Gorging on the Gulf: 4 days, 9 restaurants

The chargrilled oysters at Acme have a secret blend of butter and spices. (I’d kill for that recipe!)

After Hurricane Harvey and before Hurricane Irma, Alan and I headed for the Gulf Coast. The eating in the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama area, our favorite beach, just keeps getting better and better. We made a point to visit some of our favorite places and also try eateries we had not before visited. We went to everything from dives to white tablecloth restaurants. Come along!

Acme Oyster House

As always, upon our arrival, we headed straight to Acme Oyster House in Gulf Shores. Yummy, once again. We actually ate there three times during our four days! When we like something, we REALLY like it!

Our first stop — even before the hotel!

Due to the runoff from Hurricane Harvey carrying all manner of impurities into the Gulf of Mexico, we decided not to have any raw oysters this trip — only cooked food for us. Which brings me to these delicious chargrilled oysters, pictured above, a signature dish at Acme Oyster House, a small (seven locations) chain based in New Orleans.

We love sitting at the oyster bar and watching the shuckers at work. But we also like the lovely porch overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway, where this pic was taken.

Although the chargrilled oysters are our favorite, the fried crab claws are pretty darn good, as well.

As far as we are concerned, there’s only one place to stay in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach: The Perdido Beach Resort.

Our hotel at night.

The amenities are top notch. Two restaurants, two bars, a snack bar, a pizza place, a fitness center and beach service on the prettiest stretch of white sand and blue water you’ve ever seen.

The daybreak view from our room. (We always ask for a pool view.)

John Brust played in the lobby bar most nights of our visit. When he found out we were from Knoxviille, he played “Tennessee Waltz” for us and, of course, “Rocky Top.”

Interestingly, the Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee — cops and district attorneys from all over the state of Alabama — was meeting in our hotel. Keynote speaker: U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. We noticed a number of media types in the bar the night before his morning speech. That’s what tipped us off!


No trip to Gulf Shores is complete without a trip to Lulu’s, the massive restaurant (and more) owned by Lucy Buffett, singer Jimmy Buffet’s sister.

There’s a large playground for children and even this: a hurricane simulator! After having driven down to the Gulf experiencing the remnants of Hurricane Harvey, we opted to skip this opportunity.

The food is good. Basic beach/bar food — and a wide collection of specialty menus ranging from gluten and dairy free to soy free. I loved this bucket that sits on every table holding the utensils and condiments.

One reason we always must go to Lulu’s is to pick up some of my favorite hot sauce: Mean Green.


For the past couple of times we’ve been to Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, we have been unable to get into what many say is the best restaurant on this part of the coast: Fisher’s.

Finally, due to reservations made days in advance, we made it in. We loved it.

Located at Orange Beach Marina, Fisher’s Upstairs is a beautiful, elegant eatery. A downstairs, outside option is more casual.

The very creative centerpieces were hydroponic lettuces! “One lady didn’t believe it was lettuce,” the host told me. “So she pulled off a leaf and ate it!”

The oysters at Fisher’s were delicious, if small. These were both cooked, of course: Oysters Bienville and Oysters Rockefeller.

My brother, Jimmy, and I both had chargrilled scallops and loved them.

Alan and my sister-in-law, Tess, opted for grilled grouper and gave it rave reviews, as well.

Advice: Don’t order the cucumber and honeydew gazpacho. It was just weird.

All in all, we thought Fisher’s was the second-best fine dining restaurant of the trip. The first? Voyagers, located right in our hotel.


Alan in the beautiful setting of Voyagers.

Voyagers is elegant, yet friendly. Sophisticated, yet accessible. And, if you like wine, you will be happy to know it is a recipient of Wine Spectator’s 2017 Award of Excellence.

While you study the menu at Voyagers, you can keep up your strength by indulging in the complimentary hot biscuits and pimento cheese that come to your table! These were fantastic. Some of the best pimento cheese I’ve had.

I again ordered a combo of Oysters Bienville and Oysters Rockefeller so I could compare them with those I had at Fisher’s the previous night. Both eateries had very good renditions. But this one was better.

