Pensacola, FL (PRWEB) March 11, 2014
More and more couples are planning their vacations around food, and with destinations like the Pensacola Bay Area offering beautiful white-sand beaches along with local cuisine such as Grits a Ya Ya, oysters on the half shell, fried mullet and sautéed grouper topped with blue crab, who could blame them?
Direct flights from United Airlines make traveling to the Pensacola Bay Area convenient from Chicago. For those wanting an extended road trip, the drive can be done in a day as Pensacola is the first beach in Florida that greets Midwestern travelers.
“The ice hasn’t melted yet in Chicago, but it’s already nice and warm on our beaches,” said Visit Pensacola President Steve Hayes. “We want to invite couples from Chicago to come visit us this spring for a taste of what our area has to offer.”
A recent article in Travel Weekly indicates the trend of culinary tourism is as strong as ever, with consumers spending $150 billion annually. The Pensacola Bay Area, which includes historic Pensacola, Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach, has been delighting travelers’ taste buds with new offerings such as the lively Red Fish Blue Fish on Pensacola Beach, a flurry of food trucks at Al Fresco and at Pensacola Bayfront Stadium, where Pensacola Blue Wahoos fans bypass the hot dog stand for the oyster bar.
“Besides trying the new restaurants, many of our repeat travelers can’t wait to get back to their waterfront favorites like The Fish House, Jaco’s, Flounder’s and Sunset Grille,” said Hayes. “We are also home to Joe Patti’s, one of the largest seafood markets in the Southeast, and Perdido Seafood, where you can see the fishermen unloading their catch straight from the docks.”
The kitchens at the tried-and-true favorites typically belong to one of the Pensacola Celebrity Chefs, five of Florida’s finest who joined forces in a collaborative culinary program. Dan Dunn of the Hilton’s H2O, Frank Taylor of The Global Grill, Gus Silvos of Nancy’s Haute Affairs, Irv Miller of Jackson’s Steakhouse and Jim Shirley of The Fish House often put their chef hats together for special events. The five cooked for the king and queen of Spain during Pensacola’s 450th anniversary and make an annual trip to New York’s James Beard House where tickets are a sell-out.
Other than fresh seafood and celebrity chefs, the area is known for its farming. Each Saturday, the farmers open their tailgates in downtown Pensacola to share the fruits of their labor at the Palafox Farmers Market. Nearby at the Bodacious Olive, foodies can sample the finest olive oils and other specialty items.
Just down the road from New Orleans, Pensacola has a healthy appetite for Cajun cuisine. Visitors can savor some seafood gumbo while listening to jazz at Five Sisters Blues Café, nosh on beignet fries at the Flora-Bama Yacht Club, enjoy BBQ Shrimp at The Grand Marlin or indulge with Crawfish Cheesecake at The Global Grill. The 30th annual Crawfish Festival is May 2-4 along the waterfront in downtown Pensacola, where thousands gather under the oaks for mudbug racing, live Cajun music and literally tons of crawfish.
Then, to wash it all down, there is the bushwacker, a drink invented on Pensacola Beach. While the Sandshaker and Capt’n Fun have a longtime dispute over who served the first one, the frozen chocolaty rum drink can be found on menus all around the area.
“We might not have invented it, but we perfected it,” said Pat McClellen, owner of the Flora-Bama Lounge. Dubbed America’s Favorite Roadhouse, the bar literally straddles the state line. Each April, the Flora-Bama hosts the annual Mullet Toss, where tens of thousands flock to the Gulf front bar to watch competitors fling a mullet the farthest across the state line before heading inside for a tasty plate of the fried fish.
To request a free Visitor Guide, book a stay or sign up for e-deals, go to http://www.visitpensacola.com/chicago.