Tag Archives: Pensacola

Sluggo’s, Pensacola

Sluggo’s bar and restaurant located at 101 S. Jefferson St., in downtown Pensacola is an enigmatic club that has provided its eccentric crowd with a gathering place to revel in their eclectic musical tastes since St. Patrick’s Day 1990.  Over the years, Sluggos has operated in numerous Pensacola buildings, undergoing significant transformations while still remaining true to the Pensacola underground music scene.

The Sluggo’s kitchen offers vegetarian cuisine at reasonable prices and has been featured on VEGCOOKING.com.  Their most popular entrées include the Tai Chili Bowl and the Pecan Dust Sietan.  They have a full bar, a reading room and a stage for performing acts.

Many touring musical acts count Sluggos as a regular stop on tour to and from cities such as New Orleans, Atlanta, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Gainesville and Orlando. Over the years, many popular acts have performed here including Everclear, Sugartooth, Run DMC, Digital Underground, the Reverend Horton Heat, and Shadowyze.

Sluggo’s also offers the stage for local and developing bands to cut their teeth and attract a crowd, playing original music.  On most weekends and often during the week, there are opportunities for local artists to open shows for larger touring acts.  Presently all of Sluggos’ shows are open to all-ages.

Over the past twenty years Sluggo’s has reinvented itself a number of times.  Terry Johnson, the owner explained her vision of the ever transforming Sluggo’s.  “Sluggo’s has to evolve in tune with her environment.  Stagnation equals death.  We shouldn’t separate the arts, we should embrace them all and provide an atmosphere where everyone can express ourselves and share our ideas.  If we limit our options just to how we started, Sluggos would be just another bar scene.”

Not just another bar-scene, the Sluggo’s scene is diverse in tastes and styles.  Tending toward modern, progressive and punk rock, Sluggo’s has also hosted hip-hop open mic nights, several charitable events and other cultural expositions.

McGuire’s Irish Pub, Pensacola

McGuire’s Irish Pub is a Pensacola landmark, rich in atmosphere and tradition.  Located in the Old Firehouse at 600 E. Gregory St. Pensacola, Florida, McGuire’s boasts “Feasting, Imbibery, and Debauchery 7 nights a week.”  Themed as “a turn of the century New York Irish Saloon” McGuire’s features nightly performances of traditional Irish Music and sing-along.  Such artists of note include Rich McDuff, Dun Aengus, and JJ Smith playing a majority of classic and traditional Irish folk music.

Established by McGuire and Molly Martin in 1977, but only located at Gregory Street since 1982, this pub has a few traditions that have grown up with it.  The ceiling and the walls are covered with over 1 million one dollar bills, signed and donated by the pub’s patrons.  In the late night hours, as the debauchery gets a-going new comers and those overcome with that Irish spirit may be called up to kiss the moose as the featured artist sings the traditional moose-kissing song.

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Lojah with Larry Kernagis (banjo) at McGuire’s Irish Pub

As a restaurant McGuire’s serves lunch during the day and dinner until the wee hours of the morning and employs some of the hardest working wait staff in Pensacola.  Dining at McGuire’s is always fun and satisfying, with very large portions.  The nacho plate alone is piled up the size of your head.  And the quality is top of the line.

McGuire’s is a winner of numerous awards including Beef Backers “Best Steaks in Florida,” for their USDA Prime Beef steaks.  Their Molly’s Cut is the best steak I’ve ever had.  It is also an 11 time Golden Spoon Award Winner, and a Florida Trend Magazine Hall of Famer.  McGuire’s has also been featured on the Food Network’s Outrageous Foods during which the “Big Daddy Burger” made with bacon, cheddar cheese and jalapeno peppers was created.

McGuire’s is also celebrated for its selection of beers.  They proudly display a quote by Carrie Nation; “Life’s too short to drink cheap beer.”  McGuire’s operates an onsite brewery where are created a selection of quality ales and porter.  They include a light ale, Irish Red, Raspberry Wheat, Porter, Stout and root beer.  They also brew and serve a rotating variety of seasonal ales.  Visitors may tour the McGuire’s Brewery and home brewers are offered a sample of McGuire’s own brewing yeast for use.

The bartenders are very friendly, professional and offer quick service.  They pour 1½ oz shots and double shot martinis.  McGuire’s is the home of the aptly named Irish Wake, a green concoction served in a mason jar with a green and a red cherry, so potent that no more than three are allowed per customer per visit.  Amongst its many awards, McGuires with its 8,000 bottle wine cellar is also the winner or the 2009 WineSpectator Award of Excellence.

To new folks, the McGuire’s layout may cause some initial consternation.  Much like the TARDIS from Dr. Who, McGuire’s seems to be bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.  Like Disney World, much of McGuire’s is virtually unseen from ‘above ground,’ with 400 seats throughout several different themed rooms.  Then there are the bones of Bridget McGuire.

