Visit Florida. Eat Fish Tacos.

Driving towards Pensacola Beach

After 5 years of traveling for the Air Force, my husband and I finally made time to go on vacation. I wanted to sit on a beach and relax. He wanted to eat some amazing seafood and see something historical. Pensacola, Florida fit the bill!


Sand Dunes at Fort Pickens
Sand Dunes at Fort Pickens

The first day we decided to explore Pensacola. Our hotel was in Pensacola Bay, so we crossed the Fisherman’s Bridge (also known as Pensacola Bay Bridge) and headed to Pensacola Beach. We paid a dollar to the toll booth and entered. Pass Fort Pickens and a variety of a souvenir shops and tourist restaurants and you will see parking for the beach. Everyone is swimming, tanning, and doing various water sports. We decided to go “shelling!” We found many conch, queen scallops, and cockle shells.

Sand Dollars also scattered the beach, but most were pieces unfortunately. Once we had our fill of shells and sun, we headed back to venture shops and restaurants. On the left hand side, in a brightly colored strip mall, there is a pink building labeled, “Native Cafe.”

Native Cafe in Pensacola, Florida
Native Cafe in Pensacola, Florida

Native Cafe isn’t a large chain restaurant, like many of the places you will find along the beach. They are small, local, family friendly, and very hospitable! Our waitress offered her recommendations upon our request and each one tasted fabulous. I ordered Lemonade  and Fish Tacos. Chris ordered Dr. Pepper (his favorite coke**) and their Seafood Platter (a seasonal menu item) with Grilled Mahi Mahi, Shrimp and Crab Cakes served with rice and sauteed squash and onions.  The seafood platter is complete with fresh Mahi Mahi (a local fish) and crab cakes that melt in your mouth. Lord knows I’m an expert when it comes to crab cakes. I made at least 250 a day during my internship. The texture of Native Cafe’s crab cakes are unbeatable! The Fish Tacos are hot and juicy, but the salsa on top adds a cool, citrus flair. These still linger in my memory.

Fish-Tacos-4The Chef in me can’t let things linger long. I have to try to recreate it and make it myself.
So, here is my Florida Fish Taco recipe. You may not get the service you would at Native Cafe, but this recipe should tide you over til you get there! 😉


Fish-Tacos-5Florida Fish Tacos

For Fish Fillets:                                                                                
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp dillweed
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Old Bay with Blackened Seasoning
3-4 fish fillets,skinned (I used Tilapia because it is more readily available. Native Cafe uses Mahi Mahi.)
1 Florida Orange (Cara Cara Oranges are not native to Florida, but also good in this dish.)

All the Fixins:
1 pkg small tortillas
1 bag Hearts of Romaine lettuce
1 container of homemade salsa or Fiesta Garden Fresh Salsa in Garlic (usually found in the produce section)
1 bag of Kraft Mexican Four Cheese
1 Florida Orange, sliced for garnish

In a medium skillet, heat butter. While the butter melts, combine flour, dillweed, salt, and Old Bay in a bowl. Dredge fresh fish fillets through flour until lightly covered. Place fillets in hot skillet with butter and saute’ until golden brown on both sides. Once you have turned your fish to brown the final side, place an orange slice on top of each fillet.

Once both sides have browned, use a fork to flake fish fillets for tacos. In a small tortilla, layer lettuce, fish, salsa, and cheese. Serve immediately with sides such as rice and refried black beans! Garnish with Orange slices.

For more information about Native Cafe, please click here for their Facebook page.

To visit our Facebook page, go to Southern Simmerings.

**For those of you who are thinking “soda” or “pop” when I say “coke”…..all I can say is it’s a Southern thing. 😉
The conversation typically goes like this:

“Maam, may I have a coke?”
“Yes, what kind of coke?”
“Just a Coke Cola.” or “I’d like a Moutain Dew, please.”

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