It’s not hard to find the best restaurants in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama. The foodie scene on the Alabama Gulf Coast is full of unique eateries offering fresh, local deliciousness. After three visits to the area (and more than one food coma), I’ve put together this list of restaurants you shouldn’t miss.
Don’t Skip Breakfast in Orange Beach
The Ruby Slipper Cafe
For its incredible food, breakfast cocktails, and overall vibe, the Ruby Slipper Cafe is one of my favorite places to eat in Orange Beach. Eating is emotional and this restaurant hit all my buttons: homestyle menu items, unique cocktails, friendly service, comfortable atmosphere, and a touching story behind the store.
The Ruby Slipper Cafe was founded in New Orleans where the owners were inspired to create a place to “come home to” after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area. There are now eight (soon to be nine) locations to give you that “no place like home” feeling.
The Ruby Slipper Cafe is known for its incredible Eggs Benedict options including shrimp, pork, chicken, corned beef, and salmon. Can’t choose just one? Order the Peacemaker which allows you to mix and match any two Benedicts.
I sampled everyone’s food at my table and highly recommend the pig candy bacon (made with brown sugar – it’s TO DIE FOR), corned beef hash, stuffed french toast, and the Chicken St. Charles Benedict (fried chicken, poached egg, and cream sauce over a buttermilk biscuit). Also get an order of French Toast Batons for the table – they are crispy, sweet, and delicious!
And don’t forget your morning drink! Try a fresh Berry Mimosa, a Morning Margarita, or an Irish Cream Coffee. As a big fan of breakfast cocktails, I loved the tag line on their coffee mugs: “You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning.” Now that sounds like a beach vacation mantra if I’ve ever heard one!
Southern Grind Coffee House
This pretty little coffee shop is beautifully decorated in ocean hues, making it the perfect place to start your day at the beach. They offer fresh, healthy options for breakfast and lunch, as well as baked goods, gelato, and home decor. It’s a terrific spot to stop in for a meal or just to enjoy coffee, pastries, and a little local shopping.
I had the Jalapeno Potato Scramble for breakfast. It’s made with eggs, seasoned potatoes, cheddar cheese, peppers, onions, and jalapenos. With a side of toast and crispy bacon, this was a hearty breakfast with tons of flavors. And Southern Grind offers one of my favorite coffee options– Nitro Cold Brew, an extra-caffeinated coffee infused with nitrogen.
Whether you want a sit-down breakfast or a quick coffee and pastry, BuzzCatz will satisfy your breakfast sweet tooth. I had the hardest time deciding what to order because it all looked so amazing. My daughter went with a traditional breakfast of eggs, bacon and potatoes, but I had to go for the pastries.
BuzzCatz makes their own challah bread and stuffs it with love in the form of eggs, cheese, bacon, ham, sausage and/or veggies. They call it their Breakfast Hollah! I tried the bacon, egg, and cheese and it was divine. I’m also a sucker for any kind of hand pie, so their homemade, flaky, fruit-filled “Pop Tarts” kept me satisfied on my drive to the airport.
I had an incredible Cuban Coffee, which apparently is a southern thing because I’ve never found it in the northeast – or even heard of it before! It’s made by whipping sugar into the first, and strongest, drops of espresso. It’s hot, sweet, and strong. (All I have to say is Starbucks, get on this.)
Brick and Spoon
Named one of the “Top 10 Breakfasts in the US” by Travel + Leisure, the Brick and Spoon’s menu is chocked full of awesomeness. If you like seafood and a Bloody Mary for breakfast, this is your place!
I’d never seen a “starter” menu for breakfast, but the Brick & Spoon had one. I sampled “Deviled on the Bayou” – tasso deviled eggs topped with fried oysters & sriracha aioli. Definitely out of my comfort zone for breakfast, but really tasty! I then ordered Stuffed French Toast Sliders for my breakfast “entree.” The slightly crisp, battered French bread was layered with cream cheese and topped with blueberry compote, fosters sauce, whipped cream, and powdered sugar. Delicious.
The adventurous soul will love the Brick and Spoon’s “build your own Bloody Mary” menu. You’ll get a pencil and a handy checklist to help you choose from the 11 vodkas, 17 fruits and veggies, 7 herbs and seasonings, 9 meats and cheeses, and boiled or deviled egg. Phew!
Lunch and Happy Hour on Alabama’s Gulf Coast
The Gulf may be my new favorite out of the best restaurants in Orange Beach. It’s cozy, captivating, and chill. The outdoor bar, picnic tables, and couches on the sand beckon you to gather, sit, and relax. It’s like sitting on your back deck with your best friends, but with an unparalleled view and delicious food and drink served to you!
