About three and a half hours east of New Orleans is a 32-mile stretch of impossibly white sand beaches on the Alabama coast. The area is home to popular beach towns, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, which are separated by the beautiful, protected Gulf State Park. Welcome to the land of crab claws, Bushwackers, and mullet — some might argue you haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the annual Flora-Bama mullet toss (only some, though). Still, there’s more to the area than party bars and fried seafood, and this guide is here to help.Read More
Where to Eat in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama
Where to find the best crab claws, Bushwackers, and mullet (the fish)
The Beach House Kitchen and Cocktails
Another casual favorite for lunch is the Beach House, a friendly local favorite that infuses a fresh, classic beach menu with Caribbean influences. Blackened grouper, a Southwest cobb salad, and a stellar burger are all highlights, with other customer favorites like coconut shrimp, a smoked BLT, and Wisconsin cheese curds. There’s a daily happy hour with $5 appetizers and drink specials, but if you sit at the bar the happy drinks flow all day and night long.
Pink Pony Pub
Pink Pony Pub is a classic beach bar, and this one’s been around forever — since 1956, to be exact. A bright pink beachfront building beckons for satisfying bar food like super-loaded nachos, fried shrimp, and a customer favorite, the burger on sourdough. This is the spot to drink cocktails in all the colors of the rainbow, some not necessarily found in nature. Leave all pretension at the door and enjoy the fun.
Sea N Suds
Sea N Suds is a must for lunch while in town, a gloriously old school spot that sits on stilts right on the water. You’ll find it full of happy families, usually necessitating a brief wait, but grab a frozen from the bar on the back deck and enjoy the view. This place is best for fried seafood — get the crab claws for the table to start, followed by fried shrimp or oysters. The salad bar is a throwback, complete with bacon bits, steamed green beans, and hard-boiled eggs. Tuesdays and Fridays bring a fried mullet special, which this part of the Gulf is known for. The gumbo is surprisingly solid.
Cosmo's Restaurant & Bar
Cosmo’s is a sweet little spot with a charming, dog-friendly patio and a homey, welcoming feel. A menu of classic Southern cuisine from a trio of talented chefs has occasional Japanese, Filipino, and Caribbean influences, ranging from blue crab and corn calas to savory cheesecake to banana leaf-wrapped sea bass. Live music, nightly specials, and a warm atmosphere make this place a worthwhile visit.
Big Fish Restaurant
Big Fish offers something different in Orange Beach, specifically some of the best sushi you can expect to find in the area. The rest of the seafood-heavy menu is also influenced by Japanese flavors, mixed in with unexpected options like meatloaf muffins. Overall, it’s an unassuming spot in that packs a big punch, and is a good option when you’ve tired of fried seafood (if that’s possible).
Doc's Seafood Shack & Oyster Bar
Doc’s has been a hugely popular Orange Beach institution for decades. And while it might not always be quite worth the wait it sometimes requires, it’s a classic bet for satisfying fried seafood, chicken, and cookout sides after a morning at the beach. Skip the crab cakes but try the stuffed crab, or go with a make-your-own seafood platter. And be sure to cap off the meal with a salted caramel Bushwacker.
Fisher's Upstairs at Orange Beach Marina
Fisher’s is perhaps the most coveted dining destination in Orange Beach, a longtime, well-known destination for fine dining in a lively, bustling atmosphere. Try dishes like crispy octopus, rabbit ravioli, and swordfish with hoppin’ John from James Beard Award semifinalist Bill Briand. Downstairs is Fisher’s Dockside, a more casual, kid-friendly option.
Voyagers is a splurge, a white tablecloth date night destination in the Perdido Beach Resort, and a chance to try unexpected dishes like ostrich carpaccio, tuna tiradito, and broiled Gulf oysters topped with foie gras and smoked bone marrow compound butter. The chicken-fried lobster, grouper, and tuna Wellington are among the creative seafood entree options, but there are plenty of non-seafood dishes here, like the Perdido-stuffed chicken, bolognese, and pork chop.
The Gulf - Orange Beach
This 10-year-old restaurant and bar made from shipping containers spills onto the beach, giving it a resort-like feel with couches and cabanas and a chance to dig your toes into the sand. The beachy, light fare matches its airy atmosphere, with highlights like smoked tuna dip, fish tacos, a shrimp and lobster roll, and the swordfish Rueben as top options. Prices are on the high side but fair, particularly because the restaurant makes an effort to lesson its footprint with compostable dishes and sustainable practices. Dog-friendly.
OSO at Bear Point Harbor - Orange Beach
OSO is situated off the beaten path in the Orange Beach community of Bear Point Harbor, and the drive down the island it requires makes for a bit of an adventure. Come here to catch live music and have drinks in a laid-back, fun atmosphere on the water. On the extensive menu, your best bets will be the simpler options like peel-and-eat shrimp, tacos, the blackened fish burrito, and fried grouper sandwich.