Who knew?! I've stayed at the Hampton Inn on Pensacola Beach twice before - had eaten at some of the restaurants within walking distance of the hotel - but this trip I truly uncovered the hidden little gems in the area!
I arrived at the Hampton Inn around dinner time on Friday so as soon as I had the bike unpacked and had gotten checked in to my room, I got out of my riding gear and into some shorts and headed out on foot in search of some "provisions" for the room and dinner for myself.
A nice wine and spirits store just an easy walk from the hotel yielded a nice bottle of Spanish Cava to chill for later, and a package of Fig Newtons and box of White Cheddar crackers in case the hungries hit me during the weekend.
Then I walked in the other direction, to a place called Crabs, right on the beach, and sat at the bar and drank a McGuire's Red while waiting for my seafood platter to-go. Shrimp, coconut shrimp, oysters, clams, and fish, with a small cole slaw and slice of key lime pie. I brought all of these goodies back to the room and had a veritable feast! I was so full, I had no interest in opening the bottle of wine or in eating the pie. They were safe and chillin' in the little room fridge.
I slept fitfully that night and the next morning had a hard time getting out of bed and moving toward being alert and "human." Eventually I needed to go in search of food since, after all, I would be running 13.1 miles the next day and needed to "fuel up." I walked across the street to a little cafe tucked within the shopping/dining complex on the bay side, called Laguna's. It was a great little place, with crisp, clean modern decor and a very nice menu! I took a chance and tried their fish tacos, which were outstanding!! Blackened fish with shaved purple cabbage, carrot garnish, bits of pineapple, and a tangy sauce drizzled over the fish. It was too big to wrap up and eat like a taco...but it sure was tasty! I walked away absolutely stuffed!
Then...as if all of this great food wasn't enough, I walked out the door of the hotel that night and had a cup of crawfish corn chowder and a cheese burger. By the time I ate the soup, I was nearly too full to eat any of the burger, but cut it into quarters and managed to stuff down one quarter of it.
Man, I really need to stop eating like this!!
But wait...there's more! Sunday morning was the Half Marathon (and I'll write more about this later) and I had called a Ride-To-Eat for 1:00 PM afterward. One person - friend Ray - showed up to cheer me on during the race and afterward we had a very pleasant and enjoyable lunch at Flounder's Chowder House, which was one fo the race sponsors.
To start this celebratory lunch off, I had a Mimosa and then Ray and I split an order of baked oysters. They were delectable! Just the right amount of Parmesan cheese on top to give them a great baked crust on top.
Then I had grilled tuna with mashed potatoes and asparagus, while Ray had coconut shrimp.
And what the hell! We ordered a slice of key lime pie to share. What a slice of pie!
We barely made a dent in it, and brought it back to the hotel and tucked it away in the fridge next to the other slice of key lime pie already taking up space in that little refrigerated minibox! But we did pop open the bottle of Cava and toasted to a good day together!