As someone that has grown up in the Southern U.S., I know my fair share of good food. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits… all of it is delicious to me, but I always enjoy trying foods that are authentic to the destination that I’m visiting. Remember that time I ate fermented shark in Iceland?? Well, some authentic foods are better than others and the Alabama Gulf Coast has some of the best and I recently discovered the best places to eat in Gulf Shores.
This place took quite a beating a decade ago when Hurricane Ivan came through and some of the most prolific foodie spots in the state were wiped off the map. When the rebuilding resumed, the restaurants were some of the first things to go back up. Initially, this created a problem. With only one or two restaurants open, lines were long no matter what meal you were trying to eat. This hit tourism hard, and the local economy took a beating for a time. However, a few short years later they were going strong again. All of the favorite spots were open and people began making their way to the beach for fun, sun and amazing food once again.
When I started planning my trip to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach just a few months ago, I looked up places to eat in Gulf Shores online and realized that seafood was on the menu of pretty much every restaurant. I absolutely love almost any type of seafood and couldn’t wait to sample what various restaurants had to offer. I was only in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach for a few days and my schedule was packed with visiting some pretty awesome attractions, but I made sure to dine at some of the area’s most popular restaurants as well. The ones listed below were some of my favorites, but I can’t wait to get back to the Gulf and try more.
Places to Eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach
This place has a colorful personality and for good reason. It is owned by Lucy Buffett, the sister of famed singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett. Many parrot heads call LuLu’s a second home, yet the food is the real star. When you go, make sure to try the fried green tomatoes. They are absolutely incredible and they come with a dipping sauce that is as well. The specialty of Gulf Shores is seafood and it is great at LuLu’s. I had the half and half basket featuring shrimp and fish. Of course all of the seafood tastes so good because it comes fresh from the gulf. There is a large drinks menu as well, which has drinks similar to the ones at any Margaritaville. To add to the ambience, ask to sit on the porch. You can enjoy a drink while you watch the sunset.
This is one of the liveliest places on the beach. Originally, it was known as a place to grab a quick bite to eat. They have delicious shrimp and grits, and their burgers are massive! If you leave hungry, it is certainly your own fault. Besides the food, they have world class drinks. Order classic bar cocktails, or try their own creations like the Sassy Southern Belle or the Shark Attack (complete with a plastic shark nose down in your drink). The laid back atmosphere can have you enjoying more than a few drinks on a lazy beach afternoon.
If music is your thing, The Hangout hosts an annual music festival with some of the biggest names in pop, country, indie, and alternative music. Every year the festival seems to add more acts and more stages. Don’t let the weathered wood exterior of The Hangout fool you. It is a must visit when you go and one of the best places to eat in Gulf Shores!
Two words about this place… yum yum! City Donut has only been around since 2013, but they have quickly become an Orange Beach mainstay. Serving donuts made from scratch and specialty coffee drinks, they are the perfect place to grab a quick morning bite. The red velvet donut might be the best thing I have EVER eaten in my life. I’m not even exaggerating.
If sweets are not your thing, grab a croissant or sausage kolache. Both are buttery, fluffy, and filling! You will put down that morning stomach growl for good. A word of warning… this place is not low calorie friendly, but if you are on vacation, you shouldn’t be either! Splurge a bit and this will quickly become one of your “every morning stops” during your vacation.
Tip: Try to get to City Donut before 9am, as they frequently run out of donuts pretty early.
Okay, so this one is technically a few paces up the road in Foley, Alabama. However, you have to pass through there if you are coming to or leaving Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Therefore, you have to stop in! They are the “home of throwed rolls”. What does that mean? Well, it means you better have your head up when they walk out with a tray of hot yeast rolls and start screaming “hot rolls, hot rolls!” All you have to do is hold your hand in the air and a hot one will come zinging towards you.
In addition to that, Lambert’s has traditional southern foods like chicken ‘n dumplings, chicken pot pie, country fried steak, meatloaf, and many other offerings. Sides include things like fried okra, corn, stewed okra and tomatoes, and several different types of beans. Many of the sides are served right on your table and you can get them as many times as you like. Just tear off a brown paper towel from the holder on your table, spread it out, and motion for them to come dish it out. This is a unique dining experience that is insanely fun! You will leave with a smile on your face and a full tummy. It’s also worth mentioning that wheelchair users eat for free at Lambert’s! 🙂
favorite best places to eat gulf shores orange beach
There are a plethora of other places to eat in the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach area. All of them offer amazing seafood with prices ranging from fast food to fine dining. The ones in my list happen to be iconic and some of my personal favorite places to eat in Gulf Shores. Try them and they might become yours.