7 Local Pensacola Eats to Check Out

Jacquelyn Sternug, Staff Writer

Pensacola is full of great restaurants and despite the pandemic, the foodie scene is still going strong. Take a leap off campus and check out these 7 locally owned restaurants. 

  1. Jerry’s Drive In – Jerry’s Drive In is a quaint little restaurant in East Pensacola. It’s truly a local gem and takes claim as Pensacola’s oldest restaurant, opened by Jerry Glass in 1939. It was originally a BBQ restaurant, then a car-hop style service. The interior decorations are very eclectic, with the walls covered in bumper stickers, sports memorabilia, and other slogans. At Jerry’s, the bacon cheeseburger and chocolate milkshake are the perfect old school classics. However, they’ve added some southern favorites to their dinner menu, such as the fried mullet. Jerry’s boasts affordable prices, with their hamburgers starting at just $3.35 – perfect for a college student’s budget. Just remember to stop and get cash on the way as they don’t accept credit cards!

Jerry’s Drive In, 2815 E. Cervantes St. Pensacola, FL 32503

  1. Tacos Mexicanos – Tacos Mexicanos is a small food truck tucked away in the East Hill neighborhood and offers authentic street tacos and burritos. They have a simple, but delicious menu that’s well worth the trip from campus. The carne asada tacos and queso are life. The prices are affordable with a $5 lunch special offered throughout the week. Be brave and step away from the Moe’s Monday. Tacos Mexicanos also sells their meats and sauces by the pint, so you can use it to meal prep throughout the week. Tacos Mexicanos just opened their second location at a well-known local spot– Perfect Plain. 

Tacos Mexicanos, 3000 N. 12th Ave. Pensacola, FL 32503

Tacos Mexicanos at Perfect Plain, 50 E. Garden St. Pensacola, FL 32502

  1. Cactus Flower – Cactus Flower is another fantastic locally owned Mexican restaurant and it’s right across the street from Tacos Mexicanos. This one, however has a California spin on it. Some of their best dishes are the mango shrimp tacos, blue crab quesadilla, and the chile relleno. Actually, the chile relleno is so good that if you take one of the cooking classes at Bodacious in downtown Pensacola, the recipe is actually from Cactus Flower. They’ve won Best of the Coast: Best Mexican Restaurant, Best Restaurant in East Hill, and Best Burritos. Cactus Flower is on the slightly pricier side with most of their meals in the $12 – $15 range. It’s definitely worth the splurge to celebrate the end of finals week. 

Cactus Flower, 3425 N 12th Ave. Pensacola, FL 32503

  1. Four Seasons Catering & Eatery – Four Seasons is a quaint little café in downtown Pensacola. It’s only open for lunch on weekdays and it stays packed by the business crowd. If you’re in the mood for good southern food, I promise it’s worth fighting the crowd. The blackened shrimp and grouper plate, the gouda macaroni and cheese, meatloaf and the fried chicken are some of the all-stars on the menu. While the food is fabulous, one of the best things about Four Seasons, is that the owner often hires recovering addicts through the Waterfront Mission’s Addiction Recovery Program, giving many a second chance.

 Four Seasons Catering & Eatery, 212 Palafox Pl. Pensacola, FL 32502

  1. Dog House Deli – Dog House Deli has been a Pensacola staple since 1977. After recently visiting the groomer, the Dog House has a new modern look. However, they still offer many of the same classics on the menu. Dog House Deli is known for its creative and delicious hot dogs. From the classic Chicago to the Fruity Pebbles dog- I promise you’ll find something you like. And if you’re a not a dog person, they’ve added some delicious southern entrees like snapper, meatloaf, and po’boys to the menu. They also offer Saturday brunch, touting shrimp and grits, a chorizo breakfast burrito, and French toast. Whatever you get, be sure to get the banana pudding for dessert. Beyond the wonderful food they serve, Dog House Deli is a family run business. They know their customers by name, which is something that doesn’t happen as often nowadays but your grandparents will love it when they come to visit. 

Dog House Deli Downtown, 30 South Palafox Pensacola, FL 32502

  1. Bonelli’s Café Italia – The long-awaited Bonelli’s Café Italia reopening is finally here! Bonelli’s is the Italian restaurant in Pensacola and recently underwent some major renovations. Their menu has some puns reminiscent of Bob’s Burgers but the food is much better (I think.) Salbo’s meatballs, Mom’s insalata caprese, Joey’s baked ravioli and the fresh baked bread are some of the fan favorites. With all of this greatness, reservations are a must. 

Bonelli’s Café Italia, 1217 N. 9th Ave. Pensacola, FL 32501

  1. The Elbow Room – The Elbow Room is a local dive in West Pensacola that was opened in 1963 by Jim Flynn. Flynn has since passed but The Elbow Room lives on in its original style, sporting red lights, endless Star Trek memorabilia, and an old jukebox. The Elbow Room is known for its pizzas, which have a thin, crispy crust. The burgers are really good and worth getting, but the pizza really is a must to get the full Elbow Room experience. One of the best parts about The Elbow Room is the plethora of boardgames. Alongside the affordable prices, this makes it a great place to hang out for hours with good friends.  

The Elbow Room, 2213 W. Cervantes St. Pensacola, FL 32505