I’m going to be a little controversial here and say that the beaches at Pensacola left me underwhelmed. Maybe it’s because we visited on a holiday weekend and they were just too crowded. That said, though, we still had a wonderful time in Pensacola, eating and drinking our way across the gulf coast! Here are the highlights of our visit…
Another Broken Egg was our breakfast spot and everything about the experience was above and beyond expectations. Another Broken Egg is used to their extreme popularity and they have learned to manage it well. With a line out the door we weren’t surprised to have a wait time of 30-45 minutes for a table.
In most cases this would be frustrating. Especially for breakfast–who would wait that long for breakfast?? But plenty of people do! They took our phone number and we instantly received a friendly text letting us know that’s how we would be notified that our table was ready and in the mean time, to feel free to grab a cocktail at the bar. There was a complimentary coffee station set up by the door, a generous amount of comfortable seating, and someone even came around with a tray of mini-muffins to speed along the wait!
The excellent customer service continued through our entire visit. We split some beignets to start with and I had a Salmon Eggs Benedict that is without question the most . . . The most . . . I can’t even. It was good.
We had to visit Pleasure Island Tiki Bar while we were on the coast. This is actually in Orange Beach, AL, just a little west of Pensacola, and we made a special stop because this is where Josh and I became “Facebook official”. Haha! Over bushwhackers and piña coladas.
Which brings up a good point–bushwhackers are a must if you’re on the Gulf Coast. Think boozy chocolate milkshake.
The food at Pleasure Island is not amazing, but the ambiance will put you right into a beachy mood. It’s on the water and open to the salty wet breeze. There is usually live music, as well. It’s a fun, lighthearted way to transition into vacation mode.
So we major splurged and went to The Grand Marlin for dinner. It was a cut above what we had budgeted, but we needed to find some great seafood before leaving the coast and The Grand Marlin came highly recommended.
I had a blackened swordfish steak and Josh had the grouper piccata, and it is hard to come up with adjectives that go far enough. The fish was done to melt-in-your-mouth perfection, served on a bed of the silkiest mashed potatoes imaginable this side of heaven, and next to some tender crisp green beans that *had* to have been pulled off the vine minutes before arriving on your plate.
Plan on spending an arm and a leg on food if you’re visiting Pensacola. You won’t be able to resist, and yet it will be completely worthwhile.
Oh, one thing to note, have a dollar ready! The Grand Marlin is located on the toll bridge between Pensacola and Pensacola Beach. The way the lanes are structured, if you’re coming from the mainland, you’ll literally need to pay the toll and then do a u-turn in order to turn into the parking lot.
I saved the best for last, guys. The Old Hickory Whiskey Bar stole our hearts and was by far our favorite stop! Located in an older building in the heart of downtown Pensacola, it has the ambiance of a dark, candelit 18th century library. But instead of books, a library of whiskey lines the floor to ceiling shelves! They even have the type of library ladders that roll along the wall.
I tried their signature Old Hickory cocktail which is one of their “smoked” drinks. Apparently this is not a new idea, but it was new and intriguing to me! They use a blow torch on a slab of wood then set the glass upside down over the smoking patch. The smoke billows around in the glass, eventually settling and adhering to the sides of the glass, and then the drink is poured. I think you smell the smoke in the drink more than you taste it. This particular one was interesting to try, but not my favorite–I think it was the fruitiness of the vermouth in it that didn’t float my boat.
I loved trying Josh’s Japanese whiskey, though! We were both like kids in a candy store here, and it was hard to tear ourselves away.
As a last bit of trivia, the name of The Old Hickory Whiskey Bar is a nod to Andrew Jackson, the 7th U.S. President and the first territorial governor of Florida. I feel like this is worth mentioning because though his portrait is on the wall, this would have totally gone over my head if not for the help of my history buff hubs. It definitely adds context to the aged feel of the venue, though!
So no, I wouldn’t go back to Pensacola for the beaches. But for the eating and drinking? Yes, ohhh yes.
What are your favorite restaurants in Pensacola?