Nothing makes food taste better than when you’ve spent the day at the beach. While national chains can be found here, if you’re looking for the true taste of the Alabama Gulf Coast, venture out to one of the many seafood establishments, some of which are as much a part of the town as the beaches themselves. Sink your teeth into succulent shrimp, oysters, crabs, or freshly caught fish, all of them popular with visitors and residents alike.
Old favorites and exciting newcomers in the restaurant world have risen to meet the tastes and appetites of the area’s visitors. Sample Italian, Mexican, Irish and Asian - and if you’d rather enjoy your meal with a view from your own balcony and the sound of the waves crashing below you, order from any of the pizza and other takeout places.
Southern barbeque is eternally popular and not to be missed. Your taste buds will dance with that first bite of deliciously juicy ribs, pulled pork, chicken and more - locals will proudly point out their favorite spot for you if you ask. Many restaurants serve good ol' Southern home cooking, always with a good ol' slice of hospitality.
Of course, regular American cuisine is as popular here as anywhere else, with many restaurants boasting a burger they swear is as much a part of local dining as any seafood dish.
For a romantic date night or just as a reason to dress up, plan to visit at least one gourmet restaurant or wine bar. In the mood for something a little more casual? Laid-back restaurants have outstanding reputations, too. You can perch directly over the beach or the water itself in some, watching a spectacular sunset with a nice cocktail or seafood meal. When you’ve worked up an appetite but aren’t ready to leave the beach or water, you'll be glad to find places that serve directly to beach-goers or boaters.
Another plus here is that many restaurants regularly host local musical talent during the day and evening. Listen to some toe-tapping country, modern or classic rock, golden oldies or always-appropriate island music with a comfortable gulf view and a tropical drink in hand.
Don't forget to end a day of family fun with a treat for your sweet tooth. Coffee shops and dessert spots are dotted around the area, and ice creams and frozen treats are great for cooling you down on a hot day.
Take a look at the options listed below to see what might hit the spot for whatever you’re craving:
BEHIND THE PINES RESTAURANT
8818 State Hwy. 180
Behind the Pines Restaurant is a very casual restaurant serving burgers and American food, sandwiches, seafood (no oysters), and Southern food. Enjoy live entertainment on Sunday evenings and karaoke at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays. Open daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m. during the summer; off-season hours are more limited. American Express is not accepted.
COAST RESTAURANT AT THE BEACH CLUB
925 Beach Club Trail
Coast Restaurant at The Beach Club is upscale-casual, family-friendly dining with both indoor and outdoor balcony seating with a view of the gulf. Enjoy local gulf seafood, steaks, salads, pasta options and weekly specials from 5 p.m to 10 p.m. every day, plus breakfast 8-11 a.m. on weekends. Coast serves wine, spirits and cocktails. Reservations are recommended during the summer.
SASSY BASS AMAZIN' GRILL
5160 Hwy. 180 W.
Sassy Bass Amazin’ Grill is a laid-back beach restaurant that serves seafood, sandwiches, skillet meals, soups and salads. Open 8 a.m.-10 p.m. (breakfast served 8-11 a.m.). Takeout is usually available except when on a seating wait. Bring in your catch to have it cooked as you like it.
TACKY JACKS 2
1577 Hwy. 180 W.
Tacky Jacks 2 serves sandwiches, salads, seafood and grilled food in a beach-casual atmosphere with inside and outside seating overlooking Mobile Bay; carry-out orders are available. Open daily 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m. (weekends 10:00 p.m.). Tacky Jacks 2 Down Under is a laid-back bar with a deck near the water. The bar often features live entertainment, pool and karaoke; see website for music schedule. Arrive by water or land.
THE VILLAGE HIDEAWAY AT THE BEACH CLUB
925 Beach Club Trail
The Village Hideaway offers a casual and entertainment-filled dining experience. Open daily 11 a.m.-11 p.m., the menu includes grilled seafood and meat dishes, salads, sandwiches, wings, pizzas, and craft beers. Enjoy pool tables, shuffleboard, video games, flat-screen TVs and (by reservation) a golf simulator by High Definition Golf featuring top courses.
