Our Restaurant Experiences in
Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Alabama
Quite frankly, there is one kind of seafood that is the specialty of all of the Gulf Shores area---FRIED. If you are several weeks away from your vacation, start now saving up those calories....'cause fried is what they do best down here. And they do fried GREAT. You might even be asked by a waiter..."Would you like fries with those fries?" :o)
There are a few exceptions to fried, and we have ordered all sorts of baked, blackened, grilled, broiled, fish and shrimp, but very few restaurants do those dishes as well as they do FRIED. One problem is that the term 'grilled' seems to mean 'griddle' w/ lots of oil to the cooks here. To us, 'grilled' means, charcoal grilled, open wood fire flame grilled or flame grilled on a actual GRILL...but don't count on that in Gulf Shores. But you can get steamed seafood here at many places. Keep in mind also that things change over time and our comments could be somewhat outdated.
Always ask what the country of origin of any seafood you order.
Wonder why ? See the video further down on this page.The problem is more than cheap prices that hurt the US shrimping/fishing industry.
Imported seafood can be "farm raised" in very scary conditions. Tip: "Whitefish" on the menu is not seafood !
Attention ALL Diners--You must tip your servers--
that is their pay for the evening. If you refuse to tip--eat at home please.
Also, if you use a coupon, you tip on the total as if there was no coupon.
160 Cotton Creek Drive Ste 250
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
In the same shopping center as Publix Grocery and worth a ride up Hwy 59. Aji Sai on Google+
Great place to go for Sushi and the closest thing to Thai or Vietnamese as you will get around here. I think they are also suppose to be sorta a Japanese restaurant. I am sure it is nothing like real Japan. We like their curry dishes alot. You can chose what level of hot-ness you want. Curry doesn't have to be hot to be good but we like a 4 on the scale 1-5. The Tom Yam Soup is GREAT ! I could eat it daily.
In about 5 visits, we have always had good service. Sometimes we go for sushi and a glass of wine before a movie...they are real close to the Cobb movie theater. Then other times we eat until we are about to pop.
Aji Sai also has good ratings from others on UrbanSpoon & Trip Advisor.
Notes from Heather, Lundy's Assistant:
Aji Sai is a welcome addition down here. They are a Pan-Asian Fusion restaurant and offer flavors of Japan, Thailand, India and China. Being a non-seafood eater down here is a bit of a sacrilege to everyone around me and a challenge for me when it comes to ordering at most of the restaurants down here.
That said, everything I have ordered at Aji Sai has been delicous. My first time ordering Curry, I selected Chicken as my meat, Green Curry as the type and heat level of 4 (or Very Spicy). It was VERY spicy. Another time I had ordered a Spicy Mango Chicken and it was soo good. All the veggies and the sweetness of the mango with a bit of heat...just really a great combination. Then they added Spicy Mango to the curry menu. I ordered chicken and a heat level of 3 because I remembered how hot the Green Curry had been. Unfortunately the level 3 Mango Chicken did not have the heat level I desired (This has happened again...next time I will try the 4 for the Mango Chicken). There was a drastic difference in how spicy it was (or wasn't) compared to the level 4. I like spicy food, just not so spicy I can no longer taste the flavors.
Our roving reporter, Ken from Conn. has sent this report:
We planned to dine at Elli Bistro tonight. Upon arriving, we were told that tonight it was a reservation-only wine dinner. Oh well...Aji Sai is nearby.When we went to Aji Sai for lunch last year we were underwhelmed. And customers were pretty scarce, causing us to wonder if they would survive. It was nice to see 6 or 7 tables occupied tonight. We shared a spicy yellowtail roll, which was very satisfactory, and the chicken lettuce wrap. The chicken and diced veggie filling was tasty with a nice texture. We wished they had something besides iceberg lettuce to use as a wrap - we really missed leaf lettuce.
We shared green curry with scallops. I wanted level 3 spice, but Carol thought we should go with a 2 (medium), which we did. I think I was right, but I probably wouldn't have wanted to ascend to level 4. In any case, we were pleased with the dish.We could be persuaded to return. Nice ambiance...except for the oldies music station playing in the background, and good service. 2 apps, one entree and large hot sake came to $34 - good value.
Fine dining in Orange Beach...Located near the junction of Canal Rd and 161 in a small strip shop-center. Good food, good atmosphere. Can't go wrong dining here. They are trying hard. We have had two full meals and appetizers & drinks another occasion. Our first meal was on opening night. Can you imagine ! It was packed but they pulled it off. Our food was fantastic. The service was great. This was the former location of the VIP, a drinks and dance spot. Now the former stage is an open kitchen. It is so small I don't know how they do what they do. But they do it great. Try the appetizer mini-ribs. They are oddly black and surprising.
Big Fish has re-vamped the recipe of the crab fritters and now they are wonderful. Like little crisp balls with creamy crab goo inside. Big Fish is experimenting with bringing in these big up north Yankee oysters that they are all so excited about. You may love them. They have a clean, slightly salty taste. These oysters do not have the creamy/buttery taste of our Gulf oysters. Both are good, just know what you are ordering.
Big Fish has a nice bar and you can get any of the great dishes served to you there. Try one of their killer chocolate martinis !
At lunch they offer a limited menu, not cheap. No rolls no bread no crackers. My gumbo lacked any seafood and had delicious broth base with mostly celery and onions. My cup of gumbo had one little sliver of sausage. The Gazpacho was chilled and wonderful. Big Fish is great about splitting your dish in the kitchen and bringing out 2 nice plates. We had a split Seafood Fried Rice (great) and a Crabcake Salad (great).
On other occasion we have had the VIP hamburger...great w/ the super crispy sweet potato French fries. My cup of la-de-da mushroom bisque was good.
Wintertime $8 dinners are pretty ordinary...but they do have a great hamburger and they do cook it to order correctly. Just skip the fries....limp. I still think crackers and butter are no substitute for a dinner roll.
1154 West Beach Blvd.
Gulf Shores, AL 36535
West Beach Grille
Another great report from our friend, Ken:
Last night we went to West Beach Grille. They opened last year not long before we departed for the northland. The restaurant was very busy for a Monday night: by 6:00 lots of people were waiting to be seated. Can't imagine what it will be like in the summer! It's a busy, friendly, place. Customers spanned the demographics: snowbirds to spring breakers mingled. The bar was very busy. Not the kind of place for a quiet outing!
Their signature item is "shrimp kargot." It consists of a half dozen shrimp in an escargot-type metal crock, each shrimp reposing in a little cheesy-garlicky well. The whole thing is covered with baked mozzarella and is served with a nice, chewy parmesan-sprinkled baguette. Overall, maybe one cheese (parmesan) too many, but the bread went great with the warm mozzarella and garlic sauce. Definitely a keeper. We also had a caesar salad (satisfactory) and a fish and chips platter. The fish was OK, the fries pedestrian. The shrimp kargot was clearly the star of this dinner. When we return, we will go for a couple of apps. They advertise their slider and wings menu, so maybe we will try them along with (definitely) the shrimp kargot.
Niki's Seafood Restaurant
22641 Hwy 180 (Canal Road)
Orange Beach, AL
Almost the first thing you see when you take Canal Road from Gulf Shores towards Orange Beach. Been around for 30 years. Sometimes Niki's would close in winter. Now operated by enthusiastic young folks who --get this--the good news--offer Thai dishes along with the usual fare. We stopped in and were glad we did. Our chicken Pad Thai was delicious and comes with just enough heat to tingle your tongue. It is available as shrimp Pad Thai too. The Tom Yum soup was really great. It too has a bit of heat but you can order it without (but you'll miss out on half the fun) . The Crispy Shrimp Rolls are small egg rolls with shrimp tails peeking out and served with a tangy sauce.
We were told by another customer that the Niki's Special Salad is really good but we have not tried it yet. Will soon. Note:2010-not open for lunch any longer.
Note: Dec. 2010, We went for dinner on a Sat night about 8:30. We were the only people in there. How can they stay in biz ? The Thai dishes seemed limited. Zero atmosphere, only a TV playing and waiter watching it. My spicy shrimp salad was good and plenty hot & vinegar-y like I like it. .
An Update, Feb 2012 from reporter Ken from Conn. : We went on a Friday evening. Only a couple of tables occupied at first, but a few large-ish groups arrived later. At that point we noted that it could become a bit noisy if it fills up. As you noted, the TV was playing, as a waiter watched. Nevertheless, service was satisfactory.
The main reason I wanted to go to Niki's was because they had broiled whole stuffed flounder on their menu. I like a whole flounder much more than a stuffed filet. The flounder was perfectly cooked: it came off the bones readily but was not mushy. Stuffing mostly consisted of finely ground crab and was OK. Pretty good at $15.95. Carol had a fried combo: shrimp, oysters, scallops, stuffed crab and a piece of white fish. It came with hush puppies, new potatoes and a cup of gumbo. A pretty good bargain...we took enough home for a sandwich the next day.
We got a house salad with our dinners...very pedestrian.
The menu makes no mention of Thai food, but Pad Thai was listed on a chalkboard, so I assume it's available.
Niki's is a nice place that seems to do a good job of frying or broiling. Having fulfilled my craving for stuffed flounder, however, I don't feel any need to return. For a while.
May be closed seasonally...drove by last night, looked closed.
These folks sure know how to do some good fryin'. The menu is ole Gulf Shores/Orange Beach fav's, mostly fried, and it was good. The wait staff was hard working and efficient.
One of us had a plate of the fried oysters and thought maybe it was the best fried oysters ever.
I had the Doc's Shrimp Salad w/Grilled Shrimp and it was really good too.
This is a place for tourists, it is close to the beach and it is not a 'fine dining' experience. I don't think anyone expects it to be with the name "Shack" ...we have not tried the Orange Beach, Canal Rd. location in about 25 years. It has long served some kind of seafood buffet, I think we took the kids there once for that 25 yrs ago. We all know what to expect from buffets :o(
You get what you pay for...
Go to Doc's for stuff like PoBoys, Fried Shrimp, Fried Oysters, etc..and you won't be disappointed. Just don't expect fancy-pancy food. The sides include what appeared to be small chunks of previously frozen corn on the cob.
This place has a high "fried quotient" and high "high-chair" quotient but is a family fav from way back...
A second visit we were served the worst excuse for Hollandase Sauce ever. Food was mediocre at best and we will probably not return.
15849 Fort Morgan Road
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
(Next to Chevron)
Good Food, Nice Atmosphere...
This location on Fort Morgan Rd has been numerous restaurants in last few years but now Oceans has arrived and it is miles above all other attempts in this spot. The new owners have past restaurant experience on Ft. Morgan, they own a pizza place way down near the end, and the wife was restaurant manager for 3 years at the Ocean's location. Ocean's has a sprightly all new interior. The menu has dinner entrees ranging from $11.99 to $38.99 for a surf and turf dish. We tried the Shrimp and Scallops Skewers which came with incredibly delicious pecan topped mashed sweet potatoes and perfectly prepared squash and broccoli.
The "Blackened Snapper Laffite" is a nod to Sun Place Else which occupied the location a while back. This fish fillet covered in a shrimp, onion, pepper cream sauce was always a favorite. It was as good as ever. We hope that they revive the cole slaw and tartar sauce recipes from Sun Place Else 2. Service was excellent.
On another occasion we tried the Ahi Tuna appetizer and it was wonderful. For my entree I ordered the beef filet, Filet Mignon 8 oz. served with mashed potatoes and asparagus. When I order it, I asked for their good sweet potatoes in place of the mashed potatoes. The waitress said that the chef wouldn't like that and he might not do it. I thought about it while she took my companion's order. I then told her that for $27 I think we can just tell the chef to give me sweet potatoes, like it or not. She agreed. My steak was perfect. Wonderfully rare and tender. The asparagus were cooked perfectly and of course I enjoyed my sweet potatoes. My companion's pasta dish was good. Skip the Bread Pudding. Too much stuff added to what should be a simple dish and it was gummy and dry. We like our bread pudding custard-y and moist.
Ocean's Restaurant has poboys, sandwiches and burgers but they only want you to order them from 11 to 4 :o(
We totally enjoyed our dinner at Ocean's and hope you'll give them a try when you want a nite of fine dining.
Owner Jeannette Platt
Behind The Pines Restaurant
Open 7 Days a Week -11 AM - 9 PM
8818 Highway 180 West
Gulf Shores Alabama 36542
(251) 948 3052 www.behindthepines.com
The little restaurant on Ft. Morgan Rd behind the Pines grocery store has a new name, new owners and new menu.
The emphasis is now on this being more of a family restaurant and less of a bar than in recent past. The big deal is home made onion rings that really are good, not greasy either. We went on Sunday evening for the pulled pork BBQ and live music. They call it BBQ and Blues. A talented 3 piece band played blues standards very well. The service was very good, one hardworking waitress overseeing the entire room. She got to take a break later when her helper showed up.
We ordered one $6 serving of fried onion rings and loved them. Our $9 pork dinner was juicy succulent smoked meat, pretty good beans, a roll and a choice of slaw or potato salad and a little dish of BBQ sauce. We wanted more sauce. Unfortunately we both chose slaw, and wished we hadn't. It was pretty yuck. The slaw looked and tasted like store bought tub-slaw. Tip: Ask if the Potato salad is home made and pick it if it is. If not, ask why not!
The cocktails were good and fun. Behind the Pines has some Ft. Morgan themed specialties that were tasty. We hope the new owners make a go of it as a food stop/ live music is needed on mid- Ft. Morgan Rd. They have fresh paint and a clean restaurant. We plan to return and try the burger (which looks fabulous on their website) and maybe a PoBoy and a salad or the Fish Tacos. Prices are pretty consistent with other similar spots in this resort-minded area. A children's menu is available.
Hwy 59 at 6th Ave.
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
(251) 948-7023 www.paparocco.com
Their slogan is 'home of warm beer and lousy pizza'. Well, the beer is actually cold but the food leaves a lot to be desired. Papa Rocco's is a popular hang out that has local musicians oftentimes entertaining the folks who have been coming here for decades. They serve a ton of oysters on the half shell. Also offered are various red sauce pasta type dishes. Originally, Papa Rocco's had only about five items on their menu and some people thought it funny that a restaurant would specialize in pizza and oysters... but Bill knew by the way they laughed that it was going to work. Since Papa's was the first in the area to feature nightly entertainment, there are very few local musicians who haven't played at Papa's.
We do not think the food is the main draw. In our opinion it is so-so.
Happy Harbour Oyster Bay Restaurant / Bar
I give them a few months. They might even make it thru the summer.
We stopped in for a quick bite and a couple cold beers. Waiter was kind but untrained. Staff seemed a bit wacky. Food prices seemed a bit high considering the location, etc..
Old 27 Grill
Old 27 Grill www.old27grill.com
19992 Alabama Highway 181
Fairhope, AL 36532
Ok--Hwy 181 used to be called County Road 27 before the W-M and all that shopping stuff at Spanish Fort was built...hence the cafe's name.
On a beautiful spring Sunday afternoon we stopped in at the Old 27 Grill on our way from Spanish Fort to Gulf Shores. Traveling down State Hwy 181 to avoid Hwy 59 may take a little longer but it is a much nicer trip as too many people are finding out.
