Pensacola may be a beach town best known for its fresh and delicious seafood, but it’s also a Southern town rich in the culinary traditions that the South is famous for. Be it collard greens, black-eyed peas, mashed potatoes, cornbread or fried chicken, there’s someone in the city serving it up the way grandma used to. As a matter of fact, it can be hard to find a local spot that doesn’t have some Southern soul on the menu, but locals definitely have a few favorite retreats. So whether you’ve got a beach house for a week or are just in town for the weekend, make a point to stop in at one of these local spots to get a taste of the city’s Southern roots. These are the five best places to get soul food in Pensacola.
Five Sisters Blues Cafe
Arguably the most upscale inclusion on this list, Five Sisters has been a staple of the city’s culinary scene since opening in the historic Belmont-DeVilliers neighborhood in 2010. The restaurant is a bastion of coastal Southern soul food, serving fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits and Aunt Sara’s Southern Fried Chicken seven days a week. The restaurant still uses the recipes passed down by the founder’s mother and four aunts, for whom the restaurant was named. There’s not a wrong choice on the menu.
Our recommendation: Fried Green Tomatoes and Aunt Sara’s Southern Fried Chicken
CJ's Kitchen & Grille
You might not guess it from the humble exterior, but CJ’s has been a Pensacola favorite for generations. This mom-and-pop diner serves breakfast and lunch, but it’s their breakfast that keeps the crowds coming back. Just a mile down Garden Street from the city’s bustling urban core, CJ’s is the perfect start to a day spent exploring Pensacola’s historic district or boutique shopping on Palafox Street. CJ’s egg and meat breakfasts are served in generous portions and guaranteed to leave you satisfied until the next morning when you’ll want to return.
Our recommendation: CJ’s New Orleans Napoleon
Four Seasons Market & Eatery
Easily among the best places to pop in for lunch on a day spent downtown, Four Seasons Eatery adds a touch of Cajun flair to the city’s palate. With a daily special and an ever-changing list of sumptuous entrees, flatbreads and sandwiches, there’s something for everybody at Four Seasons. The husband and wife team of Charles and Kelly Mielke are always ready to welcome new customers with a taste of their locally famous gumbo.Dieters beware, the mac and cheese is to die for.
Our recommendation: A Tattooed Chef’s Gumbo and Strawberry Spinach Salad
Englewood All in One Kitchen Ministry
It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s spent time in the South that some of the best soul food in the city comes from a church.
The Englewood All in One Kitchen Ministry restaurant got its start in 2008 as an outreach of the Englewood Baptist Church when Pastor Larry Watson suggested his congregation share its home cooking with the community.
Make no mistake, this is no soup pantry, but instead a fully-realized, cafeteria-style restaurant serving up what some consider to be the best soul food in Pensacola.
This is one that even many of the locals don’t know about. It’s an absolute hidden gem.
Our recommendation: Smothered Pork Chop and Collard Greens
The Dwarf Chicken Stand
Don’t let the name fool you; this is no food truck or roadside tent, but rather a revival of an old neighborhood favorite.
The original Dwarf Chicken Stand opened in 1963 serving fried chicken and Southern sides to generations of loyal customers in the Belmont-DeVilliers neighborhood until Hurricane Ivan destroyed the building in 2004.
The restaurant reopened in 2014 and has since regained its reputation as the purveyor of some of the city’s best fried chicken.
Unlike other entries on this list, The Dwarf is open into the wee hours of the morning. There’s no better meal after a night out than some Dwarf fried chicken between two complimentary slices of white bread.
Our recommendation: Chicken!