My main course, bouillabaisse, was outstanding. Full of a variety of my favorite seafood flavors: spiny lobster tail, shrimp and Gulf fish with saffron fettuccine in a roasted tomato and leek broth. Wow.

Two at our table ordered pan roasted Gulf grouper and chargrilled scallops with harissa cauliflower, sliced local tomatoes, sauteed street corn and a preserved lemon horseradish beurre blanc sauce. They loved it.

I’m not much of a dessert eater, but I adore bread pudding. And no two are the same. This version was terrific. Even my non-bread pudding loving brother had to agree. It consisted of white chocolate bourbon custard with vanilla ice cream and homemade graham. Holy cow!

The next morning, we were headed out with Jimmy and Tess to go to a favorite haunt of ours — Pirates Cove. (It drives me crazy that they don’t put an apostrophe in the name. It should be Pirates’ Cove! But, anyway…) For various storm-related reasons, we opted to go by car this time rather than by boat. But, first, we needed to buy lottery tickets. Since lottery tickets are not sold in Alabama, we had to cross over into Florida to purchase them. That took us to Ole River Grill, right next door to a store with a huge sign reading, “Lottery Tickets and Liquor.”

Ole River Grill

It was about 10 a.m. when we pulled in to Ole River Grill, part of the Flora-Bama complex. Flora-Bama is the world famous dive bar that straddles the Florida-Alabama state line. We were the first customers of the day. It was our plan to get some Bloody Marys and then go get the lottery tickets in that place with the huge sign. (Don’t judge. We were on vacation!)

Jimmy, Tess and Alan outside Ole River Grill.

First mission accomplished. The Bloodys were delicious. (I added hot sauce.)

It’s a tradition to sign your name on something in the bar. The bartender even handed us a Sharpie to use. “Just don’t stand on the chairs or tables,” she requested. (I can only imagine the consequences that have occurred from that!)

Jimmy doing as told.

Alan following suit.

Aww. I love my husband.

This sticker made me chuckle. My friend Celeste Herbert made this comment when I posted a picture of it on Instagram: “Evidence that God is everywhere!”

Here’s the actual Flora-Bama bar, across the Beach Road. I don’t think it was open yet.

On to Pirates Cove.

Pirates Cove

Pirates Cove is a kicked back bar and restaurant on Perdido Bay. There’s often music. There’s always a good crowd and a welcoming vibe. The bartender was himself throwing back shots as he took our order. “I hate this job,” he joked.

Here’s the deal. The menu is limited — mostly hamburgers, hotdogs, french fries and onion rings — but the food is excellent. If you are going to go off your diet, this is the place to do it. The signature drink is a Bushwacker, also not a low calorie affair.

And you will have to wait about an hour (no joke!) to get your order. But, again, it’s worth it. Gives you time to have another Bushwacker.

Pirates Cove view. What’s not to love?

Pirates Cove is dog-friendly.

The marina at Pirates Cove.

Louisiana Lagniappe

Another favorite place: Louisiana Lagniappe, located right across the street from our hotel.

Here’s what you are looking for!

Although the theme is Creole/Cajun, the food is not overly spicy. But it is delicious and the portions are generous.

Alan always orders this: Grouper Kevin. It’s served with shrimp and mushroom sauce over rice. Yum.

I love their crab claws.

I will warn you about one problem with this restaurant: it is too darn noisy. Frankly, our table of four had a hard time hearing each other. And the eatery is child-friendly, which means that the screams and whines of the young set are amplified. We honestly decided to forego dessert just due to the noise factor. They need to fix that.

Pink Pony Pub

The Pink Pony Pub has been around since 1956. Or, as they say, “We’ve been surviving hurricanes since 1956!” And I’ve been drinking there since before it was legal for me to drink! (Surely the statute of limitations has run out on that!)

It is located where Highway 59 dead ends into the Gulf of Mexico. It is such a dive — and I love it so much!

Alan spending some quality time with our favorite patron at the bar.

Interior of Pink Pony Pub.

Locally smoked tuna dip. “Our tuna’s never seen the inside of a can!” the menu boasts. We loved it.

