At The Butcher Shoppe, handcrafting sausage and sculpting fresh cuts of meat is a family legacy. Owner Kevin Green and his son Jordan will tell you that serving as a local expert on meat is not just a job; it's a way of life. When the father-son team welcomed Troy Moon of the Pensacola News Journal into their store, Jordan showed off his extensive beef knowledge, knife skills, and the tattoo on his arm, which depicts a snarling steak holding a butcher's knife in each hand. When asked how long he planned to work for his dad, the ambitious and dedicated youth replied, "Hopefully until he either gives up this one to me, or we open another one." Given their talent and close connection with their customers, that may not be a bad idea.
In addition to prime, certified Angus and choice beef, the duo showcases specialty items such as bison and alligator, providing a “how-to” cooking guide with each cut in order to ensure the best flavor. They also turn their patrons' wild game into sausage—adding hot Cajun spices, maple, or sage for an extra kick—and handpick marinades and barbecue sauces that are ideal for slathering on grilled meats or making slip ‘n’ slide journeys more flavorful.
Blue Dot Barbeque doesn’t need to be flashy or showy. One small sign hangs beside the blue-brick building’s front door—no flashing lights, no giant marquee, and absolutely no skywriting. The owner chose the name in honor of his aunt and uncle—Blue and Dorothy Robinson—and this casual, down-home inspiration influences the hole-in-the-wall eatery’s spirit.
Surrounded by nondescript white walls, patrons snag a stool at the counter or grab a seat at one of the diner-style wooden tables. Orders of grill-fresh hamburgers and rib sandwiches emerge from the kitchen tightly wrapped in foil paper, releasing a burst of savory aromas as soon as they’re opened.
Many people argue that Blue Dot's burgers are the best in the area. In fact, a group of nine friends on a quest to find the best burger in Northwest Florida embarked on the NWFL Burger Tour in 2012. After sampling burgers from 14 different local and chain restaurants, the group rated Blue Dot as the best.
This culinary emporium's owners, Paras and Tamara Arora, know that palates can be choosy. So in early 2012, the couple opened Beyond India, an Indo-American fusion restaurant that combines traditional recipes from both cultures. Drawing on 20 years of experience cooking traditional Indian cuisine—specifically from North India—Punjabi chef Singh populates tables with pub-style golden appetizers and more exotic starters of delicately fried paneer pakora. The team bakes entrees such as seafood and tandoori lamb in an oven that reaches 900 degrees, almost exactly twice the temperature at which books and firefighting manuals burn. After sopping up a curry dish from the endless lunch buffet, patrons can cool off taste buds with a sweet slice of key-lime pie.
In the Southern-centric kitchen at Jen's Creoles Restaurant, chefs simmer batches of creole gumbo and bake tins full of creole cornbread. The menu of comfort food also includes wings, hush puppies, burgers, and andouille sausage sliced atop a mound of red beans and rice.
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Golden Palace Restaurant's chefs spoon out hearty helpings of pho, vermicelli noodles, and rice entrees alongside other traditional Vietnamese dishes, as both large and small groups dine amid Eastern art. Chef's specials ($9.95) roll out a fish centerpiece in several culinary styles, including steamed with ginger and scallions, deep-fried in tomato sauce, or stuffed to stand on its tail in an attack pose. Tidbits of steak and meatballs bob on the surface of small ($5.95) and large ($7.25) bowls of pho, and vermicelli noodles entwine around chicken dressed in curry sauce ($7.50). Diners can display chopstick dexterity by snacking on individual grains of rice in the grilled pork with lemongrass ($7.25) or by scrawling calligraphy on the spring roll's ($2.95) edible wrapper to bottle and toss into one of the restaurant's aesthetic aquariums.
Scotti’s Pizza Palooza emits golden brown pizzas and hearty Italian fare from its dining area and at its speedy carryout window. Pizzas bear an array of meats to waiting mouths, such as the That's a Meaty Pie with sausage, pepperoni, meatball, ham, and bacon, or carry cargo that is closer to the earth with vegetarian options including the pizza Florentine with spinach, tomato, mushroom, and feta.