For those of us who visit the Alabama Gulf Coast often, we tend to return again and again to our tried-and-true eateries. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, because the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores/Fort Morgan is full of outstanding cafes and restaurants. On a recent visit, however, I was determined to try some new places that all turned out to be outstanding. You might want to consider one or more of these in a future trip. Two for breakfast, two for lunch, two for dinner and two for calorie-laden vacation splurges.
(Both of these are likely on their way to becoming chains because the formula for success appears to be working very well. However, as of right now, there are only a handful of locations and all are in the Gulf Coast area — some as far away as New Orleans).
Located at 24151 Perdido Beach Boulevard in Orange Beach, Ruby Slipper opens every morning at 8:00 a.m. to serve breakfast, brunch and lunch. The concept started in New Orleans. According to a plaque on the wall: “The Ruby Slipper Cafe was inspired by a powerful sense of homecoming when we returned to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. To be back with family and friends in the city we love, well . . . Dorothy said it best: ‘There’s no place like Home.’ We feel that gratitude every day for our home, New Orleans.”
That sense of love for New Orleans is reflected in the menu: Catfish and Grits, Grilled Fish “St. Peter,” Chicken St. Charles, Bananas Foster Pain Perdu and Bacon Praline Pancakes, to name a few. I was in the mood for a fairly “normal” breakfast when I visited, so I ordered the Southern Breakfast (eggs, applewood bacon, grits, a fried green tomato and a biscuit). Just LOOK at the size of that biscuit!!
As the crowds flock to the beach, Ruby Slipper, right across the street from several large condominium complexes, will likely attract a crowd. Arrive early or wait to have a late brunch or lunch. You WON’T be alone.
Brick and Spoon is located near The Wharf at 24705 Canal Road in Orange Beach. It is open 7 days a week from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., also for breakfast, brunch and lunch. Travel and Leisure included it on its list of “Top 10 Breakfasts in the U.S.” Wow! A pretty high endorsement, don’t you think?
By all means, get a side order of beignets. They will be smothered in powdered sugar (leave your black pants back in the condo) and accompanied by a seasonal marmalade. Steve had an omelet while I chose the Oyster Bed — Poached eggs on an English muffin with a slice of tomato with succulent fried oysters and pecan smoked bacon. Amazing! Where else can you get fried oysters, poached eggs and beignets for breakfast?
(Both of these recommendations are very popular with the locals. They look quite unassuming from the outside but have great food served in a casual, back-home atmosphere inside).
King Neptune’s is located at 1137 Gulf Shores Parkway in Gulf Shores, very near Zoo Road and within sight of Waterville U.S.A. It is open 7 days a week from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. with lunch specials ($4.95 to $8.95) every day from 11:00 – 2:00. Seafood is featured prominently on the menu, but non-seafood lovers can find burgers, sandwiches, steaks, chicken, pasta and a very reasonably-priced kids’ menu ($5.00 and $6.00). One of their made-in-house desserts is fried cheesecake. Sounds positively decadent, but I’ll need to wait until my cholesterol numbers are much, much lower.
We were extremely happy to find a half-price special on raw oysters the day we were there. The ones we were served were what I call “2-bite oysters” because they were so plump and juicy you couldn’t get them down with just one slurp. Ha! (Apologies to those who just can’t see the allure of raw oysters).
Locals flock to Doc’s for lunch. That’s no surprise when you see the vast menu selections and the huge portions! Shrimp, oysters, burgers, hot dogs, soft shell crabs — you name it. Doc’s will even let you create your own platter choosing 2, 3 or 4 from 8 different seafood and chicken options. A very special touch found at Doc’s is “U-Catch-Em. We Cook Em!” In other words, if you’ve been wetting your hook in the surf or the bay, or if you had good luck during one of the many fishing charters running every day, then just bring your haul to Doc’s. The cooks will fry your fish and serve them with the normal fixings for only $13.99 per person.
You can find Doc’s Seafood Shack at 26029 Canal Road in Orange Beach, and it opens every day at 11:00 for lunch and dinner. Don’t look for a sleek modern eatery. Doc’s has been in business since 1984. They proudly proclaim that “flip-flops are welcome.”
Located at 300 West Beach Boulevard in Gulf Shores, the upstairs dining room at Bill’s By the Beach has a great view of the Gulf to enjoy while you dine, so you might want to time your visit to arrive before sundown. Monday through Thursday, Bill’s opens at 11:00 to serve its lunch guests, but on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you can arrive at 9:00 a.m. for brunch. The owner is Bill Henry, and the culinary magician is Chef Rudy Rudolph. Chef Rudy placed in the Top Ten of the Chef competition in the World Food Championships held in Orange Beach last November. He knows how to prepare seafood very well, but according to our server and some reviews I’ve read, he also is a wizard with steaks.
Bill’s offers an Early Bird menu Monday-Friday for under $10.00.
Steve and I shared the 4 Cheese/Spinach/Artichoke/Blue Crab appetizer and the Wild American Shrimp Platter with sides of gouda grits and a glazed sweet potato. Both were outstanding!! The tomato jam drizzled on top of the cheese dip was a special surprise. So good.
Villagio Grille is at 4790 Main Street at The Wharf in Orange Beach. It opens every day at 11:00 for lunch and dinner but also serves Sunday brunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Cuisine is described as Italian fusion. Guests may order appetizers, sandwiches, steaks or seafood, but they also offer “flats,” which are pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven right in view for diners to watch.
We were in the mood for something extra special. Steve chose the night’s special — Blackened Grouper with Bacon, Spinach Gnocchi — and I order the Brown Butter Group with Truffle Mashed Potatoes and Squash Succotash.
For dessert, we shared a slice of Florida Orange Cake, one of the newest desserts on the menu. It consists of 5 luscious layers with cream cheese frosting and a strawberry coulis. We had enough to share and STILL took half of it home with us.
SWEET VACATION BONUSES
When you’re at the beach, enjoying all of the luxuries of a vacation, you might just want to plan one extra-special, calorie-laden, visual-masterpiece for dessert at THE YARD MILKSHAKE BAR, 3800 Gulf Shores Parkway (#330 in Pelican Place), Gulf Shores, AL. They have a large selection of ice creams that can be made into all kinds of edible works of art. Check out The Turtle, one of their milkshake specialties. This is the pint-size and is most definitely shareable. You even get to keep the jar. 🙂
And if you need “just a little something sweet” to give you a burst of energy, stop into the Chocolate Corner at 200 West Fort Morgan Road in Gulf Shores.
Alabama’s Gulf Coast is calling your name. Make your plans to visit SOON!!