An August 2007 trip
to Pensacola by Wildcat Dianne
Quote: More on some of Pensacola's great seafood restaurants and a great Mexican restaurant that Erika and I enjoyed during my visit to Pensacola this August.
Being too hot and too lazy to cook, I had been wanting to try this Mexican restaurant Erika and Mom said was really good and inexpensive, Monterrey's Mexican Grill. Another advantage this restaurant had it was right down the road from Erika's house and since I was careless for the night, I could walk over there and get an order to go.
So about 4pm, I phoned the Monterrey Grill and placed an order for a 1/2 order of Nachos with Beans ($3.50) and Chicken Mole Poblano ($7.50). I told the guy on the phone I was walking down there and would be there in 20 minutes. I got there within 15 minutes, but my food wasn't ready, yet, and after paying for my order ($11.19 with tax), the young waiter told me to have a seat at one of the seats at the entrance. Grateful for a few minutes to catch my breath and rest the sore calf, I plopped down in a chair. Good thing, I placed my order early because by 4:30, Monterrey's was starting to pick up with many elderly people getting an early meal and people coming in for a Friday night meal with friends or co-workers.
After sitting for about 15 minutes, my food showed up, and I started the short walk back home to eat. On the first turn to the house, a little pug dog ran out of his yard to greet me and wouldn't stop sniffing my bag of goodies from Monterrey's. If his owner hadn't come outside to get him, he would have been following me home to two very put out puppies!
After getting home and catching my breath, I sat down to eat. My order of Nachos was enough to feed two of us. It was HUGE with thin tortilla chips with refried beans, Monterrey jack cheese, and tons of jalapenos smothering them. They were good, hot, and spicy, and I was wondering if I was going to have flames shooting out of my butt later on that night.
The Mole Poblano didn't light my fire. After having the spicy nachos, the Mole was kind of bland, but good with its boneless chicken breasts in a dark sauce. Along with Spanish rice and tortillas, this made a very good and filling meal for me!
Monterrey's Mexican Grill is open from 11am to 10pm Sunday through Thursday and 11am to 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. It has an extensive menu from tacos, salads, and other Mexican cuisine. Pardon the pun, but they have the whole Enchillada! Erika noticed the take out bag from Monterrey's in the trash the next day, but it didn't stop us from going back there the next night for dinner.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 26, 2007
Monterrey's Mexican Grill
5190 Mobile Highway
Pensacola, Florida 32526
Restaurant | "Monterrey's Mexican Grill II"
Upon entering Monterrey's, Erika and I were greeted by the host and seated near this family with a bratty kid. Visions of a 2x4 against the brat's head ran through our heads as we looked at our menus, but by the time Erika and I got our 2 for 1 margaritas (Monterrey's has this special every night) from the nice waiter who called us senoritas (I feel so young now!), the family and brat were gone, and Erika and I could have a peaceful dinner!
Munching on the complimentary chips, salsa, and bean dip, Erika and I perused our menus. Our waiter returned, and we ordered Stuffed Jalapenos to start while Erika ordered the Steak Fajitas while I got the Shrimp Fajitas. About five minutes later, our waiter brought out our Stuffed Jalapenos, and they were awesome. Fresh out of the oil and oozing with Monterrey Jack cheese, Erika and I devoured them in a heartbeat with a little Habanero sauce to add a little more kick to them!
A few minutes later, our entrées arrived sizzling hot on their cast iron plates. Erika's steak fajitas were loaded with meat, onions, and peppers while my shrimp fajitas had 12 shrimps, onions, and peppers. On separate plates, we had tortillas, refried beans, rice, guacamole, and sour cream. Erika and I ate almost everything on our plates, and she had enough left for a doggie bag to take home. Our waiter joked with Erika that she wouldn't get dessert unless she cleared her plate, and I told him if our Nana had heard that, she would beg to differ. That woman always had room for dessert, and so did Erika and I!The Fried Ice Cream was screaming my name, and I succumbed to the temptations and increasing waistline to it. It only cost $2.50, but when it arrived, it was HUGE and appropriately with two spoons. The fried ice cream came on a fried tortilla shell with tons of homemade whipped cream and three maraschino cherries on top. I pushed the plate to the middle of the table and told Erika she was helping me eat the thing stuffed or not and even gave her most of the cherries as an incentive! At the end of this meal, Erika and I were very stuffed and waddled out the door after paying.With a take out Burrito Supremo for Todd, the meal came to $40 + tip, and I would come here again!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 26, 2007
Restaurant | "Flounder's Chowder and Ale House"
Upon arriving at Flounder's you have to be either seated by the hostess at a table, or you can sit at the bar. Being by myself, I chose the bar and was able to seat myself. Flounder's has outdoor seating on the white beach sands with a view of the Gulf of Mexico, or you can sit in shaded seating at the bar or in many of the booths. The bar was very busy, but I managed to get a seat in the corner.
