With world-class quality seafood readily available in Pensacola, it’s only natural that our area has become a go-to destination for that quintessential seafood stew – gumbo.
Of course, gumbo has its roots a few hours west of here in Louisiana. Preparations vary, but generally, gumbo features seafood, sausage, or chicken in a sauce that often includes a roux – that’s a thickened liquid base made with fat and flour – and filé, a ground herb made from the leaves of the sassafras tree.
Gumbo may include a number of vegetables, including what Louisiana cooks call the trinity -- onions, bell peppers and celery. Okra is often an ingredient in gumbo. In fact, the word “gumbo” may come from an African word for okra, brought to North America by slaves.
Gumbo is savory, earthy, and often spicy. Traditionally, it is served with white rice and crusty French bread.
Here are some of the best places in the Pensacola area to get gumbo and other Louisiana-inspired fares:
1. Broussard’s Bayou Grill and Cajun Market - Pensacola
As its name implies, Broussard’s focuses on the culinary culture of the Big Easy. Broussard’s is so steeped in Louisiana yumminess, their restaurant menu features two varieties of gumbo. Their Cajun-style seafood gumbo boasts shrimp, crawfish and crabmeat simmered in seafood stock and a dark roux. Their chicken & sausage gumbo is made with chicken breast and Cajun sausage in a light roux. Their market offers even more varieties of gumbo – including one with andouille sausage and duck.
2. Fisherman’s Corner – Perdido Key
In Perdido Key, Fisherman’s Corner is the undisputed go-to destination for seafood. The restaurant bills itself as “casual fine dining with a Creole flair,” so gumbo is among their specialties. Fisherman’s Corner calls its traditional seafood gumbo “almost world famous.” The restaurant also offers a twist on the stew with what the menu calls fried gumbo salad that combines mixed greens with fried shrimp, fried oysters, fried crawfish and fried okra served with homemade creamy creole dressing.
3. The Grand Marlin – Pensacola Beach
No vacation to Pensacola Beach is complete until you’ve dined at the Grand Marlin, a restaurant that aims to invoke the stress-free life of the Caribbean. The menu is as varied as the seating options – year-round indoor dining as well as deck dining with a breathtaking view of Santa Rosa Sound. You can get a steak, burger or steamed Maine mussels. But when you order the gumbo, you will think the shrimp, crab, oysters and andouille sausage mixed in a dark roux is their specialty. The Grand Marlin also offers New Orleans style shrimp and oyster “po boy” sandwiches.
4. The Fish House - Pensacola
Just a short walk from the heart of Downtown Pensacola, the Fish House is a favorite destination for locals with a yin for seafood. Here, you can enjoy the view of a working marina while you enjoy their New Orleans style gumbo, which is full of fish and shrimp. The Fish House also offers New Orleans-inspired Crescent City barbecue shrimp.
5. Peg Leg Pete’s – Pensacola Beach
One of the most fun and delectable destinations on Pensacola Beach, Peg Leg Pete’s has an expansive menu that revolves around seafood. Their gumbo includes a variety of Gulf Coast seafood and vegetables seasoned with file, herbs, and spices. They also have a section of Cajun specialties that include red beans and rice, Cajun fried catfish and blackened grouper.
Have a favorite left off this list? Let us know where to order in the comments below.