2017-07-01 / Features

Waterfront Dining

The Grand Marlin

The opportunity to enjoy waterfront dining adds an undeniable extra zing to most any meal, both for those who can enjoy Gulf views every day of the week and for those who have been savoring the idea of a beach vacation for months before it becomes a reality.

Come with us on a tour of some of this area’s most popular dining rooms with exciting views of the water and excellent menus to make the experience truly unforgettable.

Oysters from Apalachicola and East Bay, plus more exotic locales -- shucked to order -- and the freshest catch available make dining for those at The Grand Marlin an exciting Gulf-focused gastronomic adventure. The Grand Marlin is boat accessible and able to accommodate a wide range of craft, everything from smaller boats to those that are 60 feet and more.

Amazing sunsets over Pensacola Bay and beautiful views of the Santa Rosa Sound set up dining guests to expect a special dining experience, and award-winning chef Gregg McCarthy never disappoints with his selection of fresh seafood, presented in a tranquil and relaxed atmosphere.

Should the weather turn temperamental, the retractable awnings of the North Drop Bar can be closed or adjusted. The main dining room also offers ample indoor seating in a comfortable, coastal chic atmosphere.

Menus are printed twice daily in order to take advantage of the freshest catch available, but if you are not in the mood for seafood, sink your teeth into enticing steaks, succulent poultry dishes and a variety of other fare.

For private get-togethers, consider The Grand Marlin’s Grand Banquet Room for 100, the semi-private Santa Rosa Room that can accommodate 40-55 or the Club Room with space for 20-35. These spaces overlook Santa Rosa Sound with view of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and Pensacola Beach.

Rental of the entire restaurant and bar is available for parties of up to 300.

The Grand Marlin is located on the left just across the second bridge from Pensacola to Pensacola Beach and is open seven days a week.

It’s open air with a Key West atmosphere at Shaggy’s, located at 701 Pensacola Beach Blvd. Every seat has a waterfront view and the eight-slip marina also features additional docking opportunities for anyone who comes in by boat.

“We’re very laid back and that water view kind of enhances our atmosphere at Shaggy’s. Even though we have those views from inside, people will still wait for a seat on the deck on the east and west sides, unless it’s just freezing cold, to get closer to the water,” says founder and owner Ron Ladner.

Outdoor diners can expect sun protection, courtesy of umbrellas, but Ladner says a conscious decision was made from the beginning not to try to shut out the elements from outdoor dining.

“We wanted to give that sense of being really outdoors and closer to water and nature,” he says.

However, if the weather is truly not amenable for those with an appetite, they can always choose indoor dining with a view.

Guests who elect to come inside during cooler weather can enjoy the comfort provided by gas heaters and the ambiance of a woodburning fireplace. Ladner describes it as something like dining in a ski lodge with a water view and says the indoor dining room can be zipped up tight, if need be.

As for the taste of good food Shaggy’s provides, he speaks with pride of the hand-crafted cheeseburgers, made from fresh ground meat, the fresh Gulf seafood, fish tacos and po’ boys when asked about his favorites.

“Our menu is comprised of things we grew up eating along the Gulf. We start there and then prepare it all as fresh as we can,” he says of the Pensacola Bay establishment and his waterfront Shaggy’s restaurants in Biloxi, Gulfport and Pass Christian in Mississippi.

The restaurant can accommodate a large clientele, but service is on a first-come, first-served basis, with lunch and dinner served seven days a week in an atmosphere that captures the good life on the waterfront.

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