'round about Fairhope is a great little indoor/outdoor eatery with french fries and potato chips from REAL potatoes. They are wonderful. I asked for my FF's extra crispy and they were. They were HEAVENLY ! (Note the onion rings are not home-made, order the chips or fries)
My grilled chicken tender sandwich called "Comeback Chicken Sandwich" due to the addition of a Southern fav--"Come Back Sauce' was really good. I asked about the soft, wonderful bun and was told they are baked in Fairhope and delivered every other day. My companion's regular sized Hot Dog was good too.
The waitress said the Hot Fudge Brownie was unreal. She said it is huge and to split it. The brownie is baked over in Fairhope just for them and she swore that it was a meal for two !!
Some people on food review sites whined that the Old 27 Grill is too expensive but hey, if you live in Baldwin County then you are used to touristy food prices so we thought the prices were normal. I think we spent $27 for the two big sandwich platters, 2 or 3 beers. Big deal. It was damned good. We saw a ton of locals and plenty of cars when we stopped.
Avoid the Asian imported shrimp and fish (always ask !)
Stick to the stuff we enjoyed and come for live music on weekends. I LOVE this place. Because of the good sandwiches, the mature canopy of trees it reminds me of Hub Stacy's on Innerarity Point just off Perdido Key.
They have both indoor and outdoor seating and a full bar w/ big TV's. They also have a super tiny grocery section indoors with wine, cheese and a bit of carry-out like quiche. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that they serve breakfast all day. Home made biscuits, etc...yum.
Text them at 72727 and put "Old 27 Grill" in text body and get an instant coupon...today it was buy one get one hamburgers.
Nolan's, once a popular landmark in the Gulf Shores area has returned after an absence of several years. Now located on Hwy 59 at the small shopping center called Sawgrass Landing, next to the Zoo, Nolan's has a formal dining room and a separate bar area with live music. The new Nolan's is opened members of the Harris family (the original owners). The dining room menu offers steaks (which they were always famous for), seafood and salads. The decor is the same as that space was when it was previous restaurants...wood paneling, comfortable wood windsor style club chairs and huge fish on the walls. When we were there, Nolan's had nice white table linens. The wait staff wears traditional black and white bow tie formal garb so the feel is like a small town country club dining room. Someone online mentioned that it was plastic tablecloths in summer. The local ordinances prohibiting smoking make this Nolan's has much cleaner air than the original of many years ago.
The bar area has a small pub grub menu. In the bar area one night, we ordered the Steak Tips in the bar where a lively band was pumping them out loudly to an enthusiastic and dancing crowd. The saxophone player in particular put on quite a show. Our "Greek style" steak appetizer had very tender, if slightly overcooked, small bits of beef in a thin broth w/ olives and maybe mushrooms, can't remember exactly. But what we do remember was that it was way too salty. The salt burned out tongue. It also lacked any sort of bread to enjoy the broth if we had wanted to. Service was good. Beer was cold.
If you can't go thru the day with out hearing "Sweet Home Alabama" then the lounge is the night spot is for you.
Whole experience was not so great. We went for dinner and as soon as we were seated the vacuuming in the same room began. Huh ? They proceeded to stack chairs on the tables and clean house for the next day. Service was so-so. Food was so-so. They offer some curries and some Thai dishes. Interior is corny. I may try them for lunch some time.
4575 Orange Beach Boulevard (Canal Road)
Orange Beach, AL 36561-3461
(251) 981-8226 www.bravotacos.com
A small taco shop making better tacos with fresh ingredients. Some salads and various things to-go in clear clamshells. We stopped in on an un-busy evening and ordered some carry out and had a chat with the staff. It is more expensive than Taco Bell...but not crazy expensive. From our limited taste, we think it is better food than the so called "Mexican" restaurants recently popped up on the mini-strip shop centers along Canal Rd. My carry out quinoa salad listed toasted pumpkin seeds so I was a bit disappointed to find no pumpkin seeds but pecans instead. I love pecans, don't get me wrong. But I was excited to think someone in our area actually made a salad w/ pumpkin seeds. The salad was pretty good. We plant o go back and try some other items. Bravo Tacos also offers a vegetarian taco w/ chipotle Mushroom and Sun dried Tomato/ Pumpkin Seed pesto.
Bravo Tacos offers a "Costa Rican" rice and bean combo but they do not have the staple sauce of Costa Rica, Salsa Lizano...how come ? An all natural fruit blend drink is made daily, $2.50
Our roving reporter, Ken from Conn. sent us a recent update, 2/2012:
Since we were driving by Bravo Tacos, we decided to give them a try. On the whole, we were pleasantly surprised.
We ordered four tacos to go: "The Gringo" your basic Taco Bell type, with ground beef and cheese, a chorizo taco, "Taco el Pastor" and a chicken taco. The gringo was pretty pedestrian. The chicken taco was good, with a taste of chipotle, although the salsa fresca was kind of mild (as described in the menu). The chorizo taco was nice - mildly spicy, although I'd have preferred it to have a bit more zip. El Pastor was the most interesting, with roasted pork and an arbol chili salsa that was the most piquant of the offerings. It's described in the menu as being fiery, which is pretty much of an overstatement. Nevertheless, it was quite enjoyable, with a thoughtful taste of pineapple to balance the flavors.
We ordered all four with soft corn tortillas - which we discovered to be a mistake when we got home. By then the tortillas were too limp to contain the taco contents, and we ate them with knife and fork.
It's worth noting that dine-in customers can have a beer along with the bottled and fountain soft drinks. They say they are using local chicken and Gulf shrimp.
Bravo Tacos' food is sooo much superior to what you can find at local "Mexican" restaurants! I would expect that we will stop by again - on our way back from the dog park - but next time we will eat in.
Our new favorite restaurant !! Everything here is better than usual.
Located down sorta under the Perdido Pass Bridge in a funky little screen porch type cottage. We have been twice and loved it both times. On one visit we had the Sunday brunch. The build your own omelet was great, the Oyster PoBoy was fine and we love the onion rings. Our BBQ shrimp appetizer was fantastic. Only gripe is a glass of house wine is $8.00...gimme a break. Budwiser is $3 so that is the way to go. Most recent visit was a late lunch on a weekday. My gumbo was as good as it gets, ...no, it was better...! My companion loved her crabcakes. My fish tacos were a delight and enough food for me to take home half of it.
Fisherman's Corner has great sweet potato fries. Hot, crispy, light and full of Vitamin A so you can feel like you are doing something good for yerself.
Drive east on Beach Blvd and cross the curved Alabama pint bridge. Keep driving past the state line, past the Florabama, and once you cross the big bridge, hang a left immediately at the base of the bridge. Follow the road around and you'll see Fisherman's Corner on your right just past a small seafood shop. Another good seafood shop is on around past them so you can buy some fresh-from-the-boats seafood to take home.
The word is out it seems...at dinner we found a packed house even tho there were no tourists here at that moment. We were asked if we had a reservation...huh ? Nope, but I suppose we will next time. Luckily we got a booth, and it was not too close to the electric piano player. We started with a bowl of the nightly soup , some kind of shrimp bisque. OH MY GOSH....sooooo good. Too good. Probably 2500 calories so split it with someone.
Upon a friend's recommendation we ordered the Fried Gumbo Salad. ..Yum, yum. Everything you'd get in a bowl of their divine gumbo is battered and fried and served on a crisp salad w/ wonderful home-made dressing. It is big, we split one. One of the specials that night was a blackened fish w/ asparagus and rice. This cost $25 but my brother thought it was worth it. A glass of house wine is $6 so investigate ordering a bottle if you have a couple of wine drinkers in your group. My beer was $3.
25775 Perdido Beach Blvd # D
Publix Shopping Center
Orange Beach, AL 36561-6603
Another successful restaurant by the husband/wife team who own Elle
Bistro, Villaggio Grille and Ginny Lane. Zen's strives to be an Urban
Restaurant in a small town. They serve what some call "Asian Rim"
...basically Asian inspired dishes with an emphasis on seafood. Expect
cloth napkins, good service but also a causal dress atmosphere. The
restaurant is one big room but it is not so loud even with an open
kitchen, maybe because they have an acoustical tile ceiling. The comfy
semi-circular booths along one wall are nice. Marble tabletops give a
little elegance to the decor. Very spacious, I think they could
squeeze in a few more tables if it gets really popular.
Our waiter brought pesto with olive oil and crackers to the table immediately.
The Duck Spring Rolls are very good with fresh ingredients. We liked
the good chutney. We thought the Hot and Sour Soup was different and
great. All the entrees we have tried at two dinners there were really
good. What we remember most was the divine Pineapple Upside Down Cake.
When Zen Restaurant first opened they made these eye-catching
caramelized sugar hoops that they stood one end on top of the cake. I
have heard they stopped doing that, but I am sure the moist cake is as
good as ever.
This is a nice place for adults or older well-behaved children to have dinner...if you will need a high chair, please go someplace else and
give the diners at Zen a break.
One evening at Zen we ordered the delicious "Wok Seafood Special" which is about as close to a Vietmanese dish as we have found around town. It was wonderful..$22
The Duroc (a type of pig) "Porterhouse" Pork Chop we perfectly prepared...$20. One of us ordered Grilled Tuna (not on current menu) and enjoyed it completely. Note how pretty the plates are presented. We appreciate that attention to detail. But mostly we appreciate the seasonings at Zen. Bring on the flavor !!!
Our roving reporter, Ken from Conn. has sent in this report. By the way, Ken has a refined palate and can be trusted 100% !
We went to Zen on a Monday evening. Not too many tables occupied - four or five. Restaurant has a nice appearance: tables, booths and decor are pleasing.
We started with the Zen Sampler: four apps. Sweet & sour meatballs were nice: pretty finely ground - mostly pork, I think. A nice chili sauce elevated the meatballs. The duck spring rolls were very good, with a smoky taste and a nifty mango chutney. The tuna cakes were good partly due to a nice siracha vinagrette. The shrimp pot stickers were OK - the least satisfactory of the set. We thought they looked more like deep fat fried won ton than pot stickers, which we tend to think of as being more like dumplings. Pretty nice sauce, however.
We shared our entree: pan-seared trigger fish. How nice that they divided the entree and served us separately. The fish was nicely cooked. It was accompanied by nice crispy carrots and a yummy eggplant puree. Nice touch of siracha...lovely flavors.
For dessert we had "Zeignets," their version of beignets. The little morsels came with a decadent chocolate dipping sauce. Delightful!
We each had a glass of wine. We were pleased that a decent glass was priced at (I think) $4.50.
Kurtis, our server, was professional and attentive.
We rank Zen among our top five local restaurants. We plan on returning - possibly for Sunday brunch, which has a lot of interesting Asian rim variations on traditional brunch fare.
Click images to see big
Since we enjoyed our dinner at Zen, we decided to go there for brunch on Sunday.
I tried the Bloody Mary bar - a DIY Bloody Mary project ($4 if you get house vodka). I ended up with a pretty standard Bloody Mary - except that I added a couple drops of siracha for a little extra heat. Carol had a house Pinot Grigio ($4).
I had a shrimp & chorizo frittata. It was very nice - a good sized portion. There were liberal chunks of shrimp and chorizo. Lots of bok choy; lesser amount of tomato. It came with a coconut pineapple coulis: I tasted pineapple, but couldn't detect coconut. Not could I see any of the tobbiko that was to be part of the dish.
Carol had ribs and hash - which were the star of the show! four nifty pork ribs with an absolutely addictive hoisin sauce. They came with poached eggs, red potatoes, caramelized onions and a little grilled asparagus. Everything was delightful.
We were surprised that the entire menu - including lunch and dinner items - was available. Our waitress told us that this was always the case. We definitely plan to go back for a dinner portion of those ribs.
Located in the old Mango's spot above Calypso Joe. We arrived on a warm Friday night. It was loud inside so we opted to sit on the large breezy porch. The tables and chairs were elegant white aluminum and dirty. No one had cleaned the hand dirt from the chair's arms in forever. There seemed to be one sweet waitress working like crazy to serve the entire restaurant, inside and out. The result, very slow service. The food was ok, the prices on the high side. We really do get so tired of doing negative restaurant reports but why is it that almost no one pays any attention to detail around here but charges like they do.
Palms did cook our steak correctly. It was good. The so-called sweet potato hash that we ordered as a side (it is a listed side on some menu items) was not special at all. We expected the potatoes to be browned (due to the name...hash) but they were not, just a handful of chopped sweet potatoes. The bread that they brought us was warm but pale white, not toasted, no crunch. And to top it all off, there was a family with screaming kids playing on the porch ramp while we dined. The bill was too expensive for this meal IMHO.
The Hangout at Gulf Place
101 East Beach Blvd. Located at Alabama Hwy 59 & U.S. 182.
Not sure of hours See Menu
Named after the old establishment at the same location many, many years ago, the new Hangout is just what we needed right on the Public Beach. It is similar to Lulu's in that it has multiple bars both inside and out, a play area for kids and a retail area in hopes that you will leave w/ non-edible mementos of your visit. The bar is well equipped and my Mojito was very refreshing with its mulled tender green mint sprig.
The Hangout just looks like a place for fun. The 25 ft ceiling fan is a cool piece of hardware ! It has outdoor children's sand pile playground to keep the chullin occupied if the grown-ups just want a cocktail or if there is a wait for a table or your food. Early on we had some substantial waits for a table/food, but they have prob. ironed out a lot of wrinkles since then.
When the kitchen gets backed-up they have a cute & entertaining tactic of getting the waiters and waitresses to jump up on the tables for a dance number. A reader questioned the hygiene of this which we reported and the management fired off an email to say: "Tables are wiped down after being danced upon and before they get sat with guests."
Expect to pay a bit more for your food here, this restaurant sits on a lot of pricey real estate and has live music a lot of the time. Manager Jim says,"We serve a fresh not frozen burger that is 10oz beef patty, the biggest on the island."
July 07,2008--went for an appetizer and cold beer. The Hangout was pretty busy but we got good service and my $12 order of the signature Shaka-Shaka Shrimp was very good... Delicious in fact. Note: They serve it with less lettuce now.
Many more visits since, we have had good service and good food. They have some fun nights of music and special events, so check their schedule. Always go when the Tips Tops are performing !
This is our favorite restaurant down here--hands down. Best food, best prices and it is for Grown-Ups !. Attractive and unusual serving pieces compliment the nicely displayed food and drinks. We have made about 6 visits in the first three weeks since it opened and tried different things every time and never been disappointed. The Sesame Seared Tuna Salad served rare is our favorite so far. The crab cakes are the best we have had in the area. Cosmo's appetizer crawfish tails come in a flavorful light sauce with dipping chewy bread--soooo good. The sides are great and so reasonably priced. We think it is wonderful to have all these choices besides french fries. We like to have asparagus or gingered greens as a side dish instead. The Black 'N' Blue Shrimp Wrap is very tasty and one person in our group who has had Calamari all over the world, including Japan, thought Cosmo's was as good and tender as any he had ever had.
Brian Harsany who has opened Cosmo's has done stints at several other local restaurants like Giggling Grouper and Bayside Grill but this restaurant that he has opened, we think, hits the best for providing the type of place we have been missing. Lets just hope he continues to keep low carb, intensely flavorful dishes on the menu and we'll keep coming back. Do everyone a favor and don't tell anyone you know who have the 'high chair' age family members about this place !!! This is grown up food for grown ups.
