Summer In The City: Zachary’s, Downtown PC’s Budding Vieux Carre

by May 30, 2011 • 7 comments

 

Our Summer in the City Series is all about new and exciting things you can spend the summer enjoying. From one end of Panama City to the other, we’ll bring you all that the city has to offer

World-renowned jazz bass player, Steve Gilmore says, “There is nowhere like this in the area.”

Gilmore moved to Panama City permanently years ago when his health and the health of his wife started to be “iffy.” He has played with jazz greats such as Tony Bennett, the Phil Woods Orchestra and George Coleman. Now, the Gilmore’s weekly routine includes the Wednesday night Jazz Jam at Zachary’s American Grill. While Steve plays with a host of local musicians, his wife Shirley snuggles into a plush couch and kicks up her feet with a close friend to listen as the smooth jazz fills the room.

Enjoy unique comfort food in one of downtown Panama City’s most enchanting digs. This place feels like several of the spunky restaurants from the New Orleans’ vieux carre, the French Quarter, blended into one fun hangout. Rooms don a variety of accoutrements showcasing a different genre and vibe for each eating space: Bohemian, Middle Eastern, country backyard, college bar, jazz digs.

Whether it’s a hamburger, an authentic Cuban sandwich, Tex-Mex Meatloaf or a Bangkok Salad, Zachary’s has a snack, lunch or evening meal for you.  Zachary’s is a place Earnest Hemingway would have frequented, stopping by several times a week for a Cubano Frenchie and a cold beer. If you know anything about Hemingway, he rather enjoyed a good meal and was known to stay in a place he loved for beer…after beer…after beer. At Zachary’s, friends shake hands and place their order for Loaded Fries in the sultry lighting of the aged downtown PC building.

Named after owner Karen’s son Zachary, a Marine stationed in North Carolina in sniper school, Zachary’s American Grill has been in our community since 2009. The restaurant started on Harrison Avenue and has since moved to their current location on Grace Avenue. Owners Cody and Karen Biggs are pleased to be in downtown Panama City and are encouraged to see the local businesses thrive and grow.

The Biggs’ recently loosened up their menu to bring more sandwiches and snacks with reasonable prices in a struggling economy. Cody says the fare of Zachary’s is “down right American.” He hopes that people do not see the bridge as a barrier and take a chance on his restaurant.

Appe-teasers (Appetizers, Served after 5 p.m.)

My good friend Ashlee said it is much more fun to call appetizers “appe-teasers.” I totally get this reference after enjoying the starters at Zachary’s. Whether you are in the mood for Thai, Italian, Cajun or the simplicity of Americana cuisine, there is a taste bud tantalization for you.  A truly sinful delight, Loaded Fries, includes a pile of shoestring French fries hand-tossed in cheddar cheese, topped with scallions, bacon and…well…more cheese! It’s a party in your mouth.  If you are attracted to a New Orleans-esque flavor, enjoy the Classic Shrimp Remolaude. Tender Gulf shrimp are tossed in a zesty house remoulade sauce, served on a bed of field greens and drizzled with sriachi. An interesting dish that I tried once merely out of curiosity was the Caramelized Onion and Bleu Cheese Quesadilla. Even if you are not a fan of bleu cheese, I double-dog-dare-you to try this starter. You will be glad that you did. (All appetizers are reasonably priced, ranging from $3 – $8.)

On the Lighter Side (Soups and Salads)

This house salad is surprisingly to die for, and this coming from a girl who does not love the salad! Do not fear the traditional chain restaurant bowl of anemic iceberg lettuce with some shards of shredded cheese and a crouton.  This House Salad is a blend of fresh cut romaine, field greens, bleu cheese crumbles, cucumbers, red onions, Craisins, sunflower seeds, croutons and finished with a signature Champagne vinaigrette.  Is your mouth watering yet? Should be! Other salads include BBQ Chicken Salad, Buffalo Chicken Salad, Bangkok Salad and Southwest Salad.  (Salads are all $9 and you can choose to substitute Shrimp or Salmon in any of these salads for just $2.) If soup tickles your fancy, try a bowl of Zachary’s Sweet Potato Bisque for $4 a cup or $6 a bowl.

The Pat Down (a.k.a. Hand-Patted Burgers, Made to Order)

You can rest assured that all of Zachary’s burgers are hand-patted and cooked to order. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy a good hand-patted burger. Enjoy Big Bill’s Beef and Bleu Burger with caramelized onions, bleu cheese, American cheese, topped with a homemade Garlic Basil Aioli. Or, choose the Fire House Burger, which would be my brother’s favorite. This is one of those “enter at own risk” kind of burgers. It’s like your taste buds have gone on a quick-thrill roller coaster. The Fire House Burger has caramelized onions, bacon and Zachary’s signature firehouse jalapeno cheese sauce.  It’s totally worth the heart burn that MAY ensue. If you like to take matters into your own hands, build your own burger. Just about anything you could wish to go on a burger is available for you to build away! (Burgers are all $8.50 and are served with southwest pasta salad. Substitute Shoestring French fries for $1 or Sweet Potato Fries for $1.50.)

