Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Carmen’s Lunch Bar on Palafox in Pensacola

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:

Screen shot 2013-02-01 at 8.29.22 AM

00InteriorCarmens

00ExteriorCarmens

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:

00CarmensNCBBQ

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?

February 1, 2013 - Posted by | Character, Charity, Community, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Leadership, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Restaurant

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