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Eat Like a Local

As any “Pensacolian" knows, there is no better place to call home than the Gulf Coast. Though the seaside destination is famously known for its breathtaking views, Pensacola is also home to an eclectic mix of off-the-beaten-path restaurants that are a must-try if you’re a visitor who likes to blend in with the locals. Here we unveil hidden gems that are highly regarded by foodies in the community.

Jerry’s Drive-In

Ask a local to choose their go-to diner, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to hear, “Jerry’s, of course.” The East Pensacola Heights hotspot opened in 1939 and quickly became known for its carhop-style service and Original Bacon Cheeseburger. Although no longer a true drive-in, Jerry’s still takes pride in a classic, all-American menu of burgers, fries, onion rings and milkshakes. House favorites also include fish chowder and oyster stew, plus an assortment of fried delights: mullet, gizzards, livers and okra. During your visit, take a quick walk around the diner; the walls are covered with community-donated bumper stickers, sports posters and cheeky slogans.

City Grocery

When you’re touring the charming East Hill neighborhood of Pensacola, you can’t miss City Grocery. The local shop’s huge, black iron smoker sits outside on 12th Avenue, enticing passers by with  the aroma of barbecued, smoke and roasted pork, chicken, beef and ribs.This neighborhood deli offers a huge selection of delicious Boar’s Head meat sandwiches and cheeses, as well as gourmet sodas, beer and fine wines. The 12th Avenue Melt and Boss Hog are among 30-plus sandwiches offered, and you can’t go wrong with a rib platter. Visit on a Wine Down Wednesday to enjoy bottle discounts and specials on select vintages.

O’Zone Pizza Pub

O’zone Pizza Pub hits the spot when you’re craving hand-crafted pizza pies, craft beer and a good time. Tucked away in the basement of the historic, old Sacred Heart Hospital building, O’Zone is known for its quirky, fun atmosphere. Rumor has it that ghosts wander the hallways upstairs, but that doesn’t stop locals from visiting the gothic-style, architectural landmark. If anything, the spookiness adds to the pub’s mystique. There are many pizza varieties, but A Nutty Idea has been voted the pub’s best original pizza recipe, so it’s an obvious must-try (especially if you’re a fan of cream cheese and cashews). The pasta dishes, calzones, soups and salads round out the extensive menu, and The Italian Stallion and The John Wayne grinders are savory delights on a bun.


In the mood for a sophisticated lunch? Norma’s downtown boutique café is a no-brainer for many locals, which is fitting since Norma’s resides inside the elegant, ironically named “Duh” – an upscale home and garden store that’s equal parts smart and stylish. Featuring well-known specialty menu items like the Sundried Tomato Chicken Salad, seafood gumbo, and Muffaletta Rendition, make it challenging to choose an entree. But dessert, that’s easy: Pensacola’s Best Bread Pudding. With your choice of lemon, whiskey or amaretto sauce, it’s easy to see why people wait in line for this ridiculously delicious treat.

Blue Dot BBQ

Located in the historic Belmont-Devillers district in downtown Pensacola, Blue Dot BBQ first opened in 1946 and has welcomed a steady stream of hungry visitors ever since to its no-frills, no-flash eatery. Only one small sign hangs on the blue brick building, but locals always know where to find it. Once inside, snag a stool at the counter or grab a seat at one of the diner-style wood tables as you wait for mouthwatering barbecue ribs or melt-in-your-mouth burgers to emerge from the kitchen. And, just like your order that comes out in an unassuming paper bag, paper’s the way to pay, too – Blue Dot is a cash-only establishment.

Hub Stacey’s

Serving both Perdido Key and Pensacola, Hub Stacey’s has been a local hot spot for years. Whether dining in or getting take-out, guests will never be disappointed by its classic sandwiches and wings. If you are in the Perdido Key area, Hub’s can be accessed by car or boat. Arriving by boat, Galvez Landing offers a place to dock and walk a short distance to the restaurant. Guests can relax and listen to live bands perform while enjoying the pub fare. The downtown location offers the same great menu and is located directly across from Seville Square. Here guests can sit inside or on the patio to enjoy the views of beautiful downtown Pensacola.

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