Day Trip to Pensacola
Summerdale, AL - Events of Friday, April 26, 2013
When we had lupper with Pat, Mike, Harlan and Linda at the Shrimp Basket in Foley several weeks ago, Harlan and Linda told us about the Joe Patti Seafood Market in Pensacola. It is a huge fish market that has local seafood as well as seafood shipped in daily from all around the world. Since Pensacola is less than an hour from Rainbow Plantation, we decided to drive over on Friday to check out Joe Patti Seafood Market.
Joe Patti Seafood is located right on Pensacola Bay, and there were plenty of fishing boats docked nearby.
Joe and Anna Patti, who were both immigrants from Italy, met in Pensacola in 1928 and married shortly thereafter. Joe was a fisherman, and the young couple started their own business selling shrimp from the back porch of their home in 1931. In 1935, they opened a fish market at a separate location.
As you come in the door of the market, the first thing you see is the long display case running the entire length of the store with all sorts of fish, shrimp, lobster and shellfish.
The market also sells meats, cheeses and prepared food. In addition, they have a gourmet food shop, a wine shop, a sushi bar and a restaurant.
Like Billy's Seafood in Bon Secour, Patti's has numerous sizes of shrimp. Some of them are from the Gulf of Mexico, and some are from other areas. The ones from the Gulf are labeled "domestic." The most expensive were the shrimp from the local waters of Pensacola Bay and Mobil Bay. Most of the shrimp are also available shelled and de-veined for an additional $.50 to $1 a pound. Shelling and de-veining are a big pain, so for a slightly higher price, buying our shrimp shelled and de-veined was a no-brainer.
Patti's will also steam shrimp and lobster for free. You can choose to add spices to them that range from mild to extra hot, and you can also choose to add lemon. After steaming the seafood, Patti's will ice it down if you are taking it home for later. We chose to get the shrimp with medium spice and had them iced so we could put them in our cooler to take back with us for dinner the following evening.
The steaming only takes about 5 minutes, although the wait could be longer when the store is more crowded. They give you a lobster-shaped pager that flashes when your order is done.
Outside the store, there was a trailer selling freshly-made beignets. While we were waiting for our shrimp to be steamed, we noticed a stack of coupons on the counter for a free second order of beignets when you buy an order. We decided to take advantage of the coupon and get some beignets on our way back to the car. We were hungry, so we thought we would eat a few right away and take the rest back to the motor home for later.
The beignets were different from the ones at Café Du Monde and from the ones at Panini Pete's. The ones at Café Du Monde are rectangular pillows, and the ones from Panini Pete's are round balls. These were flat triangles and were rather soft. They reminded us of Indian fry bread we used to make when we were camping years ago. They were okay, but not as good as the ones from either Café Du Monde or from Panini Pete's.
We took the scenic route back to the motor home and went by way of Perdido Key, which is one of the barrier islands along the Gulf of Mexico. Not only was it a nice drive along the beach, but wouldn't you know the route went right by The Gulf restaurant. We stopped for a late lunch.
We discovered The Gulf last fall when we read about it in another full-timer's blog. They had only been open a month or two back then. The restaurant is located along Perdido Pass, which is where Perdido Bay joins the Gulf of Mexico.The Gulf is constructed from 4 stacked shipping containers. The next photo shows a view of the restaurant from the beach side. That's the bar to the left, the kitchen and order window to the right, and upper-deck seating above.
All seating at The Gulf is outdoors, so they aren't open in inclement weather. There are tables on the deck and on a lawn that you can see in the photo above, and there are also benches, chairs and lounges on the beach.
The next photo is a view of some of the tables and of the beach from the upper deck. There are also several tables and some comfortable lounging chairs on the upper deck.
After we placed our order at the window, we found a picnic table on the lawn. Someone brings the food to your table when it's ready. The wait staff at The Gulf is super-friendly, helpful and efficient.
The Gulf has a fairly limited menu. They have burgers, a grouper sandwich, and they usually have one or two seafood entrees and/or salads available. Burgers are $7.50 (up from $6 last fall) plus $1.50 for cheese (American, cheddar, pepper-jack or blue). The grouper sandwich is $12, and the entrees generally run $12 to $15. Fries are hand cut and are $4 for a large order that is big enough for two, unless you are unusually hungry.
The food is pretty pricey, but the ambiance is worth every penny. Going there makes you feel like you're on a tropical beach vacation. We sat and talked for a long time after we were done eating because it was so relaxing with the warm Alabama sun, the cool Gulf breeze and all the boats going through Perdido Pass.
We went to The Gulf twice last fall, and it was a lot more crowded this time. There were lots more people lounging on the beach and sitting at the bar then there were last year. Of course, it was a little later in the day than it was when we were there last year, so some of the "happy hour" crowd had started to arrive. Also, since it was a Friday afternoon, there were some weekenders who were already there.
We were enjoying the atmosphere so much, we really didn't want to leave; but it was getting late so we finally headed back to Rainbow Plantation. We topped off our late lunch with the beignets later in the evening.
By the way, we had our shrimp from Joe Patti's for dinner Sunday evening. We had them cold with cocktail sauce. They were yummy!
We only have a couple of days until we leave for our next destination, but we have one more favorite restaurant to hit. Stay tuned.