Every weekend, Flounders has a huge Champagne Breakfast complete with bubbly or bubbly with orange juice, your choice of eggs, and other New Orleans goodies. I passed on this since having breakfast at home and wanting a light lunch before walking the pier one last time. The menu is small and a lot of the food is pricey, but if you get chowder and a salad, you can have an inexpensive meal.
I settled for the Caesar's Salad and a bowl of Escambia White Flounder Chowder and a glass of water. Many people were drinking champagne, but bubbly isn't my style. I checked out the surroundings, and it is something out of Jaws or some other ocean themed movie. The restaurant is right on the beach, and almost everyone was in bathing suits or beach gear. The servers were clad in very nice brightly colored Hawaiian shirts that I would have worn, and my server Andrea introduced herself and called me by name when taking my order.
One of my peeves about Flounder's is that smoking is allowed in the outdoor eating area, and once in a while, I got smoke wafting at me which annoyed me a little bit.
My lunch arrived a few minutes later, and as I was about to dig in, the lady next to me struck up a conversation with me. Her name was Sue, and she was beginning a three-week vacation with her daughter in Pensacola. She asked me if I was staying in one of the hotels on the beach, and I told her I was staying with my sister and brother-in-law. While I was eating, we talked about Rhode Island, my home state and somewhere Sue visited every year.
The chowder was creamy with bits of flounder floating in it, but the salad was even better. A big plate of green lettuce, croutons, and Parmesan cheese, in a tasty Caesar dressing. Both soup and salad was a satisfying meal, and at $10 + tip, it didn't run through my budget like Tim Wakefield through the Tampa Bay Devil Ray's lineup.
Flounder's opens at 4pm Monday-Friday, and at 11am on the weekends. The people are friendly, and the food is good!
Flounder's Chowder House
800 Quietwater Beach Road
Pensacola, Florida 32561
After meeting Ed and Ceil at their home in nearby Lillian, Alabama, were were off to our picnic on the beach. We crossed over into Florida from Alabama, and Ed and Ceil were showing us the sights and sounds of their favorite places along the way.
We turned off this road that is located under the bridge leading to Perdido Key Beach, and we arrived at this little dive of a place. This was Brian's Po' Boys and the Nix Brothers' Fish Company. It was two small shacks, and Brian's was in the one on our right. Looking to order, I asked Ed and Ceil what they usually got, and they got the Oyster Po' Boys, but my experiment on Erika getting to eat seafood had failed, and she was looking for something that wasn't swimming hours ago. Luckily, Brian's Po' Boys has Chicken and Sausage Po' Boys, and Erika settled on a the latter. Erika and I got the specials with fries and a drink, and we told Ed and Ceil we would share the fries. We also added an order of onion rings, which I swear only cost us $1. Our food came to a total of about $25, and Ceil, Erika, and I sat down at the picnic tables under the canopies at Brian's to wait for our food while Ed walked around.
After about 10 minutes, Ed was getting antsy about how long it was taking for the food, and I told him that with so much of it, it probably was taking a little longer, and the size of the place probably makes it hard to cook large quantities of food all at once. But before Ed could go and talk with the girls at the counter, our food showed up, and we were off to our picnic at Perdido Key, which will be depicted in my next entry Picnic at Perdido Bay,Brian's Po' Boys is a popular lunch time destination for the locals of Florabama (nickname for the Gulf Shores residents of Florida and Alabama). Unfortunately, it is only open from May to October and when they are open, they are only open from 11am to 3pm daily. Prices are dirt cheap and the food is good.
So if you are ever touring the Gulf Shores of Alabama and Florida, Brian's Po' Boys is the place to go for a quick lunch and to satisfy your po' boy fix!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 29, 2007
So after getting our picnic lunch at Brian's Po' Boys, a little dive of a fish shack a short distance from the beach, we were on the way to Perdido Key Beach, which is part of the Gulf Shores National Park of Florida and Alabama and the National Park Service. In order to enjoy the Gulf Shores, you must pay $8 per car in order to enter the area or $3 if you walk in. But Ed and Ceil had a senior citizen's lifetime permit to go into Gulf Shores for nothing since they visit the Gulf Shores a lot. Ed showed the permit to the park ranger at the booth at the entrance to Gulf Shores, Perdido Key as we drove in.
