Breakfast? Date Night? Sweet Tooth? Whatever you desire, we have you covered the next time you head to the Alabama Gulf Coast. Seafood restaurants, Southern food, brunch spots, coffee shops, local favorites, and more…Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have it all.
There wasn’t time for Sue and I to visit ALL the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores restaurants, but we did amass a great checklist of local favorites and top picks.
Gulf Shores Restaurants The Locals Love
- LuLu’s Gulf Shores Restaurant. Lulu’s has some of the best food in Gulf Shores and is great for kids! (Hello! They have an entire kids play area!) See Lesli’s review below. Read More: LuLu’s Gulf Shores Restaurant
- The Hangout. A definite favorite with our Facebook friends. Live bands, renowned festivals (see Lesli’s review below of the Oyster Cook-off), a daiquiri bar, and so much for the kids. The locals tipped us off to a Pirates and Princess breakfast, as well as the fact there are, “Bubbles for days so put them in their swimsuits.” Read More: The Hangout In Gulf Shores
- The Original Oyster House. This may be a waterfront seafood restaurant, but our local friends said they can’t leave without a whole Key lime pie.
- King Neptune’s Seafood Restaurant. This is a small local joint run by Gulf Coast native Al Sawyer. Our readers say he has the best crab claws in town. And you can’t leave without trying the fried cheesecake!
It’s not just us! Here are some more ideas from another Gulf Shores foodie!
- Sea-n-Suds & Oyster Bar. You don’t even have to leave the beach to grab a cold brew and some local seafood at Sea-n-Suds. It’s been a Gulf Shores beach tradition for more than 45 years.
- Tacky Jacks. (Several Locations) You are getting the Bushwacker with apps and a beautiful view according to our Facebook friends. We hit Tacky Jack’s for breakfast at the Fort Morgan location. Ask the server for a piece of tape to leave your mark at this iconic restaurant. Try the Firecracker Shrimp Po Boy…YUM.
- Bahama Bob’s Beachside Cafe. A little seafood shack on the water. Get your Caribbean on here.
- Pink Pony World Famous Beach Bar. The Pink Pony in Atlanta means something totally different and I almost left this off because of that, but apparently the highlight of this late-night party spot is karaoke.
- Hope’s Cheesecake. Cheesecake by the slice or whole. Eat in for amazing views.
- Fish River Grill. Want to eat where the locals hang out? Make sure to grab some Gator Bites or a large bowl of Swamp Soup!
- DeSoto’s Seafood Kitchen. Local seafood in a family-friendly atmosphere. This Gulf Shores restaurant is locally owned and operated and they’ve been voted best lunch and dinner 14 years in a row!
- Mikee’s Seafood Restaurant. This locally owned Gulf Shores restaurant isn’t fancy, but is worth a visit. They serve a wide variety of seafood and a bit of beef, chicken and pasta too.
- Flying Harpoon. The roast beef po’boy is HUGE, so plan to split it with a friend. Good fried shrimp and handmade potato chips.
- The Royal Oyster Bar. The Royal Oyster Bar has every type of oyster you’re looking for. Raw oysters, roasted oysters, a flight of oysters, small plates, and large plates — this place has it all.
- Sunliner Diner. The Sunliner Diner is a good choice with solid food and a pretty impressive dessert menu that includes those over-the-top milkshakes the Alabama Coast is known for. Ask if you can sit in the convertible car booth.
Read More: Gulf Shores Restaurants You Need To Try
Local Favorite Restaurants In Orange Beach AL
- Doc’s Seafood Shack and Oyster Bar. Laid-back atmosphere and great seafood. Check out their seafood gumbo, fried shrimp, and fresh seafood platters.
- Gulf Shore Steamer. On your way toward FL on the left before the bridge (you can’t miss the big silver fish statue) is Gulf Shore Steamer where they serve broiled and grilled catches. The Royal Reds are yummy. Hand-cut steak and fresh fish are on the menu as well.
- Louisiana Lagniappe. This Orange Beach restaurant is a little bit of New Orleans on the coast.
- Playa. Conch fritters, grilled swordfish, steak tacos. You can’t go wrong here.
- Luna’s Eat & Drink. One of the largest offerings of craft beer on the island, plus fresh seafood and simple ingredients.
- GT’s on the Bay. The tip we received – the food is fabulous, and so are drinks. GT’s has Bayside dining and a menu that includes seafood, as well as stone hearth pizza. There is even a large fish pond to keep the kids entertained.
- Ginny Lane Bar and Grill. This waterfront restaurant is decorated with amazing artwork, and has an awesome Sunday brunch.
- Big Fish Restaurant. With a name like Big Fish, you know they’ve got great seafood. Enjoy the best atmosphere on the Gulf Coast with delicious seafood and an awesome bar. Closed Sundays.
- Cobalt the Restaurant. Go by land or go by sea, just make sure you go. In addition to the recommendations for the food, our sources like this Orange Beach restaurant for its expansive deck.
- Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina. Here you’ll find two distinct dining experiences in one spot — a relaxed vibe in the open-air Dockside part, and fine dining upstairs. Each section has its own menu — and both are amazing.
- Lamberts. (Foley) Stay alert when eating at this comfort food establishment. They throw the rolls. Yes, the waiters chuck the rolls across the dining room to your waiting hand.
Looking for a unique Orange Beach foodie experience on the water? Try the Bushwacker/Restaurant Tour! This tour focuses on everything bushwacker, a cocktail invented in the Virgin Islands in 1975 that is similar to a creamy, chocolate piña colada. On this tour, explore the peaceful and meandering waterways of Orange Beach, Alabama as you visit multiple locations to try out this signature drink and various food specials. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the beauty of Alabama’s Gulf Coast with this Private Bushwacker and Restaurant Cruise. Book yours today!
365 Atlanta Traveler Picks For The First-Time Visitor
We at 365 Atlanta Traveler have only skimmed the surface of the best restaurants in Gulf Shores AL and the best restaurants in Orange Beach, AL. However, based on our experience, here are our picks (subject to change with future visits) of 11 must-visit eateries on the gorgeous white sands of the Gulf, plus a foodie festival you MUST add to your bucket list!
Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s (Gulf Shores)
LuLu’s Gulf Shores totally lives up to they hype. Not only is the food amazing, but the atmosphere cannot be beat.
You’ll find plenty of things to do here, like games outside (like rings and cornhole,) a gift shop, photo ops, spike ball and plenty of space to roam with a drink. We also enjoyed live music on our visit (the band was super)!
Start with the smoked tuna dip, served with crackers. It’s delicious. Kid’s meals are only $8 – both boys went for the burger and give it a thumbs up when paired with the fries. Fish, chicken, and other options are also available.
I picked the shrimp and grits – two servers told me it was their favorite selection, and now I know why! Besides the shrimp, this dish includes bites of andouille sausage with a tasso ham gravy served over gouda grits. YUM!
For those who aren’t aware, Lucy (aka LuLu) is Jimmy Buffet’s sister…so we couldn’t visit without having a margarita!! I highly recommend a stop here when you visit Orange Beach. I’m so glad we did it!
Flora-Bama Lounge & Oyster Bar (Pensacola)
Flora Bama is technically a restaurant near Orange Beach, but it’s an institution, so I included it. Everyone has to go at least once (or if you are with my husband, numerous times).
Listen to bands. Watch people play volleyball on the beach. Enjoy the famous Bushwacker. (You’ll see those a lot at ALL the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores restaurants.) And just so you know what you’re getting into, the place looks like it’s held together with plywood and duct tape. Before 9 p.m. you’ll see lots of kids in here too.
The Gulf (Orange Beach)
The Gulf is another great place to hang out, but it couldn’t be more different than the Flora Bama. There are two kitchens on either side of this quick serve Orange Beach restaurant made from shipping containers.