Not sure of hours, but they are open for lunch and kitchen closes at 10 p.m. on weekend nights this summer but due to excellent customer service, we have been served dinner late on occasion.
Made another trip back after skipping a year or so and everything was still fantastic. We had the Seared Tuna salads and a Seared Salmon salad and those yummy home-made rolls. Wish wine wasn't so pricey there. Bar drinks are not cheap either. Our $27 bottle of wine at dinner was just so-so and we couldn't afford to spend more. Have a drink before you leave home. For a while Cosmo's got so crowded it was always a long wait, now so many other decent restaurants have opened that it is possible to cruise right in to Cosmo's again--yeah !
Snowbird Ken comments:" For our farewell lunch today (3/14/11) we had the savory cheesecake (always a treat...why don't more places do this?) and firecracker shrimp appetizers. The shrimp were awesome! Very zippy sauce - a great bargain. We split the pecan-crusted redfish, which was well prepared. We always enjoy our meals at Cosmos. "
From frequent visitor Ken: Lunched at Cosmo's. We shared the savory cheese cake (shrimp, bacon, gouda cheese, onions & tomato relish) and firecracker shrimp. Brought enough of the latter home for the makings of a po boy for lunch tomorrow. Carol put some of the shrimp on a side salad. I had a bowl of the duck and andouille gumbo. Nice sinus-clearing dish. Add two beers and the tab came to $31. A nice bargain, I think. And good service too.
Fish River Grill 11950 County Road 32, Fairhope - (251) 990-3535
8272 S Highway 59, Foley - (251) 952-3474
Fish River Grill #2 has re-opened at its new location, in a shopping center on Hwy 59 in Foley, behind Walgreens !
We saw so many cars outside of this GS Fish River Grill and we had heard good things about the original location (over between Summerdale and Fairhope) we were dying to try a dinner there. What we found was another fry-heaven with a rather standard Gulf Shores menu plus a couple of country-fried twists.
The decor is fish-shack themed cutsie with a touch of Mexican wedding. Napkins are tear off paper rolls. Service was prompt and friendly from a food stained t-shirted school girl aged waitress. Seems like no matter what you order, you get a small styrofoam bowl of "Swamp Soup" which was a good broth with greens and white beans. Their FB pages says: Swamp soup is ... white and black beans, collards, mustards, turnip greens and seasonings.
The menu offered the usual fry-stuff as well as an array of hamburger choices. Fish River Grill won Best Hamburger in Baldwin County 2010.
Fish River Grill has frog legs which only a handful of places here offer. We ordered the mushroom burger which was very large and flavorful. The fries were pretty ordinary frozen variety. My companion ordered the "Cajun Pistols" which were delicious. They are calorie heavy, as seems to be all the menu choices, as they are deep fried (what else !). The creamy crawfish stuffing was great. I did not ask if the crawfish were USA or imported but plan to call to ask. Our slaw was sweet, creamy and great. Our order of greens was delicious.
To us, the Fish River Grill seems as good a place as any for a meal of fried goodness and friendliness. Fried catfish, all you can eat seems to be one of their popular mainstays.
Look for this sign.
Joey Patti's Seafood Deli aka Captain Joey's
610 C Street
Pensacola, FL 32502
Closed Sundays & Mondays
If you are making a trip over to Pensacola to get some seafood to cook or ready made delicious deli items from the famous Joe Pattis, then by all means grab yourself some lunch right around the corner. Shopping for seafood at Joe Patti' s is a terrific outing and worthy of an entire web page about it. Trust me, go there. Now for info about the little restaurant nearby.
Buy one dinner and get one half off on Tuesday's or Wednesday's. Boy-oh-boy this brings in the Senior Citizens. They know a bargain ! Around the corner on the right from the Joe Patti's huge 'seafood-a-rama' is a modest sized seafood eatery with quick, friendly service, and great prices. Captain Joey Patti's Seafood Deli is a bright, diner style restaurant very popular with the older set. -The menu offers standards like New England Clam Chowder, Shrimp Creole, Catch of the Day (which may or may not be a local fish, always ask) Oyster, and Chicken Dinners.
Shrimp Salad, Salmon Salad and Taco Salad are among the menu's salad offerings. We have not tried them but you can get a Hamburger or Cheeseburger too.
They say their Gumbo is like no other around and I have to agree that they do include more fish, shrimp, and crab than most restaurant gumbo. A small cup of gumbo is as large as most places's bowl. A real bargain at $4.50. Joe Patti's seafood sandwiches are full-on PoBoys served with lettuce and tomato on a French bread bun with your choice or tartar or cocktail sauce. I had them bring me some fresh onions too. The fried mullet was good but the hushpuppies 'take the cake' ..be sure to try some.
On the back of the menu is a list of items that can be ordered A La Carte. We ordered one Crab Patty just to try it. Nice and hot, it was a surprise to fine a melted white cheese inside along with their finely shredded crab mix. We wished that it had a bit more seasoning, but we tend to like things both spicy and hot.
Joe Patti's Restaurant has a Kid's Katch menu for those under 12 years of age. The under $5 meals include shrimp, corn dog and chicken tenders. They come with french fries or a side of your choice.
If you want a cold beer, bring your own (we saw others doing that), as Joe Patti's serves ice tea and soft drinks only. Check out the attached take-out deli.
Be sure to ck the website for coupon specials.
Ivey's Fine Dining in Robertsdale
18418 Pennsylvania Street
Robertsdale, AL 36567
Tuesday thru Saturday,
Open 11:00am Serving till 9:00pm www.iveysfinedining.com
---I know it's a bit off the beaten track, but they consistently offer an excellent dining experience - lunch or dinner. Our snowbird reporter Ken loves their grits cakes! Great sauces. Online reviews UrbanSpoon usually run close to 5 stars.
A 2/2012 report from fine diners Ken and Carol from Conn.:
We went to Ivey's Fine Dining in Robertsdale for lunch. It's a white tablecloth establishment with a pretty creative kitchen. If you come without a reservation, expect to wait for a few minutes. The busy wait persons tend not to fully bus tables until they are needed. The restaurant has two rooms, although only one room with perhaps a dozen tables is used a lunchtime. There's a room upstairs that can be reserved by groups, I guess. Local professional people along with a somewhat elderly demographic seem to prevail. It's not the sort of place where I'd expect to see many little kids.
After taking drink orders, the waitress brought a plate of toasted bagel chips. With a garlicky taste, I find them addictive. A nice house mixed green salad comes with lunch entrees.
We ordered the grit cakes appetizer, something we always get when we come here. They consist of lightly fried grits cakes topped with caramelized onions, walnuts and bleu cheese crumbles. Very yummy - and a generous portion for $6. (The pic shows just my portion). I had grouper St. Ives: a nice piece of perfectly cooked grouper with nice, lightly fried eggplant slices and topped with shrimp and crab along with a zesty sauce and served over basic white rice. (see pic) Tastes great! My one issue with this dish - as with some others at Ivey's - is that it has a uniformly tan appearance. A bit of garnish would help, I think.
Carol had seafood crepes, an old favorite. (We've gone to Ivey's for six years and not seen any menu changes. Which is fine, since we love their food). She got two crepes stuffed with crawfish, shrimp and crab and covered with essentially the same sauce as I had. Same rice too.(see pic) She loved this entree as much as I enjoyed my grouper.
Service is pleasant and reasonably attentive.
The tab for our lunch - including two glasses of wine - came to just under $40. I think it's a fine value, considering the quality of the food. We'll surely return - with guests.
Ivey's Grit Cakes, Grouper Dinner, and Seafood Crepes...yum yum.
This report was submitted recently by our friend Ken, December 2012:
We went there for lunch. The decor is pretty basic and informal (the booths come with wooden benches, rolls of paper towels to serve as napkins). Counting ours, only two tables were occupied. One special thing about The Steamer is that there is absolutely NO fried food on the menu. Someone in the other party asked for fried mahi and the waitress had to turn her down.
The lunch menu features "six + six" specials. You choose two of the following: six steamed shrimp, six steamed royal reds, a six-ounce crab cluster, a six-ounce piece of mahi (grilled, blackened or broiled), six baked oysters, or six bacon-wrapped scallops. You could also choose soup or a salad and a side dish. Carol had seafood gumbo and I had crab bisque. Both of us were pleased: they did not skimp on the seafood in the soups. Mine was just a little bit salty. I had royal reds and a crab cluster. Both were perfectly cooked and were nicely seasoned. I ordered potato salad. Although there's just a bit more mayo than I prefer, the potato salad is clearly made on-site, using new potatoes. Carol had the bacon-wrapped scallops and the baked oysters, and was very pleased with both - especially the oysters, which she enjoys more than I do. She reported that they came with a nifty cajun sauce that included bits of crawfish and mushrooms. For her side she had new potatoes - which were satisfactory... I mean - what can you do to mess up new potatoes?
At lunch they offer draft beer at one buck a glass! Can't resist that! Our total bill, including tax, was $21. What a bargain!!
Granted, the decor is nothing to write home about, and you have a view of the backside of Souvenir City, but the place is tidy and they serve honest, quality seafood at a super price. One confusing element: The Steamer used to be named the Gulf Shores Steamer. It's located in Gulf Shores, not far from the "T". The name "Gulf Shores Steamer" is now held by a similar establishment in Orange Beach at San Roc Cay. Different ownership. Go figure!
Editorial Note: I've discovered that the "original" Gulf Shores Steamer moved to Orange Beach, and in its place, "The Steamer & Baked Oyster Bar" was opened by the people who brought you Mikee's and the Shrimp Basket restaurants.
The Ginny Lane Bar and Grill, located in The Wharf shopping complex, is a welcome new addition to the local dining landscape. My recent visit on a weekday night proved to be a delightful mid-week break for my out-of-town guest and me.
Probably the first thing you'll notice when you enter Ginny Lane's is the giant 6' x 8' TV screen located above the Brit-style bar. Several other TVs are located in the dining area, but the mega-TV coupled with the food and selection of beverages is sure to be a hit for local sports enthusiasts. Also reminiscent of a Brit pub is the large chalkboard menu that covers one wall in the dining room. Ginny's has entertainment in Fridays and Saturdays too.
The special cocktail menu is enticing with a large selection of martinis. The Caramel Apple martini, a pleasant relative of the popular was Apple-tini, was tasty and tart with a hint of caramel, but not too sweet. The Lemon Drop martini was delicious and tangy. Large beer and wine selections are available that would compliment any toast of good cheer.
While looking over the menu, a delicious mixture of freshly milled red pepper, parsley and grated Parmesan cheese in oil with warm bread got our taste buds in tune for the salad and main course.
The dinner menus offered a complete selection of appetizers, soup, and salad. Main course dishes of seafood, beef and chicken and sandwiches provide a broad range of selection and price ranges. It's almost bathing suit time here on the Gulf Coast so my guest and I decided to split the meal. It was a good idea too, because the chef served up a generous portion of the dishes we ordered.
We asked our waiter for an extra plate so that we could share two of our dishes. Instead, he surprised us by serving our dinner and salad already divided into two portions, each on its own attractively shaped smaller plate and each artfully presented with garnishes. This gesture, at no added cost, made a big impact on us.
The shrimp and artichoke bisque was creamy and rich tasting. The warm salad with goat cheese served with the Greek salad dressing can be ordered as a main course with the addition of shrimp, grouper or chicken. Created with a wonderful selection of mixed greens and stout goat cheese, the salad alone was satisfying and the Greek oil dressing was distinctive.
Fillet mignon…just the sound of it makes my mouth water. The serving was beautifully prepared – rare; and could have been cut with a butter knife! A side of seasonal veggies, including Jicama, a Mexican root was interesting in taste and consistency resembling water chestnuts.
Dessert? Creme broule and coffee. Wonderful with nicely caramelized sugar tops with just the right amount of crunch. Yum!
Our experience at Ginny Lane's Bar and Grill was soothing and more than satisfying in terms of atmosphere, food and fare. Go for it!!
Another time we had a very filling meal w/ two beers each for a total of $38. Not bad considering the great service & nice atmosphere. The Chinese Chicken salad is wonderful and large. A bargain at 12 bucks. We had that plus a small Caesar salad, and shared a Portabella Stack (which is not really a stack technically) but it was great !!!
Reader's Comments: Recently went to Ginny Lane for Sunday brunch. Very disappointing. They couldn't even poach eggs properly for eggs benedict! We've eaten there before - but may not return.
Had a better experience with brunch at Lester's. And the $3 bloody mary is a huge bargain!
This report was submitted recently by our roving reporter Ken Graham, January, 2013:
We never went to Gut Harvey's, but I get the feeling that Compleat Angler has lots in common - at least in its physical layout. It's modern and informal (tv's everywhere, although mercifully with the volume diminished. A number of life size fish hang from the ceiling. The tables and a lot of the artwork bear the Guy Harvey signature. There are two big bars and a separate room with pool tables and video games (I'll bet that'll be really busy during Spring Break).
We entered from the street side, passing through a gift shop. There are actually 4 or 5 entrances , which must present the hostess with quite a task. There's inside seating and a number of tables outside overlooking the marina.
The menu is Caribbean/Cuban themed. Carol had a fish special: grilled grouper. She had four sauces to choose from, and picked San Salvador, which is supposed to be a tequila lime sauce. It came with 2 sides: black beans and rice and stewed tomatoes and okra. The grouper was very tasty and cooked perfectly. Carol had a problem with the sauce, which included chunks of ruby red grapefruit, including inedible pieces of grapefruit membrane. The beans and rice were fine. The combination of San Salvador sauce and stewed tomatoes left a goopy puddle on the plate. Too bad the sides weren't served in separate dishes. I had a cup of Caribbean chicken chowder. Not much evidence of chicken, but lots of plantain and sweet potato. It was enjoyable: spicy but not too assertive. I also ordered a barbacoa sandwich - the Cuban equivalent of pulled pork. There was a generous helping of pork, served on a good sized poppyseed bun. It came with a pretty zippy guava barbecue sauce. This was served on the side, so you can apply the sauce to your taste. Our wait person, Maggie, brought me a small dish of their slaw, which contained pieces of mango. I like slaw with my BBQ, so this was a welcome touch. I enjoyed my sandwich a lot.
Happy hour prices prevailed during our Sunday lunch, so I had a domestic draft (2 actually) at a buck each. Carol had an imported draft for $1.99. Daily happy hours include half-price wine most days, I think.
It's been my experience that you often seem to "pay for the view" when you dine at a scenic spot. This isn't the case at Compleat Angler: our tab - which included 3 beers and tax - was just a bit under $30.
Maggie, our server, was friendly, competent and attentive.
23479 Perdido Beach Blvd-upstairs ( blue building across from Phoenix West)
We went for our first time for supper and to hear some live music. Both were good. The women who opened this small, upstairs eatery have special training in food and it shows. At first glance the menu doesn't look too different from the usual offerings but what we found was that the dishes have a special flair. The Shrimp Loaf is not your usual PoBoy. The tasty gumbo was presented in a delightfully pretty way with toasted bread rounds arranged around the bowl and snipped chives on top. We thought the Nachos were a perfect balance of ingredients and it almost felt like we were eating health food !
Tipseas offers lunch special every day with a rotating menu at noon. Judging by the number of cars parked outside, their lunch bargains must have a loyal following.
My guess is lunch is a family affair but evenings seem to be a place for grown-ups, not so much a place to take a gaggle of kids.
