We just spent the week in Pensacola, and a few places deserve mention.
Dharma Blue: What a great restaurant. It's been recommended in a few threads on this board, but nothing recently so I thought I'd revive the buzz.
We had a fabulous meal there, both sushi and from the regular menu. The service was great. The setting was wonderful (on the patio, overlooking a neat park).
And the food! Both types of sushi I tried featuring conch were incredible. The yellowtail was as buttery as any I've tasted in years.
My wife and I split the artichoke bisque, which was rich (although it had that canned artichoke taste, the cream did help balance it out mostly).
My wife is a vegetarian and inquired about the fried green tomatoes she had heard about. The waiter said that was for lunch only, but without our asking made an inquiry with the chef and returned to say they were available. Now, Pensacola ain't the South, but the fry cook sure had the technique down. My wife paired the FGT with some creamy grits.
I heartily recommend the grouper crusted with sun-dried tomatoes. It came with a generous portion of spinach and mashed potatoes. The fish was perfectly crispy on the outside and moist inside.
Wisteria Tavern: It's hard to find -- just a shack along a beautiful boulevard of live oaks -- but worth seeking out.
Don't go for the decor. It's pleasantly dumpy, more like a clubhouse than a bar. The bathrooms are outside.
But do go for the beer. They have about a dozen taps, mostly with micros (try the Stone's IPA and the Kona Pipeline Porter), and an incredible selection of imported and micro brews.
Terry, the owner ("your pornstar today," the bill says) knows his beer and makes great recommendations.
Joe Patti's: Yes, it's a market. But in heaven, every fish market is like this one. Fish of every stripe -- fillets and whole, shellfish, bivalves and baby octopus -- a bakery, coffee bar, wine store and sushi restaurant.
The sushi is extremely inexpensive, and when I visited it had the distinction of having an all-female staff preparing it. The fish was very good, especially the razor clams. My only complaint: the nigiri rice balls were too big and overwhelmed the fish.
I used to drive through Pensacola on a regular basis to get to Eglin AFB. One of my favorite stops was the Shoreline Food Store at 1180 W Main St. It's owned by a Greek family (Steve is the dad, daughter works the counter, mama is in there sometimes). A good friend turned me on to the place with a request that I pick up massive quantities of their olive oil.
They have a deli that makes the best darned gyro I've ever eaten in my life. Completely and totally drool-worthy. There are no tables, no chairs, no counter. My friend told me not to leave without getting something from the deli. I went to the counter, was asked what I'd like, and said, "I don't know. I was just told I had to get something here." The lady said she'd fix me up and, man, did she! My intent was to just take a bite once I got out to my vehicle and save the rest for when I got to my destination. Not.a.chance. I snarfed that whole thing down sitting in the parking lot. Good thing they gave me extra napkins.
Steve, the owner, noticed that I had 5 3-liter cans of his olive oil in my cart so he stopped to chat. I explained that I was on a special mission to retrieve the olive oil. <insert winky guy here>. He gave me a one liter can to just keep in my desk for lunches and such. Plus, he gave me several homegrown tomatoes from his garden.
This place isn't in the greatest (or worst) neighborhood. I wouldn't feel comfortable there by myself after dark. However, I plan my trips through Pensacola during the day just so I can stop there.
re: Ima Wurdibitsch
Lived in Pcola all my life...try these the next time you are here...Aegean Breeze, zero ambiance but great Greek food and great seafood (best fried shrimp in town IMHO)...Global Grill, great tapas and cool place...Fish House, a little over priced but good food and the place to be on many nights...Madisons, cafe in the bottom of an old historical hospital...Ozone, pizza and good beer selection next door to Madisons...Oar House, cool beach style breezy open air bar with good food...Blue Dot, great cheeseburger but a little scary part of town so go in the daytime...Yes definitely Dharma Blue...H2O, asian/cajun combination on the beach...Coffee Cup, great diner atmosphere and the best breakfast in town...I could go on and on...but try those...