VILLAGE CREAMERY AT THE BEACH CLUB
925 Beach Club Trail
Village Creamery serves gourmet coffee and espresso drinks, fresh-baked breakfast goods, 16 flavors of hand-dipped ice cream, specialty shakes and fruit smoothies. Select grocery items are also available. Hours are 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
SASSY BASS PIZZA
5160 Hwy. 180 W.
Sassy Bass Pizza is a carry-out-only pizza place. Summer hours are 4-10 p.m.
FORT MORGAN PIZZA
8188 Hwy. 180 W.
Fort Morgan Pizza is a to-order place that also offers take-and-bake pizza. Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Pick-up 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Delivery 5 p.m.-9 p.m., with $5 delivery fee. Cash only.
ACME OYSTER HOUSE
216 E. 24th Ave.
Acme Oyster House is a Cajun/Creole restaurant serving oysters, salads, seafood platters, chicken, steak, po-boys and New Orleans specialties in a casual environment that includes neon lights and checkerboard tablecloths. Popular for decades in New Orleans, the Gulf Shores location was established in 2013. Open daily at 11 a.m., closing time is 9 p.m. weekdays and 10 p.m. weekends.
BAHAMA BOB’S BEACHSIDE CAFE
601 W. Beach Blvd.
Bahama Bob’s serves seafood, burgers and steaks - with an emphasis on seafood - in a very casual beachside environment. They offer specials during lunch and for early-bird diners, and have multi-TV sports coverage. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. No carry-out summer days 7-9 p.m. or when there is a wait to be seated.
BILL'S BY THE BEACH
300 W. Beach Blvd.
Bill’s by the Beach is a dressy-casual restaurant on the beach. Limited menus include a variety of breakfast options; burgers, sandwiches and wraps for lunch; and seafood, steak and pasta for dinner. Cocktails are served at sunset. Optional seating on the wraparound deck allows views of the beach. Hours are daily 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
CACTUS FLOWER CAFE
3800 Gulf Shores Pkwy.
Cactus Flower Café serves fresh, California-style Mexican cuisine in a casual atmosphere. Open daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m. (Fri. until 10 p.m.).
DESOTO’S SEAFOOD KITCHEN
138 W. 1st Ave.
DeSoto’s beach-casual restaurant serves seafood, chicken, pasta, steak, salads and sandwiches, and service includes a full-service bar. Senior specials are available. Hours are 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
DOC’S SEAFOOD SHACK AND OYSTER BAR GULF SHORES
1121 Gulf Shores Pkwy.
Doc’s Seafood Shack and Oyster Bar serves gumbo, oysters, shrimp, fish and crabs in a beach-casual environment. Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m., but they may close earlier in the winter.
101 E. Beach Blvd.
The Hangout was once an iconic gathering spot on the beach for locals and tourists in the 1950s and '60s and has been rebuilt on a much larger scale. Known for numerous events (including the Hangout Music Festival) and live music (see website for entertainment schedule). The menu includes burgers, sandwiches and seafood in an open-air, beach-casual environment with a courtyard for outside dining. Full bar is available. Open daily 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m., with the bar remaining open later.
ISLAND WINGS COMPANY
3947 Hwy. 59
The Island Wings Company stresses healthier versions of popular dishes, serving only baked wings and fries, in a colorful, casual, family-friendly island environment. Apart from wings, they serve sandwiches, seafood, chicken, salads, quesadillas, island tacos, burgers and mac-n-cheese. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. or later.
LULU’S AT HOMEPORT MARINA
200 E. 25th Ave.
LuLu’s serves seafood baskets, burgers and sandwiches - plus drinks from the full bar - in an open-air casual environment with an outdoor deck perched over the Intracoastal Canal. Also choose foods from the separate allergy menu. Non-food fun includes a fountain, a three-story rope climbing Mountain of Youth, Water Walkers, face-painting, hair wraps, snow cones, beach volleyball, and a sandy beach area with pails, shovels and other toys. Enjoy live music every evening (see website for music schedule), a retail store with branded and other beach merchandise, and free wifi. Reservations not accepted; it is suggested that you arrive early by water or land, and assume that you'll experience a wait to be seated.