We have not tried their pulled pork BBQ and are suspicious of any meat called BBQ that is not slow cooked over a real fire. We'll try that next and report.
Give 'em a try. Tipseas is small, reasonably priced, new and we hope they succeed.
Check their website for live music schedule.
Courtyard Cafe--in the space between Orange Blossom Furniture & other buildings one block S of 98.
105 W. Orange Ave.
Foley, AL 36535 http://www.courtyardcafefoley.com
Lunch (Mon. - Sat. 11-3) & Dinner Fri. & Sat. (5-until)
I met a friend for a lunch date at Foley's Courtyard Restaurant. The approach is very attractive and has outdoor seating along the brick paved entrance way. I had a glass of very reasonably priced and tasty white wine while waiting on my friend to arrive. It was sunny and hot so we checked out the additional seating options. The cool interior dining room looked calm and inviting but radio was playing rather loudly inside so we opted for the back patio which has 3 or 4 tables. (Note to owners, replace the bendy plastic 'wrought iron' table we sat at w/ a more sturdy metal one). Let me say from the beginning, our waitress could not have been better. She was cheerful and enthusiastic. I asked what they considered the best dish to be. Two employees told me the Catfish Orleans was probably it. That is what I ordered and it was very good. That one dish probably had my entire day's allotment of calories, so if you care about that sort of thing, share one and order some veggies to go with it. Catfish Orleans comes with 2 sides. I ordered the homemade potato salad and 'Home Fries'. The Courtyard's version of home fries are big potato logs that are rather like eating a sliced baked potato...they are not coated and crispy like some gas station-road-food jo-jo's are. They gave me a generous serving. The potato salad (I know , 2 potato dishes !!...but they seemed the most intriguing side items to try) was really uninspired. It had no crunch, no onion or celery or herbs that I could find and at the very least it needed salt and pepper.
While ordering, my friend commented that on menus Mahi is usually written Mahi-mahi and he wondered why that was so. Our cute California waitress replied that if you got two pieces then you could call it Mahi-mahi but since their dish only included one piece, it was called Mahi. Made sense ! For his side orders, he got lack-luster buttered corn and slaw.
My carry-out of Cajun Crawfish Linguine was good but if I had not ordered the add-on veggies ($2 extra), I think it would have been much less tasty. The side Caesar salad was typically so-so. Seems no one knows how to make a real Caesar salad anymore.
Catfish Orleans $12.95 (Sits atop fried Eggplant and topped with Shrimp or Crawfish and Cajun Cream)
Cajun Crawfish Linguine 9.95 with added broccoli, onions and mushrooms, extra $2
Overall we felt the food was somewhat lack-luster and could have been greatly improved by the addition of fresh chopped herbs and more seasoning. Doesn't anyone in our area use fresh herbs ? A small bistro sized restaurant like this has the opportunity to offer some creative cuisine, but we thought everything except the waitress and setting was un-inspired. We also think they could do better w/ the background music ...local radio with its continuous ads and blab on the patio where we dined as well as the interior does not add anything positive. The wait time for our food was quite long even tho there were just a few tables occupied. The Courtyard may be the best place for a leisurely upscale lunch in Foley but we wish they could work towards a more creative menu to bring food that's really fresh, bright and special to the table.
Open 7 Days a Week
Monday - Tuesday 11am - 10 pm
Wednesday - Thursday 11am - 1am
Friday - Saturday 11am - 2am
Sunday 10am - 10pm
Wed. night visit to Rhythm and Ribs was a nice break in the week. Here are our observations. They took an old beat up building and did a nice job of fixing it up. The layout is long and thin resulting in several conjoined 'rooms' so you can sit to hear the music coming from the far end as loud or quiet as you like by picking how close or far you are from the stage. Right now there are sturdy wood tables and chairs outdoors w/ plans for an outdoor music stage and a kids play areas. All that is fine and dandy but the food may need some tweaking.
We ordered the large rib plate and a pulled pork BBQ sandwich. Servings were generous, no complaint there. My pulled pork sandwich came with a side so I had a side-salad. good choice. Nicely done. Several ho-made dressings, I like that. Waitress served the shredded cheese in a separate small cup, again, nice touch as I didn't want it on my salad. Rhythm's pork BBQ sandwich is a 'jumbo' BBQ w/ some pickles and thinly sliced sweet jalapeno slices. Nice touch. I insist on slaw on my BBQ sandwich but fortunately my companion had ordered slaw as a side to the platter so I grabbed some of his. I like the fact that the sandwich was on a toasted bun. Always adds flavor. I do not like a greasy outside to my toasted bun so next time I'll request that they skip the oil.
The platter was to come with one's choice of some cornbread or garlic French bread. We asked for small bits of each. The ribs are served wet. (Ribs traditionally are either 'wet' or 'dry"). Our ribs were tender and tasty but had way too much fat. The fat was mostly in areas that could have been trimmed off. Trim or the ribs may need to cook a bit longer to melt some of that fat out. The rhythm version of slaw is too weird to describe properly. Cabbage alone super-shredded so tiny it becomes mush. No detectable seasonings. Tastes like mush. My dinner partner chose a baked potato which seemed big and cooked just fine. But it came in aluminum foil which is typical but I hate that. You get a steamed potato instead of a roasted potato when you do that. Food came hot...waitress forgot the cornbread. When we asked, she brought some but it was a let down. The garlic 'French" bread was a better choice but we couldn't taste any garlic.
My personal quirk is that I don't like food served out of aluminum plates. A fork seems to scrape up micrscopic bits of aluminum and transfer it to my teeth fillings whereupon my mouth becomes some sort of living battery. On any future visits I will ask for paper plates.
We hope they succeed in picking up some overflow from Tacky Jacks across the street (why it is popular escapes me, except it has a nice water view) . Rhythm and Ribs has lots of room on the grounds for a cool outdoor stage and kids play area if only they can build some traffic.
Freezing cold inside, LADIES--BRING A JACKET, --live music a good bit of the time, esp. evenings.
Cactus Flower Cafe
Pelican Place @ Craft Farms on Hwy 59
3800 Gulf Shores Parkway
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
Hours: Tue-Sun Lunch (11AM-3PM) Dinner (5PM-9PM)
We have had several visits to Cactus Flower Cafe in the Pelican Place shopping center in Gulf Shores on Hwy 59. This restaurant was popular from the get-go since people were familiar with it from other locations. The theme is California-style Mexican with an emphasis on fresh ingredients.
First off, order the Margarita. It is huge, and delicious. The food is reasonably good and the service is good. My favorite is the Mango Salad. As I grow weary of rice and beans pretty quickly, I usually order the Mango Salad. Also I am always looking for a high-power taste, lower calorie choice on the menu. We like the little shrimp tacos on the appetizer list too.
The prices are reasonable but the menu a bit limited. We wish a Mexican restaurant would open with real Mexican food but until that happens, this is be better choice around here for the usual Mexican selections. And the atmosphere & service sure beats the other Mexican restaurants around here.
Good choice for food before or after a movie at the nearby Cobb Theater. They said they may start staying open later for after movie dinners.
We went to "Eat!" for their $10 all-inclusive All-You-Can-Eat lunch. It's served buffet/cafeteria style. Some of the offerings vary from day to day: Monday is billed as "anything day," Tuesday's theme is cajun, Wednesday has wings & BBQ, Thursday is country, and Friday has seafood and prime rib (price goes up to $12). They just expanded to offering lunch on Saturday, but I don't know what the theme is. They have dinner most days, with the seafood/prime rib buffet the most popular. Prices are between $15 and $32 - depending on what you order (AYCE snow crab legs add $7 to the tab).
On Monday's lunch they had 6 choices: fried catfish, chicken tenders, seafood creole, beef tips, jambalaya, and pork barbecue. Sides included mixed veggies, mashed potatoes (clearly made on-site) and corn. There's a small but adequate salad bar. I enjoyed the catfish, which had a sweetish and decidedly non-greasy flavor and the seafood creole served over rice. Carol actually thought the chicken tenders were pretty good - a cut above fast food. I wasn't particularly impressed with the barbecue because I'm not a fan of mustard based BBQ. Also it was kind of tepid. Tip: try to arrive for lunch before noon. We got there around 1:00, when things were slowing down. They don't seem to do much to keep the food warm. We had peach cobbler for dessert. It, too, had been standing around for a while.
We also went on a Thursday to try the "country" offerings. Actually a few of the entrees (seafood creole, jambalaya and catfish) were the same as on Monday, but they also served country-fried steak, meatloaf, and "cajun pasta." I liked the country-fried steak and the hearty, dense meat loaf. Both were accompanied by white and/or brown gravy, neither of which were stiff or greasy. This made for some nice, yummy comfort food. The cajun pasta was unmemorable. We sampled two desserts: bread pudding and cherry cobbler. Neither was all that great, but at the end of an AYCE pig-out, who cares? This time we came when it was a lot busier, the food was moving more briskly, and was much warmer. Each day our total tab, including tax was 20 bucks for the two of us! When you're not spending much more than you would at a fast-food joint, it's hard to resist a place like EAT!
No alcohol, but the sweet tea, unsweet tea and soda are unlimited. The place is small (perhaps a dozen inside tables) but very tidy (cloth napkins). The bathrooms are immaculate. The ladies who work there are very pleasant and accommodating. Most of the customers looked like locals. Didn't see many tourist types. This would be a great place to bring the kids.
Tequila West Beach
610 W. Beach Blvd.
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
On ground floor of Beachside HotelAcross from Bahama Bob's
Tequila's motto gave us a smile:
"Our business is your pleasure, because we depend on you, we like to serve you the best"
This restaurant is one of several owned by the same fellow. People around here like the Mexican owner and have encouraged him. The menu is typical Americanized Mexican fare. Good service, interesting locations, but nothing to write home about. Low prices for the beach area which is good. They do offer a large breakfast menu composed of the usual American high calorie stuff. We thought that the salsa dip had a nice rich flavor, so I think if I go there again, I will ask for a pint and pour it over the other things on my plate to jazz it up a bit.
The 'seafood' there is all imported, frozen. I asked and was told that no local Gulf seafood is offered. I asked the name of the fish on the 'Fish Plate' that I ordered, they did not know, only that it is imported. The meal consisted of two rather thin white fish fillets w/ the usual rice and beans. The Steak Fajitas were overcooked pieces of beef (Steak?) w/ limp onions, sliced peppers, a sm dollop of guacamole and some chopped iceberg lettuce and chopped pale tomato. The most interesting dish we ordered was the Carnitas at the suggestion of the waiter. It was slow cooked tender pork chunks w/ limp onions, mushrooms, spinach, peppers maybe. Watchout for fat on the meat, but otherwise flavorful, if not really special.
I suggest you go there for cold adult beverages and some tasty snacks.
Tequila West is partially built out on the parking lot sidewalk. We would like to see more little restaurants, such as Tequila, tucked into the ground floor of hotels and condos here.
In same building as Cafe Grazie shown on the right.
Three of us went to Louisiana Lagniappe for the first time since Ivan. The interior looked great, the service was friendly and professional. It seemed that the menu items and prices were generally as before. We like it that they will split an entree between two people and serve each a salad and potato for an extra $4. Our appetizer of fried eggplant, crabmeat and hollandaise sauce was crispy, hot and good altho the breading on the thin slices of eggplant overpowered the taste of the eggplant. One person at the table thought maybe it was a fried green tomato, so indiscernible was the taste of eggplant.
The special of the evening was Grouper stuffed with crab and shrimp and a sauce on it. We thought it was really good. Our salads were very good. There is only one dressing, the 'house' dressing. The stuffed potato was a little on the heavy side, sort of flat and uneventful. One of us ordered the stuffed shrimp which were very good and had a nice flavorful sauce. Louisiana Lagniappe is not an inexpensive place to eat. You do get very large portions, wait staff in snappy tuxedo like uniforms, cloth tablecloths, water with your meal and glasses with your beers but it will cost you. We noticed that they did have a small dish of hushpuppies on the table w/ some butter but brought no bread with our meal. All of us shared on order of bread pudding w/ bourbon sauce for dessert and it was ok--not great, just ok and none of us could taste any bourbon in the sauce. It had pecans sprinkled on top and I got one rancid pecan piece in one of my bites--never a nice thing. The restaurant does have a great view of the marina outside the huge windows in the rear and in warm weather you can sit on the outside porches. Entree prices range from about $15 to $25.
We have had two very enjoyable evening meals at Italian themed Cafe Grazie. The one thing that comes to mind first is great service. This is unusual for our area. We talked to our server the on the second visit and she told us that in addition to extensive training, the employees must pass a large test before they are allowed out on the floor. Even on Valentine's Day, with the place full to capacity and in the 'off season', the service never missed a beat. This is rare even in big cities.
We found the menu to be quite large and offers many dishes for those in search of something other than noodle dishes. On Valentines we tried the nightly specials, both entree and appetizer. Both were really good. The Fried Calamari appetizer with Marinara Sauce is well prepared and a generous portion. We thought the Oven Roasted Portabella appetizer was a little skimpy for the price and we wished the little piles of green sauce were pesto instead of the mildly flavored parsley. And on the subject of flavors, we, being folks who like strong and spicy flavors, wish that maybe the intensity of the flavors was kicked up a notch. To do that, they would need to use the more pricey imported Gorgonzola cheese where that cheese is specified.
The Veal Marsala entree was tasty but the included Spaghetti Grazie was pretty tasteless. See if they will let you substitute a veggie.
One very nice touch is the baked garlic/olive oil mix and fresh bread that is brought to the table. We prefer our "Italian bread to be a bit more chewy--made with a higher gluten flour, but just the same, it is a nice extra to your meal.
A real bargain is the Classic Minestrone Soup.
We tasted the Cheesecake and Tiramisu desserts--good--but who has room ! Maybe better to finish the meal with a steaming cup of Cappuccino. Cafe Grazie uses Community arabica coffee.
Low prices make it a popular spot for families and big appetites. Don't expect much...same stuff as in any American shopping center Mexican Restaurant. Real Mexicans must think we are crazy to settle for what gets served up in every so-called Mexican restaurant around here. Why don't we demand an authentic menu ? I'm I the only one who has traveled in mexico for good eats ? At least they could watch Rick Bayless on PBS and get some new ideas. See link above.
For several years people have been encouraging us to visit Wolf Bay Lodge. We finally looked up the driving directions on Yahoo Maps and made the trek to this historic water-side family eatery. We went on a spring week night when there it was not crowded. The atmosphere is 'family diner', but on a big scale. In this rather bare-bones restaurant were lots of families with children.
The placemats are the menus w/ ads all around . We found the menu to be rather extensive with emphasis on fried local seafood. The fried crab claw appetizer arrived quickly and were perfect and not overly breaded. Another dish in the appetizer list and one that thrilled us was the sweet potato French fries. Next time we will ask them to skip the sprinkling of sugar, the potatoes were sweet enuf on their own. A sprinkling of hot sauce or cayenne pepper might be a better choice for us. Wolf Bay Lodge is known for great gumbo.
We agree that it is very good, full of seafood, very little rice (we like that) but we prefer a bit more kick in our gumbo, but then that is why there is hot sauce available.