My yummy additions for Pensacola:
Hip Pocket Deli on Barrancas, right outside the Naval Air Station's Front Gate: They have very limited hours (best I can recall is 10am-2pm weekdays) and are Cash Only. They have a killer Gyro (the owner and staff are Greek) and a surprisingly great muffaletta (be warned this one is BIG, get a half or get two people to split). The inside is decked out with memorabilia from the family and of passing naval aviators dropping in for lunch from the base close by.
Cactus Flower on Gulf Beach Hwy: Californian Mexican done right (I'm originially from S. CA) The cheese in the Quesadilla is over a half inch thick, the enchilada verde is great, the chimichanga is puffed up fresh from the fryer, the tortilla soup has just the right amount of kick. Be sure to try their sangria.
Lillian's pizza in Perdido Key: I love the doughy pizza, toppings are a delectable selection.
Hub Stacy's on Innerarity Point at Galvez Landing off of Sorrento Road (other location in Downtown): I loved the Ono (fresh thick pita flatbread with chicken salad and alfalfa) but would have added a tad more salt. Outdoor deck seating on picnic tables available with homey ambiance, too.
And I must pay homage to Joe Patti's. There are seafood places, and there's Joe Patti's. I'd be hard pressed to find anywhere as fresh and as big as Patti's. I make sushi at home and use the fresh yellow fin or tuna from Patti's. You know it's special if the worker taking your order has to call over a specialist to cut your yellow fin in front of you. Drive down Main or A St. and once you spot the HUGE American flag, you've found it. It isn't a place, it's an experience!
It took leaving the city to realize what I missed! Travel well and eat happy!
Hip Pocket Deli
4130 Barrancas Ave, Pensacola, FL 32507
Cactus Flower Cafe
3425 N 12th Ave, Pensacola, FL 32503
1344 W International Speedway Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL 32114
I just came back from Joe Patti's last week and like you I was in hog's heaven being originally from Miami I never saw a fish market like Patti's,just fantastic,you reminded me though that I forgot the razor clam's, did you buy them fresh or frozen?????
Will have to have them shipped,I have gotten fish shipped from them,and everything arrived beautifully,but what I don't understand is why we pay more for the fish online than at the store,as one pays for the shipping and handeling.
re: Big Daddy
It turns out that we will be making another trip to Florida sometime this month and of course Joe Patti's will be on my to do list on the way back to Arkansas, I'd like to spend one night in pensacola,we are 2 senior Ladies traveling alone, I'd like to know if you know of a reasonable priced Motel near Patti's and a restaurant that serves fried oyster's and fried shrimp.that place has me hooked.This time I'll spend more time there and really do it justice, and I'll ask why the difference in the prices.By the way I nick named my departed boss Big Daddy,which he loved.
Sorry, I missed your post; I haven't checked this board recently. I don't know about the hotel situation bear Joe Patti's. I was staying with in-laws, who live nearby. Don't recall seeing too many there, but if you look in the downtown/old town area near the Gulf, there should be some there. Hope this got to you on time, for what it's worth.
The best place, hands-down, in Pensacola for some superbly fried seafood is Peg Leg Pete's on Pensacola Beach. I recommend going there for lunch as it gets extremely crowded for dinners (mostly locals); sitting outside on the big sheltered porch is a great option! They also have fabulous baked oysters (try the ones with sharp cheddar and jalapeno), and if you like to go the raw oyster route, this is the place to do it! I wouldn't trust anyone else for such fresh, raw oysters.
If you're staying near Patti's (isn't it divine?), they actually have their own little restaurant where they serve all kinds of southern-style seafood just down the street. It's also quite delicious!
Is the Patti's restaurant also called Joe Patti's? I want to check it out next time through.
I second that about Peg Leg Pete's. The food is very good, especially the fried fish (mmmmm, grouper). Even the french fries are unusually tasty. It's also very kid friendly, so adults can have a god time while the kids do, too. I just wish they'd put something up to shade the playground; the metal parts stay scorchingly hot about six months of the year because of the relentless sun.
Peg Leg Petes
1010 Fort Pickens Rd, Gulf Breeze, FL 32561