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Where to Eat on the Alabama Gulf Coast

Everything about my recent visit to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama was a pleasant surprise, from the gorgeous stretches of sugary white sand beach to the quality of the food. I love to explore a new area by sampling local specialties and in Alabama, I was in for a true delight of the senses.

It was good I was so busy during the day biking, kayaking, ziplining and flyboarding because otherwise I was busy eating. My first question for locals is always what foods are unique to the area — what are the foods that I just must eat. Asking around about what and where to eat in Orange Beach, I came up with this list of must try foods, and I did my best to try them all.

Must Try Foods in Gulf Shores Orange Beach

The cuisine along the Alabama Gulf Coast is primarily seafood focused, with a mix of Creole, Southern, and Key West influences. The most popular are:

Must Try Foods on the Alabama Gulf Coast -- Where and what to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama.

Bushwhacker from Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina

Bushwhackers – Not technically a food, this drink could qualify as a dessert as it is a blend of rums, ice cream, and coffee liqueur. As you can imagine, each place has its own special touch – a blend of five rums, blended smooth, or left icy.

While I had to abstain from this must try specialty (neither rum nor ice cream are my friends), Bimini Bob’s Raw & Rum Bar at The Wharf in Orange Beach claim the best on the island (others say it is at Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina or the Florabama bar). I suggest taste testing is a good excuse to try one wherever you go!

Must Try Foods on the Alabama Gulf Coast -- Where and what to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama.

Pan-seared grouper at Fisher’s Upstairs at Orange Beach Marina

Grouper — Grouper is one of the most popular local fish, and I had grouper topped with crab over risotto and grouper accompanied by local vegetables — all delicious.

Red Snapper — Another popular local fish, you can find red snapper on just about every menu on the gulf coast.

Must Try Foods on the Alabama Gulf Coast -- Where and what to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama.

Shrimp and creamy grits with bacon from Ginny Lane

Shrimp — Fried shrimp, BBQ shrimp, shrimp gumbo…ok that sounds like a scene from Forrest Gump, but we did have our share of shrimp, especially many delicious varieties of shrimp and creamy grits.

The shrimp and grits from Ginny Lane were actually listed as one of the 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before you Die they are so good.

Must Try Foods on the Alabama Gulf Coast -- Where and what to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama.

Deviled on the Bayou cornmeal crusted oysters on deviled eggs with sriracha from Brick & Spoon

Oysters — I tried fried oysters, grilled oysters, raw oysters and roasted oysters and all were delicious!

Must Try Foods on the Alabama Gulf Coast -- Where and what to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama.

Crispy crab claws from Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina

Crab — Blue crab claws are another Gulf Coast specialty, especially fried or BBQ style.

Must Try Foods on the Alabama Gulf Coast -- Where and what to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama.

Fish and avocado tacos from Cayman Grill in Orange Beach

Fish tacos — Fish tacos come in many different forms — crispy or grilled, with toppings or not. I enjoyed my fish tacos with avocado at Cayman Grill.

Must Try Foods on the Alabama Gulf Coast -- Where and what to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama.

Fried pickles and wickles at Bimini Bob’s

Wickles — I’d tried fried pickles before but never heard of wickles until I was on the Alabama Gulf Coast. These spicy fried pickles have quite a kick!

Must Try Foods on the Alabama Gulf Coast -- Where and what to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama.

Key lime pie from Ginny Lane

Key Lime Pie – again, I tried quite a few versions while in town, some having a cheesecake consistency and others more limey than others. I’m not sure I found a favorite – I need to go back and keep testing. So far nothing beats the chocolate-dipped frozen key lime pie on a stick I had in Key West.

Bread Pudding — Bread pudding is another dessert that you’ll find on most menus in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach in Alabama in different varieties. The white chocolate bread pudding at Ginny Lane is delicious, no surprise the recipe is so special it was willed to the restaurant by their pastry chef.

Where to Eat in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores

I had some truly amazing food during my five days in Alabama, but there were some dishes that stood out as truly spectacular (in no particular order because I just can’t decide which bite was best.)

