Where to Eat and Drink In and Around Gulf Shores, Alabama

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Where to Eat and Drink In and Around Gulf Shores, Alabama. In this informative article we give our restaurant recommendations in and around the beach resort of Gulf Shores, Alabama.

king neptunes, gulf shores, alabamaGULF SHORES, ALABAMA, USA - Tourists flock to Alabama's Gulf Shores for its 32 miles of sugar white sand beaches, bordered by gently lapping warm (in the spring, summer and fall anyway) crystal blue water. No matter how devoted a beachcomber you are, however, you'll eventually need sustenance. Below are some of our favorite places to eat and drink in and around Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, from casual to elegant.

King Neptune's
While we managed to dine at a lot of places in and around Gulf Shores, King Neptune's was our favorite. We later found we were in good company in our admiration for the casual seafood restaurant, as Coastal Living Magazine named it "one of the top 25 seafood dives in the country."

There's nothing fancy here - just a "come as you are" local hangout that serves some of the best fresh-off-the-boat seafood you will ever eat. After living in a small California mountain town for the past year and a half, I'd almost forgotten just how sublimely delicious fresh wild shrimp actually are. The folks at King Neptune's quickly brought back the vivid flavors of my youth on the Mississippi and Alabama gulf coasts.

royal reds shrimp, king neptuneScroll down the menu and you'll find an extra special surprise -- Royal Red Shrimp. I had previously never heard of Royals Reds as locals know them, and with good reason. These tasty shellfish are rare, even in these parts - which is about the only place to get them. King Neptune's owner Al Sawyer, who worked in the seafood industry for Bon Secours Fishing before "retiring" to run his restaurant, explained that Royal Reds are caught only in the deep, deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, about 1000 miles from the Alabama Gulf Coast shores. The shrimp, true to their name, are red in color and have a flavor that is lies somewhere between lobster and shrimp. Al explains that King Neptune's is the only restaurant in the area that serves Royal Red Shrimp, and even he can't promise to always have them in stock.

"There's only one boat that supplies Royal Red Shrimp and we're at his mercy," says Al. "When we run out, we just need to wait until he decides to go out and fish again."

Because they're caught so far from shore, Royal Reds are preserved in salt and put on ice on the boat. Likewise if youre ver lucky to find them in a market, know that the shrimp should be rinsed well before cooking. The result will be a shell that imparts a slight salty flavor to rich sweet lobster-like meat inside.

crab claws, crab fingers, king neptunes, gulf shoresAfter his years in the seafood industry, Al Sawyer knows the waters of this area intimately well, as well as the people who can provide him their freshest bounty. You can get gulf shrimp - steamed, fried or prepared in some signature dishes. King Neptune's oysters come from the Bon Secours, an area of Gulf Shores that supplies oysters to most of the country (with the exception of the west coast). Of course, they're freshest here, and King Neptune's only serves Select Grade -- the highest grade of oysters.

Also not to be missed are the addictive crab claws - a favorite Gulf Coast snack that can be difficult (if not impossible) to find elsewhere.

There's a cornucopia of seafood to choose from, available steamed, grilled and/or fried. In addition to the aforementioned shrimp and oysters, you can look forward to snow crab, Alaskan king crab, and a variety of fresh fish. Non-seafood lovers can get a hamburger steak or a choice of several chicken dishes. Everyone will enjoy the superb sides - the cole slaw is near perfect and don't miss the fried green tomatoes.

The prices at King Neptune's are shockingly affordable, especially considering the quality of the food. They also offer a respectably extensive children's menu, making King Neptune's fabulous budget conscious choice for feeding the entire family.

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magnolia springs bed and breakfastMagnolia Springs/Jesse's
When you've had enough of the condo covered beachfront and the hustle of modern life, head toward the tiny nearby town of Magnolia Springs, Alabama. Founded around 1891 you'll feel as though you've stepped back in time. The mail carriers regularly deliver mail to Magnolia Springs residents by boat via bayou. Folks still sit on the porch under sprawling Spanish moss draped Live Oak trees at the Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast to enjoy a cool afternoon drink. Across the street the general store built in 1892 still serves as the town's grocery. Jesse King -- who ran the store for 62 years without ever taking a day off -- no longer works there, but his store lives on and so does his name.

chefr joey gilley, jesse's magnolia springsAdjacent to the market, in what used to be the Magnolia Springs Post Office, you'll now find an excellent restaurant - Jesse's, named for the local legend.

