Gulf Shores, AL in the off season.
Planning on making a weekend trip down to Gulf Shores during the off season (I'm assuming January counts as off season) to scope out some locations for a summer wedding. Any hounds have recommendations for places to eat at or food specialty shops to visit? I would guess that alot of the touristy places will be much calmer, but local food tends to be the best. Seafood is always good, and if there is somehow a local version of barbecue I'd love to hear about it.
Bonus question, anything worth stopping and seeing between Jackson, MS and Gulf Shores? I'll probably take the route through Hattisburg and Mobile that Google maps recommends.
Cosmo's on Canal Road seems to have fixed their service problems and it remains the class of the area food-wise. Jesse's in Magnolia Springs is a great space and the food ranges from really good to okay. Stick with the meat there. Original Oyster House in Gulf Shores, even though a tourist trap and snowbird haven, has excellent fish. The remainder of the area tends to fried seafood which, if you're younger than I, tastes great and doesn't mistreat you.
Moe's BBQ in Orange Beach is popular, but I've never tried it. There is also a new Publix in OB which makes food shopping much more enjoyable than it was previously.
My favorite places are:
Sea N Suds - the restaurant is basically a shack on stilts over the ocean. Very casual and no-frills but good seafood. The shrimp poboy is a favorite.
The Shrimp Basket - good for fried seafood baskets and has a couple of locations.
Doc's - this is supposedly a local favorite and has the typical menu of fried seafood baskets and fresh fish and shellfish. The location near Orange Beach is better than the one in Gulf Shores.
Someone mentioned Jesse's - I have not personally been but have heard good things. You could visit Jesse's on the way to Fairhope if you go there (nice community on the bay with a quaint downtown area).
Sadly, one of my favorites, Wolf Bay, burned down recently but they had the best shrimp in the area. Hopefully it will be rebuilt!
Hope this helps and have a good trip.
re: Ima Wurdibitsch
I went to Wolf Bay on the 13th and wasn't very impressed. It was just okay. They'd only been open a few days so maybe they were still working out the kinks but the service was slow and the food ordinary.
Upstairs from them is a place called Geno's. The menu they'd posted outside looked interesting and I plan to give them a try the next time I'm in the area.
Went to the original oyster house and it was great. Fried but very good. The oyster po-boy was incredible.
I couldn't stomach Gulf Shores Steamer. The shrimp are large and tasty, but overcooked, and not de-veined. I didn't mind ripping their heads off but the veins are disgusting!
Nobody mentioned the Gulf Shores Steamer! This jewel is behind Souvenir City (the store with the giant shark on the way into town). There is absolutely no fried food on the menu, the patio is great in nice weather, and their steamed shrimp buckets are out of this world. Personally, I love places where the shrimp are steamed and served whole... heads and all. This place offers a great alternative to the standard deep fried seafood if your arteries are tired. (Not that there's anything wrong with fried seafood...)
Also, Mikee's has great seafood and their gumbo is delicious.
IMHO, a great way to spend a lazy afternoon in the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach/Fort Morgan area is to go from place to place and try cups of gumbo. Can't go worg with some great gumbos and cold beer.
Here are links to the places I mentioned:
New place in Orange Beach called Cobalt. It's under the Perdido Pass bridge next to Caribe condos. Beautiful space, much larger than it looks from the front. I can see where some people would not like the noise level, not sure what they would be able to do about it. We were in a large party (22) and they accommodated us quite well. Drinks were good, nice wine list. Our server did an excellent job with such a large group. All orders were correct, food was excellent (I had the free range chicken). Check was correct. I really like the place. We need a couple more places like this down here.