When it comes to eating out, good food is a must but a good atmosphere can be just as important.
Pensacola has a plethora of great establishments, but there are some that stand out a bit more than others due to the ambiance they create throughout your dining experience.
Keep reading to find places where you can enjoy great atmosphere and food.
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where: 2213 W Cervantes Street
The Elbow Room is a pub, but it’s also just a great place to hangout. On the menu, you’ll find an excellent selection of pub food and cheap beer, but they complement the atmosphere, and are not the main draw.
Instead, take a second and look around. Enjoy old-school Star Trek memorabilia adorning the walls, shelves of well-played board games and a Dolly Parton pinball machine in the corner of the room. Finally, enjoy the glory of the red lights flooding the room.
Maple Forest Cafe
where: 4455 moving highway
The idea behind Maple Forest Cafe is described as simple: to bring a portion of Vermont to Pensacola. How was the angel able to pull it off? Bringing produce from Vermont, he incorporated Vermont maple syrup into the menu and decorated the entire venue in a style reminiscent of the glowing foliage of the state.
Inside, you’ll find trees decorated with autumn leaves. Some lofts are around the trees while they are planted in some of the most comfortable spots on the wall.
The menu features brick-and-mortar pizza, hot and cold drinks, “creamy” ice cream, smoothies, sandwiches and more.
90 Scenic Cafe
where: 701 Scenic Highway
Just driving into the Scenic 90 Café is enough to pique anyone’s interest. This is a diner café built to look like an old fifties style diner. It features a stainless steel body with glass bricks, blue and red neon trim, and tons of reflective surfaces. But the tradition does not stop there.
Inside, you’ll find vintage bar-style seating where you can order soup, sandwich, or a special of the day. The floor is checkered and the bar that sits in the rest of the restaurant retains the same old seating as the main bar.
where: 11 Palafox Place, Suite C
Walking the Nest is like walking a Pinterest photo. Everything looks clean, comfortable and well designed. Check out their website to see for yourself. They somehow manage to maintain the layout of the site throughout the restaurant as well.
The Nest is a sister company to Bluejay Bakery that focuses on local ingredients and goods. Its full name describes it as a general store, but it’s more like a coffee shop that serves coffee, breakfast, and lunch – all great. The menu focuses on seasonal ingredients, so you’ll find rotating items. The coffee is provided by a world-renowned black and white roaster. Even sweeteners are made in-house using high-quality ingredients.
The place is small, but it makes the most of its size by providing bar stools, table seating, outdoor seating, sofa and chairs if you are just meeting friends for coffee.
where: 7955 N. Davis Highway
Atmosphere is an open concept, and if there’s anything more famous about El Asador than tacos, it’s its location. It is often described to new converts as “that place behind the gas station”. While technically true, it robs the taco truck of its magic.
Walking into El Asador’s covered dining area, Spanish music, foreign languages, and diverse people greet you. This rare, carved cultural bastion exudes good food and good vibes. Enjoy the perfect experience with three to six of the best tacos ever.
where: 300 Alknaiz Street
Dharma Blue might be one of the most romantic places for a dinner date. It is small, comfortable and intimate. For dinner, the lights dim and a candlelit dinner begins.
The restaurant outside is a great place to gather in great views of the historic Pensacola area as the restaurant is located at the corner of East Government and Alcaniz Streets. This means that it overlooks Seville Square, Hub Stacey’s, and the surrounding historic homes.
The building itself is located inside the historic Smith House, which is over 100 years old and adds to its charm.
McGuire’s Irish Pub
where: 600 E. Gregory Street
McGuire’s Irish Pub is probably the most famous restaurant in Pensacola, and certainly the most famous Irish pub. Founded in 1977 as a neighborhood bistro, it moved in 1982 to its current location which houses the New York aesthetic’s Irish Saloon and seats 615. That sounds like a lot until you jot down your name on Friday night for an hour wait.
Once inside, you will understand that the aesthetic of the pub is as much a part of its identity as the handcrafted food and beer. The first thing anyone will notice is the money being stapled into every nook and cranny. According to the restaurant, customers stapled about $1 million worth of $1 bills.
There are several seating areas inside McGuire’s but the main one that features a stuffed moose head, which is a custom for kissing, and live music during the evening. Occasionally, bagpipes come in and they play, too.
Ozone Pizza Pop
where: 1010 N. 12th Ave., #111
O’Zone Pizza Pub is located inside the old Sacred Heart Building, currently known as Tower East. The building first opened in September 1915 and appears to have come straight out of a horror movie, which is clearly part of the O’Zone dining experience.
Over the years, there have been multiple paranormal claims from sponsors. Some say the nurse’s appearance can be seen, others hear the children playing music. However, the jury is out on whether or not the building is truly haunted.
Without the feathers, O’Zone is a great “hunt” pizza that serves up some great specialty pies, handcrafted beer, and more. A local favourite, the Ponderosa Stomp consists of a blend of cheddar cheese, special BBQ sauce, BBQ chicken, bacon, green peppers, diced spring onions and drizzled with honey. And as the menu suggests, don’t skip the cream cheese and jalapeno.
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