If I’m in The South, I’m eating like a local. So, I want to know where the residents like to eat and what the dining hot spots are. On a recent three-day visit, I tried a little bit of everything and came away with a feel of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores hot spots. From diners with a cool vibe to coffee spots to seafood restaurants, here’s where to eat in Orange Beach & Gulf Shores.
Disclosure: I was graciously hosted by the folks at Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism. All opinions are my own!
Believe it or not, Gulf Shores & Orange Beach is just under a two-hour drive from Biloxi, MS. And, while I’m giving road trip ideas, it’s only an hour from Mobile, AL, too. So, between the two larger cities (or even if you’re from the north near Pittsburgh like I am), the beauty of the area is worth a visit. I saw gorgeous sunrises and sunsets (I actually chased a few for photos!), and the folks are welcoming and full of life. So, apart from all of the fun, where should you eat when you visit Orange Beach & Gulf Shores? Here are 10 spots that I wholeheartedly give two thumbs up to.
1. Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s
With a Margaritaville-style vibe, LuLu’s is a spot where the locals go to have fun. Yes, the food is very good (the Fried Green tomatoes are amazing!) and the restaurant itself super laid back, there’s so much more to LuLu’s than just its food and beach-themed specialty drinks. And if you can’t find something on the regular menu, or have dietary restrictions, ask to see the Allergy Menu for alternate meals.
Before or after your meal, head to the Mountain of Youth Ropes Course. It’s a three-story walking, climbing, and balancing course built with fun and safety in mind.
2. Big Fish
Say you want to get out of your beach clothes and head out for a nice dinner. Big Fish in Gulf Shores is my top pick Sure, with the name Big Fish, its seafood menu is extensive, but you can also find really good pasta (my pick is the Fettuccine Alfredo) as well. If you’re an early bird kind of diner, ask to see the specials with outstanding prices.
3. The Southern Grind Coffee House
During our visit to Orange Beach, I visited The Southern Grind easily three or four times. As we were staying at Hotel Indigo, the coffee house is literally connected to the property so it was a no brainer. But, little did I know on my first visit that I’d be jonesing for its coffee drinks every day.
My picks are the White Mocha Iced Latte and a muffin for breakfast. If you want something a little heartier, the shop has a good sandwich menu and other desserts to choose.
4. Hazel’s Nook
Hazel’s is THE breakfast spot, especially on the weekends. It’s breakfast buffet, including an omelette bar, is massive and prices are affordable. If I may make a suggestion, it gets super busy so try to dine during off-peak hours.
5. The Whacked Out Wiener of Gulf Shores
Once you get past the silly name and stop giggling, The Whacked Out Wiener is actually a really good place to eat. Kids meal prices start at under $5 (adults around $7) and specialty dogs are not only delicious, the names are creative, too. My pick is the Wacky Macky with mac and cheese and bacon.
Side note: if you’re like I am and don’t eat beef, ask for a pork sausage dog instead.
6. City Donut
The last place we ate at on our trip, City Donut is definitely worth the trip. Whether it’s traditional glazed or filled with lemon or custard, we tried four for breakfast. Also, we were told to go early as they do sell out – that’s a true testament to their deliciousness.
7. Sunliner Diner
If you dig old school dining, Sunliner Diner is my pick. An actual 50’s-style diner, the theming is downright cool. Meals are affordable and include traditional diner food, giant milkshakes, and banana splits. If you’re trying to cut back on beef, ask for a meatless burger, it’s very good.
8. Matt’s Ice Cream
Ice cream is my favorite food, so there was no way I wasn’t stopping at Matt’s.Featuring homemade ice cream, sundaes, and banana splits, the servings are VERY generous, so don’t fret about sharing a single scoop.
9. Hog Wild BBQ
I love it when I have my choice of BBQ sauces, so I can pick a couple to see which I like best. At hog Wild, they have a station of sauces to choose from, all hand-crafted. The pork and chicken sliders are really good, as is the mac and cheese, and the meals are hearty and well-priced. If you like French fries, ask for a side of the House fries tossed in its House rub.
10. Safari Club at Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
Safari Club at Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo is a hidden gem. Far more upscale (but still casual) than the rest of the zoo-s dining options, it offers super creative menu items with a fun atmosphere. The first certified green restaurant in the state of Alabama, it has seafood, wood-fired pizza, and soup/sandwich combos. During my visit, I had a huge Vietnamese Chicken Bahn Mi sandwich and a side of soup – so delicious!
Thanks again to the folks at Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism!
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