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Visiting Orange Beach for first time ever. Would love to hear your opinions on my list of possible good eating spots.

FYI, traveling 4/13-20/2011 to Perdido Beach, hubby & self, from NYC area; we appreciate good food, value, service, setting, etc. But we are on vacation so not looking to duplicate what we can have here at home. Not big on breakfast but if there's a great nearby bakery/coffee spot, we'd love to know about it. We'd like to find some "light", casual lunch spots, and good local dinner options, maybe a couple nights "nice", but mostly pretty casual, nice bar scene/music a plus. I have combed the boards and visited a few travel sites. Please let me know what you think of these selections and add your own comments regarding bar scene, music, view, atmosphere (and of course, food), etc. Fish shacks are fine, but not every night; which are the ones we shouldn't miss (and what to avoid)? If I've included some real tourist traps, please advise and if I've missed some real winners, please holler! Here goes:

Casual fine dining: Cobalt, Shipp's Harbor Grill, Wolf Bay Lodge, Grazie, Villaggio Grille

Casual: Geno's, Cosmo's, Gulf Shores Steamer, Tacky Jack's, Cotton's, Doc's Seafood Shack, Hazel's, Original Oyster House, DeSoto's, Mikee's, Live Bait at the Wharf, Billy's Seafood, Tin Top, Shrimp Basket, Bahama Bob's, Moe's Original BBQ, Ginny Lane Bar & Grill, Blow Fly, Big Fish.

Stay Away: Steve's Marina, Louisiana Lagniappe, Lamberts.

Many thanks for your help!!

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Tin Top Cafe
24319 Troy Hwy, Grady, AL 36036

Doc's Seafood Shack
Highway 180 County Rd 161, Orange Beach, AL 36561

Original Oyster House
701 Gulf Shores Pkwy, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Villaggio Grille
4790 Wharf Pkwy Ste F-108B, Orange Beach, AL 36561

Louisiana Lagniappe
27267 Perdido Beach Blvd Ste 302, Orange Beach, AL 36561

Live Bait Restaurant
24281 Perdido Beach Blvd Beach Hwy, Orange Beach, AL 36561

Mikee's
2 Avenue E 1 St N, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Grazie
27267 Perdido Beach Blvd Ste 101, Orange Beach, AL 36561

Wolf Bay Lodge
26619 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach, AL 36561

Billy's Seafood
16780 River Rd, Bon Secour, AL 36511

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  1. You can get your breakfast at Hazel's. Wintzell's has good seafood. Cobalt is the best fine dining restaurant in GS/OB. Wolf Bay is a sports bar too. Good list as far as I know. Good luck.

    Hazel's Seafood Restaurant @ 25311 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach, AL 251 - 981 - 4628.
    http://www.hazelsseafoodrestaurant.com/
    Wintzel's Oyster House @ 24131 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach, AL 251 - 974 - 2122.
    http://www.wintzellsoysterhouse.com/

    1. hi huevos,

      you've definitely got some good choices already on your list, but just to offer my 2 cents - not sure who warned you to stay away from louisiana lagniappe (maybe he/she/they had a bad experience there, which can certainly happen anywhere), but i think it's really good. certainly, in my opinion, better than cafe grazie, which is more italian (of which i'm sure you can get better in ny), but is in the same building. i would second the advice to stay away from lambert's though. and i hate to disagree with littleman, but i think hazel's is just awful. think shoney's breakfast bar - nothing fresh or even decent in my opinion. i'd also add lulu's to your "casual" list. it's not necessarily that the food there is spectacular, although it's good, but the atmosphere is a lot of fun - very gulf coast beach - especially if you can get a table on the water, and they often have live music.

      7 Replies
      1. re: bhamgirl99

        Thanks for your input littleman and bhamgirl. I have added Louisiana Lagniappe to my list. I've read mixed reviews about the food at LuLu's, but sounds like a place we should stop in to have a drink. Are there any coffee shops around or small cafe-types for a cup of coffee and danish? Maybe we are better off at the hotel for breakfast...

        Hope your weather is good. We are looking forward to some fun and sun next week!

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        Louisiana Lagniappe
        27267 Perdido Beach Blvd Ste 302, Orange Beach, AL 36561

        1. re: huevosverdes

          Lulu's is a fun place for a few drinks but the food really is tourist trap poor.
          I have not been to the Orange Beach location of Wintzells but I have been to the original in Mobile and the one in my hometown of Pensacola and I wouldnt recommend it. Its just...okay.

