By any measure, Pensacola is a vacation paradise, but when it comes to sandwiches, a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, Heinz 57 and French-fried potatoes, a big kosher pickle and a cold draught beer is the least you should expect from a sandwich experience here.
To the contrary, visitors to Pensacola have an array of super-charged and amusingly novel over-the-top sandwiches to choose from for a cheeseburger (or other savory temptation) in paradise. Here are five to get you started:
The SPAM Monster at the Tin Cow, 102 S Palafox Pl, Downtown Pensacola
At the Tim Cow, burgers are life. The restaurant features a build-your-own menu that lets you choose from proteins like bison, Kobe and crab cakes, with toppings ranging from cheddar to kalamata olives. There are innumerable combinations, but the menu also includes signature sandwiches. Chief among those is the Spam Monster.
The SPAM Monster consists of a half pound of Angus beef, SPAM, a fried egg, bacon and mayo – all served between two applewood bacon grilled cheese sandwiches.
“What better way to make bread for a sandwich than to make a sandwich out of sandwiches,” said Tin Cow owner Joe Abston. “And Spam is one of those items that some people have nostalgia about.”
The sandwich is at least 3½ inches tall, but the size doesn’t defer diners, who order three or four of the monsters every day.
The Fire Eater at Big Top Brewery, 21 W Romana St, Downtown Pensacola
If you know that Big Top Brewery is centered around a circus theme, you may have an idea of what the Fire Eater is all about. This sandwich features a southern-fried, beer-brined chicken breast with Swiss cheese and house-made pickles on an everything brioche bun.
Oh, the chicken breast is also dipped in Crystal hot sauce.
“When you pick up the Fire Eater, you are immediately confronted with the vinegar tang of the Crystal hot sauce, which of course starts the mouth-watering,” said Treena Williams, marketing manager for Big Top Brewery. “What you get, however, is an incredibly crispy, juicy and tender bite of chicken, just salty enough from the brine.”
Williams put the sandwich at five inches across or better, calling it a “two-hander for sure.” She said the Fire Eater is consistently in the top five food items sold every day.
The Innerarity at Hub Stacey’s at the Point, 5851 Galvez Rd, Perdido
The menu listing for the Innerarity points out that this sandwich feeds two.
“We take lean, tender ham, fresh sliced road beef, Swiss cheese and top it with lettuce, tomato and dill mayo” according to the menu. “We then add smoked turkey, provolone cheese, lettuce and slices of bacon.”
The sandwich, served on grilled sour dough, weighs in at least a pound, according to Donna Stacey, co-owner of Hubs.
“People order it every day,” Stacey said. “It is a sandwich they can take home for later if they can only eat half. It’s even good cold. People love this sandwich once they have tried it.”
The Velvet Elvis at Dog House Deli, 35 Via De Luna Dr, Pensacola Beach
Yes, the Velvet Elvis is a hot dog… But what is a hot dog? Bread with meat (or some such) in the middle, with or without toppings, and you can eat it with your hands. Thus, sandwich.
However you categorize it, the Velvet Elvis is not your traditional anything. It’s an homage to the King’s purported penchant for fried banana and peanut butter sandwiches.
“It’s a fun dog,” said Nathan Holler, Dog House Deli owner. “The ingredients are peanut butter, bacon, honey and bananas.”
The Velvet Elvis comes with your choice of wiener, starting at six inches.
The Grand Burger, McGuire’s Irish Pub, 600 E Gregory St., Pensacola
No visit to Pensacola would be complete without a trip to the iconic McGuire’s Irish Pub. With a menu that runs from corned beef and cabbage to Senate bean soup, they specialize in, literally, everything.
McGuire’s burger menu could be the only menu for many restaurants. There are dozens of customized combinations to choose from. The burgers are freshly ground from trimmings from the kitchen’s Angus steaks.
Except for the Grand Burger. No, this $100 event sandwich is made with custom-ground filet mignon. The Grand is served with a side of caviar, a merlot sauce and a bottle of imported Moët Impérial Champagne.