Cutting an east-west swath across Pensacola, Cervantes Street may be named for Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, but the locals pronounce it "sir-VAN-tees," without any Hispanic inflections. Either way, it's a name you'll want to know when visiting Pensacola because it boasts some of the area's most interesting, eclectic and downright delicious restaurants. There are literally dozens of great dining choices along Cervantes Street. Here are five favorites you shouldn't miss.
The Coffee Cup, 520 E. Cervantes St.
The Coffee Cup is perhaps Pensacola's favorite breakfast spot, and has been for more than 70 years. Under the motto "no grits, no glory," a wide variety of Pensacolians meet over steaming hot coffee, greasy spoon ambiance and the morning newspaper; the Coffee Cup is a haven for everyone from everyday Pensacolians to local politicians and celebrities.
The food is plentiful, inexpensive and tasty, with omelets the size of a Buick helping you fuel up for a day's adventures. Fluffy biscuits with gravy -- sausage or tomato -- are a must, too, and as the motto indicates, you've gotta have some grits or it just isn't a Coffee Cup breakfast.
While most famous for its breakfasts, the Coffee Cup is also open for lunch with a variety of staple daily specials.
Open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Call 850-432-7060 for more info.
Pot Roast & Pinot, 321 E. Cervantes St.
One of Pensacola's top restaurateurs, Chef Joe Abston is the mastermind behind Hopjacks Pizza Kitchen and Taproom, the Tin Cow and this Cervantes Street stalwart, which puts Abston's signature spin on classic American comfort food. Pot Roast and Pinot turns out diner fare with gourmet flair, including mac and cheese studded with coldwater lobster, a grilled cheese made with Brie and fig jam and tater tots drizzled with truffle oil and served with pomegranate ketchup.
True to the name, yes, a signature slow-roasted pot roast with carrots and mashed potatoes is a menu highlight. The "Pinot" part of the name, meanwhile, is represented by one of Pensacola's most extensive and surprising wine lists, presented on iPads for easy review and ordering.
Open from 5 to 10 p.m. daily, reservations are recommended. Call 850-607-7336 or visit www.potroastpinot.com for more information.
The Magnolia, 2907 E. Cervantes St.
While it bills itself as "Pensacola's Neighborhood Bar," The Magnolia also features an array of small plates and "shareables" that make it one of Pensacola's tastiest restaurants, too. Tucked away in a small house in the midst of East Pensacola Heights' surprisingly diverse dining scene, Bill & Kiley Manning have produced one of the city's best-kept secrets, specializing in "New Southern, bar-bistro cuisine."
Sandwich selections include a grilled cheese sandwich made with house-made pimiento cheese, the "Jive Ass Turkey" with provolone and creamy jalapeño jelly spread, and the "Hotta Lotta" with ham, salami, provolone, olive salad, pickled jalapeño pressed on Italian bread. House-made rosemary pecan chicken salad is a favorite, too, and leave room for the "Kitchen Sink Cheesecake," featuring peanut butter cups, brownies, chocolate chip cookies and cheesecake, mashed together and served by the scoop. The bar offers an extensive wine and craft beer by the can selections.
Open 5 to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 5 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday, the kitchen closes at 9:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, at 10:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday and until demand slows on Saturday. For more information, call 850-912-6196, or visit www.magnoliapensacola.com.
New Yorker Deli & Pizzeria, 3001 E. Cervantes St.
New Yorker's extensive menu offers Pensacola's top deli experience alongside some of the area's finest pizza, calzones, stromboli and Italian-style dinners in a quaint East Pensacola Heights setting.
Surrounded by Big Apple memorabilia, start off with an appetizer, daily soup selections or an extensive array of deli salads, including the divine Pasta Rockefeller with chopped spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese and red onions with sea shell pasta tossed in a pesto garlic flavored olive oil.
Your main course will take some real deliberation. New Yorker has an incredible array of hot and cold sandwiches and subs and dinner salads if you're looking for lighter fare. Dinner selections include spaghetti, eggplant or chicken Parmesan, lasagna, manicotti, ravioli, fettuccine and more, with extensive vegetarian options offered. Pizzas in two sizes make an excellent family selection, with multiple topping selections, and calzones and stromboli are just as delicious.
There are also plenty of beverage selections including domestic and premium beers, as well as plenty of tadessertsert selections.
Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 850-469-0029, or visit www.newyorkerdeliandpizzeria.com.
The Elbow Room, 2213 W. Cervantes St.
For something truly off the beaten path, soak up the red-light atmosphere of the Elbow Room, Pensacola's beloved "dive bar" institution. A trip to the Elbow Room can feel a bit like traveling through time, where you'll find yourself surrounded by board games, "Star Trek" memorabilia and one of the best jukeboxes around, spinning nothing but vintage vinyl 45s. Little about the inside has changed since the mid-'80s, and that's part of what people love about it.
The menu is simple but tasty, featuring pizzas with extensive topping offerings, made-to-order pub salads with your favorite pizza toppings, sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs, including "Trek"-themed and vegan selections. Homemade soups and desserts are also available.
The drink menu boasts champagne cocktails and a surprisingly extensive beer selection including vintage workingman favorites.
Open 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesday through Friday and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday. Call 850-434-0300 for more information.
But don’t just stop there. Cervantes Street dining has plenty more to offer where that came from. Left a favorite off the list? Leave a comment below.