stomach. Available two to three days each week, the current menu features Vietnamese style chicken quarters served with white rice, egg and veggies on the side. Next up on the list of specials is grilled pork, followed by kalbi beef. Though touted as lunch specials, luckily these hearty entrees are served throughout the entirety of the day, or until they run out.
WHERE: 2416 W Cervantes St.
DETAILS: facebook.com/YummiDeli or 733-3354
A menu that never sleeps? Yes, Pensacola foodies, that is now a thing here in town. On top of a collection of fixed signature menu items, the recently opened restaurant, Type by Chef Blake Rushing, brings in new items every two weeks, keeping diners on the edge of their seats. The starters, mains and desserts on the Type menu change in an effort to accommodate seasonal ingredients when they are at their freshest and finest. When it comes to the signatures, one bite of the house-cured bacon and you’ll understand why it’s here to stay. Accompanied by fennel citrus salad, a blood orange, and served with bacon powder and sherry vinegar caramel, it’s no wonder this dish has guests raving and asking for more. Speaking of more, assuming you save room, each of the current dessert features includes at least one ingredient that is too fancy to pronounce on the first attempt, meaning you know you’re getting a taste of the best.
TYPE BY CHEF BLAKE RUSHING
WHERE: 501 N. 9th Ave (@ Duh)
DETAILS: Facebook.com/Typerestaurant or 466-5181
While their lunch menu may stay a bit more fixed than their dinner offerings, the team at Restaurant IRON works equally hard to impress their customers with an unparalleled experience during the day, as they do at night. And what better pairing for a midday affair than a seasonal soup with a sandwich or salad? The American Onion Soup is a recent addition to Restaurant IRON’s lunch menu that packs more onion flavor in a single spoonful than some soups are able to pull off in an entire bowl. The use of local sweet onions and trotter stock makes for an American Onion Soup that is rich in flavor, yet light enough to pair with staple features that have become favorites to regulars. Try it alongside a Crab Boiled Cajun Reuben or a Marcus Caesar Salad depending on the size of your appetite.
WHERE: 2500 Oak Pointe Dr.
DETAILS: RestaurantIron.com or 476-7776
Smoked, Roasted, Candied
Along with receiving loud applause for their spectacular uninterrupted view of sunsets over the bay, Jaco’s Bayfront Bar and Grille also has quite a few bites worth writing home about. Although their three weeks of three dollar specials in celebration of their three year anniversary may be closing out this week, there is always a lunch or dinner special to be had, in addition to the chef’s daily catch. In case that’s not quite special enough for you, Jaco’s also offers a signature special each month. Currently, patrons can enjoy indulging on Smoked Duck Breast, served with roasted butternut squash, wild rice, glazed figs, and a candied orange peel. To add to the experience, chances are the weather will be mild enough for you to enjoy this dish while sitting facing the bay and watching the sunset. Enjoy sipping on a glass, or entire bottle, of this month’s wine special, the Hidden Crush Cabernet Sauvignon, loaded with aromas of cherry and black currant.
JACO’S BAYFRONT BAR AND GRILL
WHERE: 997 S. Palafox
DETAILS: jacosbayfrontbarandgrille.com or 432-5226
As if Global Grill didn’t make enough of a statement with their summertime Heirloom Tomato Salad, they’ve done it again this fall. Only this season—it’s mushrooms. If Shiitake, Portobello, Crimini, Oyster and Enoki Mushrooms served over arugula with goat cheese and toasted pecans, and tossed in a white truffle vinaigrette doesn’t make your mouth water, I’m not sure what will. Though “global” might be in their name, this seasonal salad is loaded with nothing but local flavors from start to finish—from the mushrooms and arugula hailing from Coldwater Gardens to the pecans sourced from Renfroe Pecans. After you’ve had your fill of ’shrooms, if you can handle an even sweeter local seasonal indulgence, try a slice of Pumpkin Cheesecake for dessert, made with fresh local pumpkins with the additions of Chantilly Cream, and a duo of Maple Crown Royal Sauce and Candied Pecan Caramel. Of course, at this point, you might as well treat yourself to a martini to finish things off, while you’re at it.