The baked, stuffed flounder was wonderful. The fried shrimp & oysters were great. One of my companions thought that the oysters were a bit too large for frying, as they were still a bit watery inside. The side salads served with the dinner are weird. Be prepared to cut up your own ingredients. The tarter sauce looked and tasted home made and Wolf Bay Lodge served us real butter. We really liked the slaw, it reminded us of the old KFC slaw we loved that was made in a fine chop and w/ the milk dressing. The West Indies Salad was light, tart and clean tasting. We all agreed that we would have preferred a bit more seasoning in it , something to give it a little twang.
One of us ordered a steak. It was cooked to perfection , but even tho it was obviously juicy, it tasted a bit dry due to the extreme low fat content. We all agreed that it is very difficult to get an old fashioned fat marbled steak anymore with out going to a restaurant that specializes in (expensive) steak. You can find many diverse dishes on the Wolf Bay Lodge menu such as Alfredo, Polish sausage, Pork BBQ, Pizza, Frog Legs in addition to the various fish, shrimp, oysters and crab dishes. Our service was great.
We discussed that with the vinyl tile floor, hard surfaces all around and abundance of children and babies, it might be a bit noisy when there is a full house. Pull up in your boat or drive by car.
Expect good fried food, such as shrimp and oyster po-boys, your typical Gulf Coast menu, and "OK" service. There will be a high kid quotient in the summer... aligator bits make a fun treat for them. For the night-life crowd, Live Bait Too opens in the back at 7pm.
We had a nice lunch at the Shrimp Basket in Foley. It is located in the building that for many years was Katie's BBQ. We were told that all their seafood comes either from the local Bon Secour Fisheries or another local distributor-(we always ask in a restaurant if they serve Gulf Shrimp or imported.)
The wait staff was perky and friendly and the food was pretty good. The Shrimp Basket offers a pretty large selection of items for such a small place.
We started with an appetizer of Steamed Oysters w/ Bama red pepper sauce and Parmesan cheese. Great choice--they were cooked perfectly , tender and juicy and the abundant sauce is great. It is reminiscent of a Marinara sauce but with a bit more zip. ORDER THIS !
The Grilled Grouper w/ Crawfish Ettouffe over rice w/ shrimp slaw was good. it is a he-man portion. We have had better ettouffe, but theirs is loaded with tender crawfish so we had no complaints.
The grouper was fine. Our other lunch was the Smoked Tuna Po-Boy--another good choice. It came with lettuce & tomato, but they seemed to have forgotten the pickle. This sandwich was similar to a good tuna salad sandwich, but with a better flavor.
The Shrimp Basket offers many menu choices for low fat or calorie conscious eating out.
Their Shrimp Slaw is really good--especially if you like sweet slaw and we do. We are very glad to see that. Monday & Thurs is AYCE Fried Grouper nite & Sunday & Wed is AYCE Friend Popcorn Shrimp.
The Shrimp Basket now as many locations. A new location opened in front of Zeke's Marina in Orange Beach in Spring 09. We have not visited there yet but all reports we get from diners at all locations (over several years) is better than average food and very erratic service.
For months now I have passed Sea-n-Suds and said to myself, “ I need to go back there.” Saturday (3-14-09) , my reviewing partner and I finally made it.
We were pleasantly surprised that there was not a waiting line… a rare occurrence at Spring Break time from what I have been told. The view from the beach was terrific and understandable why it would be favorite to beach-goers. It's RIGHT there...on the beach.
The place was busy; mostly families – groups and after a look at the menu it was easy to see why. Sea-n-Suds does fried (along with a few burgers). The items are very reasonably priced...$3.50 for a burger (no fries) and between 6.95 - $9.95 for a seafood sandwiches. Seems crab claws were the only wallet breaker at $13.95 for half-order and around $18 for the full. This explains the kid friendly atmosphere.
The service was prompt. Our waitress was friendly, not pushy and calm despite the crowd. When asked what was homemade she clearly told us what was and what was not – Fried zucchini and onion rings are not. Tables were quickly bussed and done so quietly...a nice change that did not go unnoticed. The noise level low...we could actually talk.
For dinner we opted for the shrimp sandwich ($5.75) and the chicken wings ($7.50), a side of cole slaw, ice tea and a Michalob ($3.25)
The wings were terrific…not too spicy and plentiful. The mostly drumettes (small drum-sticks) were great, a meaty option to the boney wings dish namesake. I think it’s a better deal than real wings. They were not too greasy or messy and they were done…not half cooked. I recommend them.
Truthfully, the shrimp sandwich was disappointing. After being told the shrimp were Gulf shrimp, we were saddened to find popcorn shrimp on the bun. Although abundant in quantity, the heavily breaded shrimp along with a wimpy leaf of Iceberg lettuce and tomato made the sandwich clumsy to handle and eat. The sesame seed bun however was good- toasted, crispy, and flavorful.
The other highpoint of the meal was the slaw. It had a terrific creamy texture with finely chopped cabbage. It’s slightly sweet taste was wonderful. We recommend it to all cabbage mavens and those who appreciate a good slaw.
We found the menu sparse in terms of veggies and the salad bar unimpressive with iceberg lettuce and the usual fare.
Sea-n-Suds is fine for those of us that love fried…fried anything; but if you have a mixed group of finicky eaters or someone on a low fat or low cholesterol diet it may be a long night for them.
Now has a food/seafood market attached, have not been in yet..
Take County Rd 10 west off Hwy 59 just North of Gulf Shores--somewhat rural but easy to find at intersection of County Rds 10 and 49. ph 949-5086
Warning---It can get extremely loud inside, they need to do something about it.
We have had several good meals at the Tin Top. They seem to be striving to offer better than usual fare and are succeeding we think. The menu includes burgers, PoBoys, salads, steaks, shrimp, oysters and there are nightly specials written on the blackboard. The AYCE* fried mullet special dinner that we had one night was delicious, crisp, non-greasy fish. The collard greens were not the usual cooked to death variety, but instead were sliced, cooked and seasoned to perfection and still had a nice texture. The Tin Top home made tartar sauce was especially good, but the potato salad was great ! The spicy grilled skewered large shrimp were perfectly cooked and had the hot/sweet zip we love. One evening we started with dark, rich seafood gumbo and a heavenly, creamy crab-corn chowder. We have tried the Tin Top Oysters on the appetizer section. They are rich-rich-rich and yummy with cheese, crawfish in a cream based sauce--very filling. The Tin Top's cinnamon-y bread pudding is a bit on the heavy side--having almost the consistency of cheesecake. We thought the West Indies Salad was a little on the bland side. But otherwise, the food at the Tin Top is much better than usual for the Gulf Shores area.
Hours of Operation are:
Tues. - Thurs. 11:00 - 9:00
All You Can Eat Fresh Mullet, Cheese Grits, Collard Greens & Hushpuppies with Ken Matthews entertaining from 6 - 9 every Wednesday evening on the outdoor patio & oyster bar.
Fri. & Sat. 11:00 - 10:00
Sunday Champagne Brunch from 11:00 - 2:00 and live entertainment from 4 - 8 on the outdoor patio & oyster bar.
Fish Camp Restaurant -- Closed
27121 Canal Road
Orange Beach, AL 36561
Way on down on Canal Road, past Hwy 161, on the north side of the road is the popular Fish Camp Restaurant. Stepping inside is like walking back in to old time Gulf Shores. Very unpretentious. Kinda rough around the edges...bar is filled with chatting locals...definately the no-uniform look for the wait staff...good friendly service...and some good food. One special thing on the menu is the sweet potato fries. Be sure to tell them whether you want them salty like I do or sweet and cinnamon-y. Real good hush puppies. They have turnip greens, but we like Mikees a little better. We ordered the baked fish Italian style and the Sesame Seared Tuna. My companion liked his baked fish. I thought the tuna was pretty good, not as good as the seared tuna at Cosmos. (But who's is). This is not a fancy place, better to stick to the tried and true standards. The sweet potato fries are great.
We started with a dozen fresh oysters on half shell. There was a fellow shucking them at the bar where we had a beer while waiting on our table. Might be fun for kids to watch if they have never seen anyone shuck oysters.
Good prices. Kids menu prices. The menu has advertising for local small businesses on it like cleaning services. Kinda quaint and old timey. We miss the old days in Gulf Shores.
Lunch 11-3., Dinner menu 3 pm to close. They have a buffet but we didn't try it. Sunday brunch buffet is $11.99 in 2009.
You hook 'em, they'll cook'em. $9.99 per person w/ fixins.
Don't get confused by the fact that the building and little development on Canal Rd. where Cosmo's Restaurant is located is called the Fish Camp. The original Fish Camp Restaurant used to be located there...now it is on down the street a'ways.
We went to hear some great guitar playing and wanted to be sure to have a good seat so we arrived in time to order dinner. We were told the kitchen closed at 9 p.m. and the music started at 10 p.m. The music WAS great, the dinner wasn't. Our Oysters Bienville which was described on the menu as having a 'seafood sauce' ?? were basically 6 half shell oysters loaded up with ordinary American cheese and cubed potatoes in a creamed soup tasting sauce. It was reminiscent of a school lunch. The fried oyster/shrimp combo PoBoy was served on unexciting, untoasted, mealy bun with limp fries. The tar tare sauce was not very flavorful. The 'catch of the day' was ordered 'grilled' and while the grouper was fresh tasting, it was straight off the griddle, not a grill. We asked the waitress to describe the 'grill'--she described a griddle. It came with limp fries and store bought-tasting slaw. I suppose the hamburgers might be a better bet. We will try that next time. We can happily say that the beer was cold and Wes Jeans Band was good.
The Global Grill--Pensacola www.dineglobalgrill.com
Tuesday thru Saturday 5:00pm till
Reservations are recommended.
The Global Grill
27 South Palafox Place
Pensacola, FL 32501
For a fun meal that is really good, drive to Pensacola and go to Global Grill in the downtown area. It calls itself an "Upscale Tapas Bar & Restaurant" . You'll find great service, diverse offerings, all beautifully displayed. You can order creative things in small portions so you can try many different tastes and leave with out being over stuffed. The prices are reasonable too. I wish Global Grill was in Gulf Shores or Orange Beach, we have nothing like it here.
A tapa is a delicious morsel of food that defines a lifestyle as well as a culinary style. Tapas in Spain are almost always accompanied by wine. The tapas at The Global Grill are fancier than those in Spain as a rule, at least in my experience. Here are some examples:
Shrimp and Seared Beef Crostini with Robust Tomato & Basil
Crab West Indies and Avocado Martini
Spicy Tuna Sashimi with Plantain Chips
Spicy Seared Tuna, Seaweed Slaw, Wasabi Aioli and Five Pepper Jelly
Tuna Cubes Skewered in Sesame Vinaigrette
Edamame in a Sesame Vinaigrette
Andouille and Manchego Cheese Empanadas with Cucumber Cream
Southern Fried Frog Legs with Tomato Parsley Remoulade
Fried Stuffed Artichokes with Boursin Cheese
Mozzarella Egg Rolls and Tomato Merlot Reduction
Home Style Potato Chips with Bleu Cheese and Applewood Bacon
Seared Sea Scallops and Goat Cheese Souffle
Baked Brie with Wild Berries, Toast Points and Crackers
Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Chorizo Gravy
Chicken Satay with Thai Peanut Sauce
Tempura Fried Asparagus
Asparagus and Manchego Cheese Spanish Frittata with Roasted Red Pepper Ketchup
Panko Fried Oysters Tossed with Hoisin and Sesame Sauce
Peppercorn Beef Brochettes,Smoked Gouda Cheese Sauce
Lamb Lollipops, Israeli Couscous Cake and Sun Dried Tomato Au Jus
Sesame-Garlic Seared Gulf Fish over Asian Slaw with Tempura Asparagus
Macadamia Nut Crusted Soft Shell Crab with Sesame Rice Ball and Carrot Slaw
Marinated and Grilled Portobello Mushroom with Crawfish and Arugula
Savory crawfish, Andouille Sausage and Smoked Gouda Cheesecake
Baby Warm Water Lobster Tails in a Garlic Butter Cream Sauce
BBQ Gulf Shrimp
Guava BBQ, Citrus Jicama Slaw and Black Bean Sauce
New Orleans Style BBQ, Butter Sauce, French Bread
Mediterranean Pizza with Lamb Artichokes, Sundried Tomatoes and
Feta Cheese, Mint Tomato Sauce and Cucumber Cream
Dinner March 2010 Update:. Skip it-get better food and better prices at off-beach restaurants. This is a restaurant for the tourists. They do have good service though.
Good (fried) Crawfish Salad, LOADED with crunchy friend crawfish tails and crispy fresh salad fixins which includes hard boiled egg and a good dressing. The Mango Shrimp Salad is really good and has a generous portion of crispy, tender fried shrimp covering the delicious meal sized salad. We love the fact that our grilled fish sandwich came with two large bright red, ripe tomato slices and dark green leafy lettuce. Generally so-so food, but don't expect the jerk dishes to match the scorchin' zingers at Automatic Slims. Rather family-friendly oriented food, not too cuttin' edge and we think the gumbo needs work--tasted like beef stew. Nice front porch, nice breeze, nice owners, good service, great location--good choice for families with kids. Nice touch---they offer bland red beans and rice and steamed veggies as a side and no extra charge to substitute side dishes. We asked for steamed veggies in place of fries w/ our grilled fish sandwich--no problem and they were delicious. To Go Orders welcomed.
Recommended for families....and save room for their signature dessert-
Pina Colada Pineapple
Spring forward about 5 years-Mar. 2009-had lunch there last week, kinda on the high $$ side we thought but sitting on the porch across from the public beach was nice in spite of the traffic noise. I ordered two sides, the veg of the day was mushy school cafeteria quality broccoli ...boring. The other one must have been boring too since I have completely forgotten what I had. Might have been slaw. My lunch partner had one of the lunch specials, a chicken plate. We asked about rolls or bread and were told there were none. Good service but very uneventful food at lunch.
Reader Melody H. was kind enough to send us this Spring 2012 update:
We went to The Gulf Island Grill last night and I had the fried oysters; one of my favorites. If you put the little oyster pieces together, I got maybe three oysters. It was more like batter with a hint of oyster. I got a plate full of fries. The slaw wasn't bad. A guest with us asked for blackened shrimp. We had to imagine that maybe there was a little blackened flavor. Grouper is all over the menu, but they had none and told us of fish we'd never heard of that they did have. The staff was literally running from table to table. The woman that brought our food said, "your welcome" as she scurried off before I said, "thank you."
This shopping center Japanese restaurant is a chain which is franchised. Four visits have both found good service in the sushi room, good food, & fresh clean atmosphere.
This is one of those Hibachi places where groups of people sit around a hot griddle and an enthusiastic cook tries to entertain as he prepares your main course. Kinda fun if you have children or the elderly with you or you have never done it before.
Otherwise, choose a table in the other room...it gets noisy in the utensil-flippin' Hibachi room. We found that the hibachi room is a bit like being at Chuck-E-Cheese...noisy and automated. Do not expect good individualized service if you order out of the kitchen and sit in that room. I had to ask 4 servers for hot sauce before I got any. By then my food was cooling off and one of the servers even acted like it was a bit of an imposition that I wanted hot sauce.
Ichiban Restaurant is one place where you can get tasty low calorie food around here. For that I am totally glad they opened. The Seafood Salad is a good choice if you want some protein and salad . The Sushi we have ordered has pleased all diners at our table. The seaweed salad is one of my favorites. Make sure that you know your server is clear about what you order. I have had a misunderstanding, got served the wrong appetizer. I wanted the eggplant and the fried rolls they brought by mistake, were overly oily and undercooked inside (gummy uncooked wrapper on inside. I think it may be because they are made up way ahead and the juice out of the veggie shreds inside saturated the wrapper. )
Next visit, I sat in the front room, as close to the entrance as possible, behind the picket fence. That is as away from the noise as you can get. My companion couldn't believe then volume of the noise coming out of the other room and he commented, "Next thing you know , they'll be singing happy birthday"...low and behold, in 5 seconds, they WERE singing happy birthday. But, I ordered the eggplant again, and this time got the right dish--it was not the slender Asian eggplant like i had hoped, but it really was fabulous.
Ichiban has lunch specials. I only wish that this restaurant was a bit closer to my home so I could grab last minute carry-out more often. It has potential.
Now Serving Lunch 11am - 2:30pm Tuesday through Friday
Open for Dinner 5:00pm - 10:00pm Tuesday through Saturday Coupon
The Sunset Corkroom Cafe--see photos here-- The specialty there is all sorts of wine by the glass and offer daily Chef's Specials. I had a carry out of the special of Chef Rudy's Scallops which was outstanding and wonderfully spicy. The next day we ate in and had one order of Grilled Portabella Mushrooms layered with roasted vegetables covered with crusty grated cheese and a Merlot reduction sauce---HEAVENLY ! We also ordered the Grilled Ahi Tuna which was served over perfectly sautéed green beans, roasted garlic cloves, and small tomatoes. I have tried a couple of the other menu choices, but would stick to the ones I mention here. The food does tend to be a bit too salty, (several people I know have mentioned this to me) so you might ask that they be careful of that when ordering, as I have lately--you can always add salt at the table. They have live music on select nights--we heard some good boogie-woogie piano.
Note: Oct 07, they have dropped the Small Plate concept and last few times we went it was quite expensive. They do have a lot of special days for locals w/ wine special prices, etc...so get on their mailing list for updates.
Lester's on Canal Rd in Orange Beach ! Gorgeous wood staircase (see photo) to the upper bar area. When they first opened the food and service was good, last few visits have been disappointing (they have closed for a remodel, and reopened since).
Vintage motorcycles are displayed around a mezzanine above the main dining area See photos inside Lester's and read more here. Lester's prices seem to be right in line with the other better restaurants down here.
And, Lester's serves local Gulf shrimp, not Asian imports. Call to ck music schedule. Print Lester's Coupon
Mikee's has been a favorite in Gulf Shores since my children were little kids. I wonder how many years they have been here...they had to close after Ivan, but unlike other old favorites that disappeared forever, Mikee's re-opened with the same specials and what looks like about the same menu as before. We always loved to go on Tues. or Friday nights for the all you can eat fried mullet dinners. They are great. Always. The turnip greens at Mikee's are great. Mikee's is very reasonably priced family dining. Sometimes in summer too many high-chairs for my taste (get carry out you parents of infants) but perfect for large groups and all ages. The service has always been good and sometimes they have tough jobs when that place is packed as it often is in summertime. Try the corm fritters
Attention Moms & Dads: Need to feed a big family? One age-old Gulf Shores tradition lives on. Mikee's has been having 'all you can eat fried fish' nights on Tues. & Fri. since our college grad kids were little tikes. And the price has hardly changed over all these years ! It is a true bargain with crispy, hot fried mullet, & comes with choice of sides (choose the great turnip greens) & the special cornbread fritters that they only make on Tues. & Fri. nites. GO EARLY. Mikee's is in Gulf Shores, just a street or two north & east of the dead end of Hwy 59 at the public beach.
Anyone can come to the restaurant at The Beach Club. Just tell the gatehouse that you are going to The Clubhouse to eat. He will wave you on thru.
NOTE: New Chef, New Menu, Have not been since it has changed AGAIN ! March 2010.
Jan 2009--Another new chef...another new menu....During this winter (2009) The Restaurant at The Beach Club has a new dinner menu w/ super offerings at super prices. During the winter specials, many mixed drinks are specially priced also the wine and beer ! Most winter entrees specials are in the 11 to 13 dollar range. "featured Entrees" are between $18- $22. Appetizers are $7-$9. First off, their crab cakes are wonderful...just like Cosmos' are. The light citrus Buerre Blanc sauce The Beach Club serves with them is a nice counterpoint for the succulent sweetness of the crab. Once a week, Wed. usually, is 'prime rib' night. Get there early--they had a BIG crowd of Snowbirds last night. We were served a huge slab of wonderfully rare (as we ordered it) roast beef w/ baked potato for $10.99. Might not be USDA Prime, as it required a knife, but it was very good and came out of the kitchen quickly even on this very busy night. One in our party ordered the Grilled Salmon. He enjoyed it so much on a previous occasion, he chose it again. The steamed asparagus side dish was well prepared, tender crisp, and nicely garnished.
Will be interesting to see what the new Summer Menu is like.
Summer 2008--Summers are always tough at restaurants it seems, here's the 2008 report: I was a part of a post wedding group of about 12 that ate outdoors on the terrace. The Beach Club seemed understaffed and our sweet little Russian speaking waitress tried really hard (for which she was well tipped) but the food took forever to come out of the kitchen, (ditto drinks) I mean a really, really long time, like hours....but when it finally did arrive, it was excellent.
We need to return and visit the Village Market restaurant at The Beach Club, now under new management since our last visit there.
Sea Star Buffet
1545 Gulf Shores Pkwy
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
open 7 days , 11 am --10 pm, 11 pm Fri-Sat.
Cheap in price and value
When this "Chinese" buffet restaurant opened in the old location of Godfather's Pizza in the Bruno shopping center we had high hopes for a place to run in and quickly grab some veggie containing healthy carry-out. We liked the concept of paying for carry out by the weight of the container. This way we could concentrate on the most healthy food choices and always make sure we got plenty of onions in every dish. Plus we are forever jonein' for some spicy food around here. We thought early-on this establishment was somewhat acceptable for our quickie carry-out needs. But...after several more visits, our observation is that we are talking about a downhill slope dining experience.
The Sea Star Restaurant spent a good bit of money on the foyer water feature and menu mail-outs initially but all attention to detail has gone by the wayside. The Sea Star Buffet seems to have fewer and fewer choices on their buffet and the serving trays are left sitting with a few tablespoons of whatever without any attempt to replace them in a timely manner. The salad bar offers pale bits of iceberg lettuce FLOATING in an inch of water. Also offered were anemic looking tomato slices and various inexpensive salad-y bits and pieces. The salad dressings are unlabeled and uninspired bottled stuff. The entree bar has an emphasis on meat that has been fried before a sauce was poured on top. High carbs, high grease, scarce veggies. Some fake sushi has UN-identifiable ingredients wrapped in stale rice.
We ate inside on our last visit and found only 2 other diners even though it was a Friday night. A wall mounted TV was showing Andy of Mayberry. The whole experience was gloomy. (And we even like A of M most of the time :o)
Depressing is all there is to say about it. When we went to leave and pay the cashier smiled and asked us if everything was OK. We smiled a crooked smile and said it was SO-SO. He returned the smile and said GOOD.
We predict they close before too long if lots of things don't change.
Demand Gulf Shrimp !!
Always ask what the country of origin of any seafood you order. Wonder why ? See this video.
A MUST WATCH !
Reader Ken G. of CT states:
Re: Voyager's: wait staff have obviously been well-trained. It's nice not to have wait person address us as "you guys" and to have them reply "my pleasure" instead of "no problem" when you are eating in (and paying for) a first-rate restaurant. We need to return to Voyagers.
The Original Oyster House
Gulf Shores "Overlooking scenic Big Lagoon"
701 Hwy 59, Bayou Village
Phone: (251) 948-2445
Over the years we have eaten many times at The Original Oyster House in Bayou Village right in Gulf Shores not too far from the beach. We have generally found it to be pretty good in the 'regular Gulf Shores type fare'--Po-boys, gumbo, fried anything, etc.
The menu there is a bit larger than some restaurants, but the offerings tend to be the pretty typical stuff. The portion size has always been good (I like leftovers!) and the service has been too.We do wish they would consider enhancing the salad bar a bit--it's OK, but not exciting. I am particularly turned off by fake bacon bits.
A "no-high chair" zone in summer would be wonderful ! It is a popular place for the fried shrimp crowd--and snow-birds--who flock there in droves for the marked-down early bird dinners in Winter. The lines form early in the summer.
Gulf Shores 1137 Gulf Shores Parkway
Gulf Shores, AL
Back to FRIED--you can get a pretty good cheap assorted fried seafood platter for between 4-6 p.m. at King Neptunes on Hwy 59 in Gulf Shores next to the dive shop where Little Lagoon meets Hwy 59. I am told that the lunch fried shrimp & oyster platter special is even better. One good thing is that King Neptune's says in ads that they only serve Gulf seafood, not imports. Update: The slaw is good now.
On another visit at lunchtime, the fried flounder lunch special I ordered with collard greens and squash was all very good. My companion said his liver and onions lunch special had no onions & the butterbeans were not good.
Other visits, the Creole vinaigrette salad dressing is quite good. Fried fish very good. Sometimes the fries are not crisp...but generally about as good a bet as anywhere in Gulf Shores for everyday prices. Inconsistency occurs here as elsewhere. Update--skip the fries.
We ordered a grilled fish dinner and found the fish very coated in salty flavored seasonings one step from 'so called blackened ' . Ask them to lay off the too salty-shake.
Service is usually pretty animated from hard working gals in t-shirt and short shorts. A fellow dumped an entire tray of dishes and food behind my chair last visit. Crash-bam-boom-splatter...
ALERT: VERY COLD INSIDE --take jacket or sweater.
Lulu's at Homeport Marina.
LuLu’s Sunset Grill, is now called Lulu's Landing
200 East 25th Ave.
Under the Bridge in Gulf Shores, AL
They have spent a bundle. Owner Lucy Buffett has moved the 5- year old restaurant she owns with brother and singer Jimmy Buffett & investors to Gulf Shores. LuLu’s Sunset Grill has now opened in the old Southport Seafood building under the Intercoastal Waterway Bridge. We have eaten there many times. I am happy to say that Lulu's now has a marinated rare tuna sandwich that comes with some great 'asian style' slaw which is really, really good. Just heard that they are planning to change it to a plate dinner w/ fries and not a sandwich. When asked why, I was told that lots of people ordered it without the bun....I asked it they had considered that if someone was trying to save calories they might not want fries either or that maybe that particular bun was a drag. The waitress thought that was a novel idea.
Generally, we find the service to be good and most of the food pretty typical Gulf Shores fare, costing about a buck more than other restaurants. No raw oysters here...Lulu's doesn't want anything to do with bad-bug lawsuits. All the salads seem to have that really bitter lettuce and are not too exciting. Even though I like fried oysters, the fried oyster salad wasn't a good combo. The emphasis is on *fried* of course. Hamburger lovers like the cheeseburger. The restaurant is quite large and is overly popular. One of several nice touches is the outdoor kids playground. They have live music a lot--call to get the schedule, or go to their website. In season, it is way-way too crowded and people are nuts to wait with beepers like they do. Recent remodeling added even more retail space. Step right up and buy your Lulu's stuff right here folks, while you wait & wait & wait... See photos of Lulu's here.
Open 11 am - 10 pm • 7 Days A Week
200 East 25th Ave. Gulf Shores, AL. 36542
Cobalt – The Restaurant--under the bridge, enter at Caribe Condos 28099 Perdido Beach Blvd
Orange Beach, AL 36561
Sunday - Thursday 11:00 am – 9:30 pm
Friday – Saturday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm www.cobaltorangebeach.com
Finally, after years of neglect the residents and visitor’s to the east end of Orange Beach have restaurant to call their own…and it’s a winner. Cobalt-The Restaurant unceremoniously opened its doors in the shadow of the Alabama Point Bridge in late 2008 and has plans to be the best on the beach.
Décor: Though, not yet finished, Cobalt has been designed to take advantage of its multi-million dollar location. A large patio with outside dining, bar service and boat slips for waterside arrival is planned. The indoor dining area is large with floor to ceiling windows that bring the Perdido Pass and Terry Cove to each table and the multi-level seating gives everyone a view. A nice crescent-shaped bar has a topside view and it was a pleasure not seeing a TV plastered on every wall. Comment -very nice; great view; a little noisy, probably due to the high ceilings.
Appetizers ($8-$15) boast a selection of mainly seafood treats such as Bayou La Batre crab claws, Yellowfin tuna, crab stuffed baby Portabellas and lobster Rangoon (Florida lobsters, we’re told).
Entrees, ($17-$28) you name it they have it, even Bison! Catfish, Redfish, Grouper and Spanish Paella complete the seafood selections. Free range chicken, pork tenderloin along with beef tournadoes, Colorado bison rib-eye and a prime grade NY strip round out the list of main dishes.
Salads ($6-$13) with a twist make these garden dishes interesting. Besides the usual there is a Honey-Balsamic Duck salad, that features peppercorned seared duck and candied Baldwin county pecans. A lobster cake salad and Capese salad complete the greenery.
There’s more…pasta – rigatoni, lasagna, and Cajun alfredo ($16-$18) also, a variety of pizza including a roasted pulled duck pizza. The 10 inchers go for $8 plain to $15 for the seafood-topped pizza. Want to build your own? Break out the plastic…toppings are extra and expensive- $1.50-$3 each.
The Cobalt burger headlines the sandwich list ($8-$11) along with a DIY burger, chicken breast sandwich and roast beef. PoBoys, a super grilled cheese, and a BLT & E (egg) completes the sandwich list.
So what did we eat? Salad and a poboy. Unfortunately they were out of the Honey Balsamic Duck salad, so the Lobster Cake Salad subbed for it. The two delicately prepared cakes arrived on a bed of beautiful tossed mixed greens. The Champagne citrus vinaigrette was tart and nicely complimented the grapefruit segments and pistachio nuts. The lobster cakes were ample and mild. It was a tasty meal and would recommend it for salad eaters with a medium to small appetite. The shrimp poboy was ample with a very generous amount of fried shrimp on an eight-inch roll with fresh tomato and chopped lettuce. Fries along side made it a good meal for a sandwich eater with a big appetite.
The wait staff was attentive and knowledgeable-it’s a new restaurant so people have questions. Our waiter did a good job on selling the place to us.
2011: Snowbird reporter Kern comments: "Cobalt's brunch buffet is a winner! We went this Sunday. They have an eclectic mix of offerings. I loved the shrimp creole and the pork tenderloin. The two stratas were excellent, especially the avocado & andouille. At the same time, the french toast was as good as a dessert item. $2 bloody mary is a bargain. "
Click here for more photos and experiences from Cobalt Restaurant !
Popular with locals, who as everyone down here knows, have limited choices. Pretty much the same menu you will find anywhere, with the exception of some 'specials' that are fried, cheese, & calorie overkill.
Noisy and grimy looking, not much on atmosphere. There is bluegrass in one room on weekends, but the noise level is such that you have to be really close to the band to hear them.
The service, while attempting to be dutiful, constantly interrupted and removed dishes from the table before all diners had finished eating. The slaw was good. Stick to the fried or broiled fish.