NOLAN’S RESTAURANT & LOUNGE
1140 Gulf Shores Pkwy., Gulf Shores
Nolan’s serves steaks and seafood in a fine-dining environment, overlooking the bayou. The wine list and full-service bar complement the ambience. Doors open at 5 p.m. Mon.-Sat.; the dining room closes around 10 p.m., the lounge around midnight. The live band, featuring music from the 1970s-'90s, plays 7:30 until close.
ORIGINAL OYSTER HOUSE
701 Gulf Shores Pkwy.
The Original Oyster House is an iconic local, casual restaurant that overlooks the lagoon and has an outdoor playground for the kids. The menu includes a full range of seafood, plus steaks, chicken, Southern food and pasta, as well as a salad bar. Specialty drinks, wines and beers are available. Hours are daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m., with take-out orders accepted until 5 p.m.
101 W. 6th St.
Papa Rocco’s is a local pizzeria and oyster bar that boasts the motto: “Home of warm beer and lousy pizza.” The menu includes pizza, oysters, burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs and pasta. You'll find live entertainment every night (see website for entertainment schedule), free wifi, 8 plasma TVs for watching sports, and a full menu served until midnight. Hours are daily 10 a.m.-midnight, with Happy Hour weekdays 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Call ahead for take-out orders.
RAFTERS RESTAURANT AND SPORTS BAR
3800 Gulf Shores Pkwy.
Rafters is a sports bar with 18 TVs, shuffleboard, virtual bowling, and a large collection of sports memorabilia. Barbecue, seafood (including oysters), burgers, salads and sandwiches are served daily beginning at 11 a.m. Happy Hour is Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Enjoy trivia competitions on Tuesdays and Texas Hold-em shootouts on Wednesdays. Located in Pelican Place shopping center across from the movie theater.
405 E. Beach Blvd.
Sea-N-Suds is a casual restaurant and oyster bar overlooking the gulf. Dine indoors or out. The menu includes gumbo, crab claws, steamed shrimp, sandwiches, burgers and fried seafood dinners, as well as a salad bar. Open daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
TACKY JACKS - GULF SHORES
2513 E. 2nd St.
Tacky Jacks in Gulf Shores is a beach-casual restaurant with an emphasis on the coastal atmosphere. Dine indoors or out. The dock on the Intracoastal Waterway allows diners to arrive boat. On the menu are salads, po-boys, sandwiches, burgers, seafood platters, chicken, steak and breakfast. Enjoy regular live entertainment, and visit the gift shop before or after your meal. Open daily 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Happy Hour is weekdays 2-6 p.m.
BIG FISH RESTAURANT & BAR
25814 Canal Rd.
Big Fish serves seafood (including oysters), steaks, burgers, pastas and sandwiches - plus drinks from the full bar - in a casual environment. Outdoor patio seating includes a fireplace. Request carry-out orders over the phone until 6:30 p.m., or any time at the bar. Open Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m. until around 10 p.m., with Happy Hour 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Reservations and walk-ins welcome.
BRICK AND SPOON
24705 Canal Rd.
Brick and Spoon serves unique twists on traditional breakfast, brunch and lunch dishes. Much of the menu is Cajun- and Creole-inspired, along with more traditional foods such as paninis and burgers. Cocktails and Bloody Marys are also served in this upscale-casual environment. Open daily 7 a.m.-2 p.m.; Sunday brunch is served 10 a.m.-1 p.m., with a background of live acoustic music.
Cafe Grazie is an Italian restaurant that serves soups, salads, pizza, meat and seafood plates, pasta, and Italian seafood dishes. Located at SanRoc Cay, the setting includes an outside patio seating area, a full wine menu and service bar. Hours begin at 4 p.m. and end at 9 p.m. or later every day.
26189 Canal Rd.
Cayman Grill serves local seafood with Caribbean flavors, oysters and shellfish, fried seafood, steaks and ribs, sandwiches, soups and pizzas. Request seating on the outdoor deck overlooking the bay or indoors near the 8000-gallon stingray tank. Open Mon.-Wed. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Thurs.-Sat. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sun. 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
COBALT THE RESTAURANT
28099 Perdido Beach Blvd.
Cobalt serves fish, oysters and other seafood, steak, pizza and ribs, salads and soups in a casual environment overlooking the pass at the Perdido Bay Bridge. Occasional live music enhances the setting. Arrive by land or water. Lunch/dinner hours are daily 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. (until 10 p.m. Fri. and Sat. Breakfast is served Mon.-Sat. 7-10 a.m., and Sunday brunch is 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
COMPLEAT ANGLER SEAFOOD GRILLE AND BAR
Compleat Angler serves seafood, chicken, steaks, sandwiches, burgers and po-boys in a relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy the deck and the water views from The Wharf. See website for live music and events calendar. Open Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri-Sat. until 11 p.m.
