This trip was hosted by Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism but all delicious opinions are my own!
Recently, I was invited to attend a sponsored trip to the beaches of Alabama for what was dubbed a Beach Momcation. The idea was simple – take two moms and me – and send them on a worry-free beach vacation on the shores of Alabama. All we had to do was show up and the internet would take care of the rest by voting on our daily itinerary.
That took care of most of the activities. But Sarah and I also had another requirement for a good beach momcation: good food and good drinks. We didn’t plan any of that either but we were treated to some fantastic places to eat, ranging from casual to formal (don’t worry – you can probably still wear flip-flops) and inexpensive to higher value.
The end result is twofold.
- There is something for everyone at Alabama’s beaches.
- You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find!
Here are my top food picks for Alabama’s beaches from my recent trip to Orange Beach and Gulf Shores.
Tucked away in the Perdido Beach Resort is a fine dining restaurant that you’d never know was there unless a local took you. Luckily, I had a local take me! Voyagers, with Chef Brody Olive at the helm, serves up dry aged steaks and fresh seafood all with a beautiful view of the ocean.
We started with the Local Cheese & Charcuterie Board which includes locally cured and smoked meats along with “Sweet Home Farm” cheeses.
Although I’m a steak lover, I opted for the fresh seafood of the Gulf Shores of Alabama and ordered the Pan Roasted Gulf Grouper served with harissa cauliflower, crispy brussels sprouts, and blue crab sauce choron (which is essentially a tomato-bearnaise sauce).
And although we were stuffed by the end of the meal, Voyagers is known for its bread pudding. Instead of individual servings, the chef prepared his signature bread pudding big enough for our party of three.
The meal was topped off with a Champagne cocktail.
Although our meal was more than satisfying, we were still ready for breakfast in the morning. We opted for a super casual breakfast at the Orange Beach staple, City Donut. The hardest part was saying no to the wide selection of glazed delights. So I didn’t!
I actually asked for some recommendations and ended up with my personal favorite (lemon-filled) and two of the house specialties: the classic glazed donut and something I can only describe as a glazed croissant.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, I did eat all three donuts without a moment of regret.
My regret came about an hour later when I felt like I couldn’t move so by lunchtime, I was ready to lighten my options. The Gulf was the perfect waterside restaurant that I’d definitely return to for an afternoon of dining or an evening of friends and drinks.
While it is outdoor seating only, I’m assured that the weather on the Alabama coast is so beautiful that there’s no problem with year-round dining.
As for the food, it was another casual establishment with a walk-up counter, chalkboard menu, and soda machine. A separate bar area is available for more festive drinks.
Once the food is ready, it’s brought directly to your table. And this is where it pays to dine with friends. We all shared the hummus and pita chips and the fresh guacamole with chips and each order our own fresh entree – I opted for the Cobia Tacos, which is made with a sustainably caught local white fish.
Flora-Bama Yacht Club
Admittedly, I was started to get a little full from all the eating but that didn’t stop us from heading out to a local favorite that night for dinner, the Flora-Bama Yacht Club. But don’t let the name fool you. It’s another fun casual spot offering a wide variety of good drinks and fresh seafood.
We sat near the water (but far enough away that the chilly wind didn’t disturb our meal) and I debated ordering a local drink I’d been both encouraged to and warned about trying: the Bushwacker.
Although it’s not entirely clear what’s in it, it’s said to be a concoction of over 5 liquors blended with ice cream. So I had two. There’s a reason it’s “World Famous”!
And to wash down the Bushwackers, I went with a simple meal of the fried fish platter complete with hushpuppies, which totally made my night!
Believe it or not, we were opting for a small, quick breakfast the next morning so we brought in some locally prepared beignets from Café Beignet. We had planned to leave early for a boating tour but found that the waves were a little too rough for the morning. So Sarah and I set out to have a second breakfast!
The Southern Grind Coffee House
It’s part coffee shop, part boutique, and part restaurant. We ordered our drinks and meal at the counter to be served.
After so many sweets, I was desperate for protein so I ordered the Avocado Egg Melt, three eggs scrambled and topped with cheddar cheese and sliced avocado, served with salsa and a fruit cup. I was actually so ready to eat that I took a few bites before I remembered to photograph it!
Salt at San Roc Cay
I hate to play favorites but if I had to pick a favorite it would be, hands-down, the newest restaurant in town, Salt at San Roc Cay. Opened for just a few weeks when we sat down for dinner, we were thrilled with Chef Chris Sherrill came to our table to see what kind of experience we were looking for.
I’m so happy that my dining companions were adventurous (but not TOO adventurous) and allowed the chef to choose our meal for us. I think you’re going to be impressed.
Round one was a plate of stone crab claws with drawn butter and a special dipping sauce. As a Maryland girl, you would think I’d be really picky about my crabs. Maybe I am but these were some of the best crabs I’ve ever eaten – and I don’t even normally like cold seafood!
Next round was a cheese and charcuterie tray but the twist here is that the chef prepares all his own meats! He frequently looks to use “nuisance” foods and offered us spicy wild boar salami along with venison prepared in a proscuitto-like way.
The next course (NOT our entree) was swordfish – another dish that I typically don’t like. The chef assured us that the fish on our plates had been swimming in the Gulf no more than 30 hours ago. And the freshness won me over. It was incredibly tender!
Our main entree arrived after we assured the chef that we all love beef. He served a delicately prepared NY strip steak cooked medium, exactly the way I would have cooked it! Following his idea for sustainability and using nuisance foods, he took potato skins and deep fried them as an accompaniment.
And finally, DESSERT! Although I tried the chocolate cake and pecan pie, the coconut cream pie was my favorite!
The Ruby Slipper
By the next morning, I was pretty sure that my clothes would no longer fit and I couldn’t possibly eat another meal while in Alabama. And yet, we had a breakfast date scheduled at local franchise, The Ruby Slipper Café.
To ease the burden of eating even more, I started with a specialty of the house, and award-winning Bloody Mary made with bacon-infused vodka.
With that liquid courage, I was ready to make my final meal in Alabama a good one. Known for their benedict breakfasts, I couldn’t decide and opted for The Peacemaker which let me choose two benedict options. In my case, I chose the Eggs Cochon (slow-cooked, apple-braised pork debris served over a buttermilk biscuit, topped with two poached eggs, finished with hollandaise) and Corned Beef Bennie (housemade corned beef hash served over a buttermilk biscuit, topped with two poached eggs, horseradish cream, finished with hollandaise).
And just in case that wasn’t enough, we ordered a side of candy bacon because, well, BACON.
My Food Summary for Alabama’s Beaches
When it comes to eating, you can live light or live large or you can find a happy-medium that falls somewhere in between. I tended to overdo it and then follow up with something lighter like fish. The food can be heavy, in true Southern style, if that’s what you’re looking for, or light and fresh with top notch chefs working to provide the best experience for you.
I will say that after that last meal, I didn’t eat anything until the next day. But now that’s it’s been a few weeks, I’m ready to go back and have my next meal! Hope you enjoyed my top food picks for Alabama’s beaches and let me know if I’ve missed your favorite!