Would a 'hound be happy in Pensacola?
We are Phoenix 'hounds looking at potential retirement areas. One of the major requirements is a variety of ethnic eateries. Not many, but at least a few that are good. I'm sure that the seafood is excellent and plentiful in Pensacola, and McGuire's seems to be a favorite, but can anyone advise on what else we might find there?
Wow...I'm sorry to hear the Hopkins House is closed in Pensacola...I used to live there and loved having sweet tea on the porch waiting to eat their fried chicken (I think it was on the menu each Tuesday). Next you'll tell me that Claudia Sanders dinner house outside of Louisville and Mrs. Wilkes in Savannah are gone. Will there be a reason to live?
As my wife has recently moved to Pensacola (we're military currently separated by our assignments), she has just introduced me to a wonderful ethnic grocery/market. It's hard to describe because of the relative degree of controlled chaos (you'll be amazed that they know *exactly* what they have and where). They have a wealth of gorgeous meats and cheeses, ethnic items from Britain, the Middle East, Asia, and Eastern/Western Europe. They are very generous with samples, but work harder to *upsell* you than any McDonald's you've ever been in, putting the "Supersize, today, sir?" offer to shame...
Anyhow, it's worth a visit; it's called Four Winds Market on 9th Avenue in Pensacola.
Give it another 18 months, and you'll see another doubling of the Mexican restaurants in the area. The Mexican men showed up to do construction and repair work after Hurricane Ivan, and now the Latino small businesses are really starting to follow that first wave of men into town.
Although the Hopkins House is no more, there's the usual bevy of Southern restaurants and BBQ around town. Order an iced tea at a good 95% of the restaurants in town and the next question is "Sweet or unsweet?"
The better Japanese/Korean/Thai is, IMO, found in the Ft. Walton Beach area. The common pattern there is for Asian military brides to set up a small place while their husband is off flying planes somewhere and then bring their families to the US to help run it. There are a good number of Asian groceries in FWB for an area its size.
From Destin to Panama City Beach, it's pretty common to see nice smaller restaurants run by chefs who started out in bigger cities, burned out on that job to some degree, and ended up here because they wanted to run a nice little cafe by the beach.
On the down side, there is no truly great Chinese between Pensacola and Panama City, and only a couple we've found that we'd label acceptable.
For eating at home, there are the obligatory great seafood markets you'd expect in the area. Publix has made it as far west as Navarre (Pensacola exburbs) and tends to have some pretty quirky general and ethnic selections as well as a fair number of Cuban-American and Caribbean products.