Alabama Gulf Coast’s Best Restaurants: Eat Like A Local

Eva Faircloth - October 24, 2013

Most visitors come to the beach with a hankering for seafood. Fortunately, Coastal Alabama is known for locally caught seafood delivered fresh to area restaurants.

On your next Gulf coast vacation, avoid the “tourist traps” and eat like the locals. So, if you want to know where the locals are dining, here’s a list of restaurants that keep area residents coming back time and time again.

Fried Seafood

Doc’s Seafood Shack has been a local standby for fried seafood since they opened in 1984. The sign says it all, “Laid Back Local Stuff.” You don’t go to Doc’s for the atmosphere. It’s a no frills, T-shirt and flip-flops kind of place. You go for the fresh seafood at a reasonable price. Doc’s has items on the menu such as grilled seafood and chicken, but it is best known for fried shrimp and oysters. Open for lunch and dinner, Doc’s has two locations in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, AL.

Fish River Grill 2 located on Highway 59 in Foley may not look like much from the outside, but don’t let appearances fool you. Inside you’ll find a menu full of seafood platters that come fried, grilled or Cajun seasoned. A personal favorite is the OMG Shrimp Feast Po’boy, and this is one item that lives up to its name. A foot-long po’boy filled to the brink with fried shrimp and covered in their crawfish pistol sauce, you’ll need a fork and a large appetite to eat it! Open six days a week, closed on Sundays, with live music nightly, this is a great relaxed atmosphere to enjoy some Southern style seafood and entertainment.

Indoor/Outdoor SeatingCosmos_Exterior2

Cosmos Restaurant and Bar on Canal Road in Orange Beach is a fun restaurant and bar scene offering specialty cocktails, and fresh and eclectic food. Favorites such as chicken roulade wrapped in bacon, sesame seared tuna salad and firecracker shrimp keep regulars coming back. Also, the Banana Leaf Wrapped Fish was also named one of “the top 100 dishes to eat before you die” by Alabama Food. Great patio seating and an indoor/outdoor bar make Cosmos’ bar equally as popular as its restaurant.

Pizza and Oysters

Papa Rocco’s built its reputation around the rather odd combination of pizza and oysters. And, yes, they excel at both even though their tongue-in-cheek motto is “Warm Beer and Lousy Pizza.” In fact, Papa Rocco’s has won the “People’s Choice Award” for Best Raw Oysters eight years in a row. Located on I-59 just a quarter-mile from the beach, Papa Rocco’s offers full menu service until midnight and live music nightly.

Casual, Fine Dining

Worth the drive is Tin Top Restaurant and Oyster Bar in Bon Secour. Located four and a half miles off I-59, Tin Top was designed to be “off the beaten path.” Nonetheless, you will find it packed most weekends as locals go to enjoy food with a New Orleans/Southern casual flare. The best way to describe Tin Top’s food may be “casual, fine dining.” The atmosphere is casual. In fact, the restaurant has the vibe of an old country store. But the fresh, locally caught seafood, fresh vegetables and Certified Angus Beef entrees compare favorably with dishes served in higher-priced fine-dining restaurants.

The Orange Beach and Gulf Shores restaurant scene is exploding. More than 25 new restaurants opened in 2013. We’d like to hear if you’ve found any new favorites or have an old stand-by you frequent when you come to the beach.