Nippon Sushi and Grill's expansive lunch ($10.49) and dinner buffets ($12.99) abound with sushi, rolls, hot dishes, and other delicacies inspired by traditional Japanese cuisine. Nippon's sushi shamans hand-roll specialties such as the Green Dragon roll, deliciously crafted from cream cheese, spicy crab salad, and a fried crab stick, topped with avocado and roe. The cucumber and crab White Tiger roll sports a crown of white fish, tuna, and tempura, and the Ninja Turtle roll's core of cream cheese and crab comes cinched with avocado and a black belt of barbecued eel. Refreshing libations ($1.89) stand by with straws in hand to hose down potential wasabi fires.
Led by phantasm fanatic Pattie Krakowski, Pensacola introduces audiences to the Seville Quarter’s eerie history with stories gathered from employees past and present. Tour-goers assuage moaning stomachs with an optional snack at the Quarter's Palace Café (available for an additional fee), after which their costumed guide materializes to lead them through the haunted habitations of the Seville Quarter, even those normally closed to the living public. In each room, Krakowski will share chilling tales told directly to her by both former and current building employees and a tattling Haley Joel Osment. Attendees can fill brain caves with facts about the quarter’s architecture and antique furnishings while keeping eyes peeled for occasional unexplained phenomena, such as alley cats that can succinctly explain current tax regulations.
With multiple locations throughout northwest Florida, Helen Back Cafe does its best to ensure that cold drinks and hot comfort foods are always nearby. The eateries' signature items are its hearty pizzas. These hand-tossed pies won the 2012 reader' choice poll for Best Pizza in Emerald Coast Magazine, and Esquire urged readers to visit and, "eat the best pizza you've ever shoved in your sunburned face."
With 17 toppings available—including everything from meatballs and jalapeños to chicken and onion—patrons are able to build their own custom pie from scratch. A small selection of sandwiches and other classic finger foods round out the menus, giving visitors snacks to nibble as they enjoy a frosty beer or cocktail from the bar and listen to the live bands on select Friday and Saturday evenings.
For Helen Back Cafe, keeping customers happy is almost as important as giving back to the communities it serves. The staff regularly provides donations to charitable causes, and Helen Back Cafe proudly supports The Special Ops Warrior Foundation, which helps the dependents of fallen soldiers continue advancing their educations.
Play combines the creature comforts of childhood with those of adulthood: arcade games and beer. Taps and cans dispense an ever-rotating reservoir of 20 microbrews—more than enough liquid confidence to attempt high scores on the rows of coin operated games such as Pac-Man, Street Fighter, and Galaga. All around, the thumping bumpers of pinball machines mingle with the clack of pool balls and the hiss of air hockey tables. But beneath the flashing surface of Play is a drive to bring people together.
When not wagering the next round of drinks on a game of hoops, or butting heads in a DJ-accompanied skee-ball tournament, guests can team up to test their mental mettle during trivia night. Karaoke evenings arm friends instead with microphones so that they can belt out a duet or practice eulogizing each other in front of a rapt audience. Quieter interaction can be found in an '80s-inspired nook, where an original Nintendo and a VHS-player revive summer afternoons spent playing Super Mario Brothers and writing love letters to John Cusack.
Chef Pri’s gustatory adventures meet at the intersection of Thai specialty dishes, American comfort food, and international influence. Tables play host to artfully wrapped Japanese sushi and curries accented by pineapple and butternut squash. Chicken or shrimp cozy up to stir-fried noodles, and for heartier food, Chef Pri piles pot-roasted duck infused with cinnamon atop a sautéed spinach and garlic chili sauce.
The restaurant’s dining room exemplifies the same modernity found in the menu, with coal-black ceilings and geometric artwork against mustard-hued walls. Burnt yellow lights hang like glowing champagne glasses above Jasmine’s fully stocked bar, where diners can retreat for a cocktail or wine by the glass.
After enjoying a pint of craft beer at Hopjacks Filling Station, there’s a good chance you’ll find a cold one in their refrigerator, ready to be taken home. This hybrid retail store, beer garden, and café has 33 handpicked taps and hundreds of specialty beers and wines from around the world. Servers fill glasses and growlers with favorites from Pensacola Bay Brewery and limited seasonal and obscure beers alongside plates of casually upscale pub fare. Seated at tall chairs, patrons enjoy bites of charcuterie plates and toasty sandwiches, from genoa salami to roasted duck, at long, glossy tables in the center of the room. Diners can also wander outside to eat, drink, and set off post-meal bottle rockets on the patio.