Pensacola date night spots: Where to take a date for a romantic dinner

Pensacola date night spots: Where to take a date for a romantic dinner

Dating is a tricky affair, compounded by the myriad of dating apps, websites and etiquette that's expected from both parties. 

Where to take a date, whether it’s the first time out or an anniversary, is a common question. So, to help make the experience a bit less hectic, we've put together a list of tried-and-true Pensacola spots that won't disappoint. 

Most of these restaurants won't break the bank, and you won't need a tie or dress to have a good time. 

Jaco’s Bayfront Bar and Grille

997 S. Palafox St.

Jaco’s is a waterfront restaurant located at the end of South Palafox Street. It offers one of the best dining views in the city, overlooking Palafox Pier Marina and Pensacola Bay. Street parking is available and usually plentiful.

Why it’s a great date spot: As you pull up from Palafox, you’ll immediately see why this is on our list. If you pop in at the right time, preferably sunset, you’ll see it setting just behind the horizon to the right, looking past the marina and community maritime park. The pier and surrounding area are perfect for an after-dinner stroll, too. And it’s located close enough to the rest of Palafox for drinks afterward.

On the menu: Signature flatbreads, fresh seafood and unique cocktails.

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Calvert’s in the Heights

670 Scenic Highway

Calvert’s touts itself as a one-of-a-kind English-themed restaurant that is located just off Scenic Highway. One of the restaurant’s biggest allures for a great date night is the outdoor patio and seating area. It spans the full length of the restaurant and offers a unique view of Pensacola Bay. Outside, you’ll also find games like corn hole, checkers and tic-tac-toe.

Why it’s a great date spot: We won’t lie, the sunset view is the obvious reason this makes for a nice, romantic night. However, the restaurant also has karaoke nights and live music at the bar to spice things up.

On the menu: Gulf Coast take on English cuisine like shepherd’s pie, beef Wellington, fish and chips and more.

Wine Bar on Palafox

16 Palafox Place

The Wine Bar on Palafox is a casual bar that offers creative American eats with charcuterie boards and a vast selection of wines and vintages. It features one of Palafox’s more unique outside dining spots thanks to seating in the breezeway, and more seating in the bar behind the restaurant, facing Jefferson Street.

Why it’s a great date spot: Wine and dates go together hand-in-hand. The night can also be as fancy or casual as you like, as you can go all out with a nice selection of dressed-up entrees or just deciding to keep things simple with shareables.

On the menu: The wine selection is the highlight. You’ll also find charcuterie boards along with inventive shareables, sandwiches and American entrees.

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Dharma Blue

300 S. Alcaniz St.

Located in the heart of the Seville Historic District, Dharma Blue is a quaint and cozy restaurant that has a simple menu packing flavor. This is one of the more expensive restaurants on the list, but the romantic outdoor seating offering a view of historic Pensacola and the incredibly solid menu will more than justify the price.

Why it’s a great date spot: The atmosphere really elevates Dharma Blue from being more than just another seafood and steakhouse. The restaurant is in a historic, 115-year-old home on the corner of Alcaniz Street, just across from Seville Square. The dimly-lit interior makes for a great dinner setting, but the outdoor seating, illuminated by candlelight and string lights, is even better.

On the menu: Fresh seafood and sushi, steak and pasta.

The Magnolia

2050 N. 12th Ave.

The Magnolia recently moved from Scenic Highway to 12th Avenue, but don’t worry, it’s kept all its charm. The restaurant touts itself as a place where people can come together, offering wine by the bottles or by the pour and small plates to share. It also shares a space with Revolver Records.

Why it’s a great date spot: The Magnolia gives off very similar vibes as Dharma Blue with a quaint, cozy feeling due to ambient lighting and the outdoor seating. The food options are also designed to be supplemental to the company you’re with, making it a great place to get to know someone in a casual but romantic environment.

On the menu: Salads, sandwiches and shareables.

The Elbow Room

2213 W. Cervantes St.

If you’ve been to the Elbow Room, you might be surprised to find it here on the list. It’s one of Pensacola’s longest-running pubs that’s decked out in red, ambient lighting, Star Trek memorabilia, an old Dolly Parton pinball machine and dozens of board games that look older than most of its patrons. But for many, that’s exactly why it belongs on this list.

Why it’s a great date spot: The Elbow Room is all about imbibing on its Twin Peaks vibe — the show, not the restaurant — and enjoying the company you’re in. Whether it’s just grabbing drinks and playing board games or chowing down on a giant pretzel or pizza — it’s another great place to get to know a date.

On the menu: Traditional pub food and pizza.

Ichiban

5555 N. Davis Highway

Ichiban is one of Pensacola’s most-recommended Japanese restaurants. While everything is fantastic at this restaurant, it’s on this list for the hibachi experience. Historically, hibachi has a much different meaning in Japan than it does for us here — which really has nothing to do with cooking at all. For Americans, we tend to think of hibachi as a group of people sitting around a hibachi-heated grill as a chef shows off their skills in a cooking demonstration where they flip their cooking utensils, food and others before serving it up to patrons.

Why it’s a great date spot: Hibachi is always a fun experience — whether it’s with friends or on a date. It’s often interactive, too, making it even more fun and cutting some of the pressure by having a fun backdrop for conversation. Plus, there’s always sushi and other foods to try if you decide not to go the hibachi route.

On the menu: Sushi, hibachi, bento boxes, nigiri and more.

Restaurant IRON

22 N. Palafox St.

Restaurant IRON is a contemporary restaurant that has aimed — successfully — to elevate Southern cuisine here in Pensacola. Executive Chef Alex McPhail brings fresh, local specialties with ingredients from all over the world to create a special experience unique on Palafox.

Why it’s a great date spot: This is definitely a spot for foodies who are looking for a more upscale dining experience. Seating inside offers a dimly lit and ambient experience. Guests can order award-winning cocktails from the bar.

On the menu: Southern food with national and international twists.

Angelena's Ristorante Italiano

101 E. Intendencia St.

Angelena’s is helmed by Food Network personality and nationally-renowned chef James Briscione and wife, Brooke Parkhurst, who curates and sources Italian wines. The interior is an interesting mesh between casual and upscale, so you won't feel out of place dressing up or down. 

Why it’s a great date spot: Angelena’s is a great spot for an upscale meal without having to dress the part. Tuesdays have a great pizza and wine bottle special, and the restaurant is centrally located in downtown for after-dinner drinks.

On the menu: Rustic-yet-elegant plates and Italian coastal cuisine.

Bonelli's

1217 N. Ninth Ave.

Bonelli’s is Pensacola’s best-kept-secret when it comes to Italian food. The unassuming building located on Ninth Avenue betrays the quality of the home-cooked meal you and your date are about to devour. It’s recommended to call ahead and make reservations.

Why it’s a great date spot: The outside seating is lit up with string lights and occasionally has live, acoustic music to set the perfect ambiance for a romantic date. And if "Lady and the Tramp" taught us anything, Italian food is about as romantic as it gets.

On the menu: Home-cooked Italian food. Bring along gluten-free pasta and they’ll accommodate.