Top 10 Places to Eat on Pensacola Beach

Sugar white beaches, emerald green water, and some of the coolest places to eat on the Gulf Coast

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Beachgoers enjoying another beautiful day on Pensacola Beach, Florida

Life’s a Beach

There’s an old saying that you can’t keep a good secret forever. For many years, visitors outside the Southeast hardly knew Pensacola Beach even existed. They might have heard about it but most would end up to the west in Gulf Shores, Alabama, or further east to Destin and Panama City.

As many of these beaches have become built up with large crowds and limited beach access, more and more people are discovering that Pensacola Beach might just be the perfect beach destination.

A few of the recent accolades include Trip Advisor’s 2020 “Top 4 Beaches in the US” and voted #1 in the 2018 USA Today’s Reader’s Choice “Best Florida Beach”.

Related: Top 20 Places to Eat in Pensacola

Pensacola Beach has everything the more recognized beaches have – sugar-white sand and emerald green water. What separates it from the others is a nice balance between development and quality of life. You won’t find miles and miles of highrise condos and hotels. In fact, there are miles of completely undeveloped beaches just down Ft. Pickens Road at Gulf Islands National Seashore.

What you will find is a more casual, laid-back vibe and one of the few remaining “locals” beaches in Florida. Don’t let that casual atmosphere fool you, there are still plenty of great restaurants, shopping, and nightlife in the area to keep you well-fed and entertained.

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Gulf Islands National Seashore on Pensacola Beach, Florida

Capturing the Beach Experience

As far as restaurants, Pensacola Beach has just about every type of food you could want – lots and lots of fresh Gulf seafood (of course) but also most other varieties of cuisine. Since there’s usually not enough time to eat at all of them, we’ve narrowed it down to 10 of the best restaurants to visit.

Read More: Top 15 Places to Eat in Destin Florida

All of these top restaurants have great food based on rankings from internet search engines, review websites, social media, and local recommendations. But it’s not only about the food. There’s a couple of other factors that go into making it on this list.

Support local – All of them are exclusive to the area, so instead of a chain restaurant, you’ll get a unique dining experience available only to Pensacola Beach visitors.

Beachin’ it – Just about every one of these restaurants comes with spectacular views of the waters surrounding the island – Gulf of Mexico, Pensacola Bay, Santa Rosa Sound, and Little Sabine Bay. Somehow, food just tastes better when you’re surrounded by beautiful scenery and happy people.

Let’s get on with it… Here are 10 of the best places to eat on Pensacola Beach.

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The Grand Marlin

400 Pensacola Beach Blvd.
Pensacola Beach, FL
850.677.9153

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As you drive over the Bob Sikes bridge heading to Pensacola Beach, the two-story Grand Marlin is one of the first restaurants you’ll see on the left. Along with breathtaking views of Santa Rosa Sound and sunsets over Pensacola Bay, The Grand Marlin is one of the beach’s signature dining hot spots.

A beautiful and spacious dining room is punctuated by a spectacular 1,228 pound Atlantic Blue Marlin overlooking the patrons. The menu is highlighted by a diverse selection of fresh seafood, steaks, and one of the best oyster bars on the beach.

If you’re looking to impress for a date night or anniversary, look no further than The Grand Marlin.

Peg Leg Pete’s 

1010 Ft Pickens Rd.
Pensacola Beach, FL
850.932.4139

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If you’re cruising the beach down Ft. Pickens Rd, you’ll easily recognize Peg Leg Pete’s by the packed parking lot and cars lining the side of the road. It’s been one of the most popular Pensacola Beach seafood and oyster establishments for over 30 years.

After your first visit, you’ll understand why it’s at the top of just about every local’s recommendation list.

An extensive menu features raw, steamed and baked oysters. Plus an assortment of fresh seafood and cajun specialties, steaks, pasta, and desserts. No trip to Pensacola Beach is complete without stopping by Peg Leg Pete’s for lunch, dinner, or downstairs in the “Underwhere Bar”.

Paradise Bar & Grill

21 Via De Luna Dr.
Pensacola Beach, FL
850.916.5087

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If you didn’t know about Paradise Bar & Grill, it’s likely you might just drive past this local favorite. However, you would be missing out on one of the best hangouts on Pensacola Beach. The spacious open-air bar and grill is located directly behind Paradise Inn on Santa Rosa Sound.

Along with great food, this waterfront gem features live entertainment by some of the top bands on the Gulf Coast. Enjoy a beverage or meal at the bar, under the covered canopy, or bring the family and enjoy the day outside next to Santa Rosa Sound.

Water Pig BBQ

5 Via De Luna Dr.
Pensacola Beach, FL
850.565.4863

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If you’re in the mood for some delicious Q, Water Pig is the only dedicated BBQ restaurant on Pensacola Beach. The open-air atmosphere features authentic, “low and slow” smoked brisket, pulled pork, ribs, homemade side dishes, a great selection of adult beverages, and nightly live blues.