The food at The Gulf is fantastic. You’ll find burgers, fish and chicken sandwiches, tacos, fresh local seafood, salads and more. I enjoyed a few tasty adult beverages and a juicy chicken sandwich with crispy fries.
LuLu’s Gulf Shores
LuLu’s Gulf Shores restaurant is the perfect place to achieve that elusive blend of family and adult time. Founded by Jimmy Buffett’s sister, Lucy Buffett, LuLu’s is more accurately a family entertainment complex – not just a restaurant. There’s a clmbing structure, arcade, face-painting and hair-wrapping stations, beach volleyball, a sand and water-play area, hoola-hoops, and more. And with multiple outdoor bars around the complex, parents can enjoy a cocktail while the kids have a blast.
Oh, and the food is awesome, too! LuLu’s offers a classic American menu with tons of options and local flavors. I’ve tried their burgers, nachos, chicken, gumbo, fried pickles, fried green tomatoes, and smoked tuna dip.
LuLu’s has a separate allergy menu that is simply incredible for kids with allergies. They get their own menu, with food prepared by a separate chef on a dedicated grill, and a manager personally handles each allergy order. I was so impressed with LuLu’s dedication to handling allergies.
Warning: LuLu’s is a popular place, with wait times up to two hours in the summer for dinner. Which is why I recommend it for lunch.
You can’t beat the Royal Oyster to satisfy your fresh oyster cravings! This small restaurant feels more like a roadside-stand with its welcoming deck and wide selection of raw, roasted, and raw prepared oysters. Among my favorites were the chipotle bourbon and the parmesan. Their oysters are locally-sourced from Shellbanks Selects Oyster Farm, which I had the opportunity to tour and try my hand at shucking an oyster!
In addition to oysters, they offer shrimp, clams, crab cakes, burgers, steak and more. And they have an impressive drink menu with lots of signature cocktails. Try Mini’s Maple Magic, made with Maker’s Mark, maple syrup, lemon, mint, and soda. Yum!
Bill’s by the Beach
Another restaurant where the vibe really struck a chord with me was Bill’s by the Beach. Owner Bill Henry was a successful CPA who has lived all over the world, but always came back to vacation in Gulf Shore and Orange Beach. So when he had the opportunity to buy some land and open a restaurant, he jumped on it and it’s been a labor of love ever since. His passion shows in his food and service. His employees seem to love him, too – our server was so much fun and obviously loved his job.
While I only enjoyed dessert and wine (their wine list received Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence in 2016 and 2017!) at Bill’s by the Beach, I can safely say that the hospitality and beach-view location is worth a visit for any meal! Bill’s offers a wide variety of dining options including breakfast, soups, salads, tacos, sandwiches, pasta, meat, and seafood. After sampling all their desserts, my best bite was the Tropical Bread Pudding, a pineapple-y dessert topped with hot buttered rum sauce and salted caramel & vanilla bean gelato. I didn’t even get a picture of it because I was too busy shoveling it into my mouth.
Luna’s Eat & Drink
I could see myself hanging out at Luna’s for happy hour on a regular basis. Their huge craft beer selection, yummy appetizers, and comfortable bar are super inviting. Luna’s specializes in creating unique options with fresh, simple ingredients. One of the best examples of this is their Tomato Pie – which is like pizza baked in flaky pie crust. So simple. So savory and flavorful. Tomato Pie, a flight of beer, live music… what more do you need?
Best Restaurants in Orange Beach for Dinner
Ginny Lane is what I would call a casual-upscale restaurant. Here you’ll find live entertainment, a fun atmosphere, and a beautiful waterfront location, with just the right touch of elegance. They serve up fresh, local seafood and Certified Black Angus Beef.
We started our night at Ginny Lane with Short Rib Nachos and Blackened Shrimp with Fried Green Tomatoes. My kids devoured the nachos, but I didn’t mind because the shrimp dish was out of this world! The perfectly seasoned shrimp and the crispy, but warm and juicy, tomatoes were topped with a to-die-for remoulade. Not your typical mayonnaisey remoulade, this version was tomato-based with just a little creole kick. My mouth still waters when I think about it.
My main course was an outstanding blackened grouper topped with crab and served over mushroom risotto. And I enjoyed a couple of Ginny Lane’s specialty cocktails. How does a Watermelon Margarita sound? Or perhaps a Key Lime Pie Martini?