McGuire’s is a regular stop for many celebrities and politicians who live in or pass through Pensacola, including 2008 Presidential candidate John McCain.  This is a fantastic pub in which to be a visitor or a regular.  With good food, good drink, and great atmosphere, you won’t be disappointed.  Just be sure to pay close attention to the restroom signs when ye stop by.

Visit McGuire’s Irish Pub’s website here.

Pensacola, The Place I call Home

I’ve called Pensacola home for the majority of my life.  I’ve lived plenty of other places, but my roots run deep in Northwest Florida. Casually strolling down Palafox Street, I’m often amazed at just how much history is packed into such a small space.  Along with art galleries, music venues, and bars that specialize in craft-beer, are mixed the small Plaza Ferdinand VII and at the end of the road the circular Plaza de Luna situated on the front of Pensacola Bay where you are confronted by a bronze statue of the conquistador Tristan de Luna.  Downtown Pensacola contains several little archaeological sites and reminders of its colonial past.

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Pensacola at a Glance

The City of Pensacola is a quirky, moderately sized metropolitan area in Escambia County on the Northwest Gulf Coast of Florida, situated on the bay which shares its name.  It’s also known as the City of Five Flags, because the flags of five separate nations have flown over it; Spain, France, England, the United States, and the Confederate States of America.

Pensacola has a bit of an identity crisis, part beach town, college town, military town, and a large part traditional southern community.  It’s large enough that there is always an abundance of new people to meet, but small enough that there is a good chance they already know someone you do.  If you are active enough moving around the town you will almost certainly run into friends and acquaintances on any given day.

To tourists, Pensacola is known for its snow-white sandy beaches and the emerald green waters which surround them. The summers are warm and sunny.  Late summer is brutally hot and muggy, but the winters are mild.  And there are plenty of trees.

A Brief History of Pensacola

Although Pensacola is often treated as Florida’s secret, it bears a significant place within American history.  The indigenous inhabitants of the Northwest Florida territory were participants in the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex; part of the Mississippian mound building cultures.  The earliest records of this land were made by 16th century Spanish explorers.  Tristan de Luna landed here in 1559, establishing a short-lived Spanish colony, making Pensacola the first European settlement in what is today’s continental United States.  De Luna established a port where Naval Air Station Pensacola is located today.  A few months later the colony was devastated by a hurricane and abandoned.

Pensacola means “Hair People” or “Hair Clan” in the Native language, closely related to Choctaw, in the Muskogean family.  We know the Pensacola tribe occupied the area by 1677 AD, and in 1686 they were at war with the Mobile Indians to the west.  In 1698 the Spanish established another colony here, making Pensacola an important port town and the primary exporter of hides during the deer skin trade.  Since those days, Pensacola has been a regular settling place for Eastern Creek Indians.  It was traded back and forth between the Spanish, English and, French until finally being acquired by the United States in 1821.

Lifestyle

Today, Pensacola is the home of the Center for Naval Aviation and the Center for Naval Cryptology.  This is also the home base for the Blue Angels flight squadron.

The local University of West Florida has graduated over 67,000 students and is well respected for having one of the best southeastern archaeology departments with full-time terrestrial and maritime projects at work every summer.

For a cool place to hang out I recommend McGuire’s Irish Pub.  Seville Quarter is also very popular among the younger, pop-culture driven crowd.  For large popular musical acts there is the Civic Center, while Vinyl Music Hall provides a more intimate venue.

If your  interests lie in an independent music scene, Pensacola has that too.  Two clubs stand out the most in this area; The Handlebar, and Sluggo’s.  These two venues have been a part of the Pensacola alternative music scene for so long that any discussion of Pensacola nightlife without mentioning them would be incomplete and uninformed.

Outdoor Activities

Ecotourism is an abundant resource in the Pensacola area.  To begin with there is of course Pensacola Beach, a barrier island of some of the whitest and most beautiful beaches you’ve ever seen.  For camping, the island provides spaces near the Civil War era Fort Pickens which also served as a prison for Geronimo and his band of Chiricahua Apaches.  Back on the main land Big Lagoon State Park provides camping spaces with plenty of access to water.  My personal favorite area for outdoors excursions is the Blackwater River State Park in nearby Santa Rosa County, with endless trails of undisturbed natural flora and fauna.

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Local Celebrities

Pensacola has also produced its share of celebrities including WBA Heavyweight Champion Roy Jones Jr., NFL running back Emmitt Smith, multiple platinum winning producer Larry Butler, and Native American Music Award winning rapper Shadowyze. Former presidential candidate, Senator John McCain attended flight school at NAS Pensacola.

Pensacola inspires artists of various sorts and every craft.  It has a diverse culture, more cosmopolitan than most of the surrounding area.  It holds a significant place in American history as the first European colonial city in what would become the United States.  With multiple festivals and cultural expositions celebrated throughout the year, Pensacola is one of Florida’s hidden treasures.