25753 Canal Rd.
Cosmo’s serves a variety of seafood, steak, and pasta dishes as variations of local staples, as well as salads, sandwiches, and a full sushi menu. Situated along the Intracoastal Waterway, both indoor and outdoor seating are available. The casual environment includes a full bar, and Maggie’s Bottle and ‘Tail sells jewelry and artwork from local artists as well as Cosmo’s merchandise. Hours are Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., and Fri.-Sat. until 10 p.m.
COTTON'S RESTAURANT & LOUNGE
26009 Perdido Beach Blvd.
Cotton’s serves seafood, lobster, steaks, chicken and pasta with a gulf view from across the street, and a full bar. Open Mon.-Sat. 4 p.m.-10 p.m.
FISHER'S AT ORANGE BEACH MARINA
27075 Marina Rd.
Fisher’s has two restaurants in the building: Upstairs and Dockside. Upstairs is upscale and serves a seasonal, Louisiana-inspired menu of seafood, steaks, salads and soups made with local ingredients. Indoor and outdoor seating includes two bars. Open daily 5-10 p.m.; reservations accepted. Dockside is more casual, serving Southern-style plates such as burgers, sandwiches and fish tacos. The open layout with garage doors allows for indoor and outdoor seating, and a pleasing setting of a grass courtyard can be enjoyed by all. Open daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday brunch is 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
FLIPPERS SEAFOOD AND OYSTER BAR
5749 Bay La Launch Ave.
Flippers serves sandwiches, pasta, steaks, seafood, seafood and chicken baskets in a casual environment with a waterfront view at Bear Point Marina. Sweets include Edy’s Ice Cream, and drinks are served at the tiki bar. Accessible by boat and by car, choose outdoor seating or sit near the indoor stage to enjoy the live music. Open Sun.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-9 pm, Fri. and Sat. until 10 p.m. You may call ahead for carry-out orders.
17401 Perdido Key Dr., Pensacola
The Flora-Bama Lounge and Package is an internationally known landmark straddling the border between Florida and Alabama. This large beach bar offers multiple stages, constant live music (the entertainment schedule is online), an oyster bar, and many local events including the well-known Interstate Mullet Toss. The Oyster Bar dishes out fries, fish bites, fried pickles, wings and nachos along with its oysters, seafood baskets, sandwiches and burgers. The Lounge and the merchandise shop is open daily 11 a.m.-3 a.m. (until 6 p.m. for those under 21), and a liquor store is located across from it. The Flora-Bama Yacht Club, across the street, is an open-air, waterfront restaurant that is always kid-friendly. The Yacht Club serves most of the drinks available at the Lounge and Package, as well as several seafood dishes, gumbo, salads, tacos and sandwiches. Hours are 11 a.m. until late every day.
GINNY LANE BAR AND GRILL
Ginny Lane serves oysters, sandwiches, steaks, chicken, pasta, seafood and Southern entrees in a casual atmosphere with outdoor and indoor seating at The Wharf. Open Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri-Sat. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sun. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
GULF SHORES STEAMER
Gulf Shores Steamer focuses on non-fried seafood, serving up steamed shrimp, Alaskan Snow Crab and fish in a laid-back coastal atmosphere. They also have grilled fish and chicken, steaks, sandwiches and burgers, and the combination platters can feed two to four people. The location offers indoor seating and an outdoor deck, a merchandise store, and a full-service bar. Open daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
LIVE BAIT FOOD & SPIRITS and LIVE BAIT TOO
24281 Perdido Beach Blvd.
Live Bait has a restaurant and the Live Bait Too night club. The restaurant serves seafood, steaks, pastas, salads, sandwiches and specials in a very casual environment. Sit on the tiki deck for cocktails and karaoke, and enjoy the gift shop and an oyster bar. Their full menu is available for delivery in the Orange Beach area. Open daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Happy Hour is 11 a.m.-4 p.m. The night club across the boardwalk is open from 7 p.m.-2 a.m.; entertainment includes DJs, live music, regional bands and comedians. See their website for the entertainment schedule.
