According to Trip Advisor, the Grand Marlin is the number 1 rated restaurant in Pensacola Beach. But as it is also listed as the most expensive restaurant in Pensacola Beach we’ve not dined there. But considering its good rating, perhaps we ought to find out “how expensive” it is! 🙂
But we have had a chance to sample some of the Beach’s other top rated restaurants.
Our Reviews of Best Restaurants in Pensacola Beach
Below are reviews of:
- Flounder’s Chowder House
- Red Fish-Blue Fish Restaurant
- Native Cafe.
Review – Flounders Chowder House
Flounders is a beach front casual, seafood dining and entertainment emporium that has been in Pensacola Beach since 1979. It is full of nautical paraphernalia, antiques, and fanciful creations. A former world record 980 lb Blue Marlin hangs from the ceiling of the Marlin Bar. Adjacent to the street-side entrance is the 55 foot former shrimp boat, the M/V Flounder named after its owner Captain Frank Flounder. Frank’s three sons opened Flounders Chowder House after serving their tours shrimping.
Diners have a choice of seating: an open-air outdoor deck adjacent to their beach, a covered outdoor deck, and inside seating. There’s also a separate, cafeteria style Sushi Bar. The stand-up Tiki Bar is out on beach and the more spacious Marlin Bar is in the open-air covered area.
The sand beach fronts on Pensacola Bay and includes a long pier with boat docking facilities for guests arriving by water. The large beach area also hosts a volleyball court and a kids playground area within view of the restaurant so Mom and Dad can keep an eye on the kids while they dine. The entertainment stage looks out over the the deck, but no one was performing the day we were there. But Jamaican music played in the background on their PA system.
Rating Flounders Food & Service
I had the Grilled Mahi Taco Salad and Jo chose her favorite burger basket, a Mushroom & Swiss Burger w fries. The food portion size was large and the quality good, but not outstanding. We’ll give it Four stars. The wait service was prompt and friendly. A fun, family friendly, entertaining place to spend an afternoon or evening. Next time I’ll have to try their signature Floyd Flounder’s Phenomenal Chowder, a past winner of the Great Florida Chowder Cook-off.
Red Fish, Blue Fish Restaurant
Red Fish Blue Fish is another funky beach front dining and entertainment also located on the Pensacola Bay side of the island. Like Flounders it has an extensive white sand swimming and lounging beach, in fact maybe a little larger than Flounders. As with Flounders you can be in the open-air patio, the covered deck, or inside away from all the elements. There’s no volleyball court but there are corn-hole game sets on the patio and on the beach.
The day we were there a country-pop trio was performing on the outdoor stage. They had a Simon & Garfunkel style of close harmony and a wild electric fiddle that I loved. It was an idyllic afternoon, good food, good music, sun, beach, ocean breezes, and a very tasty Bloody Mary.
Our lunch was Grilled & Blackened Mahi on a bed of steamed asparagas, rice & spinach. Excellently prepared and decent wait service. We’ve had and enjoyed Grilled Mahi at other Gulf Coast eateries and the dish served up by Red Fish Blue Fish didn’t disappoint us.
Also a bit away from the hustle and crowds is the best breakfast spot in Pensacola Beach (also serves lunch until 3pm). Nestled in a plain jane strip mall east of Pensacola Beach’s entertainment center, Native Café is easy to miss unless you know about their reputation. We found out about them on Trip Advisor where they are rated the #2 Restaurant in Pensacola Beach behind the Grand Marlin, which is the top rated place to eat in the Beach – but is also the most expensive.
Their artsy marquee was matched with a funky, artsy and intimate interior. Some light jazz played in the background adding to the unique café atmosphere.
Native Café is family run, operated by fifth generation Pensacolians, Joyce and Charles Brown and their children, Josef Wiggins, Jesse Brown and Arin Brown. Their commitment to good food, a fun atmosphere and good service has people like us going to an effort to find them.
Rating the Native Cafe
We were there for a late lunch. Jo had their signature PoBoy Mahi-Mahi sandwich basket that included a side of fresh veggies. I had their famous Florida Fish Tacos, which contains sautéed Mahi which chopped cabbage, tomato, and bell peppers and 2 kinds of sauce. Excellent taste, large portions left us stuffed. Great food coupled with fast, friendly service stands up to their #2 rating. Love the artsy coffee shop atmosphere and their choice of music. 5 stars. We look forward to returning the next time we are in Pensacola Beach.
Other Top Rated Pensacola Beach Restaurants.
Peg Leg Petes Pensacola Beach (pictured at the top of the page)
Bustling, pirate-themed seafood restaurant featuring a children’s play area & raw bar
We’ve driven by Peg Leg Pete’s several times on the way to and from Fort Pickens. The parking lot was always full so we never stopped as we figured there would be a long wait for a table. They get good reviews on Google and Trip Advisor so one of these days we have to give them a try. (We finally did in 2020 – see our review)
The Grand Marlin is at the tip of peninsula that juts out into Santa Rosa Sound with a terrific panoramic view of the cove between the island and the Gulf Breeze peninsula. Highly rated by Trip Advisor for the quality of their food and service. But warning you also pay top dollar for that four star rating. With extensive docking facilities it is a popular dining and entertainment spot for boaters. One of these days we’ll dig into the Piggy Bank and stop there for dinner or lunch.
The Pensacola News Journal recently posted some announcements of new Pensacola Beach Restaurants recently opened that included The Drift Casino Beach Bar & Grille.
Pensacola Beach Links
- Top Things to see & Do Pensacola Beach
- Shopping and Entertainment Map
- Pensacola Beach Visitors Bureau
- Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce
- Pensacola Beach Hotels and Condos
- Fort Pickens National Park and Campground
- Flounders Chowder House website
- Red Fish, Blue Fish Restaurant website
- Native Café website
Pensacola Visitor Links
What are your favorite Pensacola Beach Restaurants & Bars? Let us know in the comments below.
Your Gulf Coast Travel Guide, Ross Reinhold