You really can’t miss this place!


Our final recommendation is Cobalt, located at Alabama Point where the Gulf and the bay meet.

Exterior of Cobalt.

This is a huge restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining. They do not take reservations, but you shouldn’t have trouble getting in due to the size. On this trip, we went to Sunday brunch there, and the buffet was great. Additionally, there was an omelet station and a carving station with roast beef. And great Bloody Marys.

Remember how I said every bread pudding is different? Compare this to the one from Voyagers. You would think it was an entirely different food — and it was!

But the standout dessert at Cobalt was creme brulee.

So, there you have it. Four days, nine restaurants. I think these next two pictures about sum up how we feel about Gulf Shores/Orange Beach.

Love it.



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14 Responses to Gorging on the Gulf: 4 days, 9 restaurants

  1. Charley Sexton, on September 19th, 2017 at 2:07 pm said:

    I almost bit my iPad looking at these food photos! Looks like a delicious trip! Love the heart Alan drew.

  2. Celeste Herbert, on September 19th, 2017 at 2:15 pm said:

    I love this area. The last trip I made with my Father and our extended family (about 40 Huffmans) was to Gulf Shores in 2001. This makes me want to go back!

  3. Alan Carmichael, on September 19th, 2017 at 2:18 pm said:

    Before my cardiologist goes crazy, I would point out that I stuck to fish dishes primarily. I did have a grilled chicken sandwich at Pirates’ Cove.

  4. Mickey Mallonee, on September 19th, 2017 at 2:34 pm said:

    I recognize some of these places thanks to your recommendations! Diana, Shelba and I loved our stay in Gulf Shores.

  5. Michelle Henry, on September 19th, 2017 at 2:36 pm said:

    Great Blue Streak, Cynthia! Seeing all that delicious seafood is making me hungry!

  6. Melinda Meador, on September 19th, 2017 at 3:48 pm said:

    I’m saving this for our first trip to the Gulf after moving back to West Tennessee. Sounds like my kind of place!

  7. Cammie Cate, on September 19th, 2017 at 5:03 pm said:

    We stayed at Perdido and have eaten at several of your restaurants! YUM YUM YUM!!

  8. Cynthia Moxley, on September 19th, 2017 at 5:20 pm said:

    Charley: I know, Alan’s a sweetie!

    Celeste: It’s time!

    Alan: You really were a good boy! And you ordered the ONLY healthy thing at Pirates Cove. Your doctors would be proud!

    Mickey: What a fun crew! Glad you liked it.

    Michelle: Thanks.

    Melinda: It IS your kind of place!

    Cammie: Glad you had fun!

  9. Monique Anderson, on September 19th, 2017 at 5:53 pm said:

    I am sooooooo hungry right now !!!

  10. Kaite Kline, on September 20th, 2017 at 8:07 am said:

    I can’t believe you could hit that many places in four days. Holy cow. Or fish.

  11. Cynthia Moxley, on September 20th, 2017 at 8:35 am said:

    Katie: The sacrifices one must make for one’s art!

  12. Savanna Howie, on September 20th, 2017 at 9:56 am said:

    My mouth is watering! Everything looks fantastic and those beautiful beach views aren’t bad either. Looks like it was such a fun trip.

  13. Dennis Rowe, on September 26th, 2017 at 3:32 pm said:

    Thanks for the wonderful Gulf Shores’ restaurants review. My family is planning a trip down to visit our dear friend Betty Ruth Spier, who lives in Point Clear. Sam, my 10-year-old, saw the Cobalt’s Crème Brulee picture. He asked if we could drive down for dinner, and for dinner he would like the crème brulee. So, I told him that I would ask the renowned desert expert…did Alan have the crème brulee and did he approve?

  14. Cynthia Moxley, on September 26th, 2017 at 4:22 pm said:

    Hey, Dennis: Wow, what a sophisticated little guy you have! Unfortunately, Alan is not the dessert expert he used to be. His cardiologist has limited him to two desserts a month! Poor thing. So, he didn’t get to try the creme brûlée. Boo. It sure looked good. I’d give it a try if I were your 10 year old!

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