Old fashioned as the building that houses Jesse's may be, the cuisine is thoroughly modern, thanks to head chef Joey Gilley, who started at the restaurant right out of school and never left.

Known for steaks and seafood, especially not to be missed are the decadent crab and champagne bisque, and the Jack Daniels Whiskey Ribeye Steak.

In general you can expect upscale comfort food served with a southern accent at Jesse's. Jesse's is a Wine Spectator award winner and stocks over 250 wines ranging from $15.00 to $4000, so you're always sure to find the perfect bottle to accompany your meal.

If you need a great place stay, walk about a half block down the street to the Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast. Owner David Worthington serves a gourmet breakfast here that's so huge, you won't need or want lunch. Although come dinner time you'll be more than ready to take a walk over to Jesse's, where tourists andjesse's restaurant, magnolia springs locals alike like to gather. You're even likely to meet Magnolia Springs first (and current) mayor, Jesse's owner Charles Houser.

Ginny Lane, Vilaggio Grill, and the Intra Coastal Bread and Bottle Company
Tucked in the sleek new multi-use complex, The Wharf, Gulf Shores visitors can find a gem of a restaurant in Ginny Lane. Executive Chef Nick Fawal serves contemporary cuisine with a southern flair. Everything's fresh, homemade and flavorful. There's nice little extra touches here like perfect warm home baked breads served with herbed parmesan olive oil for dipping.

Desserts are spectacular, including a bread pudding that's one of the best we've ever had. In addition to lunch and dinner, Ginny Lane is also open for champagne brunch on Saturday and Sunday. There a nice selection of brunch entrees to choose from. We loved the rich flavorful cheese grits with shrimp and the home fried potatoes have a nice smokey nuance that makes them addictive.

The folks that bring you Ginny Lane have a second restaurant just a few doors down the street. While it wasn't opened when we visited Gulf Shores, it will be by the time you read this. If the quality of the food at Ginny Lane is any indication, diners will be in for a treat here too. The Vilaggio Grill serves creative sandwiches, pizzas and flatbreads from its wood burning oven, along with signature salads, drinks and desserts.

Adjacent to the grill is Intra Coastal Bread and Bottle Company, stocking a large and eclectic wine and fine cheese inventory, gourmet deli meats, along with Artisan breads and other fine baked goods, fresh in-house made donuts, and gourmet coffees.

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Lulu's
lulu's restaurant, gulf shores, alOwned by Jimmy Buffett's sister Lucy, Lulu's is a Parrot Head's paradise. The entire family will enjoy the casual atmosphere and tasty food and drinks at this expansive intra-coastal waterfront restaurant and bar.

Weather permitting, which is most of the time, the huge restaurant is open to balmy breezes coming in off the water. Recreational boats as well as enormous commercial barges regularly glide past Lulu's, or sometimes stop at the adjacent Homeport Marina, contributing to the restaurant's unique seaside atmosphere and giving diners lots of nautical scenery to gaze at.

Along with casual fare, including some first rate seafood and casual southern comfort food, Lulu's regularly offers live music - and you never know who might drop in. Even when there are no live bands, the sound system regularly cranks outs Buffett and Buffett-like music to keep the party rolling.

lulu's gulf shores, alabamaWhile the adults kick back, the kids can enjoy playing on the white sand beach - Lulu's provides all kinds of buckets, tools and other sand castle building essentials.

Be sure to get an order of Lulu's Famous Peel and Eat Shrimp, their addictive Crab Claws, and crispy Fried Green Tomatoes with Lulu's signature WOW sauce. Margaritas and other "boat drinks" are also a must here.

