11 Best Places to Eat in Gulf Shores, Alabama

Food & Drink

The Gulf Shores, Alabama foodie scene includes fresh Gulf Coast seafood—shrimp, oysters, and crab. Combine the seafood ingredients with southern specialties like grits and pimento cheese, and you’ll find some of the best places to eat fresh seafood in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Add in farm-to-table sustainable ingredients, and the restaurants are unforgettable. With stunning sunset views over the waterfront, and you’ll be looking forward to returning for that next Alabama Gulf Coast gourmand experience.

While many beachfront vacation rentals have gourmet kitchens, you won’t want to miss the area’s best local restaurants. Here is my list of restaurants with 11 top picks, listed alphabetically to sample the best food in the area. Since Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are close, some of the local restaurants mentioned in this post may technically be in Orange Beach.

Thank you to Visit Gulf Shores & Orange Beach for hosting some of these gourmand experiences.

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Avenue Pub

Located on Terry Cove, Avenue Pub is one of the best places to eat in Gulf Shores, Alabama, for the stunning views across the cove. Add a taste far from typical pub food, and you’ll be glad you visited. The smoked tuna dip on offer was delicious for those looking for seafood. The dip started with house-smoked gulf tuna in a mixture of cream cheese—the chef mixed in some red onions, lime juice, and garlic. Then, they served the dish with warm pita chips. For the landlubbers, try the pork ribeye sandwich, a grilled marinated pork cutlet with a parmesan cream sauce, and Picante for a bit of zip. They serve it with red onion, mixed greens, and mayo.

Pastry at BuzzCatz
Pop Tart-Like Pastry at BuzzCatz

BuzzCatz

Whether you need some caffeine to kick off your day, breakfast is on your mind, or you want a snack, one of the local coffee shops is just what you need. BuzzCatz will take care of that need for caffeine. In addition to the coffee, the house-made pastries, like pop tarts, are among the star attractions. Late in the day, they offer happy hour pricing on baked goods. This is a favorite place of mine for hanging out and getting some writing done. The brightly colored atmosphere is vibrant and stimulating. 

Catfish at Cosmos
Catfish at Cosmos

Cosmos

My shuttle driver recommended Cosmos. He assured me this was a local favorite for a special meal. Since I received the best restaurant recommendations from drivers, I had to go. For lunch at Cosmos, I had the citrus-marinated Gulf shrimp skewered and grilled. They served them over Parmesan risotto and drizzled with Creole tomato sauce for a satisfying lunch.

For those allergic to shrimp, at Cosmos, you can also get that same firecracker sauce served on the firecracker shrimp on a chicken wrap. The sandwich consists of fried chicken tenders tossed in the firecracker sauce, then topped with tomato, lettuce, and provolone cheese wrapped in an herb and garlic tortilla.

Cosmos features mouthwatering crab and catfish. For our appetizer, we chose the blue crab, apple smoked bacon, spinach, and Parmesan cheese blended with cream cheese and eggs and baked, served with Meunière sauce. 

The menu featured a baked andouille-crusted Alabama farm-raised catfish filet topped with Meunière sauce and served with crushed Yukon gold potatoes and a vegetable medley. The catfish were beautifully prepared to a golden brown. 

The cheese dip at Cosmos featured locally made Sweet Home Farm Elberta Cheese. The dip is a silky blend of Parmesan and Swiss; the chef tops it with crumbled feta and a slightly sweet roasted tomato relish. The dippers were house-baked pita chips. Sweet Home Farm Elberta Cheese is a natural hand-made cow’s milk cheese where the cows are pasture-raised.

At Cosmos, enjoy the filet of yellowfin tuna coated with sesame seeds and then seared. They serve it over a bed of house greens tossed with sun-dried cranberries and toasted sunflower seeds, topped with crispy noodles, and dressed in a ginger soy vinaigrette.

Key limes are a Gulf Coast favorite. So much so that they even have a Key Lime Pie Trail. Cosmos offers a traditional pie with real key lime juice. They serve the pastry with strawberry coulis and whipped cream. The pie makes it one of the best places to eat in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

The Hangout is one of the best places to eat in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The Pez Sign is just one of the eye-catching collections here.
The Hangout – Pez Sign

Hangout Gulf Shores

Sometimes, you want to get together with friends and hang out. And the Hangout is the perfect place to do that. With various collections to look at, from Pez dispensers and rubber duckies to lunch boxes, you won’t need your phone. Frozen drinks spin in the machines along the back wall, just waiting for you. I went at lunchtime, and to accompany those icy concoctions, the menu featured shrimp or fresh catch Po’Boys, burgers, and even a seafood boil. 

