Photo by @johnwcary

For people north of the Mason-Dixon, mullet is a vintage 80s haircut – business in the front, party in the back.

But southern mullet is a party all the time.

Here on the Gulf Coast mullet is a fish-fry favorite. Like the more universally recognized fried catfish, mullet are crusted with cornmeal and seasonings then flash fried. Served up with southern staples like hushpuppies, cole slaw, greens and savory cheese grits, mullet is the world’s best opening act for banana pudding and Key lime pie.

Pensacola is a natural fishing ground for mullet, so it’s often just hours from catch to plate for our local restaurants – and there are plenty to choose from. People on the Gulf Coast know seafood — from upscale dishes to downhome cooking— and what they love is mullet.

The search for truly great fried mullet is going to take you off the beaten path, so plan on taking in some new scenery and rubbing elbows with locals, because locals don’t mess with frozen fish.

Chet’s – A local favorite for more than 30 years, Chet’s is proud to support the local fishermen who deliver the freshest seafood available for waiting diners every day. Chet’s menu includes a fried mullet dinner, lunch basket or sandwich with hush puppies. Or you can create your own seafood platter with a wide range of other fresh-from-local-waters choices.  Finish it all off with homemade banana pudding!

Jerry's Drive-In – Originally opened in 1939, Jerry’s is one of Pensacola’s oldest restaurants. It’s a local favorite for breakfast, burgers, beer and, of course, fried mullet. Served with cole slaw, hushpuppies and French fries, a Jerry’s mullet dinner is as legendary as their bacon cheeseburgers and chocolate malts – which is to say they’ve been serving it up right since the current clienteles’ great-grandparents were cruising in on a Friday night. Add a little extra Southern style with a side of fried okra! And try a little dab of the Jerry’s sauce on your fish or fries – it’s good on everything.

Marina Oyster Barn – You’ll spot it heading over the Bayou Texar bridge, its red roof topping a modest little boathouse perched above the water. Inside? Seafood heaven. Tucked away in the East Pensacola Heights neighborhood with some of the best views in town from its three walls of windows, the Marina Oyster Barn has been a landmark since 1969. Diners arrive by land and by sea for mullet dinners, sandwiches and lunch specials. The Marina Oyster Barn is also known for its steamed oysters (of course), gumbo, shrimp and just about any local catch you can name. And you can’t go wrong wrapping it all up with a slice of Key lime pie!

Triggers Seafood Restaurant – Basket, platter or po’ boy on fresh Gambino French bread, Trigger’s has your west Pensacola mullet cravings handled. You can even get mullet and eggs for breakfast! Trigger’s is located on Gulf Beach Highway, near Big Lagoon State Park, between Perdido Key and Downtown Pensacola. Family owned since 1966, Trigger’s is known for its seafood and its Sunday brunch (which can also include mullet). Owners Glen and Carol Ard started out with a small deli, but expanded to a full-service restaurant as demand grew for the family’s fresh caught mullet and southern sides. Cheese grits, hush puppies and cole slaw are always on hand to complement some of the Gulf Coast’s favorite fried mullet.

Sam’s Seafood, Steak and Spirits – When you can see the famous Joe Patti’s Seafood sign from your restaurant, you know that fish is fresh! Sam’s has been a favorite lunch spot for the who’s who of the Downtown Pensacola crowd for more than 30 years, and is now the perfect stop for a casual bite before and after Blue Wahoos baseball games – the stadium is just a short walk away! You can get your mullet fried, grilled, blackened, or on a toasted bun. Sam’s serves dozens of other dishes featuring Gulf seafood, plus steaks, chicken, salads and sides to please everyone at the table. The owners and staff greet many of their customers by name, but there is always room at the table and mullet in the fryer for new friends.

Mullet Platter at Sam's Seafood

So pull up a chair, grab a lemon wedge and join the mullet party – business can wait until after vacation.

Left a favorite off your list? Be sure to leave us a comment of your favorite place for local mullet. Still hungry, check out these other dining options.