Where to Eat (and Drink!) in Pensacola

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…

Breakfast

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!

Another Broken Egg Pensacola
Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict at Another Broken Egg in Pensacola

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.

Lunch

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.

Pleasure Island Tiki Bar
Pleasure Island Tiki Bar

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.

Dinner

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.

Drinks

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.

Old Hickory Whiskey Bar Pensacola
A library of whiskey at The Old Hickory in Pensacola

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.

The Old Hickory Pensacola
Signature “Old Hickory” cocktail at The Old Hickory Whiskey Bar

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?

 

Pin me!

 

Pin me!

 

This Is The South: Catfish House

In 2016, I moved from the land of snow and Uff-da to southern Mississippi. It has been a Cultural Experience on so many different levels. I have offended people with my disinterest in cornbread and grits, learned the meaning of the phrase “wide open,” and discovered various foreign delicacies that I had never heard of before such as chicken spaghetti and fried okra — to name just a few things! So I thought it would be interesting to start a series called “This is The South” where I occasionally feature various foods and customs that were completely new to Midwestern Me. Let us commence.

Southern Catfish House
Southern Catfish House delicacies…

The Catfish House

Probably every small town in the south has some kind of catfish house. The business model seems a little unique to me. Most catfish houses are only open on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, (and sometimes Sunday) nights from about 5-9pm. During these truncated hours, they are jam-packed with all — and I mean all! — of your friends, neighbors, and relations.

It is such a distinctive experience that some catfish houses don’t even have menus — everybody knows what would be on it, so why bother, right?

Typically, a bowl of coleslaw and a basket of saltine crackers will be brought out as an appetizer. The staples on the menu are usually a 4-6 piece plate of fried catfish fillets, hushpuppies, french fries, fried okra, stewed turnip greens, and other fried things as well. Probably hamburgers are available, too, for the un-fishy among us though I haven’t looked specifically for that. Oh, and of course, Sweet Tea! (Too sweet for me! I’ll stick with water, thanks.)  Condiments on the table, in addition to the obvious salt and peppers, will include some kind of hot sauce, ketchup, and a bottle of “pepper sauce” which is actually not a sauce, but a jar of vinegar infused with hot peppers. (This is a must for sprinkling into your turnip greens.) There’s a little bit of variation in seasonings for the breading of fried items or turnip greens, but for the most part I think a catfish house is a catfish house. Near larger towns, they might mix up the menu and bring in some shrimp or crab.

Jerry’s Catfish House

Jerry's Catfish House, Florence, MS
Jerry’s Catfish House, Florence, MS

Or frog legs. Jerry’s Catfish House does frog legs…..And that’s not the only unusual thing about it!

I drive by Jerry’s Catfish House every day, and I wonder what the story is. The building looks like a big, white igloo on the side of the road. My best hypothesis is that maybe the catfish house owners purchased the building from some kind of displaced eskimo cult? Maybe? So this past weekend, we finally decided to check it out.

Despite its puzzling architecture, Jerry’s Catfish House is a typical catfish house. They make use of the domed rotunda by having a second level of seating along the perimeter that looks down on the level below through a railing lined with streetlamp-like fixtures. While I was there, I didn’t ask anybody about the reason for the “igloo” design because everybody seemed a little too busy to be bothered. But from some photos on the wall, we found that apparently the owners of the catfish house were involved in the construction! So the mystery continues. Maybe it’s supposed to look like a catfish egg. Oh–no, apparently catfish eggs are orange. Hmm. Oh well!

As far as how Jerry’s food stacks up, I feel like I have had more flavorful breading elsewhere, but overall everything was great! Not too greasy, and very crisp and fresh.

Conclusion

Fried Okra - This is The South
Fried Okra – This is The South

 

This is the South: A Catfish House
This is the South: A Catfish House

 

So if you’re ever anywhere in the south, make sure you visit a catfish house! Throw caution to the wind and try fried all-the-things — I especially recommend okra and jalapenos.

 

And if you can find out why Jerry’s looks like an igloo — leave a comment! I’m dying to know!

 

 

 

7 Sioux Falls Restaurants You Don’t Want to Miss

7 Sioux Falls Restaurants
7 Great Sioux Falls Restaurants!

 

 

Sioux Falls probably isn’t on your bucket list. And if you were passing through, after driving through all that empty prairie, it probably wouldn’t occur to you to look for really great world cuisine options or a waterfall.

And yet, there they are.

I lived in Sioux Falls for a couple years while finishing my degree–this is also, for the most part, where I dated my husband. So I like to think I know a lot of the things there are to know about Sioux Falls.

Am I going to tell you to add it to your bucket list, you MUST go? …… Nah. But if it’s between you and wherever you’re going, it’s worth a stop!

For one thing, all the food! Here are seven really great and unexpected dining options in Sioux Falls….

 

 

Where to Eat in Sioux Falls

Here are a few of our favorites…..

  • Sanaa’s – Authentic Mediterranean, and she’s always switching up the menu so there’s always something new to try! Gluten-free and vegetarian-friendly, if you have those preferences!
  • Coffea – Sioux Falls has a bunch of coffee shops, but unfortunately, this is the only one I’ve visited! (I have also heard Joseph’s, The Black Sheep, and the Bluebird Cafe get rave reviews.) My experience of Coffea is that they are very on-trend. If you want the perfect hipster, artsy coffee shop vibe, this one’s for you.
  • McNally’s Irish Pub – A gorgeous interior with lots of dark wood and hammered metal. The food is pretty upscale and they include both classic Irish fare and some more surprising menu options.
  • Oshima Sushi – From the cozy atmosphere to the really great service, I think this is probably my favorite Japanese restaurant ever. My mouth still waters thinking about their miso soup.
  • Minerva’s – If you want to get fancy, don’t miss Minerva’s. They have multiple locations across South Dakota and Iowa, but the one in downtown Sioux Falls is where it all began and it’s a regional icon.
  • Lalibela Ethiopian – Researching for this article, I was sorry to find out that Lalibela has closed due to their building being razed to make way for a gas station! I’m still going to include it in this list, though, with the hope that they’ll be able to re-open somewhere else. This restaurant was truly a gem and a one-of-a-kind addition to the local food scene.
  • Overlook Cafe – The best soups, salads, and sandwiches in town — and the view is pretty unique, too, which leads to our next category…..

 

Remember how I mentioned that waterfall? Tune in next week for some more Sioux Falls attractions!