Presidential Recommendations

If you know Marv, you know that he approaches any position of service with selfless dedication. This time, however, he has gone beyond the call of duty to help the members find the best places to eat and drink come September. Read the following message from Marv for his recommendations.


It is only fitting that at the 2018 SCJA conference in Pensacola Beach this September, we will have a contest to determine who wears the craziest beach outfit to the Thursday evening reception. So get out that weird beach hat, the embarrassing shirt you thought would be cool but now only takes up room in your closet, and the bathing suit you wish you had never bought. Who knows if you have my sense of fashion you might just win!

Presidential Pensacola Beach Recommendations

I ‘discovered’ Pensacola Beach a couple of years ago in my quest to find a site for this year’s SCJA meetings. I immediately fell in love with this laidback beach community. I have returned a few times in preparing for this year’s conference and have thoroughly enjoyed myself each time I visit. So let me tell you a bit about the location and provide a few ‘presidential picks’ of places to eat and drink and play there.

Let’s start with our conference hotel, Hilton Gulf Front. As you look out to the gulf from the hotel you see an expansive pool area and an outdoor bar serving as an entrance to the beach. A water view is also available to the north as Pensacola Beach sits between the Gulf and the Sound. Within very easy walking distance of the hotel are numerous restaurants and bars for your convenience. A boardwalk area is but a few hundred yards from the hotel containing even more food and entertainment establishments and a few shops. For those who want to venture onto Palafox Street in Pensacola proper (about a fifteen minute drive) there are even more choices for fun and food.

Here are my presidential picks:

Best place in Pensacola Beach for dinner:
Peg Leg Pete’s – About 2 and half miles from the hotel, Peg Leg’s is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Sitting on a canal off the Sound, the restaurant provides the ambience of a place where fishermen may have eaten. The downstairs bar is a cool place to have a drink before dinner. We really enjoyed the baked oysters and the grouper and John, our bartender insisted we try the key lime pie and we sure are glad we did.

If you want to travel a little further (15 minutes by car) into Pensacola near Palafox Street, The Fish House is a very good restaurant. As with so many places in the area, it sits on the water and has outdoor seating. We had a very good meal there. Nearby is Jackos a restaurant which also has a good reputation although we did not eat there.

Best place for lunch:
Speaking about oysters, a unique find for us was a place called NOLA. The chef prides himself at outdoing the food from his native New Orleans. We can confirm that the charbroiled oysters are as good as any we had in New Orleans and the muffuletta challenges the Central Market for flavor (a full one is massive – I dare you to eat a whole one). It’s a short walk west from the hotel. Johnny, Ben, AJ and the rest of the staff will take good care of you.

Second best place for lunch (and most convenient):
Crabs sits right next to the hotel. Enjoy the beach view as you sit outside in a relaxed atmosphere. The food is good - we particularly liked the crab soup. Ask if Jared is on duty if you want excellent service.

Best place for breakfast:
There are three little café’s a quarter mile east of the hotel. The Native Café seems to be the local favorite but we liked the Café Bistro better.

Best bars:
Paradise Inn Bar – my favorite place on the island. The bar is located a quarter mile east of the hotel on the sound. They have a small beach next to the bar so you can wear your bathing suit and bring your drink in the water with you. They also have a large stage where they often have live music and the opportunity to show your dancing moves. The place is out of the 1950’s which is probably why I like it so much. As a bonus, their hamburger is the best on the island.

Sandbar – Upstairs bar with a great view of the gulf. Cool vibe and pretty good food too boot. Good place to view the sunset. General manager Mike Hall can’t wait to see our conference attendees.

Another bar you should check out is the Sandshaker about a quarter of a mile west of the hotel. The Bushwacker, the signature drink of Pensacola Beach (they even have a festival celebrating the drink) is said to have come ashore from St. Thomas and landed at the Sandshaker. I can’t verify the truth of the story but I can tell you that the drink goes down real easy.

Best place for water sports:
Right below the NOLA Restaurant is Key Sailing where you can rent jet skis, kayaks, paddleboards, and sailboats, go parasailing, or go on a dolphin or sunset cruise. The owner is a cool guy and his employees will make whatever you do a fun experience.