A cozy spot featuring live music and a big deck for outdoor eating, Cosmo’s pours a wide range of craft beer and delights you with colorful artwork at every turn. While the menu will tempt any seafood lover with catish, redfish, crab cakes, and tuna, Cosmo’s also offers burgers, sandwiches, and salads. And they have a daily selection of “savory cheesecake” – which I definitely need to try next time I’m in the area.
Cosmo’s is a great spot for families. The atmosphere is casual, fun, bright and energetic. They have a pretty traditional kid’s menu, and some clever “mocktails.” What kid wouldn’t love a Virgin Daquiri or a Blue Mermaid (Sprite, orange juice & a splash of Mermaid water)?
Located in Orange Beach Marina, Fisher’s offers two distinct dining experiences: the casual Dockside and the upscale Upstairs. Fisher’s Upstairs continues to be one of my favorite spots for fine dining in Orange Beach. When you want a quiet night out with your significant other, Fisher’s offers top-quality dishes and fabulous cocktails accompanied by a warm, classy ambiance. I discovered my absolute favorite drink at Fisher’s Upstairs: the Yacht Rocker, made with Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, rye whiskey, demarara, (I use a simple syrup), and blood orange bitters. I experimented with the ingredients at home and now enjoy this drink regularly!
At Dockside, you can sit by the marina and appreciate the view while savoring mouthwatering bites like cajun roasted oysters, crab claws, boudin balls, boiled peanuts, and the famous Murder Point oysters – farm-raised to be small and sweet. I also had a shrimp and grits dish that made me rethink everything I thought I knew about grits. Creamy, slightly firm, buttery, and seasoned to perfection, those grits live on in my memory.
Flora-Bama Ole River Grill
You might have heard of the world-famous Flora-Bama restaurant and bar on the border of Florida and Alabama. But did you know it has a sister site across the street? The Flora-Bama Ole River Grill is a family-friendly, sports bar-themed restaurant that has recently overhauled its menu. They’ve got a great dining area, a big bar, and an even bigger deck overlooking the water.
The Ole River Grill’s Chef Jon Gibson recently won the “Chef of the Year” Award for Wild American Shrimp and the American Shrimp Processors Association (ASPA). I had the opportunity to sit with Chef Jon and sample some of his creations like the Fried Mac ‘n Cheese Balls, Big Earl’s Shrimp & Grits, Sweet Tea Chicken Club (my personal favorite), and a Cobb Wedge salad that everyone at the table agreed had the BEST buttermilk ranch dressing we’ve ever tasted.
And don’t forget to try a Bushwacker. The mascot cocktail of Alabama’s Gulf Coast, the Bushwacker is made with coffee, rums, chocolate liqueurs, and vanilla ice cream, blended into a milkshake-like consistency. It’s the ultimate beach drink. I tried one at almost every restaurant, and still can’t say which one was best. But the Flora-Bama’s was definitely in my top three.
Best Dessert in Gulf Shores
The Yard Milkshake Bar
While most of these restaurants have great desserts, you don’t want to miss The Yard Milkshake Bar! Build your own “freak shake” or order one of their amazing creations. And you get to bring home your glass as a souvenir! Block out a good amount of time for your visit, because the wait can be two or more hours. But trust me, it’s worth it.
Grab a menu and a grease pencil when you walk in and choose your ice cream flavors and toppings. After you build your shake, bring your menu to the counter and they’ll take your order and give you a number. Then you wait. And watch everyone else’s milkshake creations come to life around you!
On a personal note, The Yard went out of their way to create a dairy-free shake for my nephew who has allergies. They scored big points in my book for that.
Stocking Your Vacation Rental Kitchen
Let’s face it, you may not want to eat every meal out during your vacation. Here are three places where you can stock your vacation rental kitchen with fresh, local deliciousness.
Blalock Seafood & Specialty Market
Pete Blalock has lived in Orange Beach for over 47 years, starting out in a truck delivering fresh shrimp. Today he has three locations for his seafood and specialty market, offering fresh local fish, meats, seasonings, sauces, dips, crackers, wine and more. Do not miss their smoked tuna dip, it was so good I had them pack me some on ice so I could take it home on the plane!
Burris Farm Market
Located at The Wharf at Orange Beach, Burris Farm Market is a one-stop shop for fresh fruits, veggies, soups, and sandwiches.
You’ll want some sweets to snack on, so stop by Rum Sisters to pick up a bunch of their award-winning, alcohol-infused cakes. Definitely try the Bushwacker Rum Cake and the Twisted Sista’ with Kahlua and chocolates! (Bonus tip: You can order their cakes online right now!)
Whether you’re eating out or cooking in, there are tons of options for locally-sourced, incredibly delicious food. Is your favorite on this list of best restaurants in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores?