13 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, you’ll look 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 best restaurants with 13 top picks, listed alphabetically to sample the best food in the area. Since Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are close, some local restaurants mentioned in this post may technically be in the Orange Beach area.

Thank you to Visit Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Alabama, 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. They make every item in-house, by hand, fresh daily. They obtain many of the ingredients from local purveyors.

The Atmosphere

While they have a small inside seating area, the prime spots are outdoors on one of the two-story decks. With stunning views of the cove and an ocean breeze, Avenue Pub is great for warm-weather outdoor dining.

The Menu

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


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.

The Atmosphere

The dining room features vibrant colors and graphic art for an upbeat dining environment.

The Menu

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. BuzzCatz 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


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.

The Atmosphere

You’ll find another vibrant dining room at Cosmos. Graphic art makes for a fun, casual place to dine.

The Menu

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 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.

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.

DeSoto's Seafood Entrance
DeSoto’s Seafood

DeSoto’s Seafood Kitchen

With special menus for kids and seniors, the award-winning DeSoto’s Seafood Kitchen is the perfect spot for a multi-generational family meal. They’ve received the People’s Choice Award for Best Lunch and Best Dinner 15 years in a row, so that says something about consistency. And while talking about family, Rosemary Steele and her Chris have been cooking fresh home meals from scratch every day since 2000.

The Atmosphere

Located one block north of the Gulf of Mexico, the twinkle-light-enrobed tree invites you in while the bright blue walls create a cheerful atmosphere. They’ve won the People’s Choice award for the friendliest staff at least five times, and you know your family will feel welcome here. You’ll find outside dining available during the warmer weather. As the awards indicate, it is one of the best seafood restaurants in Gulf Shores.

The Pecan-Encrusted fresh catch with sweet potato casserole and rice
Pecan-Encrusted Trigger Fish at DeSoto’s

The Menu

First, a breadbasket automatically appears at your table, filled with Bavarian wheat and honey wheat bread with whipped honey butter.

When you think about Gulf Shores dining, you think about Gulf Shrimp, particularly the Royal Reds, a cold-water shrimp with a flavor that resembles lobster. They serve the Royal Reds heads-on, so you’ll have some work to enjoy them, but the added flavor is worth it.

Another house specialty is the coconut shrimp served with an orange marmalade sauce. I ordered the shrimp platter with coconut, fried, and grilled shrimp. They serve the platter with a choice of two sides. Choosing two can be daunting since they offer about a dozen different sides. I chose the rice and coleslaw, but since they serve the grilled shrimp on a bed of rice, you might want to choose their sweet potato casserole for more variety.

A southern favorite is fried green tomatoes; those at DeSoto’s are golden brown and delicious.

DeSoto’s is known for their Pecan Encrusted-style fresh catch, but if you have a nut allergy, they also can prepare it in New Orleans, Mediterranean, or Caribbean style.

They have variety in their choice of desserts, too—bread pudding, brownies, and key lime pie.

Piper’s Pro Planning: They have a Senior Menu for those 55 and over, served during specific hours. The menu offers significant savings. Although it doesn’t combine with their Senior Menu, print the coupon from their website for another way to save.

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.

The Atmosphere

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

The Menu

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. 

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. LuLu’s has a wide variety of allergy-friendly dishes. Managers take orders from those with allergies.

The Atmosphere

LuLu’s has a lot going on, so it feels more than just a dining destination. They have live music, so the environment is upbeat. They have live music, so the environment is upbeat. It’s one of those fun places. Foodies will want to visit the gift shop to purchase one of Lucy’s cookbooks to replicate that “to die for” recipe at home. While dining, you can enjoy their live music and catch a Jimmy Buffett tune. 

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

The Menu

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. Quesadillas are also on offer with a choice of protein—grilled chicken, shrimp, or BBQ pork. Sautéed peppers and onions, melted in jack and cheddar cheese, and dip it in some of LuLu’s Sassy Salsa for a tasty meal.

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 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.

Fresh Oysters at Mile Marker 158 Dockside
Fresh Oysters at Mile Marker 158 Dockside

Mile Marker 158 Dockside

Located at the Wharf next to Springhill Suites, Mile Marker 158 Dockside features a patio overlooking the Wharf’s Marina.

