IF YOU GO:
Location: 45A Via de Luna, Pensacola Beach, Fla.
Fare: Fresh food from around the area. Best known for their Fish Tacos.
In today’s world of never-ending chain stores and restaurants, it’s always a challenge finding quality local businesses, but especially restaurants.
In a nondescript shopping center on Pensacola Beach, the Native Café is a true local’s (although tourists are encouraged) restaurant. The restaurant serves only fresh food found from the area and eschews the cost-saving steps taken by many chain restaurants.
What does this mean? Seafood pulled out of the Gulf of Mexico, vegetables purchased from local farmer’s markets, biscuits and desserts made fresh each day using unbleached flour, homegrown herbs and recipes that are all “native.” Owner Joyce Brown starts her day at 5 a.m. getting the restaurant’s baked goods in the oven and prepping food. “Chef Tater” creates tasty sauces and recipes that have become popular among many repeat diners.
Brown’s entire family was involved in forming the restaurant including her two grown children who helped name menu items and create a strategy. But the restaurant came about by chance. “One of my friends owned the building and he said there was a need for a breakfast place on Pensacola Dining at the Beach,” said Brown who has worked in the restaurant business for many years. “I decided to go for it.’ aThe hottest seller on the menu is the Fish Tacos. Sorry, Brown won’t give away her recipe for this tasty dish but will tell you the secret is the fish is pan seared with an infusion of olive oil, home-grown herbs and Pinot Grigio. A generous serving of three soft tacos filled with the tasty fish, cabbage, red and green peppers with pico sauce or chipotle mayonnaise makes a meal.
But, be sure to order at least a cup of gumbo. Brown adapted her mother’s home recipe and added generous helpings of vegetables to the traditional shrimp and chicken and tasty roux. Along with gumbo, fresh soups such as Lentil and Five Bean are served daily.
The décor in the restaurant is also local – the walls are filled with paintings, photos and other artwork produced by area artists. The artwork is also for sale.