Louisiana Lagniappe serves Cajun food in a waterfront, fine-dining setting with casual attire. Specialties include Louisiana seafood, steaks and Maine lobster. Open daily at 5 p.m. and closing sometime after 9:30 p.m.; Sunday brunch is served 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
O’CHOPPERS ALMOST IRISH PUB
25908 Canal Rd.
O’Choppers has an Irish pub atmosphere and serves up bar and pub food, including dishes such as fish and chips and shepherd’s pie. You'll find a range of beers and other drinks, pub darts, TVs for sporting events, and an outdoor seating area. Hours are daily 4 p.m.-2 a.m.
SHIPP’S HARBOUR GRILL
27842 Canal Rd.
Shipp’s Harbour Grill serves fish, oysters and other seafood, as well as a range of steaks, quesadillas, sandwiches and sushi in a classy-casual waterfront environment. Outdoor seating is available; reservations and walk-ins are welcome. Open daily at 11 a.m. and closing at 9 p.m. or later.
TACKY JACKS - ORANGE BEACH
27206 Safe Harbor Dr.
Tacky Jacks is a colorful, beach-casual restaurant overlooking Cotton Bayou. They serve salads, shrimp, po-boys, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, seafood and meat platters, and a separate breakfast menu. Arrive by land or water. Hours are Sun.-Thurs. 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. until 11 p.m.; Happy Hour is weekdays 2-6 p.m.
THE GULF RESTAURANT
27500 Perdido Beach Blvd.
The Gulf is a beach bar made from repurposed shipping containers and situated next to the Perdido Beach Bridge. All seating is all outdoors, on a raised deck and on a turf lawn directly on the beach. Decor includes picnic tables, wooden and cloth chairs, palm trees, and umbrellas all along the deck, grass and sand. Order from a small blackboard menu of burgers, sandwiches, and various specialties such as hummus, fish tacos, chicken salad and fried oysters; full bar is also available. The staff brings the food to your table but there is no waiter service. The kitchen is open from 11 a.m.-11 p.m., and the bar closes at midnight during the summer.
VILLAGGIO GRILLE AT THE WHARF
Villagio Grille serves Mediterranean/Italian cuisine in a casual fine-dining environment indoors or out. The menu of salads, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, oysters, seafood and steak entrees includes a full wine list and bar. Also order something from the wood-burning pizza oven or bakery, and indulge in the Sunday champagne brunch. Open daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. until 10 p.m.
HAPPY HARBOR PIZZERIA AND TIKI BAR
27212 Marina Rd.
Happy Harbor Pizzeria and Tiki Bar on Marina Road was the first of the Happy Harbor locations. Pizza, subs and a seafood menu are served in a very casual beach environment. Arrive by land or boat, and rent boats, waverunners, kayaks and other watersports equipment. The waterfront deck upstairs at the sports bar shows televised sporting events, and the Tiki Bar on the lower floor has local music. Open at 11 a.m., hours stretch to at least 10 p.m., usually staying open later on weekends.
2981 S. McKenzie St.
Lambert's serves country-style food in hearty portions. Known for their “throwed” rolls (they are literally thrown to you) and other quirky waiter interactions, they also serve chicken pot pie, fried chicken, country vegetables, macaroni and cheese, okra, cabbage, and other home-style foods. They open at 10 a.m. (10:30 off-season) and close at 9 p.m. Cash or checks only, no credit cards accepted; an ATM is located outside for your convenience.
TIN TOP RESTAURANT & OYSTER BAR
17240 Co. Rd. 10
Tin Top serves seafood, steak, oysters, chicken, pasta, pork, po-boys and other dishes with a New Orleans and Southern coastal flair in a small dining environment. They have an outdoor smoking/dining patio and oyster bar, and a smoke-free dining room, plus a bar available for you while you wait for your food to be prepared. See the entertainment schedule online. Open daily 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. until 10 p.m.