When most people think of Pensacola Beach, they automatically picture powdery white sand beaches and turquoise waters. They might not know that this beach town is also home to some pretty fantastic restaurants. I visited the area in October and enjoyed meals at many popular restaurants, and I also talked with friends in the area and got their recommendations.
Whether you’re looking for fresh seafood, traditional Southern fare, or something in between, there’s sure to be a spot that will satisfy. There’s something for everyone. Here are just a few of the great places to eat in Pensacola Beach, listed in no particular order. Bon appetite!
Note: Meals at The Grand Marlin and Flora-Bama Yacht Club were provided by the restaurants. All opinions are my own.
1. The Grand Marlin
When I visited Pensacola, we ate lunch at The Grand Marlin. It was so delicious. The atmosphere there is tranquil and relaxed, an air of sophistication paired with beautiful views of the Santa Rosa Sound and sunsets over Pensacola Bay. Plus The Grand Marlin has the area’s best selection of fresh seafood. They offer delectable specials daily from the kitchen of award-winning chef Gregg McCarthy.
Seafood entrees are fresh from the ocean. They serve the finest oysters and are considered the best-stocked oyster bar in the Pensacola region. The Grand Marlin serves oysters from Apalachicola and East Bay as well as more exotic locales. Oysters are shucked to order.
If you are not a seafood lover, The Grand Marlin still has you covered with succulent poultry dishes, pasta, and juicy, seared steaks.
I highly recommend the Crispy Lobster Fingers served with Vanilla Bean Honey Mustard. It is on the appetizer menu, but enough to make a meal. For dessert, try the TGM Signature Praline Basket. It is a crispy pecan praline basket filled with vanilla bean ice cream and drizzled with creamy house caramel and chocolate sauces, all topped with seasonal berries. It was the most memorable dessert of our trip.
2. Casino Beach Bar & Grille
Just a few steps from the beach, you can enjoy live entertainment, island vibes, spectacular panoramic views, and a fantastic menu at the Casino Beach Bar & Grill.
Located on Pensacola Beach, you can dine on the deck, sip on signature island handcrafted cocktails, and enjoy Caribbean and Gulf Coast-inspired small plates, tacos, salads, entrees, and more.
A few small plates you might enjoy are the Shrimp and Mango Ceviche, the Chinese Chicken Salad, or the Tropical Salad.
- The Shrimp and Mango Ceviche combine tender shrimp and juicy diced mango marinated in a mixture of fresh lime juice, cilantro, jalapenos, red onions, basil, and a touch of mint served with crispy wonton chips.
- Grilled chicken, cashews, bell peppers, bean sprouts, celery, red onions, carrots, radish, and cilantro over Asian slaw drizzled with a soy vinaigrette make up the Chinese Chicken Salad.
- If you want something exceptionally light, try the Tropical Salad, which includes strawberries, pineapple, mandarin oranges, grape tomatoes, lemon, candied pecans, and avocado on mixed greens.
Their options are fresh, and you can’t beat the ocean view.
Happy hour is held Monday through Friday from 3 till 6, and there is live entertainment every Friday and Saturday.
3. Water Pig BBQ
The Water Pig BBQ is for you if you are ready for a lively atmosphere and delicious barbeque. Considering it was named as a 2020 Top Best New Restaurant in the nation by USA Today, you won’t be disappointed with a visit to Water Pig BBQ.
With an open-air atmosphere and steps from the crystal blue ocean waters, you can enjoy Pitmaster Steve Seige’s BBQ cooked low and slow with homemade side dishes and tropical libations. It is the only BBQ eatery on Pensacola Beach offering daily fresh smoked meats.
Some of the most popular entrees include the dry-rubbed pork ribs, Texas-style smoked brisket, ground brisket smash burger, pulled pork, and smoked turkey. They smoke their meats daily over seasoned oak.
Water Pig’s evening menu transitions into shareable small plates. I love the pork cracklins with house rub. They reminded me of my childhood adventures on my grandparents’ farm when they had butchering day.
I want to try the ribs with sweet and spicy Korean-style sticky sauce on my next visit. You might enjoy their refreshing watermelon salad if you aren’t into smoked meats.
Pro Tips: This is a popular place, and some of their meat needs to smoke for 16 hours. Their meats are so popular they sometimes run out, so arrive early. Note that Water Pig offers walk-in dining only.
4. Flora-Bama Yacht Club
Come by boat, car, paddle board, or float; the Flora-Bama Yacht Club has the perfect meal for you, featuring local seafood and original menu items and drinks. The legendary restaurant makes dining a fun and exceptional experience.
Located on the line between Perdido Key, Florida; and Orange Beach, Alabama, Flora-Bama Yacht Club and the Bar across the street are must-visit locations when you visit Pensacola.
You can dine outdoors on the deck or beach area. Be entertained by local and visiting musicians while you enjoy their famous signature drink, the Bushwacker. I tried this delicious drink when I visited. It was a cross between a tropical milkshake and a frozen drink with a cherry on top!
I recommend the cilantro lime hummus served with grilled pita bread for a starter. They mix fresh ground chickpeas with lime and a touch of cilantro to create an excellent hummus dip.
When we visited, I enjoyed the raspberry pecan salad with grilled chicken. (I skipped the cheese on my salad.) It included torn mixed greens topped with fresh raspberries, sweet praline pecans, and tobacco fried onions, all drizzled with raspberry vinaigrette.
On our next visit, I will try the blackened shrimp po’ boy.
If you enjoy oysters, you can’t go wrong with the Bacon & BBQ Fire-Roasted Oysters. The chargrilled oysters were topped with Sriracha-cured bacon and cheese, then drizzled with New Orleans BBQ sauce and butter.
The Flora-Bama Yacht Club uses fresh local seafood and locally grown ingredients. They strive to better the local environment, so they participate in the Oyster Shell Recycling Program. It recycles oyster shells from restaurants and returns them to Alabama waters, enhancing oyster production.
Pro Tip: Because half of the club is in Florida and half in Alabama, when you look it up on the map, you may find it has an Orange Beach or Perdido Key address.
5. Peg Leg Pete’s
A local favorite, Peg Leg Pete’s is famous for its oysters, exceptional service, and salty vibe. It opened in 1991 and started out selling only shrimp, oysters, and a few sandwiches. The popularity and menu grew as locals and visitors raved over the seafood and enjoyed the fun atmosphere.
Peg Leg Pete’s has a beach bar vibe with a bit of whimsy and rough-and-tumble thrown in. You can check out what is happening in their restaurant and on the beach with their live webcams. You can be sure you will have a good time during your dining experience.
When you enter the restaurant, you will be intrigued by the swashbuckling pirate-themed decor, the vast menu, and various drink options. They serve a fantastic fish sandwich and, of course, oysters prepared in just about every way imaginable. Parmesan, spicy Lafitte, Cajun, casino, and Rockefeller are a few oyster dishes available.
The next time I visit, I plan to try their Frozen Shipwreck drink, which includes the restaurant’s frozen signature blend of spiced rum, coconut rum, and 151 rum mixed with tropical juices.
Located on Fort Pickens Road, several boat slips at the Lafitte Cove Marina are reserved for restaurant guests, making visiting exceptionally easy for boaters.
Pro Tip: During the summer, you will hear Pensacola-area musicians every night. The best part is there is never a cover charge at Peg Leg Pete’s.
Bonus: Flounder’s Chowder House
Serving Sushi, fresh seafood, tacos, pasta, sandwiches, steak, and more, Flounder’s Chowder House is a popular eatery in nearby Gulf Breeze. The owners collect boats, and models are displayed inside the restaurant as well as outside. You can’t miss the huge shrimp boat beside the restaurant.
Other unique items inside include a massive, 980-pound blue marlin, stained glass from a New York convent, and sections of a confessional booth from a New Orleans church. It is quite an intriguing place to visit.
Everyone raves about the seafood nachos on Flounder’s Chowder House’s appetizer menu. It is large enough to share with friends. The vast menu includes a fish po’ boy that is very popular. The Hawaiian-style grilled chicken breast served with rice pilaf is a delicious choice.
The Shrimp Boat Platter is an excellent choice if you are starving. It includes the “catch of the day” from Flounder’s shrimp boat, a shrimp cocktail, shrimp on a stick, beer batter–fried shrimp, some popcorn shrimp, some steamed shrimp, coconut shrimp, and homemade hushpuppies, plus some flash-fried potatoes.
The chowder house serves free-range gulf fish chargrilled over a wood fire. Next time I visit, I plan to order the Gulf grouper with mango Beurre Blanc.
Flounder’s has live entertainment year round, and you can view the scheduled musical groups on its website site.
Pro Tip: Be sure to check out the gift shop. It offers fun souvenirs and beach necessities.