THE GLOBAL GRILL
WHERE: 27 S. Palafox
DETAILS: globalgrillpensacola.com or 469-9966
Coffee Fizz & Smashed Tea
As you’re coming around the bend into East Pensacola Heights, you can now stop by the recently opened Constant Coffee & Tea for a cup of coffee. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can jump clear out of the box and test out one of their signature coffee, tea or soda mock-tails. The entire menu is sure to peak your curiosity, with items like a Bicycle, or a Ginger Ale Cobbler. Prepare to change the way you think about iced coffee after one sip of the Iced Coffee Fizz. Adorned with an orange peel, this quenching caffeinated beverage combines cold brew coffee with tastes of raspberry and orange bitters, livened up with a fizz. You won’t even notice there’s no milk to be had in this signature beverage. Over on the tea front, the Rosemary Black Tea Smash brings together fresh rosemary with a light and airy tea, and like the coffee, the right amount of sparkle. Both are served in a mason jar. Although in some areas of the country iced beverages in fall may seem taboo, the good news is, we’re in Florida.
CONSTANT COFFEE & TEA
WHERE: 615 Scenic Hwy.
DETAILS: Facebook.com/ConstantCoffeeandTea or 432-3991
Even though Pensacola doesn’t quite have Kombucha on tap yet, we do have the homebrewed variety of this detoxifying probiotic tea ready for delivery or pickup, thanks to Margeaux’s Homebrewcha Kombucha. This particular homebrewed version of the ancient health elixir is made from organic sweetened tea that’s been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY). Available by the bottle, offerings include plain, ginger, blood orange, and watermelon all made with organic juices. Additional flavors are available by request in larger quantities. Though presently selling directly to consumers, Margeaux’s Homebrewcha Kombucha is in the process of expanding to retail outlets. One sip of this particular SCOBY and you just might find yourself peacefully energized, and sold on the tasteful potency and natural effervescence.
Not only is Pot Roast & Pinot the name of a restaurant, it’s also the name of a winning pairing at said establishment; that is, if you are in the mood for a hearty dish washed down with a vibrant red. Described as “melt in your mouth good,” the namesake mighty slab of beef is slow roasted and served with rainbow carrots and fingerling potatoes. Although some may call this a Yankee pot roast, it’s a dish that simply screams Southern comfort. And since no roast would be quite complete without something to sip on, this signature dish is said to pair perfectly with Lucas and Lewellen Pinot Noir available by the glass or bottle at Pot roast & Pinot, making for a winning red on red combo. Although pot roast may be the shining star of the menu, there’s a vegetarian pot pie that deserves a nod, which we imagine pairs equally well with pinot.
POT ROAST & PINOT
WHERE: 321 E. Cervantes St.
DETAILS: potroastpinot.com or 607-7339
Something you may not normally consider addiction-worthy is anchovies. It may be time to rethink your feelings if you find yourself grimacing, picturing these fish straight out of the box. If there’s one thing customers at Carmen’s Lunch Bar can’t get enough of right now, on top of seasonal soups and salads, it’s boquerones, or Spanish white anchovies. Originating from the Basque Country in Spain, these mild white anchovies served at Carmen’s are preserved in olive oil and vinegar and doctored up to perfection. You’ll find these fish draped over a toasted baguette and smeared with Romesco sauce—a traditional Spanish sauce made from roasted red peppers and almonds, and sprinkled with fresh chopped parsley. Boquerones are also said to be a welcomed addition to Carmen’s Green Salad. Due to the boquerones’ popularity, you will have to wait a couple of weeks to get some. But not to worry—they will be making a comeback. Be on the lookout for them to be a fixture on the menu come December in the form of “Tostas de Boquerones” or white anchovy toasts.
CARMEN’S LUNCH BAR
WHERE: 407-B S. Palafox
DETAILS: carmenslunchbar.com or 542-4334
Wine-ing & Gliding
Rather than simply sipping wine by the glass or bottle this season, why not glide your way to some of Pensacola’s many celebrated wine tastings. Each Thursday and Friday, Emerald Coast Tours takes groups on Segway adventures, incorporating wine into the mix. Thursdays are designated for a tasting at Aragon Wine Market, and Friday Nights at Seville Quarter. Each trip includes nearly an hour of Segway gliding time, and at least a half hour of wine tasting.
WINE & GLIDE SEGWAY TOURS
WHEN: 5:30 – 7 p.m. Thursday and Fridays
WHERE: Emerald Coast Tours, 5 W. Main Street
COST: Adults $45; Locals/Students/Military $40
DETAILS: emeraldcoasttours.net or 417-9292