The Atmosphere

The restaurant features casual dining. The views from the deck make it my preferred seating; however, their indoor seating features large windows for a sunny, bright dining room.

The Menu

Fresh oysters on the half shell, loaded tots, and house-made potato chips served with house-made onion dip were all appetizers. I returned for the chips and dip until they were gone.

While I love fish, I’d already had a lot of delicious seafood on this trip, so I tried the shaved ribeye sandwich and wasn’t disappointed. The ciabatta bread sandwich came piled with shaved ribeye done to temperature, then topped with caramelized onions, melted Provolone cheese, and horseradish cream.

The fresh catch of the day, grouper, sported perfectly browned grill marks. Green beans and risotto accompanied the dish.

Piper’s Pro Planning: Every Wednesday is Lasagna Night at Mile Marker 158 Dockside. They offer lasagna, a choice of salads, garlic bread, and a six-ounce glass of wine for one low price.

Original Oyster House

Original Oyster House is the oldest seafood restaurant on the island, nestled in the Original Oyster House Boardwalk, the oldest specialty shopping center in the area. 

The Atmosphere

This family-friendly restaurant is a spot the whole family will enjoy. They have a great kids’ menu and an outdoor playground.

The Menu

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. If you want to try making one of the menu items at home – oyster dishes, desserts, or specialty drinks, they generously offer some of their fan-favorite recipes on their website.

Gulf Shores has a whole Oyster Trail where you can try all varieties of everything oyster.

Triple Key Lime Pie at Perch
Triple Key Lime Pie at Perch


Perch is the resort’s upscale dining venue inside the Lodge, a Hilton Hotel at Gulf Shores State Park. Chef James Balster, a Culinary Institute of American trained chef, leads the kitchen. The chef focuses on sourcing quality ingredients and products from trusted local fishermen, regional farmers, and producers. One example is the hot sauce they serve, which Southern Chili Labs produces. I had the opportunity to see how their hot sauce came together.

He enjoys helping create unforgettable memories by making people happy through his culinary creations. Try one of their daily chef specials to experience his creativity. I dined at a special event through a conference and was impressed at how he served an incredible shrimp boil at a buffet, yet it had it packaged individually.

Balster has several honors, including Forbes’ Recommended Best Chefs and the Distinguished Restaurants of North America Award.

The Atmosphere

The second-floor deck provides a bird’s-eye view of the Gulf of Mexico. You can even eat outside on the cooler evenings as the deck features heaters and a fire pit, where you can lounge and enjoy a cocktail. The sunset views of the sugar-white sand beaches make a great way to unwind after exploring.

The Menu

I must admit I probably over ate at this meal, but the food was worthy of indulgence. I’d just arrived, and after a full day of travel, I was ready to eat some fresh Gulf Shores shrimp. I kicked things off with a citrus-poached shrimp cocktail that included half a dozen shrimp. A Cognac aioli and house-made cocktail sauce for dipping those shrimp accompanied the plate. In addition to the shrimp, the chef added a refreshing watermelon tomato salad.

For my entrée, I had the center-cut filet mignon that sat on a potato puree and grilled asparagus. The chef topped the tender filet with a flavorful Bordelaise sauce. While I ordered a six-ounce filet, the server suggested I butterfly it since I requested a medium well temperature. I was worried when I declined, but I shouldn’t have been. It came out perfectly to temperature. It was so good, and I regretted not ordering the ten-ounce.

Finally, the triple key lime pie upped the ante of key lime flavor. While it featured the typical key lime custard inside a brown sugar graham cracker crust,  the chef added a key lime mousse and Chantilly cream for an added punch of flavor.

Piper’s Pro Planning: While Perch is on the second floor, they have a convenient elevator, so if the stairs are daunting, you’ll still be able to enjoy this restaurant.

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.

The Atmosphere

The coastal theme décor is bright and white with blue and turquoise accents. They adorn the walls with nautical wall hangings. You can enjoy your coffee at a table or relax in one of their living room settings, with comfortable chairs and side tables.

