Whether you’re heading to the Alabama Beaches for summer fun or off-season relaxation, there are some Orange Beach and Gulf Shores restaurants that just shouldn’t be skipped. Breakfast? Date Night? Sweet Tooth? Whatever you’re desire, we’ve got you covered.
Here are five must-visit eateries on the gorgeous white sands of the gulf, plus a foodie festival you MUST add to your bucket list!
For The First Time Visitor
LuLu’s Gulf Shores. (Gulf Shores) Let me be honest – I was nervous about going here. I was sure it was just a tourist trap…I mean, every one always mentions it, right? But OMG! It was so fun and amazing – and filled with locals – and offered delicious food. So don’t skip this dining destination. It lives up to the hype.
We visited off-season, so there was not a crowd. We did notice that there were plenty of things to do if you find yourself waiting in line…games outside (like rings and cornhole,) a gift shop, photo ops, spike ball and plenty of space to roam with a drink while you wait for a table.
We also enjoyed live music on our visit. Though we were near the band, the noise level was perfect (and the band was super!)
Start with the smoked tuna dip, served with crackers. It’s delicious.
Kid’s meals are only $6 – 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!
For The Champion Breakfast Lover
The Ruby Slipper. (Orange Beach) The Ruby Slipper is known for their 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 omelette or a Creole Reuben…but for me, the pista la resistance were the Benedicts.
There are six 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.
Pictured above are the Eggs Cochon (Slow-cooked, apple-braised pork) and the Chicken St Charles (Fried chicken breast finished with a pork tasso cream sauce.) Both were mouth-watering, but the crispy crust and juicy cut of the chicken was my favorite. And tasso cream over a poached egg may be my newest vice. WOW!
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!
For The Most Romantic Date Night
Voyagers. (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 were not staying here…that isn’t necessary for a visit.
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 selection was impeccable; and the view was gorgeous.
Start with the oysters…I enjoyed the Rockefellers with Swiss chard, but my favorite were the Bienville, which included shrimp and crab, covered in a savory mornay sauce.
Seafood not your thing? The charcuterie board is also a smart selection, with local cheese and meats. We especially enjoyed the accompanying chutneys and sauces.
Main selections include meats, chicken and seafood. From the red meat category, Hubby went with the Veal Short Rib, which had been braised in red wine for several days. Divine.
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. Imagine spice cake with cafe con leche mousse and spiced caramel. Or bread pudding with caramelized apples and a white chocolate bourbon custard. Mmmmm.
When your coffee is gone and you’ve eaten the last bite of spice cake, don’t miss the opportunity to pop out to the beach and enjoy the full moon over the gulf.
For The Bloody Mary Connoisseur
Brick & Spoon. (Orange Beach) I knew I was going to like this place 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.
And she’s not just a pretty face…that drink was pure joy. Delicious! Best part? This isn’t Georgia, so we enjoyed this beauty on a Sunday morning well before 12:30! There are no Sunday liquor laws here.
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!
The shell isn’t a typical crispy corn wrapper – it’s a light, flaky wonton shell, filled with chorizo eggs and cheddar jack cheese – with a perfect mango salsa. Oh my!
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!
The Yard Milkshake Bar. (Gulf Shores) Let’s start with the need-to-know. 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.
Bring a game for the kids. Maybe a card game or some coloring books. But don’t use that as an excuse not to go.
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.
Shown here is 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.
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.
This year chefs competed 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.
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.
Truth time. This was SUPPOSED to be a date night weekend for me and hubby, but we had some logistical issues at the last minute. It wasn’t really an issue. Kids are free…and while there are no “kid” activities, it’s pretty family friendly. They don’t eat oysters, but they just played a little Pokemon Go and ate gelato while we sampled the good stuff.
My friend Tamara has a few more ideas: check them out here.
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Disclosure: Thank you to #VisitAlabamaBeaches for hosting my family and me on our first visit to the Gulf Shores. All opinions here are our own. We LOVED this area, the food, and the beach…and can’t wait to go back again and again!