Must Try Foods on the Alabama Gulf Coast -- Where and what to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama.

Murder Point Oysters at Fisher’s Dockside at Orange Beach Marina

Murder Point Oysters at Fisher’s Dockside at Orange Beach Marina. First off let me start by saying how much I loved our evening at Fisher’s. We started off downstairs in the more casual space. Just two years old, the décor looked like it was ripped straight from the pages of a Restoration Hardware catalog (in the best possible way), yet accented with hand carved table bases and handmade light fixtures.

Our service was phenomenal and we enjoyed our conversation with owner Johnny Fisher. We had chatted over Twitter earlier in the day about my craving for oysters so Johnny hooked us up. We sampled a duo of Cajun roasted oysters and Murder Point raw oysters.

Now up north we are used to “branded” oysters like Wellfleet and my favorite Matunuck Oysters, but in Alabama this trend is just catching on. The farm-raised Murder Point Oysters have been cultivated to be small, sweet, and just a bit briny with a deep cup for the most delicious oysters I’ve had. Seriously, I might need to move here or at least visit frequently just to have these more often.

Must Try Foods on the Alabama Gulf Coast -- Where and what to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama.

Boudin balls at Fisher’s Dockside at Orange Beach Marina

Boudin Balls at Fisher’s Dockside at Orange Beach Marina. I’ve traveled quite a bit and tried a lot of foods but one entirely new to me was Boudin Balls. These Cajun specialties could be served in a sausage casing but luckily for me, Fisher’s were breaded, fried and served with homemade mustard and pickled peppers.

Boudin balls are typically made with pork butt, liver and/or heart – but I decided it was better not to ask about something that delicious. I could have feasted all night on Fisher’s Dockside’s amazing oysters, fried crab claws (popped them in like popcorn), and super creamy shrimp and grits – but we had more eating to do upstairs.

Must Try Foods on the Alabama Gulf Coast -- Where and what to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama.

Oyster Earle at Fisher’s Upstairs at Orange Beach Marina

Oysters Earle at Fisher’s Upstairs at Orange Beach Marina. After stuffing ourselves downstairs, we then moved upstairs into the elegant Fisher’s Upstairs. Beautifully designed with plantation shutters, white linens, blue linen upholstered chairs and sophistication worthy of the Hamptons, the upstairs restaurant is Orange Beach’s answer to fine dining.

We had so many amazing dishes including grouper and strawberry shortcake cannolis, but the most exceptional was Oysters Earle — roasted Bon Secour oysters with garlic leek butter. It was truly a perfect bite.

Must Try Foods on the Alabama Gulf Coast -- Where and what to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama.

BBQ Crab Claws at Cosmos in Orange Beach. My first night in Orange Beach I was too tired to be very hungry but I knew I needed to start off with some seafood.

The BBQ crab claw appetizer at Cosmos was more than enough to satisfy my cravings. The creole butter sauce was so tasty yet rich and unlike anything I’d ever tasted before.

Must Try Foods on the Alabama Gulf Coast -- Where and what to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama.

Softshell crab eggs benedict at Brick and Spoon

Softshell Crab Eggs Benedict at Brick and Spoon. Brick and Spoon is definitely the place to go for breakfast in Orange Beach. Not only were they recently named one of the Top Breakfast Restaurants in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure, but they also offer the most extensive build your own bloody mary menu I’ve ever seen with options for vodkas, vegetables, cheeses, meats, herbs, rims, spice and garnishes.

If the cool modern design of the interior doesn’t grab you, the food certainly will. My cornmeal dusted soft-shell crab with poached egg, Canadian bacon, and creole hollandaise over an english muffin was so unique. The crispiness of the crab with the softness of the egg and the saltiness of the bacon was a perfect match.

Must Try Foods on the Alabama Gulf Coast -- Where and what to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama.

Blackened shrimp over fried green tomatoes from Ginny Lane.

