It’s always a good sign when you pull up to a restaurant and there’s no place to park – that usually means that the place is doing something right. That’s the way we found Peg Leg Pete’s in Pensacola Beach, and lucky for us there was parking just across the street. Like many places along Florida’s Emerald Coast Peg Leg Pete’s has a rather hokey (but fun) decor – pirate flags on the roof and all manner of nautical-themed flotsam and jetsam along the walls. After a short wait, we were seated by a friendly waitress who gave me some of the best news I had gotten all day – Pete’s has Yuengling beer on tap. We don’t get Yuengling in Arkansas, which is a shame since it’s probably the tastiest beer I’ve found for the price. Jess and her dad ordered the restaurant’s signature drink – called the “Shipwreck,” a potent rum punch that they loved, although I found it a bit sweet for my taste.
We started our meal off with something Jess and I had been craving ever since we hit the Florida state line – fresh oysters. Good oysters are one of my favorite foods, and something that I can eat an embarrassing amount of. The oyster’s at Peg Leg Pete’s were some of the best I’ve ever tasted: cold and firm with a clean, briny flavor that made me savor every bite. I sprinkled them with a small squeeze of lemon juice and ate each one with just enough horseradish to add some bite to the excellent fresh flavor. There are a couple of places here in Arkansas to get decent oysters, but I’ve never had any that have been quite as good as the ones at Peg Leg Pete’s.
For my entrée, I ordered the Cajun Combo – a plate piled high with spicy fried shrimp, fried catfish nuggets, stuffed blue crabs, and some more of those excellent oysters, this time breaded and – you guessed it – fried. It was an amazing amount of food, and all of it was good. The shrimp and oysters were very good, especially when dipped into the tangy remoulade sauce served on the side, and the catfish was was light and slightly sweet. The stuffed crabs were the real star here, rich and spicy – and unlike a lot of places, crab was easily detected both by sight and by flavor. The hand-cut fries were also good, very crisp and fresh.
Of course, a plate of deep-fried madness might not be for everyone, and if that’s the case then Peg Leg Pete’s still has you covered. Jess’ dad ordered the Mixed Grill, and once the plate came out I was almost jealous. Grilled grouper, huge shrimp, and some very succulent scallops are paired with fresh sugar snap peas and rice pilaf – and it all looked amazing. The scallops were cooked well, tender and sweet and the fish and shrimp were both very fresh and seasoned well. I hope to make it back down to eat here again so that I can try this plate for myself. Pete’s also makes a pretty mean bowl of gumbo, too, and with their extensive seafood menu paired with an equally large menu of sandwiches, steaks, and burgers I get the feeling that you could eat there for quite some time and still find new things to try.
Peg Leg Pete’s is located at 1010 Fort Pickens Road in Pensacola Beach, and they often have live music in addition to the great food. If you’ve ever wanted to give oysters on the half shell a try, and find yourself here – well that’s a pretty good place to start, and you can walk off all those Shipwrecks since they’re right on the beach. Enjoy!