Yesterday, AdventureMan was on an adventure, but I knew there might be an opportunity to grab lunch with him ‘downtown’ so I suggested we try Carmen’s Lunch Bar, which has only been open four months. When I got there, it was full – inside and outside – but an ideal location opened moments later – we were in luck! I ordered a Cranberry Orange Iced Tea, just what the doctor ordered for the remnants of a bad cold still lingering, and shortly AdventureMan arrived, then another, and then two more – we couldn’t all eat together, but we found spaces for groups of two and three, oh what fun. (You can see more photos and take a look at the menu by clicking on the blue hypertext above.)
Here is how to find Carmen’s – next to the Bodacious Olive. There is seating at a large bar inside, against the window and at three or four tables outside:
In my group, we all ordered the North Carolina BBQ plate, which came with potato salad and cole slaw – all good. I loved the sauce, which had candied orange peel in it, piquant and tasty:
It’s not a large restaurant, but it has a happy buzz about it. It’s a mix, the downtown business crowd and locals dropping by for a good lunch and a good chat. They don’t rush you. The menu is concise, but offers an intriguing variety – you can’t go once, you have to go back and try those Moroccan vegetables, say, or the Chicken Tikka Masala. I’m intrigued by the Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs.
I even found a free parking spot, away from the nasty downtown ‘improvement’ board spots where you now have to pay for parking, not far away. There are also parking places behind the Bodacious Olive, which shares space with Carmen’s.
The story behind Carmen’s is also interesting. There is a couple in Pensacola, Quint and Rishy Studer, who worked hard and made a lot of money, which they are now using to benefit Pensacola. Carmen’s resulted from a contest; over 100 people submitted business plans to have this spot, Mari Josephs won. I am guessing some of the close runner ups will be featured at the Al Fresco lot nearby where airstreams are showing up with fun names, including Jerry’s Cajun, which a lot of people have missed greatly since it closed.
If you look at the photo of the exterior tables (above) you will see another building the Studers have bought and are renovating; I can’t wait to see what this building becomes. AdventureMan asked what I would do and I told him I would make two condos on the upper level, perfect for Pensacola as long as downtown remains sleepy once the sun goes down except for Gallery Night. Other than that, just a parade now and then, otherwise, fairly quiet and great location with one of those old Spanish balconies overlooking the street. What’s not to love?
No more same old, same old. Today, Pensacola had a group of up-and-coming leaders from twelve African countries in town studying Grassroots Democracy and the US Elections. There is nothing like questions from non-US citizens to keep you on your toes and even give you a good laugh as you try to explain the eccentricities of our electoral system. This group, brought to Pensacola by the Gulf Coast Citizens Diplomacy Council, asked some great, probing questions.
Their questions were thoughtful and open-ended. At the end of the session, one delegate from Uganda summarized his observation that although we are deeply polarized in this election, we have confidence in our civil servants and the bureaucracy. While the leaders at the top may change, and while policies MIGHT change, they have to go through processes to change. It’s not like one leader or the other comes in and overnight, everything is changed, everything is done a different way.
AdventureMan says he loves that we live in a country where power is transferred peacefully – no coup. No revolution. We might have ugly elections, but they are peaceful, and when one triumphs, thousands of people supporting the losing side are not killed.
Had not thought about it that way.
These visitors are in Pensacola at just the right time for them to observe our biggest election. They have questions about everything, from the signs in our front yards to voter fraud and deceptive wording on proposed amendments. They talked today with the Supervisor of Elections, with elected officials, and with normal, everyday citizens. Tonight they will attend some of the parties around town, as the votes are counted. It is a very special experience for us, to see ourselves as others might see us, as we hold our elections.