At the Hangout, they make their tuna dip from smoked Gulf-caught fish and serve it with carrots, celery, and crispy tortilla chips. 

Their family-friendly atmosphere features live music and outdoor games.

Shrimp and Grits at LuLu's
Shrimp and Grits at LuLu’s

LuLu’s Gulf Shores

Even if you’re not a Jimmy Buffett fan, check out his sister, Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s. You’ll find all the southern specialties you’re searching for, like pimento cheese and fried green tomatoes, along with the choice of fresh Gulf Coast seafood. Foodies will want to visit the gift shop to purchase one of Lucy’s cookbooks to replicate that “to die for” recipe at home.

LuLu’s has a wide variety of allergy-friendly dishes. They require a manager to take the order from those with allergies.

LuLu's Smoked Tuna Dip
LuLu’s Smoked Tuna Dip

Smoked Tuna Dip is a popular appetizer at many of the local restaurants. At LuLu’s, they serve the dip with fresh fried tortilla chips. 

I tried the grits in several area restaurants, and a favorite at LuLu’s is the shrimp and grits. They start the dish by combining shrimp and Andouille sausage in a Tasso ham and tomato cream sauce, and then they serve it on top of Gouda grits.

Lulu’s offers quesadillas with a choice of protein, either grilled chicken, shrimp, or BBQ pork. They add some sautéed peppers and onions, melt in jack, and cheddar cheese, and dip it in some of LuLu’s Sassy Salsa. 

Bread Pudding is another Gulf Shores’ top pick off the dessert menu. The dessert is so popular on the island they even have a Bread Pudding Trail. Lulu’s is a great spot to order this fan-favorite dessert. They make the Hot Fun Krispy Kreme bread pudding with delicious Krispy Kreme donuts and a vanilla custard sauce. Add a scoop of ice cream to make this dessert even more delicious.

While dining, you can enjoy their live music and catch a Jimmy Buffett tune. 

Original Oyster House

With a hint of the Gulf’s briny taste of fresh fish, the subtle aroma reminds you it is all about the oysters — raw, roasted, or Rockefeller. The presentation was stunning, and you could have them in any style. Gulf Shores has a whole Oyster Trail, where you can try all varieties of everything oyster.

Southern Grind Coffee House

Southern Grind Coffee House serves more than coffee. You can accompany that coffee with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you’ve already eaten at the beach, you can enjoy a cup of Joe with your dessert.

Firecracker Shrimp at Tacky Jack's
Firecracker Shrimp at Tacky Jacks

Tacky Jacks

Once I hit Gulf Shores, Royal Reds was the first thing I ordered. I’d never heard of them before, but my dinner companion said they were special in Alabama, so I had to try them.

So, what’s so special? They taste like a combination of lobster and scallops.

Royal Reds at Tacky Jack's
Royal Reds at Tacky Jacks

Tacky Jacks serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a view. My meal at Tacky Jacks featured the Royal Reds. Be prepared to peel and de-vein them at the table. This makes for more work, but the added flavor of being cooked with the shells makes it worthwhile.

Tacky Jacks also offers these tasty morsels on their appetizer menu, lightly breaded and tossed in an Asian chili sauce. Alternatively, at Cosmos, they feature their Firecracker Shrimp as lightly dusted bay shrimp fried and tossed in spicy remoulade sauce. Either way, the firecracker refers to the tangy sauce they toss with the fried shrimp.

In addition to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, you’ll find a Tacky Jacks location in Fort Morgan.

Oysters at Voyagers
Oysters at Voyagers

Voyagers

One of the best Gulf Shores restaurants is Voyagers. The venue has a celebratory fine-dining atmosphere, panoramic Gulf-front views, and an award-winning wine list. While a few restaurant menus are missing oysters, the fresh oysters are a Gulf Coast gem. One of my favorite versions was at Voyagers. 

Surf and turf are the show’s stars, with authentic Gulf seafood and a dry-aged steak selection. At Voyagers, the chef takes traditional dishes and adds a twist. I’ve had gnocchi before, but never purple sweet potato gnocchi. Carpaccio, sure, but never ostrich carpaccio. Yet you’ll find comforting old favorites, like the 35-day dry-aged steaks. The surf and turf make it one of the best places to eat in Gulf Shores.

To quote “Top-Chef All-Stars” winner Chef Richard Blais on Food Network, “When in doubt, boys and girls, put a quail egg on it. It automatically makes it fancy.” As is the Caesar Salad at Voyager’s. The chef took an ordinary salad with two quail eggs and made it upscale. 

