If you’ve never been on a beach vacation in Alabama, you are missing out. I had the opportunity to visit Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama recently and what a treat it was. From the white sugar sand beaches to the deep sea fishing, the Alabama coast has it all. To me, the Alabama coast was a great beach vacation without the pretense of some other popular beach locations in the U.S. When you don’t want to “keep up with the joneses” and just relax, Orange Beach and Gulf Shores are where to do it.
As a midwestern girl, I was not prepared to be wowed by the food. I figured there would be fresh seafood, but I didn’t expect much else. Yes, the seafood was fresh, but the food in general was complex and tasty. Here are some of the places that I recommend you try should you find yourself on the Alabama gulf coast.
27500 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach, AL 36561
If you go out to eat at only one restaurant in coastal Alabama, make it The Gulf. Located right on the ocean near Perdido Key, The Gulf is a sprawling restaurant with a nautical color scheme, palm trees, and great outdoor lighting. Not only is the decor enough to make a girl swoon, so is the menu. Relatively small compared to what you might expect at such a large establishment, the menu of The Gulf changes based on what is freshest and seasonably available. Seafood like fish tacos, tuna burgers, and crab legs are common, but so are burgers and hummus plates and juicy burgers. Seating is at picnic style tables and although you order at the counter, your food is brought to you by a server. Is there anything more appealing than a cold drink, a tasty meal, and a view of the gulf mere feet in front of you?
4575 S Wilson Blvd, Orange Beach, AL 36561
Walking into Anchor Bar and Grill seemed refreshingly familiar for this Chicago girl. Midwestern beers on tap and Cubs paraphernalia throughout were enough to give me déjà vu. Was this a restaurant in coastal Alabama or was I back home? As it happens, the chef and owner is a midwestern man. While his heart remains on the shores of Lake Michigan, his restaurant is on the water in Alabama. Anchor Bar and Grill had the most landfare of any of the restaurants I visited. Beer brined chicken wings, cuban sandwiches, and short rib nachos were all tempting, but I opted for deconstructed fish tacos on a bed of lettuce. Of all the fish tacos I had while in Alabama, these were the lightest and flakiest. I did not leave feeling like I needed to be rolled out and the views on the bay were absolutely lovely. A great spot before embarking on any water sports.
4751 Main Street Suite 116, Orange Beach, AL 36561
You can’t forget breakfast restaurants in coastal Alabama! While some people prefer a large, hearty meal, I tend to like a simple breakfast with plenty of coffee. The Southern Grind at the Wharf in Orange Beach was a great place to take breakfast and some coffee. A breezy, beachy themed restaurant with plentiful natural light, much of the decor is for sale. A gelato counter makes it tempting to skip the eggs, but with plentiful tables, sitting for breakfast is a breeze.
27075 Marina Road
Orange Beach, AL 36561
Man oh man, do I love wine. Not in a, “it might be time to see a professional” way, but in a discerning palate way. I’m not one to knock states that aren’t known for their wineries, but I did not expect to find such a lovely wine list as that which is found at Fisher’s. Downstairs is Fisher’s Dockside, a casual eatery with mid-priced southern comfort food. Good for kids and groups, Dockside also offers brunch on Sundays. Upstairs is the more upscale, white tablecloth restaurant with various cuts of steak and game meat. With over 150 bottles of wine, I’d argue that Fisher’s has the best wine list of all restaurants in coastal Alabama. I had a great glass of barolo to go with my rabbit parpadelle, a replica of meals I have had at two Michelin star restaurants in Chicago.
27842 Canal Rd, Orange Beach, AL 36561
With such extensive fishing tourism, it is necessary to offer filet and cooking services for caught fish. Playa at Restaurant Marina is one of the restaurants in coastal Alabama with “hook and cook” services. When I visited, my group brought in ahi tuna that was filleted and prepared by our fishing crew. What we received in return were delicious ahi tuna tacos. Had we brought back more bounty, and had more time, we would have been able to have our fish ponchatrain style. Lightly breaded with shrimp, crab, lemon butter, and mushrooms, we were treated to grouper ponchatrain as a delicious substitute. Even more, dishes were finished off with hibiscus flowers.
While there are plenty more restaurants in coastal Alabama that you can try out, these are my particular recommendations. If you have been to any of these places, or have anywhere else to recommend, please let me know in the comments!
Many thanks to Shipp’s Harbor Grill, Fisher’s, The Gulf, The Southern Grind, Anchor Bar and Grill, and Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism Board. While they sponsored my visit, all opinions are my own.