One of the area’s favorite fall food festivals – Taste of the Beach – returns to Pensacola Beach on Friday, Oct. 13, with a seafood-infused VIP Trolley Dinner and continues Saturday, Oct. 14, with an outdoor festival staged around the Gulfside Pavilion on Casino Beach.
Hosted by the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce, Taste of the Beach spotlights Pensacola Beach’s unique restaurants and coastal cuisine, focusing on fresh, local seafood.
“Taste of the Beach showcases our island’s talented chefs and gives everyone a chance to taste so many creative, coastal delights from Pensacola Beach’s finest restaurants,” said Meg Peltier, President and CEO of the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce.
FRIDAY NIGHT OCTOBER 13
The 14th Annual Taste of the Beach kicks off Friday night, Oct. 13, with a special, island-elegant, VIP Dinner experience.
The evening begins at the Hampton Inn Pensacola Beach Hotel where guests can enjoy a complimentary champagne toast sponsored by Piazza Pizza before boarding a private trolley to whisk them away to four of the island’s premier restaurants for a true coastal flavor experience.
Diners will indulge in four entrees throughout the night, each with a complimentary wine pairing.
The 2023 VIP Savory Seafood Trolley Tour:
1ST STOP – Shaggy’s Pensacola Beach
Chef Sean Wheeler
Entrée: Shaggy’s Surf & Turf – Seared scallops and an indulgent pork belly resting atop corn puree.
2nd STOP – Flounder’s Chowder House
Chef Dennis Moore
Entrée: Southern Fried Green Tomatoes – with Poached Gulf Shrimp Remoulade.
3rd STOP – SALT at Hilton Pensacola Beach
Chef Humberto Mendez
Entrée: Arroz a la Marinera– Gulf shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops cooked in a fume broth with saffron, white wine and Mediterranean rice.
4th STOP – Crabs on the Beach
Chef Lou Roberts
Entrée: Grilled Red Snapper – Served with a crab meat-infused beurre blanc and mango salsa, with seasoned potatoes and asparagus.
Dessert: Flounder’s Key Lime Pie – Take home a slice of heaven with you as you depart for the evening.
There are five departure times from the Hampton Inn Hotel:
- 4:45 p.m. – Sponsored by Florida Power and Light
- 5:30 p.m. – Sponsored by Gulf Breeze Natural Gas
- 6:15 p.m. – Sponsored by Cruisin’ Tikis Pensacola Beach
- 7 p.m. – Sponsored by Crab’s on the Beach and Flounder’s Chowder House
- 7:45 p.m. – Sponsored by Florida Power and Light
Guests are asked to arrive at the Hampton Inn Pensacola Beach Hotel at least 15 minutes prior to their departure ticket time. Each course lasts approximately 45 minutes, and then guests will depart to the next restaurant. Due to limited trolley space, if you miss your departure time you will not be able to board a later trolley.
VIP Dinner tickets are $125 each. Adults 21 and older only. Only a select number of tickets are available per departure start time. So please don’t wait to purchase!
The VIP Dinner features a set menu that includes seafood. Those with seafood or shellfish sensitivities or allergies should refrain from attending as there will be no substitutions.
For more information about the VIP Dinner menu, trolley times and ticket purchasing, please visit the Chamber’s website here: TasteofPensacolaBeach.com.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 14
Saturday’s free outdoor festival takes place October 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the white-sand shoreline of Pensacola Beach for a daylong celebration of all things Southern, seafood, savory and sweet. We’re talking feet in the sand, crashing waves, sunshine and shrimp. So if you’re a Gulf Coast seafood junkie, you’re not going to want to miss it.
The festival opens at 10 a.m. at Casino Beach when 20 of the beach’s restaurants, stationed in booths surrounding the Gulfside Pavilion, begin serving their signature dishes for $10 each. The festival is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The menu changes every year, but you’ll always find plenty of seafood options as well as landlubber fare such as sliders, sandwiches and sweets. And yes, beer, wine and frozen alcoholic concoctions will also be available for purchase.
- 10 a.m. – Dancingly Yours – a Pensacola Beach children’s dance troupe – will perform from the Gulfside Pavilion stage.
- 10:30 a.m. – Fish Filet Demonstration – Chef John Flaningam will demonstrate how to properly filet fish in front of the Gulfside Pavilion.
- 10:30 a.m. – Best Signature Dish Competition begins. Every restaurant participating in Saturday’s daylong event can enter their dish. A panel of judges will sample each dish and select the winning dish based on taste, creativity and presentation.
- 11 a.m. – “Crabs’ Little Chefs Cooking Class – Crab Cakes” begins. Chef Lou Roberts will teach a select group of students how to make and enjoy crab cakes. Tickets are $10 per student, limited tickets available. Tickets include kids’ custom Crabs’ Little Chefs apron.
- Noon – “Crabs’ Little Chefs Cooking Class – Ice Cream Sundaes” begins. Chef Charlie Kuzma will teach a select group of students how to make and enjoy Ice Cream Sundaes. Tickets are $10 per student, limited tickets available. Tickets include kids’ custom Crabs’ Little Chefs apron.
- 12:30 p.m. – Best Signature Dish winner is announced and the winning chef will be presented the 2023 Taste of the Beach Best Signature Dish Trophy from the Gulfside Pavilion stage.
- 1:30 p.m. – Hermit Crab Racing begins. Ready, set, go!
- 2 to 4 p.m. – Horseshoe Kitty. Festivalgoers can listen to the live music of local party-rock band, Horseshoe Kitty, while enjoying the waterfront view and coastal flavors.
- 4 p.m. – Festival closes.
Guests are encouraged to stroll around the grounds, enjoying the signature dishes, craft brews, wine and frozen drinks. The festival closes at 4 p.m.
Although not officially part of the Taste of the Beach daylong festivities, guests are invited to stop by Bamboo Willie’s and stay for an 8 p.m. fireworks display along the Santa Rosa Sound to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the beachside bar.
To conclude the Sea, Sip, and Savor weekend, on Sunday, Oct. 15, don’t miss the Innisfree Food Challenge presented by PensacolaBeach.com from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Gulfside Pavilion. This exciting event brings together local chefs competing in three mouthwatering categories for a chance to win a golden ticket to the World Food Championships in Dallas, Texas, happening from November 8 to 12.
Taste of the Beach—it’s a foodie paradise wrapped in a beach paradise and garnished with live entertainment, demonstrations and drinks. Don’t miss out this October!
About Taste of the Beach
Taste of the Beach is one of several festivals and events presented by the Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce, Inc. The Pensacola Beach Chamber is a not-for-profit corporation committed to promoting, advancing and stimulating civic, business, commercial interests and the general welfare on Pensacola Beach.
Taste of the Beach is sponsored by Innisfree Hotels Corporation, PensacolaBeach.com, Cruisin’ Tikis Pensacola Beach, Gulf Breeze Natural Gas, Flounder’s Chowder House, Crabs on the Beach, Piazza Pizza, Hampton Inn Pensacola Beach and Florida Power & Light.