One is a taco bar, the other offers chef selections. There is a cute shop and two bars in-between. But the real star of the show is the dining room, which is completely outside on the beach. Kids and adults never tire of seeing the boats coming through the channel.
365 Atlanta Traveler Picks For The Campion Breakfast Lover
The Ruby Slipper Cafe (Orange Beach)
The Ruby Slipper Cafe is known for its amazing breakfasts and brunches. This restaurant hails from NOLA and you can tell that in the menu…there’s a bit of Creole in almost every selection.
There are plenty of things to grab from this breakfast menu — The Costa Rican (black beans & rice over a tomato salsa, two eggs and spicy chorizo sausage) or the Bananas Foster, maybe the Louisiana omelet or a Creole Reuben…but for me, the piece la resistance were the Benedicts.
There are nine Benedicts to choose from, featuring shrimp, pork, corned beef, chicken, salmon…but if you’re indecisive like us, then get the Peacemaker. It allows you to mix and match two of any of the selections.
The Bloody Mary here was the best one I found on our visit. Maybe it was their award-winning mix, or maybe it was the bacon-infused vodka. Either way, I will return to The Ruby Slipper again and again.
Oh! And bring the kids. Our little ones adored the Cinnamon Sugar French Toast Batons, which were stacked like Jenga pieces high on their plate!
Gulf Coast Journeys named this place a “best breakfast” in Orange Beach… come see what they named as the best breakfasts in Gulf Shores!
The Southern Grind at The Wharf (Orange Beach)
The Southern Grind at The Wharf is a funky coffee shop that has two locations in Orange Beach, one located in The Wharf and the other in the Hotel Indigo.
I ordered a standard breakfast biscuit with fluffy eggs, crispy bacon, smothered in cheese on a true southern biscuit at The Wharf location. Delicious!
My friend ordered a breakfast that’s perfect for vacation — a Belgian waffle with strawberries & cream.
City Donut (Orange Beach)
Looking for something quick? Try City Donut for both over-the-top and standard yeast and cake donuts. Go early though, there are no pre-made donuts here. They’re all are baked fresh each morning, and when they’re gone, they’re gone!
365 Atlanta Traveler Pics For The Most Romantic Date Night
Voyagers at Perdido Beach Resort (Orange Beach)
We ditched the kids one night to enjoy some time alone, with a date night dinner at this romantic escape within the Perdido Beach Resort. No, we weren’t staying here…that isn’t necessary for a visit to Voyagers.
Be sure to make a reservation and plan for an unhurried, two-hour culinary vacation. This quiet retreat tucked in a popular beach resort can ‘sit at the table’ with James Beard award-winning restaurants in any large city. The food was top-notch; the service was high class; the wine list selection was impeccable, and the view was gorgeous.
Main selections include meats, chicken and seafood. I couldn’t be at the beach without taking advantage of the seafood, so I selected the swordfish, which was caramelized with root veggies and sitting on a beautiful wedge of ham and polenta gratin. It was so rich and juicy…so delicious.
And don’t skip dessert. You’ll be full — it’s a ton of amazing food — but take a moment, enjoy a cup of coffee, and then order that dessert.
When your coffee is gone and you’ve eaten the last bite of chocolate, don’t miss the opportunity to pop out onto the beach and enjoy the full moon over the Gulf.
365 Atlanta Traveler Picks For The Bloody Mary Connoisseur
Brick & Spoon (Orange Beach)
I knew I was going to like Brick & Spoon when I pulled up and the sign read, “Bloody Mary. Because adulting is hard.”
Then inside, when the waitress handed me a Build Your Own Bloody Mary Menu…well, that’s when I fell in love. Pick your vodka, pick the heat level, add veggies, meats, and all the garnishments your heart desires.