Besides mouth-watering barbeque, favorites include the loaded tots appetizer, watermelon & feta salad, and the ground brisket “smash” burger. Along with many other Pensacola Beach restaurants, Water Pig BBQ is a great place to bring the kiddos. A large outdoor seating area allows you to enjoy an evening out while watching the kids play in the sand.

Flounders Chowder House

800 Quietwater Beach Road
Pensacola Beach, FL
850.932.4653

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One of the first things you’ll notice when you first see Flounders is a large 55′ shrimp boat they call “M/V Flounder”. Legend has it that Captain Frank Flounder and his sons, Fred, Floyd and Felix, used this vessel for shrimping in the Gulf waters (sounds a little fishy, but we’ll go with it).

There’s plenty of seating inside, but if you want to enjoy a true Pensacola Beach experience, definitely request a table outside and enjoy scenic views along the Sound. There’s plenty of activities for the kids – play in the sand, on the pirate ship playground, or in the game room.

While the kids are occupied, adults 21+ can enjoy one of their signature “Diesel Fuels” in an assortment of flavors and served in a large jar.

The menu features delicious gulf seafood, steaks, pasta, burgers, raw oysters, and fresh sushi and sashimi. One of the most popular shareable items is the seafood nachos. As you can tell by the picture below, it’s HUGE and can be enjoyed by everyone at the table.  If you’re looking for a place that can keep the entire group or family entertained, Flounders Chowder House should be at the top of your list.

Frisky Dolphin Sunset Oyster Bar & Grill

715 Pensacola Beach Blvd.
Pensacola Beach, FL
850.934.3141

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Frisky Dolphin has made quite a splash in a short amount of time. They started off by winning two prestigious local awards – 2017 “Best New Restaurant” from Pensacola News Journal’s Best of the Bay and VIP Pensacola Magazine. They followed that up in 2018 with a “Best Gumbo” award from VIP Pensacola Magazine.

In addition to some tasty vittles and cocktails, Frisky Dolphin’s large outdoor deck might be the best place to watch the sunset on the beach. In fact, the sunsets are so beautiful, they even included it in the official name. Stop by and enjoy fresh local seafood in a relaxed atmosphere, and don’t forget they also serve a full breakfast and brunch on the weekend.

Cafe Bistro

39 Via De Luna Dr
Pensacola Beach, FL
850.733.9668

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So far, we haven’t talked too much about breakfast on the beach. One of the best places anywhere on the island is Cafe Bistro. This quaint Pensacola Beach cafe serves up tasty food selections throughout the day. This is the perfect place if you’re looking for great food but don’t have a lot of time.

Stop by on your way to the beach and grab a handmade coffee, bagel, breakfast sandwich, Mediterranean Shakshuka bowl, or a full hearty breakfast. Take a break for lunch and choose from one of their signature sandwiches or the Greek salad. Other popular items include oven-fired pizza, smoothies, and 24 flavors of ice cream. 🍨

Crabs on the Beach

6 Casino Beach Boardwalk
Pensacola Beach, FL
850.932.0700

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Located directly on the Gulf of Mexico, Crabs offers visitors some of the most scenic views of Pensacola Beach. Enjoy inside dining or outside on the open-air deck. Regardless of where you sit, you’re sure to get beautiful views and some tasty seafood selections.

Choose from chargrilled or blackened red snapper, gulf grouper, yellowfin tuna and mahi-mahi. Plus seafood tacos, steaks, soups and salads.  You’re probably wondering about… Crabs? Yep, they’ve got plenty of them: Snow crab, Dungeness and Alaskan crab clusters, and the greatest of them all – king crab legs!

Wash it all down with one of their signature drinks, sprinkle in some great live music, and you have everything you need for an enjoyable day or night on the beach.

Native Cafe

45A Via De Luna Dr.
Pensacola Beach, FL
850.934.4848

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If you ask any locals about where to get breakfast, Native Cafe is usually at the top of the list. Owned by fifth-generation Pensacolians, it truly is a “native” cafe and the local “natives” who dine have been coming back since it opened in 2008.

Simply put, it’s one of the best places on Pensacola Beach to start your day with a home-style breakfast or lunch.

They have a lot of breakfast options but popular items include their famous “Native Bennies” (try the Crab Cakes Bennie), oversized “Griddle Cakes”, and a choice of 10 delicious breakfast plates. Brunch and lunch plate selections feature “Florida Fish Tacos”, “Crazy Native Quesadilla”, “Island Chicken” sandwich, and tasty “Native Burger”.

Cafe Nola

400 Quietwater Beach Rd.
Pensacola Beach, FL
850.677.8532

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Since it’s only 3 hours from New Orleans, we couldn’t go without including a little “Nola in P’cola”. Cafe Nola will certainly satisfy any craving you have for cajun and Creole-style cuisine.

Recently, Cafe Nola won three awards in the 2020 Pensacola News Journal’s “Best of the Bay” including best gumbo, po’boy and mullet. Just about all of your favorite Cajun dishes are available – crawfish etouffee, red beans & rice, BBQ shrimp, muffuletta, the messy but delicious Roast Beef Debris and so much more.