Good Eats & Good Times in Pensacola, Florida

Pensacola is the westernmost city in the Florida Panhandle and I was lucky enough to spend just one day there back in May.  We were in Georgia for a wedding and to visit Savannah for a few days and then made the drive down to Pensacola to visit some friends of ours who live there.

Of COURSE, thanks to my hubby, on the way there we had to take a little detour across the Alabama state line so that I could have myself a quick visit to the Chattahoochee State Park!  Here is a picture of me in front of the Chattahoochee River which my all-time favorite country song by Alan Jackson is based on.  This made my entire week life!

Chattahoochee River, Chattahoochee State Park, Alabama

I don’t know about you, but when I travel to a new place that I’ve never been before, the first thing I do is search online for must-see places to visit and, most importantly– the best restaurants to eat at (since my life revolves around food).  Since we didn’t really know our way around at all, we used our short time there wisely and headed down to the infamous downtown Pensacola.  Whether you are coming on vacation or moving to Pensacola, I encourage you to visit the beautiful downtown area and hope that this gives you just a couple of good ideas of things to do!

Good Eats in Pensacola,Florida - Carmen's Lunch Bar Restaurant Review

First, we walked around downtown and went down to the water and walked along the pier for a little while.  Very nice views!

We then chose Carmen’s Lunch Bar in Downtown Pensacola that features an eclectic menu of delicious soups, fresh salads, savory tapas, and a variety of homemade sandwiches paired with boutique wines, imported beers and signature iced teas.  It just opened in October of 2012 and has flavorful southern and also international cuisine presented in a nice relaxing, intimate, social atmosphere.  The lunch menu was limited but had some great choices on it and from reviews I’ve read, ALL of the food is delicious.  There is a nice variety, so even with the small number of choices everyone should be able to find something they are in the mood for.

Good Eats in Pensacola,Florida - Carmen's  Lunch Bar Restaurant Review

Good Eats in Pensacola,Florida - Carmen's  Lunch Bar Restaurant Review

They offer unique food choices with farm fresh options and local produce.  Their diverse menu offers specialty soups, fun sounding appetizers like “Sockeye Salmon Deviled Eggs”, delicious sandwiches and seasonal selections. The chicken salad that I ordered was to die for! I finished every last bite.  We sat at a table outside overlooking the surrounding historic architecture of downtown but there is some indoor seating around a large bar. The restaurant is on the small side with limited seating so I would give yourself extra time in case there is a wait to be seated.  We were there in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday and had no problem being seated outdoors right away.  Also, speaking of time, the service was a little slow there so also be prepared for that.  Hey, it’s better than being herded out and feeling rushed!   I loved my experience as well as the food at Carmen’s!

Good Eats in Pensacola,Florida - Carmen's Lunch Bar Restaurant Review

The Chicken Salad

Good Eats in Pensacola,Florida - Carmen's Lunch Bar Restaurant Review

Julie’s Famous N.C BBQ Sandwich with Potato Salad that hubby ordered

The Bodacious Olive is a boutique olive oil store, pasta restaurant and market that we also visited and is located almost right next door to Carmen’s (with only a coffee shop in between).  This awesome little shop not only contains all things olive oil, but all the things balsamic.  Although the really unique vinegars are secondary product, they kind of steal the show and we nearly made a meal out of just the samples they give you there.  The staff was very friendly and the tasting was so fun!

The Bodacious Olive specializes in cooking ingredients: seasonings, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.  Unlike chain grocery store offerings, The Bodacious Olive carries hard-to-find gourmet items, like roasted walnut and wild mushroom and sage olive oils.  Their vinegars are amazing and are infused with a variety of flavors, including vanilla, blueberry, and cinnamon pear. There is even a thick, potent 18-year vintage balsamic vinegar they have for you to taste. The Bodacious Olive also provides it’s customers with recipes using their products, like bruschetta trio and asiago and white truffle mashed potatoes.  It also carries gourmet seasoning salt and they make all of their pasta in house – so freshness is guaranteed!

Good Eats in Pensacola,Florida - Carmen's Lunch Bar Restaurant Review

Oh, and by the way….you never really tried olive oil until you try the cilantro and roasted onion olive oil.  It’s mind blowing and has a strong, distinct flavor that undoubtedly would be a great marinade for meat, fish or poultry.

Another specialty of the house is the made-to-order fresh pastas, presented in many shapes and blends including Whole Wheat and Spinach, created with the market’s unique pasta machine. Delectable sauces include a slightly spicy Marinara, a Vodka Red Sauce, an Asiago Cheese White Sauce… and the Bodacious Specialty- an Artichoke Antipasto blend.  They also have a wonderful selection of domestic and imported wines and cheeses from around the globe.

Some of my favorite flavors were:

Cilantro and Roasted Onion Olive Oil
White Truffle Olive Oil
Maple Balsamic
Blackberry Balsamic

And how about this little factoid:  Pensacola isn’t just the first European settlement of North America, it is also the birthplace of the North American olive so it seems only fitting that the tradition of enjoying fantastic olive oil continues here.