A bit confusing as a shopping center has opened down the road on Perdido Key w/ the same name. This restaurant is at The Wharf on Canal Road. Opened by the same couple who opened Ginny Lane Restaurant a few doors away. So far, so good. They make their own fresh potato chips...yum...and offer an array of Mediterranean themed dishes. They do the wood fire pizza thing, have pasta dishes, lamb, soups, salads and things like Gulf Shrimp Artichoke Heart. I don't see anything spicy in the menu (alas) and it is not cheap. The Nicoise Salad Orange Beach Style (I didn't know OB had a style) was a bit of a surprise. It was separate piles of the various ingredients, not a mixed salad as you might expect. My lunch companion commented that she didn't want to do work like cutting things up and mixing when she spent this much on lunch. I on the other hand was thrilled that her plate was so big and she never takes home leftovers, so i knew I'd get to have it for supper later :o)
I had the fish sandwich ($12) which was delicious and I ate it all...
I am eager to go back and try some of the other very interesting sounding dishes like Lamb Lollipops, Mussels in White Wine, Persian Fold. .
Nice and quiet the day we were there...Leave the kids at home or bring lots of money.
Snowbird Reporter Ken offers his own review from a Feb 2012 visit:
The appearance of the restaurant reminds us a lot of it's sister-restaurant Elli - down to the white paper table coverings. Unlike Elli, they are more generous with their bread offering,which is served with a nifty oil and olive tapenade accompaniment.
Carol had one of the $8 lunch specials: Basil chicken pasta (pictured). She liked it a lot and thought it was a fine value. I had an Italian club sandwich (pictured): grilled chicken, proscuitto, green tomatoes, red peppers, and fontina cheese on focaccia bread. The bread had a sweetish taste - reminiscent of pizza dough (no surprise, considering the busy pizza oven). The bread slices were a bit thick, but the bottom layer soaked up all sorts of flavorful juices. Good, crispy house-made chips were very lightly salted - with sea salt, I think, which is a nice touch.
We had encountered Cristina, our server at a different restaurant last year, and remembered her fondly. She was both pleasant and professional- a combination we don't always see down here.
The restaurant was quite busy. The high ceiling seems to absorb noise pretty well. We didn't see any little kids, but this was, after all, a weekday's lunchtime.
Two beers, two lunches, and a bill a little south of $30. Good value!
Wintzell's Oyster House is an old fav in South Alabama. The downtown Mobile location (Dauphin St.) has that 'looks like it has been here forever" ambiance. They have opened an Orange Beach restaurant in the old Ruby Tuesday's location on Beach Blvd and we recently had a wonderful lunch at the, also new, Spanish Fort location. It was a chilly December day and we were thrilled that the Wintzells we slipped into was warm and cozy in both temp and friendliness. We quickly ordered a couple cold beers and an order of mixed cooked oysters to share. The waitress saw we were chilled to the bone and she quickly brought us a basket of fantastic warm bread w/ crisp crust. I know, you are thinking that it doesn't take much of a drop in temp to send us into arctic shiv-v-v-v-vers and you are RIGHT.
Everything about our lunch at Wintzell's was great. The oysters were delicious, fixed three ways and the waitress even showed up with a SECOND basket of their yummy New Orleans style bread. Great service, great food, and great attention to detail. When we were close to finishing a manager type came to our table and asked it everything was good. He actually gave a damn and he didnt know us from Adam's house cats ! So two thumbs up for Wintzell's. (1/6/2011)
We made a dinner outing to the Orange Beach Wintzell's in what used to be the old Ruby Tuesday location. It is a great spot with some wetland views, good access, outdoor and indoor seating, and great exposure on the main beach highway. It was too chilly to eat outdoors so we sat in a booth inside. Our poor waiter seemed tired from his day. We ordered the Crawfish Etoufee and the catch of the day , Triggerfish. We love Triggerfish and it is hard to come by most of the time. Usually it is thick white and very flaky like Cod. For $18.99 we received a overcooked, thin bit of a white fish that may have been trigger, I don't know. I think it was tilapia.
We remembered the great toasted bread from our Wintzell's Spanish Fort experience. Our waiter never brought any until we asked. Our lackluster meal was not cheap. Our total for 2 domestic beers and the two above mentioned dishes was $43.71 before tip. Based on our first visit, we suggest you stick to oyster dishes at Wintzells which is their specialty or go elsewhere. (5/25/2011)
An addendum from our web helper John: I've had a similar experience with this location, and their oysters were no better. I ordered a fried platter to sample everything... the shrimp was tough, the fish was flavorless and barely there... just enough to hold together two layers of breading. The oysters also were overbreaded, then overcooked. I also couldn't identify any actual bits of crabmeat in the stuffed crab. I thought their hushpuppies were fair... but then I'm not the biggest fan of hushpuppies.
Frank and Lola Love Pensacola Café
Margaritaville Beach Hotel
165 Fort Pickens Road
Pensacola Beach, FL 32561
We flew into Pensacola airport and arrived late afternoon so we thought that might be a great opportunity to go check out the Jimmy Buffet hotel Margaritaville on Pensacola Beach and try the restaurant for dinner.
First thing you notice are two open air bars sitting on the sand on either side of the main hotel building. One is called Land Shark Landing and we don't know what the other place is. It is not that we wern't curious, it is just that the access is limited from the hotel itself and we had a hard time finding the entrances. Turns out you must drive up a steep ramp to get to the hotel front door. No where to park but they do have valet parking. No ground level entry except maybe in the covered under-building parking area. Once you get in the hotel you feel as if you are walking into a large Hampton Inn or similar. Not much of a tropical feeling, kinda sparse and boring. The main restaurant is off towards the elevated pool on one end of the building. They call it Frank & Lola. They offer indoor and out door dining at nondescript tables on a plain porch on the nondescript fake stucco building. You really get a rather budget-y feel from the decor.
We sat outdoors and had a wonderful view of a lovely sunset. They do have a great location at Margaretaville. Our young male server was noticeably nervous and tended to repeat things. He was nice and trying hard.
The drink menu has lots pricy drinks w/ cute names. I tried a Mojito but it was odd colored, had odd stuff floating in it, too much ice and wasn't very tasty. A disappointment at $8.
The menu was totally uninspired. Same ole, same old. Sure they have fried shrimp, but so do gas stations here. One of us ordered the "Cheeseburger in Paradise" which was a fine hamburger. I had "Frank's Seafood Salad" which was so-so. Tiny shrimp, some calamari rings, some crabmeat I suppose since it is listed on the description. Nothing to "write home about".
All in all, don't expect much. Certainly not worth a trip to P'cola to experience. We suppose the tropical themed bar, when there is live music, surely has more atmosphere and could be fun if you were staying at this beach hotel. (5/23/2011)
It is so refreshing to be able to talk about some good food down here. Bahama Bob's on Beach Blvd. on West Beach in Gulf Shores has a couple menu specials that are better than the norm for the little local casual places. Their stuffed baked fish dish is really good even tho it is an imported fish fillet. The crab cakes are especially good. Very casual, "Lower the latitude-better the attitude" motto. Lunch specials, early-bird specials. Multi-tv sports coverage.
A small deli and bakery that seems to do a big lunch. They keep cupcakes and various sweets on hand for a quick sugar fix. I stopped on one day mid-afternoon and they were out of several things as it had been a big lunch for them. The owners are looking for a new location. The spot they are in now is hard to spot from the road. Call them if you need a birthday cake on your beach vacation.
Pictured above its the big Guy Harvey Boat Bar at The Wharf that looks our towards the marina. We have sometimes found it to be open for business...Call first.
In addition to the Boat Bar, the full service restaurant has outdoor seating facing the Marina and a big, sometimes very noisy interior dining area. There frequently seem to be large families with a lot of children in this restaurant.
Overall we have found the food at Guy Harvey's to be pretty good. The french fries are especially good. Really. Somehow they have managed to send good food out of the kitchen even when The Wharf has huge crowds due to free concerts, etc...and the restaurant is swamped. We still think that Cosmo's has better crab cakes, but for the most part, it is good eats at Guy Harvey's. They do serve Gulf shrimp,.. we have inquired.
Indoors can be VERY loud w/ karaoke, video machines and hard surfaces everywhere. Outdoors dining area is more serene, but watch out for large families and unruly kids.
We have had some very odd experiences at Guy Harvey's. One evening three adults, myself included, went rather late to have a farewell meal for the visitors amongst us. Here we sat enjoying our $20+ dinners while scores of unruly children ran circles around our table bumping chairs, etc..I calmly and very politely, in a low voice, up close, asked one of the dads if the kids could play at the empty end of the boardwalk while the parents lingered over drinks. At first he seemed sympathetic but soon after his wife asked him what I had wanted, they marched over to our table and pounced on us, half of his family circling our table like a covered wagon round-up, ordering us to go inside if we were bothered by the kids behavior and 13 year olds calling us names like "stupid old people" ...we went into shock. After we stopped trembling, one of us went indoors and requested that the management (what we should have done in first place...lesson learned) step in. They did and the rowdy, ill mannered group left promptly. Note to management: keep an eye on the outdoor dining area and stop this sort of thing before it gets bad and/or put those formal ropes back up around the dining area like you see in most European waterside outdoor dining establishments so it looks less like a playground.
Calypso Joe's in Orange Beach
For a refreshing change of pace, order the Crabmeat Gazpacho at Calypso Joe's on Marina Rd at Orange Beach Marina under Mango's restaurant. It is low cal, a good value, cool and refreshing and loaded with crispy tiny pieces of vegetables and real crabmeat (they say). After several days of those wonderful fried meals, this is a welcome treat. Speaking of Calypso Joe's, we were recently served the biggest, juiciest hamburger I think I have ever seen--another winner.
Well, as often happens in the Gulf Shores area--inconsistency rules !! I recently ordered the above mentioned gazpacho and noticed there was no crabmeat (name of the item: "Crabmeat Gazpacho") upon inquiring, I was told that it was there, I just must not have seen it, then after the staff went to the kitchen to ask, that returned to say that they left it out because the crabmeat on hand was "bad"...well, I suppose they did me a favor. I asked if it occurred to them to tell me that the dish could not be prepared as usual and offer other choices, no it didn't...happy ending...they took it off my bill :-)
Now I see they have changed the name on the menu to just "Gazpacho"...hmm mm..
Here's a more recent report from our intrepid gastronomical guru, Ken:
We try to have lunch at Calypso Joe's at least once during our winter's stay. Preferably we choose a day when it's bitterly cold up North, while we can enjoy an outdoor lunch overlooking the Orange Beach Marina. Nice location, although the interior of the place is rather dark and gloomy. Probably nice and cool in the summer.
This year we had a couple of sandwiches. Carol had the Bahama sandwich - two crab cakes on a hoagie roll. Nice, with a bit of Caribbean accent. I had media noche - pork, ham, swiss cheese pressed on a Cuban roll. I thought my sandwich was superior. The meat was freshly sliced from real pork shoulder and ham - not deli meats. The bun was nice and chewy. Both sandwiches were served with fries (lots of quantity, but nothing special) and slaw with a nice Caribbean flavor.
My beer (domestic 12-oz draft was a bit dear at $3.75, but I figured I was paying for the location. Our server - Peachie (really her name, she said) was attentive.
Overall - very satisfactory.
The Bahama Sandwich
The North Shore Grill & Hula Hula Tiki Bar (Closed)
People seem to have had mixed experiences there this summer. When we went it was better than average food for sure. The ribeye sandwich was delectable. Probably enuf calories for an army, but yum-yum. We also had the Piper Line Wrap and good baked beans. A glass of house wine was a reasonable $3. Chargrilled Oysters were a bit pricey at $18.99. Another night the glasses of house Merlot were only $2 each !!
Previously named Joey's North Shore Grill. Several rooms plus a nice front porch. Live music on some nights. It was live music every night when they first opened but we were told management has changed. Great fun decor. Kids would get a kick out of the tiki and Hawaiian themed stuff that is everywhere. The location is not so great, a bit too far north of the Intercoastal, but if they make it and have the same cook, stop by for a good meal.
We tried calling tonight (Sept 30, 2012) and got the answer machine. A cafe by the same name used to be on Perdido Beach Blvd. in Orange Beach, so don't be confused by out-of-date Google listings.
Mostly for tourists. The focus is on ribs and royal red shrimp. We liked the "Lonely Sailors Potatoes" and the price $1.99. They were garlick-y and zippy with a gravy like sauce. Ribs and Reds has a large menu for a one room restaurant, which brings us to the next comment...one big room, noisy and zero atmosphere. The BBQ beans were good and seemed right at home with the red/white checked tablecloths. The potato salad was light and had good crispy onions but needed some black pepper. Our wet ribs were served with a fingerbowl and slice of lemon. Nice touch. Skip the corn...yucky freezer tasting. We went on a slow, off season night, our waitress was sweet and attentive but unfamiliar with the deserts. It is rare for wait staff to be trained down here in LA.
Open 7 Days A Week
Fri and Sat.:11:00am-11:00pm
Summer Time maybe open to midnight
Orange Beach: (251) 981-5855
Add.: 25405 Perdido Beach Blvd Ste 19
Orange Beach, AL 36561
Located in the Winn-Dixie Shopping Center
Gulf Shores: (251) 968-2115
Add.: 2200 E 2nd St. Unit K
Gulf Shores, AL 36542
Located in the Gulf Pine Centre
This small shopping center Chinese food shop has been in operation a long time. They have one location in Gulf Shores and one in Orange Beach.
Years ago I got carry out from them many times, but I recall having several meals that I felt were quite greasy so I stopped. Flash forward a bunch of years....last night we got an evening carry out order from the Gulf Shores location of Mongolian Beef, Triple Delight in Spicy Garlic Sauce, a couple egg rolls and some Hot n Sour soup. It was GOOD !
Not only was it good but it came in these nice reusable black plastic trays with removable clear lids. We love these as they nest well in storage and are perfect for leftovers. I run them thru the dishwasher repeatedly with no ill effect. Our huge meal came to a total of $27 ! On a Friday night. I am loving that. And we have enough leftovers for a second supper for two. Their website says new owners took over in 2002. And they deliver ($1 chg. plus tip of course) !!!
Decor in both locations is utilitarian, but service in our experiences has been friendly and efficient.
They use imported frozen shrimp so you may want to pass on the shrimp dishes.
The Gift Horse in Foley AL occupies a very interesting and historic building. It is worth sticking your head inside just to have a look around. But since you can't eat history, you might want to eat elsewhere. We went for lunch recently, out of season, and there was a one-price buffet. Looked like a good value at first glance. The cloth tablecloths and napkins are a welcome touch. While the presentation attempted to look 'grand', the quality of the food was not. My chowder soup had lumps of raw flour in it and did not taste like it was made with real butter. The unimaginative and bland food is of a type probably most popular with snowbirds and the elderly. Ditto the service. My companion experienced stomach cramps the afternoon following our visit. Since I ate different dishes, I was spared.
In the location of Bayside Grill and Fatbacks at the Marina just off Canal Road in Orange Beach. Great view. Good food. First time we went was on a crazy 'Locals Night' and the appetizers were great. We went for dinner another night and although there were many empty tables, we were told that it would be a 45 min wait, so we left. On the next visit, it was lunch. My Shrimp Salad Sandwich was good. I deliberated for a long time over what to order. When we finally ordered, the waitress informed us..."Oh we are out of such-and-such (can't remember what it was)" and I am thinking, why didn't she tell us this when she brought our drinks ? I spend a long time deciding and it was an emotional decision ! Our waitress was proud to tell us that she had worked for years in one of Mobile's top restaurants, so you'd have thought she would be better trained.