A short drive from the entrance, we arrived at Rosamund Johnson Beach, which is part of the Gulf Shores National Seashore. Since the kids were back in school as of August 20 and people were at work, the place was deserted except for a few people and Ed, Ceil, Erika, and I. "More room for us!", we all exclaimed.
But Ed told Erika and I that there was another reason why Rosamund Johnson Beach is deserted most of the time. Rosamund Johnson was a highly decorated African-American soldier who fought in World War II. Johnson was from the Gulf Shores area and to repay him for his heroism during the war, this beach at Perdido Key was named after him. This didn't make the local rednecks happy (Pensacola has the dubious nickname "The Redneck Riviera"), and they refused to sun their buns on a beach named after an African-American. This attitude continues until today, and Rosamund Johnson Beach remains a well-kept secret for the Yankee transplants such as Ed and Ceil, who grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island and Holyoke, Massachusetts, respectively.
"More room for us Northerners!", Erika and I, two native East Providence, Rhode Islanders who have lived in Idaho for 15 years, but never lost our liberal ideas, exclaimed since we could care less about a beach being named for an African-American war hero. We all went to the picnic area of Rosamund Johnson Beach, which are two big covered picnic areas that can fit 60 people or more on a crowded day. This beach had taken a major hit during Hurricanes Dennis and Ivan in 2004, but they were rebuilt quickly for folks to enjoy. There are reserved areas where one can barbecue, but you cannot barbecue at the tables.
Ed, Ceil, Erika, and I had a great view of the white sand beaches and blue-green water of the Gulf of Mexico as we set up our picnic on one of the tables. Ed and Ceil had brought a basket with a table cloth and napkins, and we had brought our own water and sodas from home. Our food from Brian's Po' Boys was still pretty hot and fresh when we opened our styrofoam containers and started to dig in. Ed, Ceil, and my Oyster Po' Boys were deep-fried nuggets of goodness on nice rolls with tartar sauce and lettuce on top. Erika's Sausage Po' Boy was loaded with tons of kielbasa sausage and oozing with mayonnaise and mustard. Poor Erika was having heck of a time trying to eat her po' boy, and good thing Ceil packed a roll of paper towels because Erika was using up quite a few of them. The fries and onion rings were hot and not at all greasy, and the meal filled our tummies just right. With the ocean breeze and smell of the ocean, the meal tasted really good!
Bellies full and a rest room stop later, Ceil, Erika, and I took our shoes off and walked down to the beach. Ed stayed at our picnic area because he can't take the sun too well. The sand was hotter at the beginning of the way down to the water, but got cooler as we got closer to the water. The waves in the water were higher and rougher than what I had experienced at Pensacola Beach, but it was still bathtub warm and felt so good! As Ceil, Erika, and I walked the beach, the waves hit our legs every minute. I had a dress on, and my skirt got wet along with the bandage protecting my pulled calf muscle. No worries! This was going to be the last beach experience for me in a long time, and I was enjoying every minute of it. Ceil, Erika and I talked about life and other things while walking, and I took pictures of the beach and the seagulls and other birds that were frequenting the beach with us humans that day. Ceil regretted not saving some bread for the birds, but I am sure they get plenty of treats from other beach goers.
After about 20 minutes of walking, Erika was starting to feel the effects of the sun, and we decided to head back up to Ed at the picnic area. The trip up was uphill, and the sand seemed hotter on our wet feet. I had to run onto the picnic area, and I felt the twinge in my bad calf as I did so.
After packing up our picnic things and taking more pictures of us together, Ed, Ceil, Erika, and I took a long ride around Perdido Key and Floribama. Ed and Ceil live close to Perdido Bay, a body of water discovered by the Spanish in the 16th Century. In English, perdido means lost, and the Spanish named the bay Perdido Bay because once they found it and left, they were not able to find it again when they returned to the Gulf Shores. Today, you can find Perdido Bay from a boat because there are so many condominiums and houses along the bay, you can't miss it!
Erika and I ended the day at Ed and Ceil's house in Lillian, Alabama with ice cream and talk about the family tree. Ed is the family genealogist who has spent tons of time and money travelling around the USA, Canada, and Europe in search of the Nesbitt (Mom's maiden name), Campbell (Ed's family name), and O'Donnell (Ceil's maiden name) ancestry, and we all heard stories about distant relatives and saw pictures on Ed's wall of fame in his livingroom.
For more information about Perdido Key or Perdido Bay, visit www.nps.com/gulf_shores_national_seashore for history, prices, and hours of operation. I highly recommend a visit to this area on the Florida/Alabama border, but don't tell Ed I sent you, it's supposed to be a secret!