Here are some suggestions on 7 Ways to Pack More Relaxing Travel in Your Overscheduled Life.

Woodside Restaurant

Woodside Restaurant, located at Gulf State Park, is the perfect place to start your day before exploring the park. Farm-to-table ingredients like hand-picked berries and local honey add freshness to the dishes. They also make a great place to stop for lunch or end your day. They also have a fantastic outdoor area with a fire pit where you can roast the marshmallows that accompany the free s’mores. 

I realize that not everyone loves seafood as much as I do. And while I’ve given the sea’s bounty a lot of attention in this article, another option on Gulf Shores’ menus is the Wagu beef. 

One of the best places to eat in Gulf Shores, an ice cream sundae at the Yard
Over-the-Top Ice Cream Sundae at the Yard

Yard Milkshake Bar

After a day at the beach, you’ll want ice cream at The Yard Milkshake Bar. Their extravagant milkshakes and sundaes highlight toppings from a bakery, like cookies and brownies. They pile on several baked items, not just one, for an over-the-top experience. When you’ve consumed as much as possible, scrub your jar at the washing station and take it home as a Gulf Shores area souvenir. The whole family will enjoy these over-the-top ice cream treats. The Yard Milkshake Bar also offers key lime pie ice cream.

What’s your favorite place to eat in Gulf Shores? Let me know in the comments below.

Pin this to your favorite seafood board!

This is a Pinterest Graphic about the best places to eat in Gulf Shores
A Gourmand’s Guide to Gulf Shores: A to Z
Piper
Piper

While Piper is a lifelong Michigander, she’s had adventures worldwide. Bomb-sniffing dogs chased her in the middle of the night in Bogota (working late), gate agents refused her boarding to Paraguay (wrong visa), and US Marshals announced her seat number on a plane while looking for a murder suspect (she’d traded seats). It’s always an adventure! She even finds exciting activities in her home state of Michigan, where she lives in Lansing with her husband, Ross Dingman, her daughter, Alexis, and two granddaughters.

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16 Comments

  1. Darla

    That’s it! I’m getting myself to gulf shores, and I’ll be hungry!

    Reply
    • Piper

      And you will have a delicious time!

      Reply
      • KE

        The original Sassy Bass near Fort Motgan is the BEST place to eat in Gulf Shores. We never miss it while visiting the area!

        Reply
    • Leah

      We just got back & we loved the Hangout & Lulu’s plus Steamers! I love seafood anyway you cook it!

      Reply
  2. Jett Farrell-Vega

    i love the way you formatted this. Very well done. Looking forward to reading more in the future .

    Reply
    • Piper

      Thank you Jett. I look forward to you reading more blog posts in the future.

      Reply
  3. Susan

    Clever approach for a foodie article.

    Reply
  4. Ivan Kralj

    That looks like a very delicious Alphabet!

    Reply
  5. bye:myself

    This is an incredible list – and i would work it from a to z! The Firecracker Shrimps look great. my favorite decoration, however, would be the pez sign – such an ingenious idea! I loved those pez thingies although i strongly disliked the candies 🙂 😉

    Reply
    • Piper

      They had so much to look at there. They also had a collection of rubber duckies and school lunch boxes.

      Reply
  6. Mayi

    Love this! All these seafood dishes are making me hungry. I have never been to the Gulf Coast, nor ALABAMA, but I love the food.

    Reply
    • Piper

      This was my first time to Alabama too, but it won’t be my last! I loved it!

      Reply
  7. Laurel

    I grew up in alabama, so we went many beach vacations in gulf shores, but there are some places on this list i have not tried (and then of course the can’t misses). We are going back in May, so we will have to check some of these out!

    Reply
  8. Lori

    LOve this post Amy! So many great food options In gUlf shores. Im rea to go back!

    Reply
  9. Stephanie

    Absolutely love this guide! I keep hearing about gulf shores, but no one can give me a bunch of stuff at once to do because there is so much. This guide helps out a lot. I will be bookmarking this.

    Reply
    • Piper

      I am so happy you find it helpful!

      Reply

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Welcome to Follow the Piper! Discover interesting destinations, and practical planning tips for packing more travel into your everyday life.

Our founder and author, Amy Piper, is a freelance travel writer, blogger, photographer, and author specializing in luxury and multi-generational travel. She is a native Michigander who travels through the lens of a food lover and has been to 41 countries and 45 states.

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