My Shrimp Salad Loaf ($8.95) had chopped crisp bacon and some good slaw. The yummy flavored butter and bread was a nice touch while we waited on our food. My companion's Artichoke Ravioli w/ Lump Crab ($12.95) was very rich...too rich...since ravioli as kinda gummy to begin with, a lighter sauce would have been nice.
This is not a 'Before and After' photo ! I don't know about you, but I think this is a weird way to 'decorate' the ravioli dish (on right)...hmmm...brings back memories of the county fair and swirling rides :o)
Reader Ken G. from CT reports: We did go to Ship's Harbor Grill several weeks ago and enjoyed our meal very much. We haven't been back - so many restaurants, sooo little time ! They serve a very nice salad with dinner, and their house dressing is excellent - tomato-y with lots of nice fresh feta cheese. I must say that their crab cakes are the best we've had this side of Baltimore. Nice food - albeit presented strangely, good service and a good view of Perdido Pass.
Live Bait at the Wharf--GONE (The original still thrives)
Fish Camp Restaurant--GONE
Shipps Island Thyme--GONE
North Shore Grill & Deli ~ Hula Hula Tiki Bar--GONE
Mientje's at The Wharf--GONE
Jake's Steak House in Gulf Shores--GONE
Giggling Grouper --GONE
The Shrimp Boat--GONE
Sun Place Else--GONE
Sun Place Else II-GONE
Island Time Cafe-GONE
Esco's Seafood Tavern-GONE
Angler's Oyster Bar and Grill--GONE
Zeke's Down Under--GONE
Wok on the Beach--GONE
Island Time Cafe--GONE
Sip 'n Surf--GONE
MOSAIC at The Wharf--GONE
Sweet Pepper's Deli--GONE
The Beach Hut-GONE
Geno's Fresh Catch Grill-GONE
Smokey Blues BBQ--GONE
The Wheel House--GONE
Gulf Shores Rule of Thumb:
Generally, the smaller the restaurant / the better the food.
(there are some exceptions, see below.)
'Round Back Restaurant on Fort Morgan Rd
Laney DeJonge's comments:
I thought I would share 2
experiences at the 'Round Back restaurant on Fort Morgan Rd.
1. We were eating there and my boyfriend ordered the club sandwich and asked
to have no tomato on it. The waiter replied, "uhhh, I will try to do that,
but I don't know." Apparently he was having issues with the female cook
there. We pointed out how that would actually make it easier on her, less
work not to have to put the tomato on the sandwich, unless of course, their
sandwiches were pre-made. He said he would talk to her and try to get the
tomato off. When the sandwich was delivered, there was a tomato on top.
You have to wonder why he didn't take the tomato off before serving. This
wasn't a big deal, but it just shows a lack of understanding about serving
your guests as a waiter.
2. Another time a friend of mine was eating there and some people came in to
get a to-go order 30 minutes before they closed (they close at some early
time like 8:00) and the waiter said they couldn't do to-go orders 30 minutes
before they closed, but they could be seated and eat there. The guests
asked why they couldn't get it to-go. The waiter said, "we have a policy
that we don't take any to-go orders after the cut-off because when people
call in, they may not show up before we close." The guests said, "but we
are here, we have showed up." The waiter said, "sorry but that is the
policy". So the people sat down, ordered and received their food, each took
a bite, and then asked for to-go boxes.
King Neptunes Comical Experience - Gulf Shores
Casual Atmosphere, Casual Dress, Casual Service
We went out to dinner at King Neptunes on Hwy 59 in Gulf Shores with 3 out of town guests who wanted seafood. It happened to be the evening after Tropical Storm Isidoro had passed thru (9/26/02) not so all the usual places were not open. In fact we originally went to West Beach but found the whole area to be without electricity.
Our waiter in King Neptunes brought our menus and hurried off to the television over the bar to watch a football game. We then spent most of the night trying to pry him loose from the TV long enough to take our orders and bring out the food. He told us he had money riding on the game and it was 'very important'. One of the older ladies in our group asked him about wine. he assured her that they had wine and it was all "French wine"..she insisted on knowing what it was she was ordering so he said he'd go check, Upon his return, he told us he was sorry, that he was mistaken, the wine was all "Sutter Home". She decided to order some and he brought it in a little clear plastic cup (think airlines). She asked for a glass but was told something akin to 'Nope, this is what wine comes in'
When one in our group ordered a side order of hushpuppies, our waiter told us that the kitchen screws things up a lot, so if we didn't get it to remind him later and he'd try to get some for her. Sure enough, when our food came, there were no hushpuppies--so we reminded him (after waiting for a TV commercial), and he replied "see just like I said"...he did bring some out in a few minutes. When we needed anything we would fling our arms wildly in the air to try to catch his eye during TV commercials.
I ordered a Caribbean Combo platter. The grilled tuna was rare as requested and tender, fresh & good. The 'mango salsa' was not salsa--just some chopped bits of mango and jalapeno pepper. The platter's grilled shrimp were a bit dry and the fried coconut shrimp were good (Gulf Shores knows how to FRY) served with an unexciting dipping sauce. Everyone else at the table thought the food was acceptable, not thrilling. The 'garlic bread' is not very good. Everyone thought their fish was fresh and tasty. We asked, and were told that King Neptunes serves only local fish & does not serve any Asian imports.
The service was absurd and comical. When we asked for the check, the waiter showed up and handed it to me with a "Here you go Money Bags".....he later commented that he said that since I was looking in my purse and he said usually when he brings the check everyone at the table looks away hoping someone else will grab it. Maybe he thought we should just be grateful to find anyone to cook for us on the day of a storm, or maybe this is the norm in the evenings, most of my visits there in recent years have been in the daytime when the wait staff is more involved in the task at hand..
We did notice that he failed to put our glass of wine and one beer on the ticket, but we decided that he would much rather be allowed to stay glued to the football game than be distracted with our food ticket observations, so paid and left.
This one place is now called Doc's Seafood Shack....new owners I am told. The former RJ's Fishhouse in the small shopping center on Hwy 59 in Gulf Shores we had a crazy experience. When after ordering an au gratin dish, your waiter recommends that you change the order, since, he tells you that it is pretty bad....this should be a red flag. Our friends should have left, but didn't and stayed on to eat. Big mistake. My personal experiences there have bordered on the surreal--more akin to a Sat. Nite Live skit than an enjoyable meal experience. I ordered a supposed ginger marinated grilled tuna steak rare. I received an overcooked dry piece of fish with no taste of ginger. When I asked for some grated ginger to try to jazz it up--the kitchen didn't know what ginger was, the waitress told me after a brief kitchen conference. I explained what ginger was and eventually the waitress returned with a little paper cup of powdered ginger like we use for gingersnaps ! Along with the fish, I had previously frozen mixed veggies--that tasted like TV dinner food. Oh well, the waitress was sweet and sympathetic. Maybe it is much better now--don't know.
Do you have local restaurant adventures that you think others would enjoy reading about? Send us your Gulf Shores restaurant experiences and we will try to include the most entertaining ones on this site.
Memorial Day weekend, my sister-n-law called Sun Place Else II to order a carry out meal around lunch time...she was told that the cook didn't show up and maybe she could get some food later. My sister-in-law said "Girlfriend, I am HUNGRY NOW...." while she was figuring out what to do next, (one does not have a lot of choices on Ft. Morgan Rd), the phone rang. The restaurant had used caller ID to get her number and called back and said "we are fixin' you a hamburger and some fries right now that you can come pick up" . So alls well that ends well !
Are we too 'picky' ?? Maybe we are 'too picky' for this area, but we are so weary of being disappointed in our restaurant experiences in the Gulf Shores area.
If you go to Mobile for a day trip----treat yourselves----go to The Yen, authentic Vietnamese food, at 763 Holcombe Ave. A family run business with fantastic and very reasonably priced food. Whenever I go, I get two carry-outs for the next day at home. They are closed on Mondays. Open for lunch and dinner, phone 251-478-5814.
I try to order something I have never had each time I go. Never disappointed. I especially liked the Vermicelli Combination dinner with pork, Banh Xeo, a pork and shrimp crepe with coconut, bean sprouts, onions, & cilantro ($5.75), and the rare beef and calamari w/ lemon juice and ginger appetizer salad. The Tofu and vegetables in curry dish that I expected to be spicy hot, was not. (I like hot)-- The shrimp wrapped sugar cane and the crab claws wrapped in meat are recommended. Do not leave without the home made sweet lemon yogurt...it comes in a plastic cup with lid, so you can easily take home what you don't finish. Off I-10, you can go north on Duval St (Dauphin Island Pkwy exit) almost straight to it--see Mobile map here. The Mobile Bay Monthly in July 1998 called The Yen "Mobile's Best Kept Secret"
What to avoid.....
Avoid buying unlabeled shrimp at local grocery stores. If it doesn't say LOCAL or GULF COAST, then it most likely Asian, previously frozen shrimp, probably treated with STP and who knows what else. You can buy these frozen, imported shrimp at your local grocery at home. When in Gulf Shores...buy all your shrimp from local seafood shops to get fresh GULF Shrimp and be sure to ASK.
Avoid buying any shrimp from trucks parked along side the road with a sign leaning up against it. This should be a no-brainer.
If you order catfish, ask specifically if it is USA catfish. Ditto crawfish. The Asian imports are doing terrible damage to our AL and Miss catfish industries. Alabama is the second largest producer of catfish in the United States according to Baldwin EMC. The catfish industry in Alabama employees 23,000 folks. Tell the restaurants that you want local catfish and Louisiana crawfish NOT Asian imports. ASK FOR ALABAMA WILD SHRIMP !!! (This does not mean that they stay up late partying)
Mahi-Mahi is the Hawaiian name for dolphin (the fish NOT the marine mammal!), also known as Dorado. Most restaurants use the name Mahi-mahi rather than dolphin, so as not to have any confusion with the marine mammal of the same name. Mahi-mahi have an iridescent blue body, and yellowish bellies; they lose their color rapidly once out of the water. Their flesh is very low fat (less than 1%), with a firm moist texture and mild, almost sweet flavor. Mahi-mahi are found in warm waters around the world.
Secret Tip: If you have read this far on this long page then you deserve to know a great secret. In summer when every restaurant is jam packed and you can't get a table for an hour. Have breakfast or lunch at one of the golf course clubhouse dining rooms. The food is great, ditto the service, no crowds and no highchairs !! Think about it, the golf course dining facilities do not have to make a profit to stay open. They are there as a service to the golfers. Prices are very reasonable and many times the food is made from scratch with more TLC than the mass audience restaurants in town. You could get carry-out to take to your condo. Here is a list of golf course dining options that are open to the public:
Perdido Bay Golf Club--The Legends Bar & Grille-Breakfast, lunch served 7 days a week, dinner served Wed, Thurs, Fri 5 p.m.to close in summer. Kids 10 and under eat free.1 Doug Ford Drive, 850-492-1223 website
Lost Key Golf Club-625 Lost Key Drive, Perdido Key, FL 850-549-2177 website The restaurant at Lost Key Golf Club is open 7 days a week serving breakfast and lunch.
Monday through Sunday. Breakfast Mon - Sat 7a.m. - 10a.m., Sundays until 10.30a.m.
Lunch, 11a.m. - 3p.m. Bar Service until 5p.m. Through out the year Lost Key offers several special occasion Themed Dinner Buffets and Brunch Buffets. * Chef prepared Sushi every Thursday 11am-3pm, Italian Night Dinner Buffet, Seafood Night Dinner Buffet, Reservations are suggested for special events as they do fill up quickly. Please call 850-549-2177
Peninsula Golf & Racquet Club--20 Peninsula Boulevard -- Gulf Shores, Alabama 36542 ph. 251-968-8009 / 1-800-391-8009.
Located on Fort Morgan Road, about 5 miles down from Hwy 59. The Peninsula Restaurant is open daily for breakfast and lunch. They have a full service restaurant with a wide variety of menu items. For evenings: Looking for the perfect place for your wedding reception, dinner rehearsal, family reunion, business luncheon, or company party? website
Kiva Dunes--Ph: 866.540.7100, 815 Plantation Drive, Gulf Shores, Alabama 36542. Located out Fort Morgan Road, pretty far down towards the fort. -located at the award winning golf course, the lunch is really good at the Kiva Dunes Clubhouse. I think the home made potato salad is some of the best I have ever had. Get extra for the fridge ! website
If you would like for us to visit your restaurant, you can speed up that process by dropping us a gift cert. in the mail. Being a restaurant reviewer does not pay very well, so we must progress at a slow pace. But you can watch us spring into action when we have the joy of a free meal to light a fire under our tails. We will visit your restaurant unannounced and just present our gift certificate when it comes time to pay...but we promise to tip the wait staff in the usual manner, on the full amount, in cash. Our mailing address is :
P.O. Box 734
Gulf Shores, AL 36547
Had to let you know how informative your reviews are.
Absolutely fell in love with Gulf Shores about 18 years ago when we were weary trying to get to Florida and just stopped in Gulf Shores.
Can't afford to live there but sure enjoy our visits... Last time was Ivan. Thanks again for your CANDID info, " Tammy S. , 04/2010
"I truly enjoyed your site. The restaurant reviews will be most helpful when my husband and I return for our third year in a row to Gulf Shores/Ft. Morgan in August. We have always wondered about a lot of the restaurants you have reviews on, now we know! I will check back for updates frequently." Erin H., Baton Rouge, LA 70806
"Thanks so much for putting together your restaurant reviews. We are planning our second trip to Gulf Shores and used a lot of your suggestions on the last trip. Sorry to hear Mosaic is closed :( These businesses seems so under capitalized these days. They need to plan on five years to turn a real profit but they never give themselves a chance to get the word out. I write restaurant reviews as a hobby just for my facebook crowd and I can tell you have many of the same pet peeves I do... kids, loudness, bad service of course, boring food... ;)Love your information. I like it when you put the restaurant menu links on there because I'll just print them out and bring them with me to the condo. Thanks again!! " Kim Chitwood---Meridian Realty - Saylor & Assoc. Fayetteville, GA
I just read your restaurant reviews and I have never read reviews that I agreed with more. We have lived in Orange Beach since Jan 2002 and agree with your every assessment. We eat out quite often and are dismayed at the lack of quality in dining out. People come to visit and want to know where our favorite place to eat and quite often it is at home. I will say that I have always enjoyed the food and atmosphere at Cosmos and the happy hour at Cobalt's (Firecracker shrimp and $5.00 cheese pizza. Our office is at San Roc Caye and I do like the daily specials and hamburgers at North Side Grill. Grazzi's..after you get past the salad and the bread with garlic you might as well go home. It was great to read your reviews.
Thanks again for your reviews...I also agree about the Tin Top...very very over rated..Give me Kity Kat's at Pinnacle for a good decent right priced lunch.
Best Regards, Carol Nabors---RealtySouth Orange Beach
I have enjoyed reading your reviews for the past 5 years - since my wife and I have spent the winter months here. (Yes - we are snowbirds)--Ken Graham , CT