Bill and Kiley Manning opened The Magnolia in 2011 to bring favorite flavors from around the world to their hometown of East Pensacola Heights. Namely, they specialize in “New Southern, Bar-Bistro cuisine,” complemented by an impressive craft beer and wine selection.
Lucky for us, we arrive on a Thursday night, when the already reasonable wine-by-the-glass bottles are half price.
Sitting inside The Magnolia feels like hanging out in a best friend’s house, except with 20 seats and a 15-top bar, bistro lights, and a charming staff who are very into the specials. The small menu is well-priced and full of sandwiches, salads, and easy-to-share bites.
We start with a creamy Mediterranean hummus with olive salad, tangy sundried tomatoes, goat cheese, and a sweet balsamic drizzle. It’s served with chewy, warm pitas.
Next is pickled beet salad with salty-sweet candied pecans. It’s a good balance to all the bread we’re about to devour, starting with the SPAM slider: two pieces of grilled SPAM covered in pineapple Sriracha aioli and smooshed between a small, soft Hawaiian roll. I will definitely be back for its larger cousin, the SPAMinator—which features even more SPAM, and grilled pineapple.
Next: succotash with lima beans, sharp pappadew peppers, and sweet corn. Layered atop fresh ricotta and another drizzle of that balsamic, it is warm and bright and tastes like summer came early.
On to a trio of sandwiches. The Jive Ass Turkey sandwich with turkey, provolone, and creamy jalapeño jelly spread is pressed on Italian bread. It’s a mess of melty goodness. The Hotta Lotta with ham, salami, provolone, and olive salad is taken up a notch with thick pickled jalapeños. Finally, a sweeter sandwich with double cream French brie and apple butter. It’s delightful, but I will add some kind of salty meat next time to balance it out. Perhaps bacon?
For the finale, we order a scoop of Mag cheesecake. Yes, a scoop. It’s peanut butter cups, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and cheesecake mixed together with a peanut butter swirl. The whole thing is topped with sea salt Incredible! And one more dessert: butterscotch trifle layered with pudding, chocolate cake, and Heath bar crumbles. All the yes.
At the end of the meal, we’re already planning our next visit back, likely on a Thursday. A good bottle of wine for $15 with a great meal in a cozy setting among locals is hard to beat.