9 Delicious Restaurants I Loved Near Gulf Shores, Alabama
The Gulf Shores region of Alabama is fast becoming one of Alabama’s most popular destinations. Its 32 miles of white sand beaches combined with attractions ranging from cruises to history are a big reason to visit, but its fantastic dining options are also a big factor.
From freshly caught fish to Cajun and Caribbean-influenced dishes, and casual dining to upscale waterfront restaurants, here are some of my favorites from a recent visit.
They are not listed in order and I was accommodated for this trip by Gulf Shores CVB; all opinions are mine.
1. Brick and Spoon
If you are looking for a creative breakfast or lunch with a Cajun twist, Brick and Spoon is the place for you. You can start your day with the Bananas Foster French Toast like I did, or go on the wild side and have the Wild Mary like a friend of mine ordered. The Wild Mary is a Bloody Mary served in a salt-rimmed glass topped with a small salad consisting of two slices of crispy bacon, a bell pepper, asparagus, okra, a strip of carrots and other vegetables. In addition to the typical coffee, tea and soft drinks, they serve a nice selection of mimosas and cocktails.
2. Sassy Bass Amazing Grill
If you visit Fort Morgan, Sassy Bass Amazing Grill is the place to stop for a tasty meal or forgotten provisions. As well as a full restaurant with a Caribbean vibe, there’s a market where you can buy a jar of local pickles to top off your picnic sandwiches or a cute t-shirt to send back to the friend who didn’t. couldn’t make the trip.
If you do the breakfast buffet, I recommend trying the French toast or the biscuits and gravy. For 5 consecutive years, Sassy Bass has been named “Top 13 Best Buffets in Alabama“.
For lunch or dinner, they are famous for their Navy Cove Bay oysters served on a half shell. They are harvested directly from their farm in Navy Cove Bay, Fort Morgan, Alabama. We shared a few for an appetizer and although I’m not a big fan of raw oysters they were good. I chose the peel and eat shrimp for my entree and loved it.
The Caribbean influence carries over to their drinks. One is called Jamaican Me Crazy, with Captain Morgan rum, blue curaco, orange juice, pineapple, lime, and coconut juice. If you feel musically inclined, just choose one of their guitars off the wall and start playing and singing.
3. The Gulf
If you fancy casual dining on a gulf beach, try the gulf. The Gulf is the most eco-friendly restaurant I have ever eaten at. It is built with skillfully redesigned shipping containers using recycled materials for countertops and decorations. Their menu changes daily as they use local produce and the seafood they serve was swimming in the water the night before. I ordered at a counter, walked around the patio and joined my friends at a table on the sandy beach. They gave us each a device that allows the waiter to locate your table.
Seafood rules here. My peel and eat shrimp were huge and tender with seasoning I can only expect to find in my native Louisiana. When I visited, other local seafood choices were snow crab legs, lobster, and fish. For anyone who doesn’t like seafood, they have burgers, chicken, and other choices.
4. Fresh off the boat
Another more upscale waterfront restaurant I visited for dinner is Fresh off the boat. It is located in SanRoc Cay Marina and offers upper or lower decks and indoor dining. As the name suggests, seafood rules here too. Some of the dishes on the menu show their strong Louisiana influence, such as NOLA BBQ Shrimp, Fried Boudin Balls, Duck and Sausage, or Seafood Gumbo, but there are plenty of other choices ranging from burgers to steaks. If you are a fisherman and have caught your own food, they offer a ‘hook and cook’ option where they cook your fish and serve it to you family style.
From Thursday to Sunday you will find live music here.
The most upscale white tablecloth I visited in Gulf Shores was Travelers. This one is dinner-only, located inside the Perdido Beach Resort, the largest private hotel in Orange Beach, Alabama. Voyagers and the resort’s more casual family restaurant, Latitude, have great views of the gulf. Voyagers’ floor-to-ceiling windows and understated furnishings provide a relaxing atmosphere to enjoy mostly seafood or steaks paired with fine wines and cocktails. After the far too copious meal, we had to taste a dessert. How do you choose between caramel corn on the cob and chocolate covered strawberries?
Chef Brody Olive, who was named the 2020 Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Association (ARHA) Restaurateur of the Year, stopped by our table to ask how we enjoyed his food. He got a resounding “Oh, yes!” from all of us.
6. Club Safari
One of the most unusual new restaurants in Gulf Shores is Club Safari at the new Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. The zoo rose to fame after its heroic efforts to get all of its inhabitants to safety when Hurricane Ivan hit in 2004. It was featured in an Animal Planet documentary titled The little zoo that could. In 2020 it moved to a bigger and safer location and the Safari Club is now adjourning it. One of the first things I saw upon entering the restaurant was a life size giraffe sculpture. The back deck overlooks the zoo grounds. Where else can you dine with roaring lions and tigers in the background and the spinning zoo carousel just yards away?
It is Alabama’s first certified “green restaurant”. Executive Chef Greg Buschmohle has created a full range of vegetarian and vegan offerings as well as tapas and entrees for carnivores; the artisan pizzas, my favorite, are cooked in a wood-fired oven, and the steaks and chicken on an open-fire grill. Like almost every other restaurant in Gulf Shores, they serve lots of seafood, all locally sourced.
Their full-service Tusk Bar donates a percentage of profits from each drink to a conservation to protect elephants. Safari Club is primarily a lunch and brunch restaurant. On Sundays, it serves brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
7. Wood side
wood side is one of two restaurants in Gulf State Park. It’s very laid back and open from 8am to 8pm. You can dine inside or outside. There are games outside on the green and normally fire pits for roasting s’mores. When we visited for dessert, the fire pits were being upgraded so we had to settle for a jar of s’mores, a combination of the ingredients for s’mores in a small mason jar. There is live music in the evenings in the small amphitheater outside.
8. The LuLus
Probably the most famous restaurant in the Gulf Shores area is by LuLu, owned by Lucy Buffett, the little sister of singer Jimmy Buffett. After cooking from her hometown in Alabama to New York, New Orleans, the Caribbean, Key West and Los Angeles, in addition to working as a personal chef and assistant to a few movie stars, Lucy opened her first small restaurant at Week’s Bay in Fairhope, Alabama. She called it LuLu’s Sunset Grill. I first visited many years ago and loved the food and the atmosphere.
This visit found it in a new location with an even larger restaurant, shop and entertainment venue on the Intercoastal Waterway. The food is still excellent. Lulu creates all of her recipes incorporating her vast experience of cooking across the country. I tasted a few starters. The Smoked Tuna Dip was my favorite, but Crazy Sista’s Crab Dip and Fried Green Tomatoes tied for second.
My starter of fried oysters served with fries, coleslaw and corn and cheddar hushpuppies was fantastic but left little room for dessert. The key lime pie tempted us all, so we made the effort and split a slice. Creamy heaven on a plate describes it best.
Cobalt is on the beachfront at Orange Beach. It specializes in seafood but stands out with chicken and steak dishes. We went for something not on the daily menu, a cooking class with Sous Chef Nick Norman. From a station up front, he demonstrated how to cook his version of a popular Lebanese dish, shish tawook.
The dish consists of cut chicken thighs marinated in lemon juice, yogurt, olive oil, tomato paste and assorted seasonings. He showed us how to create the marinade. They had already marinated the chicken pieces he used to cook the sample dish for 24 hours. He then put them on a skewer and grilled them. Then he created a garlic sauce and a potato dish called batata harra. For the fun part, we were able to eat the previously prepared dishes accompanied by a white wine.
Cooking classes take place on Tuesdays. From Thursday to Sunday are musical evenings.
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