#5 of 137 Pensacola Beach Restaurants

Carmen’s Lunch Bar

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Carmen's Lunch Bar: Enjoy an Eclectic Blend of International Flavors at this Cozy Pensacola Restaurant
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Carmen's Lunch Bar packs a punch with its unique blend of local and international flavors. The lunch and tapas restaurant consistently provides fresh food and a wonderful atmosphere.

- The FloridaPanhandle.com Local Expert Team

A cozy and delightfully casual dining experience awaits at Carmen’s Lunch Bar, where, depending on when you arrive, you can enjoy a variety of lunch specials or dinner tapas. 

Conveniently situated in Pensacola’s downtown district, Carmen’s Lunch Bar is cute but can feel cramped at times — especially during peak lunch hours. If you don’t mind sitting close to other visitors at the bar or dining outside, this shouldn’t bother you. If, however, you need a fair amount of personal space to enjoy your meal, you’d best look elsewhere. For some visitors, however, the very lack of space serves as one of the restaurant’s greatest strengths, as it grants it a cozier and more community-oriented feel, in which conversation flows freely.

Flavorful cuisine is a big deal at Carmen’s, where a variety of international flavors can be found. Spanish recipes are clearly dominant, but you’ll also find Mexican, Moroccan, and Thai dishes. The eclectic menu provides plenty of variety, accommodating adventurous and picky eaters alike, as well as those with a variety of food restrictions. Vegetarians and vegans, for example, will be pleased to find a vegan curry dish on the main menu, as well as several meat-free appetizers. Additionally, select meals are available with gluten-free alterations. Carmen’s sliders, for example, can be served over yellow rice instead of being combined with the usual bun.

Don’t forget to order a specialty drink alongside your meal. Carmen’s serves several intriguing options, including a sparkling wine beverage with cranberry and orange juice, as well as a refreshing lemonade-infused iced tea. You’ll also find a wide array of domestic, craft, and import beers, as well as a small selection of hard ciders.

A few of our favorite menu items include the following:

Carmen’s Soda Bread
Baked fresh on a daily basis, this bread is not to be missed. It features dried cranberries, fresh rosemary, and sweet butter. It’s the perfect precursor to your meal.

Spanish Pepper Poppers With Lump Crab
This delicious appetizer can be enjoyed with friends before your main dish, but it’s also satisfying enough to substitute as an entree. These sweet pepper poppers come loaded with chorizo sausage, manchego cheese, saffron, lemon, and of course, plenty of jumbo lump crab. These elements are baked until the dish is golden.

Julie’s Famous N.C. BBQ
This entree is far from expected on a menu chock full of international options, but it’s certainly welcome. It includes a zesty blend of two top North Carolina styles. Watch out — this BBQ has more bite than many visitors anticipate. Enjoy with a ciabatta roll and slaw — or as a plated meal with potato salad and slaw.

Chicken Tikka Masala
This delectable dish features a variety of wonderful flavors. It includes cucumber-mint raita, Indian spices, tomatoes, and cream. Additionally, the surprisingly hearty dish comes with basmati rice and a ciabatta roll.

Vegetarian Sliders
Proof that vegetarian dishes can be just as enjoyable as their meat-based counterparts, these sliders features piquillo pepper, roasted yellow tomatoes, arugula, and a delightful spread with feta and cream cheese. Like all sliders offered at Carmen’s, this meal comes with a side of kettle chips. 

The wonderful flavors at Carmen’s Lunch Bar blend the best of southern and international cuisine. Stop in at this cozy eatery to experience an enticing array of flavors and a sense of community.

Insider Tips:
– If you get the opportunity, spend some time chatting with restaurant owner MariCarmen, who can nearly always be seen assisting or visiting with her valued patrons. 
– Determined to dine alongside your dog? You’re in luck — well-behaved pooches are welcome to join their human friends at the outdoor seating area.
– Restrooms are a commonly cited concern among Carmen’s patrons. The restaurant shares facilities with nearby Bodacious Brew. Head down the hallway to find the shared restrooms — or feel free to ask staff members for directions.