The Menu

Southern Grind Coffee House offers breakfast handhelds, like breakfast burritos. They also provide plates with made-to-order omelets or French toast. Lunch offerings include sandwiches, paninis, and salads. Their dessert menu includes gelato Italian ice cream to round out the meal.

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 unique in Alabama, so I had to try them. So, what’s so special? They taste like a combination of lobster and scallops.

The Atmosphere

Tacky Jacks serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a view.

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

The Menu

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, Cosmos features 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


Located inside the Perdido Beach Resort, Voyagers is one of the best Orange Beach restaurants.

The Atmosphere

The venue has a celebratory fine-dining atmosphere, panoramic Gulf-front views, and an award-winning wine list. 

The Menu

While a few restaurant menus are missing oysters, the fresh oysters are a Gulf Coast gem. One of my favorite versions was 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 made an ordinary salad with two quail eggs 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. 

The Atmosphere

The fantastic outdoor area features a fire pit where you can roast the marshmallows that accompany the free s’mores. 

The Menu

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 Wagyu beef. 

Piper’s Pro Planning: If you’re staying at the Lodge at Gulf Shores State Park, they offer a shuttle service from the hotel to the Woodside Restaurant.

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

Bonus: Yard Milkshake Bar

After a day at the beach, you’ll want ice cream at The Yard Milkshake Bar. They’re a popular place during the summer. 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.

The Atmosphere

An illuminated scripted “The Yard” graphic features predominately on one wall. Another graphic features black cow spots on white, representing dairy cows. You’ll find plenty of bar space to photograph your treat.

The Menu

Yard Milkshake Bar features all types of ice cream desserts. Pint-sized milkshakes and sundaes stand out for their interesting names and the variety of baked goods on top. For example, the Cereal Killer begins with marshmallow ice cream and then drizzles it with red marshmallow cream drizzle. They dip the jar in marshmallow cream and then roll it in Fruity Pebbles. Then it’s topped with a Fruity Pebbles treat, whipped cream, red marshmallow drizzle, and Fruity Pebbles. It is over the top! They also offer a smaller version, cheaper version, in a bowl.

If you’re looking for a simpler version, they offer edible cookie dough and a wide variety of scooped ice cream that you can add toppings. At last count, I came up with 33 flavors. Kids-sized options are also available.

Piper’s Pro Planning: They offer vegan, lactose-free, and gluten-free options for those with special dietary needs.

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

Pin this to your favorite seafood board!

13 Best Places to Eat in Gulf Shores, Alabama Pinterest Pin
13 Best Places to Eat in Gulf Shores, Alabama Pinterest Pin
Amy Piper
Author: Amy 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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  1. Darla

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

    • Piper

      And you will have a delicious time!

      • 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!

    • Leah

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

  2. Jett Farrell-Vega

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

    • Piper

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

  3. Susan

    Clever approach for a foodie article.

  4. Ivan Kralj

    That looks like a very delicious Alphabet!

  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 🙂 😉

    • Piper

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

  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.

    • Piper

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

  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!

  8. Lori

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

  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.

    • Piper

      I am so happy you find it helpful!

  10. Ivan

    That milkshake is truly over the top! At one point, I would go for all such freakshakes I could find on the road, I didn’t know they were still popular. I would have a hard time controlling myself not to order the largest version possible :)))

  11. Heather

    As a native of Alabama, I grew up going to Gulf Shores and was hoping to find my favorite on this list and did. It’s Lulu’s! It’s my family’s favorite. Their food is fantastic and the atmosphere is always a great time!

    • Piper

      I loved Lulu’s too! They have a lot going on there!

  12. Rose

    Don’t forget Jesse’s on the Bay down Fort Morgan! They won best new restaurant in the Best in Baldwin competition by Gulf Coast Media!

    • Piper

      I’ll need to check that one out next time I get down there! It was hard to choose and there are so many restaurants I still need to check out.

  13. Tim Morrow

    Several of these places listed are actually located in Orange Beach, not Gulf Shores. Lulu’s used to be great years ago but us now a tourist trap. Solid list otherwise.


    We needed to stay in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach longer. I missed out.

    • Piper

      What did you miss on my list?


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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 traveling through a food lens 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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