Finding a good breakfast spot is like gold to me

For years I was loyal to one place – the Holiday Inn on Pensacola Beach. This was more than 10 years ago – pre-Hurricane Opal when the hotel was full service. The restaurant there had an amazing Gulf view, the food was good and inexpensive and servers had worked there for 15-20 years each.

When you came in, they knew your name.
Ah, how times have changed. That hotel evolved into a limited service Holiday Inn Express which was later destroyed by Hurricane Ivan. So, I’ve been on the lookout for good breakfast joints ever since.

Here are a few of my favorites.

HI SUNSPREE: I discovered the Holiday Inn Sunspree a few years ago when Panama City was part of my marketing territory. I would spend winter overnight trips there because the hotel at the beach was cheaper than the Holiday Inn Select in Panama City.

One of the best things I liked about staying at the Holiday inn Sunspree was the breakfast buffet at the ground-floor restaurant “The View.”

Sometimes I would order off the menu which was cheaper (and I tended to eat less), but sometimes would splurge. The $11.95 buffet is served from 7 a.m. – 11 a.m. daily. The expansive breakfast bar includes omelet and waffle stations and the price includes your drink.

Ask for a cup of coffee to go and take it out by the lushly landscaped pool. You’ll feel like you are in a tropical paradise.
Details:  850-234-1111.

SAILORS GRILL: If you are out puttering along Hwy. 98, take a detour at Navarre Beach, located about 15-20 miles east of Gulf Breeze.

Once you reach the peak of the Navarre Beach bridge (no toll), you’ll see a restaurant/bar that appear to be straight out of the movie “Cocktail.”

Set on a prime piece of property on the Santa Rosa Sound, the thatched-roof “Juana’s Pagoda” bar and a similar-looking restaurant “Sailor’s Grill” sit side-by-side. The businesses are owned by brothers and operated separately, but that’s neither here nor there to you and me.

The restaurant features a bakery to the left and full service tables to the right. It’s hard not to venture over to the bakery with the oversized muffins and baked goods calling your name. You can’t leave without bringing home a doggie bag – for the doggie. Sailor’s Grill also offers fresh-baked pet treats.

If the weather is good and the wind isn’t blowing too hard, ask to sit outside where you will have a million dollar view.

This is a great place to have a leisurely breakfast, lunch or dinner. If in the area later in the day, the sunsets are spectacular. Venture over to Juana’s for the Monday sunset senior special from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. with draft beer for $1.75 and wine for $3.50.
Details: 850-939-2130.

DONUT HOLE: No need to tell the Destin and South Walton winter veterans about this local favorite.

Again, like the Sailor’s Grill, the fresh-baked treats at the front counter tempt the senses -on the way and on the way out.

What I like about the Donut Hole is you can get breakfast any time of the day.
I like “breakfast at dinner” and my family just isn’t too keen on that.

The Donut Hole has two locations including in the heart of Destin and a second off Hwy. 98 in South Walton.

Remember –donut holes are small and have no calories. That’s what I tell myself, anyway!
Details: 850) 837-8824.

WEEKEND BREAKFAST: Since my beloved Pensacola Beach lost the Holiday Inn, I’ve been looking for a peaceful spot to have breakfast. Recently the Surf Burger restaurant located at The Boardwalk has been serving a limited breakfast menu with taquitos and pancakes on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Sit outside where you can view the sailboats from Key Sailing. If you are too late for breakfast, try one of their signature burgers.

DUCK’S DINER: A little off the beaten path in Orange Beach, Ala., is a restaurant we discovered by accident – we couldn’t resist checking out the perky yellow “Duck’s Diner.”
Open only for breakfast and lunch, the Duck’s Diner is known for its omelets. They also serve home-cooked lunches.

The restaurant is located on “Easy Street” near the Orange Beach Sportsplex.
Details: 251-948-9191