The place to be on Pensacola Beach, Red Fish Blue Fish was named for a rhyme, set on the shore and dreamed up in a day.
It all started on April 1, 2013, when Gulf Coast hotel entrepreneur, Julian MacQueen, mandated his corporate management team to plan for a restaurant opening on an inconspicuous beachfront lot.
What was initially assumed to be an April Fools’ Day joke resulted in a wildly unlikely collaboration with an unsurprisingly well-received outcome – Pensacola Beach’s first “green” (and red and blue) restaurant. Excitingly out-of-place, the 250-seat waterfront eatery and gift shop exudes an eco-chic charm that’s more South Beach than L.A., by which of course we mean “Lower Alabama.”
Manufactured from repurposed shipping containers that seem to be superfluously piled one upon the other, its façade gives the distinct appearance of a lofty, colorful Jenga tower. Animated virtual fish are projected on the tallest container, and ground level walls are embellished with wood planking plucked from an abandoned Coca-Cola factory just north of town.
Gaze up as you pass through the entryway, and you’ll discover jellyfish lamps dangling in an ocean of steel. A short walk past the trendy raw bar and gift shop leads to a rambling soundside dining area purposely scattered with genteel embellishments – think driftwood sculptures, imported Asian boat wood furniture, artisan Hawaiian tiki lights, Americana folk art, old school Bocci Ball sets, giant Jenga and lavish fire pits.
Aside from its daring décor, the $2 million project distinguishes itself for having been fully conceptualized (using Pinterest for inspiration) during an eight-hour design charrette in a hotel across the street – and actualized by a West Point-educated former helicopter pilot from nearby Cantonment, Fla.
Its menu, like its ambiance, is eclectic – with selections such as Upcycled Mullet Dip, Tempura Battered Asparagus, Po Boys, Chew Fish BLAT (that’s Bacon-Lettuce-Avocado & Tomato), Mexican Carne Tacos and then some, all prepared using the freshest local seafood and produce. Is your mouth watering yet?
“There is simply nothing of its kind in the area,” MacQueen says. “We pride ourselves on our community involvement and stewardship of the planet, and we believe we have accomplished a great feat in Red Fish Blue Fish by offering fresh food and a stellar view, where families and friends can create memories.”
Now a venue for events running the gamut from rehearsal dinners to charity benefits, Red Fish Blue Fish is setting itself apart in a sea of oceanfront eateries.
(Yes, we said SEA. With a name like Red Fish Blue Fish, wouldn’t you?)