I hope you get to visit Pensacola sometime!  If you’ve been there, do you have a favorite place to see and/or eat at?

Location: 407-B South Palafox Street, Pensacola, FL 32502

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Author:Ashley

These are a few of my favorite things: cooking, baking, Broadway musicals, cruises, Disney World, Christmas, storms, 80's and country music, and my favorite pastime has always been baseball. Go Yankees!

35 Responses to “Good Eats & Good Times in Pensacola, Florida”

  1. September 5, 2013 at 2:18 AM #

    Sounds like you had a fantastic time Ashley! The BBQ sandwich & potato salad look amazing! :)

    • September 5, 2013 at 12:06 PM #

      Thanks, Anne! I appreciate you reading, as always :)

  2. September 5, 2013 at 10:37 AM #

    For the record, this is one of your readers who loves to hear and read about other people’s travel, particularly if food is involved! This little odyssey looks like a wonderful and delicious get-away!! Thanks for sharing!

    • September 5, 2013 at 12:05 PM #

      Dan, I’m glad you like travel posts! Sometimes I feel like it bores people :)

  3. September 5, 2013 at 11:11 AM #

    I always look up the area’s best restaurants and bakeries before traveling! Looks like you found some good spots!

    • September 5, 2013 at 12:05 PM #

      I’m glad I’m not the only one!

  4. September 5, 2013 at 1:45 PM #

    That chicken salad looks SO good! I’ve never been further south than South Carolina. :) I’m pretty sure the only way I could ever convince my husband to go would be if we went in January to escape snow, haha.

    • September 5, 2013 at 2:38 PM #

      It was the best chicken salad I’ve ever had!

  5. September 5, 2013 at 1:59 PM #

    Looks like an awesome area – I have yet to visit Pensacola but would love to one day. Those olive oils sound amazing! :)

    • September 5, 2013 at 2:38 PM #

      You’d love it!

  6. September 5, 2013 at 4:45 PM #

    such a pretty place!! That food looks amazinggg too!

    • September 5, 2013 at 10:10 PM #

      Thanks, girlie!

  7. September 5, 2013 at 8:43 PM #

    I don’t travel much but I have done that before — googling the best places to eat and everything. Thank you google! LOL Anyway, Pensacola sounds great and the food at Carmen’s looks delicious!

    • September 5, 2013 at 10:10 PM #

      I’m glad I’m not alone in that! haha

  8. September 5, 2013 at 10:30 PM #

    Great looking sandwich!

  9. September 6, 2013 at 1:33 AM #

    Thanks for sharing the pictures! Looks like it was a great time!

    • September 6, 2013 at 12:08 PM #

      Thanks, Pamela!

  10. September 6, 2013 at 5:15 PM #

    Looks like you had a wonderful trip! When I travel, it’s all about the food, too. lol That chicken salad looked just delicious!

    • September 6, 2013 at 6:52 PM #

      Thanks, Marcie!!

  11. September 6, 2013 at 7:11 PM #

    I totally search online for the “best of” and “top 10″ everything when my husband I travel, just like you! These sites look amazing. Loving the name of that restaurant. :)

    • September 7, 2013 at 4:57 PM #

      Glad I’m not the only one who does that :)

  12. September 7, 2013 at 12:29 AM #

    Aw, part of me will always have a soft spot for my home state. Haven’t been to Pensacola in so long, but your trip seems to have been lovely. Hurrah for the Chattahoochee!

    • September 7, 2013 at 4:57 PM #

      I love your home state :)

  13. September 7, 2013 at 2:39 AM #

    What a great time and such awesome photos :D
    Especially of the food!

    Cheers
    CCU

    • September 7, 2013 at 4:56 PM #

      Thanks, it was definitely a good time!

  14. September 7, 2013 at 11:57 AM #

    Sounds like you had a nice time. Nice round up!

    • September 7, 2013 at 4:56 PM #

      I did – thanks Caroline!

  15. September 8, 2013 at 4:03 PM #

    I used to live in Florida but never made it to Pensacola. I’ve missed out big time, I know. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Great pictures! Thanks.

    • September 8, 2013 at 10:05 PM #

      I understand why…it’s practically to Alabama – it’s so far west! Thanks for the compliment on my pictures, John!

  16. September 9, 2013 at 1:42 PM #

    WOW! The scenery, the food…and you! Lookin’ good, Ashley!

    • September 9, 2013 at 1:48 PM #

      Thank you so much!

  17. September 14, 2013 at 1:14 AM #

    I went to college at Pensacola Christian College…this brought back a lot of fun memories for me!! :) Great post!

    • September 14, 2013 at 9:37 AM #

      I almost went there! Too funny! I applied there but decided on another school.

  18. January 6, 2014 at 6:12 AM #

    You captured real good pictures. Great to know you this way. Anyways, I’m fond with pizza, do you have travel regarding pizzas too? because I’ve been a Pizza Paradiso Orlando fan. Have a great day!

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