Over the last decade, the Alabama Gulf Coast has become a culinary mecca for creative cuisine. Award-winning chefs paired with unique dining concepts have us salivating for more! Not to disappoint, local restaurateurs and chefs have upped the ante with these five unique places to eat in Gulf Shores AL and Orange Beach. During your next beach vacation, pack your suitcase and your appetite. You might as well throw in some stretchy pants, too!
Sunliner Diner I Gulf Shores Restaurant
100 E. 2nd Ave., Gulf Shores, AL
Perhaps the most happening joint on the island, the word from the bird is Sunliner Diner is where it’s at! You’ll find all the cool cats and the cool cars here. The diner’s décor is straight out of the 1950’s. Bright reds and a wall full of jars filled with colorful candy invite you to sit down and take it all in.
Breakfast is served all day. Traditional diner fare is also served for lunch and dinner, beginning at 11 a.m. And the desserts…oh the desserts! Just like a 50’s diner, you’ll find rotating glass cases displaying the most divine confections you’ve ever laid eyes on. There are even “boozy milkshakes” when you want a little something more “adult.”
Picnic Beach I Gulf Shores Restaurant
128 E. 1st Ave., Gulf Shores, AL
If you’re looking for a fun and funky Instagram-worthy spot for lunch, there’s nothing in Gulf Shores like Picnic Beach. This Gulf Shores restaurant caters to the meat eaters with delicious barbecue dishes and vegan travelers with a great selection of clean greens and acai bowls. Did we mention the BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich? Image smoked jackfruit, sriracha BBQ, key lime coleslaw and grilled pineapple on a whole wheat bun. Wait. Why imagine it when you can order it at Picnic Beach?
Focused on fresh, clean ingredients, the indoor/outdoor picnic-themed restaurant is located in the heart of Gulf Shores. Just walking distance from the main public beach area, it’s easy to reach from the beach and offers a fun spot to order up something besides traditional beach fare.
CoastAL I Gulf Shores Restaurant
1140 Gulf Shores Pkwy, Gulf Shores, AL
When you want a great date-night restaurant, make the drive to CoastAL. The CoastAL Bar is open nightly as late as 2 a.m., depending on the time of year. Local and regional musicians and bands perform on the CoastAL stage. Bring your dancing shoes and work off those Beignet Fries you devoured for dessert!
Fin & Fork I Orange Beach Restaurant
24131 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach, AL
Those who have vacationed in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach for years may be familiar with Shipp’s Harbor Grill. Unfortunately, this Orange Beach staple suffered a fire and closed. It didn’t take long for owners, Matt and Regina Shipp, to be convinced the beach still needed the good eats prepared in their made-from-scratch kitchen. Building on 25 years of restaurant experience, the Shipp’s opened Fin & Fork, a restaurant serving up fresh, Gulf seafood and hand-cut steaks.
If you haven’t stopped by Fin & Fork yet, we’ve got a menu recommendation for you! For starters, try the OBA Cheese Ball – goat cheese, pecans, sweet soy glaze and Chilton County peach chutney. (Just trust us on this one!) For your entrée, we suggest the Local’s Favorite Grouper – fresh, Gulf grouper, onions, mushrooms, white wine, lemon butter, Alabama wild shrimp, bayou blue crab and panko. Yes, it really IS as good as it sounds. Top off dinner with the Island Coconut Cake – a delish coconut custard, coconut cream, toasted coconut and chocolate sauce.
Playa I Orange Beach Restaurant
27842 Canal Road, Orange Beach, AL
Wondering where you should have Sunday brunch? We have one word for you…Playa. In additional to great brunch specials, Playa serves endless mimosas until 2 p.m. So, sit and stay a while. Enjoy the views of Terry Cove at Sportsman Marina. This Caribbean-inspired restaurant also offers several allergy menus, including dairy, gluten, shellfish and soy free.
Our favorite Playa dishes? We thought you’d never ask. We consider the Cuban sandwich a must-try menu item. The Cuban is piled high with ham, pulled pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and Dijon mustard on Cuban bread. If you’re not in the mood for a sandwich, the Crab & Manchego Crusted Amberjack will drive your taste buds crazy.
Of course, vacationing doesn’t always mean eating out. Sometimes, it’s fun to bring your eats back to your Gulf Shores vacation rental, sit on the balcony and enjoy the view. Whatever your vacation dining style, know that you’ll find plenty of delish dishes to rave about from Orange Beach and Gulf Shores restaurants.