“Frenchie” Bliss (House Sandwiches on grilled French bread)

The dish that will keep me craving Zachary’s was my most recent pick – the Hot Ham & Cheese Frenchie. As is characteristic of this place, the chef chanced a unique twist on a traditional ham and cheese combo. On first bite, I threw my head back and made an inappropriate noise at the table. My boyfriend said, “What?” I told him that was sandwich speak for, “Oh yeah!” The Hot Ham & Cheese Frenchie comes with sliced Hickory Pit Ham, Provolone and Swiss Cheese as well as tomato, red onion, Honey Dijon Aioli on French bread. So good! Some other savory Frenchies include the Cubano (traditional Cuban with shaved meat), the Chicken Cordon Bleu, the Hawaiian Chicken and many more! (Sandwiches range in prices from $7 – $8.50 and are served with southwest pasta salad. Substitute Shoestring French Fries for $1 or Sweet Potato Fries for $1.50.)

The Big Shebang (Entrees, Served after 5 p.m.)

If your mom ever made you eat meatloaf, thank her. It’s a wonderful American delight and we should celebrate it. Don’t be afraid of the meatloaf. Karen Biggs, joint owner of Zachary’s, blends a meatloaf masterpiece she calls Tex-Mex Meatloaf including roasted corn, tomatoes and chilies. This southwestern inspired meatloaf is then topped with chipotle cream gravy and served over mashed potatoes with green beans on the side. Come get ya some! The entrée menu also includes house creations such as Zachary’s House Filet of Beef, Sherry Portobello Filet, Chicken Portabella and several other savory meals. (Entrees range in price from $14 to $24.)

“Somewhere That’s Green” (Veggie Delights)

Cody wanted me to make sure to let vegetarian friends know that Zachary’s will always have tasty treats for you. Veggie burgers are available and can be topped with any fun burger additions listed on the main burger menu ($6). The Grilled Veggie Frenchie is served with caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, red onions, Provolone and Swiss Cheese topped with Chipotle Aioli ($7). On the entrée menu, Veggie friends can enjoy the Pasta Angelica which is a blend of sautéed veggies including fresh mushrooms, spinach, sweet peas and sundried tomatoes. This is tossed with a house Parmesan cheese cream sauce atop a bed of angel hair pasta, dusted with Parmesan and crisp green onions ($12).

Melt In Your Mouth (Desserts)

Top off your delicious meal or end your evening with a cup of coffee and one of Zachary’s mouth-watering desserts.  Try a piece of Outrageous Chocolate Cake, a four-layer dense dark chocolate cake filled with rich chocolate ganache and covered in a silky chocolate frosting.  Or, may I tempt you with a piece of Mile High Peanut Butter Pie or Key Lime Pie. (Desserts range in prices from $5-$6.)

My Take

If Zachary’s does not thrive in our community, Panama City should go outside, get a branch from the largest tree and prepare for a spanking.

Zachary’s is located in historic downtown Panama City on 425 Grace Avenue. Call Zachary’s today for dine-in, carry out, large or small meal catering at 850.557.3522. You can also visit Zachary’s online at zacharyscafe.com.

 

 

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1 Carol Ann June 1, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Terrific article. Zachary’s is a hidden treasure in downtown Panama City. Food is delicious, presentation is awesome, and setting is comfortable and inviting. Way to go!
MOM

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2 Debbie June 3, 2011 at 12:39 am

Another downtown restaurant that closes down from 2 to 5. If I get off work at 4, and want to stop somewhere for drinks and appetizers with friends, most of downtown is simply out of the question.

Open your doors, downtown Panama City!

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3 Sean Brosnan June 3, 2011 at 8:15 pm

They only close from 2:30 to 4:30 and they always have a late nightlife going on until 11 at earliest. During Friday Fest they stay open until around 2am.

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4 Bob June 7, 2011 at 7:39 am

Are you kidding? Not even open for lunch on Saturday? Another reason not to come across the bridge into downtown. I read PCBDaily to learn of the local spots and give my business to them and not the chains. Zachary’s blew it, their website even has the wrong address and directions. Obviously their only focus is a micro-audience of business lunches and nighttime dinners, regardless of how the article played them.

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5 Jerry June 7, 2011 at 8:43 am

Sounds like a great place. We will have to try Zachary’s next time we are in downtown PC.

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6 Maureen June 15, 2011 at 6:27 pm

I’m delighted to see this restaurant lives on! I checked it out when they were on Harrison and loved it but it was gone when I went back a few months later so I thought they had closed. I can’t wait to go back in it’s new location!

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7 Miguel Fuller June 21, 2011 at 8:55 pm

LOVE LOVE LOVE Zachary’s. The staff was SOOOO nice and polite! The food was out of this world. Can’t wait to go back!

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