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COVER STORY | Vol. 11, No. 38, October 15, 2009
(Best of the Coast 2009)

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Best of the Coast 2009


My, how we've grown

In August 2000, the Pensacola Independent published its first Best of the Coast issue. We were very proud that over 500 written ballots were cast. Nine years later, we added online ballots and saw a total of 8,433 votes cast.

We dusted off that Aug. 31, 2000 issue and were immediately struck by how many winners are still favorites. The Fish House was less than three years old but was gaining a regional reputation for fine seafood. The downtown restaurant that overlooks Pitts Slip and Pensacola Bay has won the Best Seafood category ever since. Another newcomer, Billy Bob's Beach Barbecue, won the Best Barbeque category, beating other favorites Ray Cranford's and King's.

Of course, there were several 2000 winners that were already well established in Pensacola as the best. The Sandshaker won Best Bushwacker, David Penniman's Classic City Catering won Best Catering. Ever'man was the obvious choice for Best Vegetarian Menu. Heck, we're not sure anyone else was thinking about vegetarian food back then.

J's Pastry Shop topped the Best Bakery category. And no one but Jerry's Drive In could ever win Best Cheeseburger. These restaurants have made every Best of the Coast list since 2000.

There are several 2000 Best of the Coast winners that haven't survived for reasons ranging from Hurricane Ivan to the economy. The two biggest losses are in women's fashion: Sarah's (Best Women's Clothing) and Curve (Best Hip Clothing). We have also seen several restaurants close their doors: Barnhill's (Best Buffet), Copeland's (Best Appetizers) and Jamie's (Best Romantic Atmosphere).

One, Cancun's Mexican Grill (Best Mexican Restaurant), had the most sensational closing when federal agents and local law enforcement raided the Gulf Breeze restaurant. Owner Rogelio Galvan Chavez was convicted in early 2008 on charges of drug conspiracy and harboring illegal immigrants.

But that's another story for another time.

The 2009 Best of the Coast is bigger and better than ever. There are a few surprises.

So dig in.

Community & Media
Restaurants
Bars
Food
Retail
Comprehensive Winners List