Not all 13-year-olds have the foresight to realize their life's calling, or the world would be full of unemployed professional puppy holders. Luckily for the foodies of Pensacola, Dan Pettis had a knack for his more practical dream. He started experimenting in the kitchen just before he entered high school, starting as dish washer and working his way up through the cut-throat world of the restaurant industry. At the top of the food chain, he is now both chef and owner at One 20 A Modern Bistro.
Here, he crafts a menu of innovative, fusion bistro cuisine, drawing inspiration from his southern roots and journeys to Southeast Asia and Japan. The artfully plated dishes take on southern accents with dishes such as blackened garlic sautéed shrimp accompanied by creamy cheese grits and mustard-rubbed pork chops with a side of braised collard greens. Whereas, international influences take the form of range-glazed tuna steak and stir-fried edamame.
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 jalape?os 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.
Helen Back believes a meal should be about more than just food. That's why its menu serves up the right portions to enjoy while watching a golf game or lounging on an outdoor patio. Try a white-sauce pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, and black olives or down a bowl of nachos covered in spicy meat and jalape?os, while washing down your meal with one of the frequent drink specials from the full bar. Weekly specials include free pizza for members of the military and motorcyclists, and the restaurant's connection to the community also extends to fundraising for local youth and the Special Ops Warrior Foundation.
Ed's Hometown Seafood and Steaks caters to the entire family with a menu full of seafood specialties, steaks, and burgers for lunch and dinner. Kids might get a kick out of watching the lobsters in the live lobster tank, while adults might enjoy picking which lobster could best drive a tank. The staff prepares other fresh seafood such as soft-shell crab, Bayou catfish, and seafood gumbo. They balance the menu out a bit by also searing tender baby back ribs and juicy steaks. An adjoining sports bar has a full-service bar and hosts monthly dart tournaments and poker nights.