As for the food…also great. I enjoyed my American Breakfast with eggs, bacon, etc…but I coveted hubby’s selection. He picked the Breakfast Taco, and wow, I still have dreams about those!
You’ll notice a nod to New Orleans here, much like The Red Slipper, so it was no surprise to see beignets on the menu…something my boys noticed immediately. And devoured!
365 Atlanta Traveler Picks For Those With A Sweet Tooth
The Yard Milkshake Bar (Gulf Shores)
Let’s start with the need-to-know about The Yard Milkshake Bar. You’re going to have to stand in line for a while…and then wait for your dessert for a while…even in the off-season.
It will be worth every minute.
When you do finally make it near the front of the line, you’ll mark your order on a menu using a wax pencil…picking your ice cream flavors, toppings, cookie dough selections, and more. Or you can do what we did and pick a pre-compiled selection.
We opted for the Caramel Cheesecake Cookie Monster. It’s Salted Caramel ice cream topped with whipped cream, a slice of New York Cheesecake and caramel drizzle. Oh – plus there is a chocolate icing dipped along the top of the souvenir jar that you get to bring home with you.
One hour in line…15 minutes for four of us to guzzle this masterpiece.
And yes, I’d do it again.
365 Atlanta Traveler Picks For The Food Festival Fanatic
Oyster Cook-Off at The Hangout (Gulf Shores)
The Hangout Oyster Cook-Off & Craft Beer Weekend is an annual festival that allows chefs from around the Southeast to show off their talents with oysters and Bloody Marys.
Chefs compete for the best recipes in the categories of Rockefeller, Gulf Coast Cajun, and Raw Oysters…and the best part? We were able to sample everything! Tasting tickets were $1 each, and a single ticket allowed you to sample the oysters, organized in booths outside of The Hangout. There are cheap and free things to do!
We didn’t make it to Friday night’s festivities, which also included dozens of micro-brews, with unlimited tastings and live music. But we DID enjoy sampling wares from the Bloody Mary Invitational. WOW!!
There was also a raw bar, a shucking contest, and plenty of other food and fun happening inside The Hangout. We also really enjoyed the Cooking Demos from famous local and TV chefs.
My friend Tamara has a few more ideas: check them out here.
GULF SHORES RESTAURANTS (printable)
Download this 1-page checklist of Gulf Shores Restaurants to print at home or your local print shop. Perfect to keep in a binder, bring on your adventure or just put on the refrigerator!
(PS. Some of this list is detailed in our article, 37 Most Loved Orange Beach & Gulf Shores Restaurants (+ Our Favorites).)
Format: PDF, US Letter Size, Portrait (8.5”x11”)
You will receive one PDF file. File will be emailed and available for download up to three times upon payment. No physical item will be shipped.
Gulf Shores Restaurants FAQ
What food is Gulf Shores and Orange Beach known for?
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach in Alabama are best known for their amazing seafood! Grilled shrimp, fresh fish, and southern favorites are all popular in the area.
Can you swim in the ocean at Gulf Shores?
You can absolutely swim in the ocean at Gulf Shores. Many public beaches in the area have lifeguards in the summer months.
Is Gulf Shores worth a visit?
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are definitely worth a visit! You’ll find so many great things to do here including water activities, family-friendly adventures, and of course…amazing restaurants!
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO ALABAMA
- YOUR ALABAMA VACATION
- SPECTRUM: Spectrum Beach Club: The Best Gulf Shores Beach Rental Option for Families (2023)
- DOLPHINS: Dolphin Cruise Gulf Shores: 17+ Amazing Tours You’ll Love
- ORANGE BEACH: 31+ Things To Do in Orange Beach Alabama Locals Love
- OB ITINERARY: An Orange Beach Itinerary (With Help From Spectrum Resorts)
- SPECTRUM RESORTS: Spectrum Resorts: 7 Undeniable Reasons This Is the Perfect Multi-Family Solution
Where To Stay In Orange Beach & Gulf Shores
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