Beachy colors and Caribbean flags set a tropical scene inside Island Kitchen, an eatery that serves up the flavorful foods from Jamaica and other island nations. Fall-off-the-bone jerk chicken, oxtail, and goat curry are a few specialties, and sides, such as sweet plantains and yellow rice, round out meals. For vegetarian diners, the spot's chefs prepare jerk vegetables, curry cabbage, and other meat-free offerings.
At Arlene Williams Bar-B-Que, smoke sinks into sausage and sauce seeps into slowly roasting cuts of pork, beef, and chicken. In the dining room, the spicy sauce drips from ribs, drawing nervous glances from the novelist writing the last line on their 432nd napkin. Steam and the sound of clattering pots drifts from the kitchen, conjuring images of the steamed okra, collard greens, and blackberry cobbler within.
Alongside its Mediterranean platters, Jordan Valley Restaurant serves up ample hospitality. The restaurant strives to be a social space where friends and new acquaintances can mingle amongst Middle Eastern spices, or chat on the porch over hookahs. The kitchen’s staples include kebabs, gyros, and a variety of pitas filled with kafta, tandoori chicken, or meatballs.
Woodshed Grill and Brew Pub—an official UFC sports bar—is a favorite hangout for regulars. As juicy burgers and saucy chicken wings delight taste buds, eyes can turn to more than 20 flat-screen TVs broadcasting sports. Meanwhile, bartenders mix cocktails and serve an extensive selection of beers, including 101 on tap and more than 100 in bottles.
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.
Sunny yellow walls and park benches frame the entryway of CJ’s Kitchen & Grille, giving the cozy eatery the feel of a small, Southern town. Inside, baskets of fried fish and gulf shrimp, and platters of smothered pork chops and country-fried steak keep the Southern ambiance alive. A friendly wait staff shuffles fresh-made breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare from table to table, sating appetites with crab cakes, housemade tartar sauce, and hush puppies. Early-rising taste buds awaken from dreams about licking the surface of the moon to devour eggs paired with hash browns, grits, and andouille sausage, or to dive into homemade french toast made from Gambino's New Orleans' french bread.
The culinary artisans at Miguel's Authentic Mexican Cuisine dish up a multifarious menu of both authentic and American-inspired Mexican cuisine. Quash the complaints of a demanding belly with an imperious order of nachos grande ($7.50) or guacamole ($4.75), then break the resulting silence with a signature puff taco buzzing with beef, beans, or chicken slathered in salsa and cheese ($5.25–$6.75). Steaming beef, shrimp, or chicken fajitas ($11.95) saunter into exclusive mouth parties with an escort of grilled vegetable sycophants. Dishes such as the 8-ounce taco burger ($3.75) and taco pizza ($6.75) combine classic American and Mexican innovations with results that would shame any mariachi boy band. Match the meal with a refreshing lime margarita ($2.99 for a small) or icy imported brew ($2.95).