The Restaurant at The Beach Club
Those looking for a more upscale dining experience (within reason - this is a beach town) will want to head to the Beach Club. In addition to the restaurant, this elegant condo/hotel complex also boasts a first rate full service spa and some of the best beachfront property Gulf Shores has to offer.

seafood platter, restaurant at the beach clubLocated just 12 miles from the heart of Gulf Shores, the Beach Club offers a more private beach experience for its guests.

Diners at the Restaurant at the Beach Club enjoy contemporary cuisine, well prepared, accompanied by one of the most romantic settings in the South. Of course, as with most Gulf Shores restaurants, you can get marvelous seafood here, like the seafood platter pictured at left.

Sunset is an especially memorable time to enjoy a cocktail or appetizers on the outdoor patio while enjoying the expansive Gulf views.

The Ultimate Honky Tonk - The Fabulous Flora-bama
Enough elegance! This is the south, and if you're ready to get rowdy and kick up your heels Southern style, put on your jeans and John Deere hat, grab a canflora-bama lounge and package of Skoal, and head to the Alabama/Florida border for the ultimate honey tonk roadhouse experience at the "world famous" Florabama Lounge and Package - located mostly in Florida, with their westernmost border in Alabama.

Be warned, this is NOT a touristy, Disneyfied version of a Southern roadhouse - this is the real deal - the kind of place where women flash to get free CD's, the bands are required to play at least one Skynyrd song per set, and a fight just might break out (hell, a fight probably will break out).

That said, we had a blast at the Flora-bama.

The Flora-bama is a frenzy of activity. On the night we attended. Three bands were playing on three different stages - all of them first rate Southern rock. The liquor was flowing freely and there was dancing, hooting, hollering, and lots of fun going on everywhere.

the flora-bama lounge and packageCheck the Flora-bama's website for band schedules and a listing of upcoming special events, such as the interstate mullet toss.

While many of the club's buildings were damaged or destroyed in hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, that didn't stop the Flora-bama from rocking. Tents and temporary structures house the club until rebuilding can be completed.

When you've had enough of the noise and bustle, you can simply stroll out onto the sandy beach for a moonlight walk before returning to the party. A Waffle House -- another southern institution -- is conveniently located across the street for late night breakfast and after partying coffees. If that's not enough to sober you up, there's always a line of taxicabs lined up outside the entrance to the sprawling beachfront nightclub, right next to the line police cars - take your pick.

lulu's, gulf shores, labama, restaurantsPracticalities
King Neptune's Seafood Restaurant
is located at 9949 Highway 190 West in Gulf Shores, Alabama 36542. Phone 251-968-5464 or visit their website at www.KingNeptunes.com.

Jesse's Restaurant is located at 14770 Oak St. in Magnolia Springs, Alabama 36555. Call 251-965-3827.

The Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast can be found at 14469 Oak St. in Magnolia Springs, Alabama 36555. Call 251-965-7321 or click to www.MagnoliaSprings.com.

Ginny Lane, the Villagio Grill and the Intra Coastal Bread and Bottle Company are located in The Wharf complex, 4780 Wharf Parkway, in Orange Beach, Alabama 36561. Phone 251-224-6500 or click to www.GinnyLaneBarandGrill.com.

The Wharf can be found at 4985 Wharf Parkway in Orange Beach, Alabama 36561; 251-224-1008; www.TheWharfAL.com.

Lucy Buffett's Lulu's is located at the Homeport Marina at 200 East 25th Avenue in Gulf Shores, Alabama 36542. Call 251-967-LULU or visit their website at www.LuluBuffett.com.

You can find The Restaurant at the Beach Club in the Beach Club 925 Beach Club Trail in Gulf Shores, Alabama 36542. Phone 251-224-3600 or click to www.BeachClubAL.com.

The World Famous Flora-bama Lounge and Package is located on the Florida-Alabama border at 17401 Perdido Key drive in Pensacola, Florida. Phone 850-492-0611 or 251-980-5118 or click to www.Florabama.com.

For more information about visiting the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area, visit the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau website at www.GulfShores.com or call toll free 800-745-SAND or phone 251-968-7511



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