Blackened Shrimp with Fried Green Tomatoes at Ginny Lane. The blackened shrimp and fried green tomatoes at Ginny Lane at The Wharf in Orange Beach were exceptional. The shrimp perfectly done with just the right amount of heat.

The tomatoes crispy on the outside but so tender and juicy on the inside. But the magic of this dish was the remoulade. I’m always on the hunt for a good remoulade and I’ll tell you, if Ginny Lane bottled this stuff I’d order a case.

Must Try Foods on the Alabama Gulf Coast -- Where and what to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama.

Shrimp and grits at Fisher’s Dockside at Orange Beach Marina

Shrimp and Grits from Fisher’s Dockside at Orange Beach Marina. I tried shrimp and grits a few times in Alabama but my favorite was at Fisher’s Dockside. The grits were just so creamy and the tasso tomato gravy was rich and delicious.

Where to eat in Gulf Shores Alabama -- Lucy Buffett's LuLu's for a cheese burger in paradise.

Pa-menna Burger at LuLu’s. Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s is more than just a dockside restaurant, it is an entertainment destination. LuLu’s attracts big crowds but there is certainly plenty to keep you busy while you wait for a table.  There are multiple bars to hang out, a live outdoor music stage, an arcade, ropes course, gift shop, and play area for young children.

While in Gulf Shores, I simply had to go and have a Cheeseburger in Paradise and while LuLu’s offers plenty of options, I picked their specialty — the pa-menna burger. This burger is topped with fried green tomatoes, pa-menna cheese and bacon. I only ate half and still could barely fit an appetizer for dinner later. It was decadent but delicious. The cheese had a garlicky flavor to add to the saltiness of the bacon and juiciness of the burger — paradise!

On a return trip I fell in love with the fresh seafood and fish tacos at The Gulf, one of the coolest beach bars around. Another favorite beach bar for the music and atmosphere is The Hangout.

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Where to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Alabama | Orange Beach restaurants

 

Note: I was hosted by the various restaurants above for purposes of facilitating this review. All opinions are my own — I tried to include the very best of the best!

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16 Comments on “Where to Eat on the Alabama Gulf Coast

  1. I know, I think I gained a few pounds!! Good thing I was really active during the day.

    I agree with all the fabulous restaurants mentioned in your article but you left out Big Fish in OBA. This is a must culinary experience on the Gulf Coast. Do your tastebuds a favor and try them out, you won’t regret it!

      Thanks Mell, that’s one to try on my next visit!

    Thanks Janice! I definitely want to come back and so I will try those places too. The wickles were at Bimini Bob’s at the Wharf in Orange Beach — yummy!

    looks like there’s so much good food! I’d love to try the fish tacos and any of the fried seafood. I’ve been obsessed with fish tacos lately.

    I am a sucker for deviled eggs and I need one of those Bushwacker’s stat! I tried a “dessert drink” for the first time in LA a few years ago a chocolate shake with whiskey it was to die for!

    Oh my gosh. Such AMAZING food! Would never thought the Gulf Shores had this much variety and awesomeness!

    You had me at bushwacker. OMG, I need to get here. This is so my kind of food. Fresh seafood, sauces – yum! Never been that far south in the US before, but looking forward to eating my way there.

      It was a surprise for me too — a very pleasant one! I can’t rave about the food enough.

    I’m not a seafood fan, but my husband would be in heaven here. I’d be excited about the Wickles and desserts. Glad to know there’s something for everyone!

      You could go on a key lime pie taste testing excursion!

    Great article in support of the fabulous food available in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. We particularly like Fishers with their choice of casual or dressy and seafood or basic meat meals. But I beg to differ on one point. Jimmy Buffets’ song Cheeseburger in Paradise inspired his sister Lucy Buffet, to open LuLu’s, not the other way around.

    Oh my goodness! You got to enjoy all the foods I love but am allergic to. Fabulous review!

    I haven’t been to Gulf Shores since I was a kid, and fried crab claws were always my favorite! My palate has expanded considerably since I was a kid, and all of this looks Amazing!!

      I don’t think I would have tried crab claws as a kid but I sure love them now!

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