There’s a February fog descending on the water when we arrive at Shaggy’s Pensacola Beach. We enter through the back, just past a playground (Shaggy’s has a foundation that introduces kids to fishing and marine life), and up some weather-loved stairs. The porch is pretty big, with an outdoor bar, bistro lights, and plenty of seating. It’s why you come here. When there’s not a fog, this is one of the best and only spots to see a western view of the sunset.
We lean into the Key West vibes fostered by founder Ron Ladner and order a Bushwacker, a rum concoction that is ubiquitous in these parts. Like a creamy pina colada milkshake, this one has chocolate syrup around the edges. Sure, it’s a recipe for a hangover. But it’s delicious and fits right in with the beachy vibes.
First up in the food department are tuna bites, seared just past medium rare and served on top of wasabi mayo that tastes more on the mustard side. They’re good with the nutty seaweed salad.
Oysters, which thrive in brackish Gulf waters, are huge. They’re creamy and flavorful, a welcome change from the almost stringy ones of the west coast. The homemade cocktail sauce is just a bit spicy.
Beach tacos feature slabs of grilled white fish, shredded purple and green cabbage, citrus vinaigrette and cilantro-jalapeño sour cream. There’s nothing too exciting about them, but the fish is certainly fresh.
The Shaggy’s Stacker is my favorite: crisp, meaty fried green tomatoes sandwiched between crab cakes and topped with Cajun cream. The crab cakes are more like shredded crab meat, and the textures blend together. The flavor is delicious.
We also get a shrimp scampi pasta special, which is huge in size and spicy (as requested) in flavor. The shrimp, fresh from the Gulf, are served in the shell which makes for some work.
After Katrina slammed into the coast in 2005 and tore down the original location for Shaggy’s, Ron built a new building, and opened the first red Shaggy’s right on the water, much to the delight of the locals, who embraced it as their new go-to spot. Now with five locations, Shaggy’s has grown in size and spirit, bringing a fun, laid-back atmosphere and vacation vibes. The view and crowd are why you go: No one here is in a hurry, and everyone seems to be in a good mood.
|Sunday||11am - 9pm|
|Monday||11am - 9pm|
|Tuesday||11am - 9pm|
|Wednesday||11am - 9pm|
|Thursday||11am - 9pm|
|Friday||11am - 10pm|
|Saturday||11am - 10pm|