          I do heartily recommend Cosmos though. If your inclined to make your way a few miles over to Perdido Key there a great little place I found recently called Fishermans Corner. I'm told the place has been around a while but it has re opened with new management new chef and menu.

          1. re: huevosverdes

            Oh btw the weather here atm is wonderful. Be careful of those riptides though this time of year if you go in the ocean...waters still too cold for me :)

            1. re: Mytah

              Thanks for the tips, Mytah. I've added to my many lists.

              Really looking forward to your warm weather. Would love a swim in the Gulf if not too chilly. Will be mindful of riptides. Thanks for the heads up on that.

              1. re: huevosverdes

                Very good lists- I second Live Bait at the Wharf-seafood Nachos and Cosmo's-My mother really likes Ship's Harbor-I've not been yet
                She went to Doc's recently and said it was not good and she always likes Doc's- mostly fried-maybe it was jusy a bad day.
                We like Tacky Jack's for breakfast.
                Don't really do lunch b/c we are always on the beach
                Please report back and let us know what you decide and how the meals are.

                1. re: hlsess

                  The one time I went to Live Bait at the Wharf (a year ago), they incorrectly cooked the royal reds to the point where getting the shrimp from the shell was harder than getting out of a Chinese finger trap. By the time I got the shells off, the shirmp were edible but destroyed in pieces. This was true for the whole pound plus of shrimp. The staff was very nice however.

                  Similarly, my one visit to Doc's (almost 2 years ago) tasted ... well like fried but not particularly like fried seafood. But there was plenty of it!

                  Still, everyone has an off night.

                  1. re: Dax

                    Thanks all for your advice. We leave/arrive tomorrow and are really looking forward to the warm weather and some new adventures. Will definitely report back on our Orange Beach Chow experiences.

        2. read this string prior to a trip to Orange Beach, The Wharf, Amphitheater to see a concert...can't recommend Hazel's Nook for breakfast highly enough...absolutelysuperb for southern diner breakfasat...inexpensive, tacky, fun, friendly, great food. But we went to Cobalt based on recommendations, including here, and had a unique experience...impossible to find - absolutely no signs whatsoever, a long way east from Orange Beach, but after GPS and a phone call, we finally found the restaurant tucked away under the east end of the big bridge nearer Perdido Key than Orange Beach. no reservations taken, so walked in on a Saturday night and (rahter than wait 45 minutes) we ate outside - a little warm, but okay. beautiful view, charming marina, adequate live music and an attentive waitress (so we thought...) after some discussion about the menu and the nightly specials my bride ordered from the menu and I opted for a special "whole red snapper with a house-made salsa including poblanos and pineapple over brown rice"......waitress cautioned me - "this is a whole fish, y'know." Yeah, I know. drinks came, appetizer came, alternate waitress showed up with meals....wife's was correct; mine was not...thick white fish, panee'd, over risotto...didn't look bad, but definitey not what I ordered. minutes passed and our waitress wandered by enroute to another table....I waved to her and she came over, asked if our meals were okay...I said, this isn't what I ordered and she replied - are you ready ??? "Yeah, we were out of the special, so I thought you'd like this." HUH ? never happened to me before...I was shocked... I ate it, it wasn't bad, but never had a waitstaff randomly select something for me from a menu. all in all, a good kitchen, nice setting, a little over-priced for the area, but seriously in need of some server training. and as we left we overheard another waiter offer the same red snapper special to a nearby table...so either our waitress lied to us, and turned in the wrong order; or they're so badly managed that over an hour passed without the waitstaff knowing that the kitchen was out of a nightly special...we won't be going back.

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          Cobalt
          28099 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach, AL 36561

          2 Replies
          1. re: bigbobt

            That's pretty lame of them bigbob.

            1. re: bigbobt

              That's a pretty awful and strange experience, but I ate at Cobalt just a couple of weeks ago and had a fantastic meal. Two of the five people at our table ordered a special that they were out of, and I can assure you we were informed immediately and easily found something else to order. No problems.

              That said, my hosts for the trip, who spend a lot more time on the coast than I do, told me that restaurant service on the whole is significantly better in Destin than in the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area. Even so, that seems like a pretty extreme example.

              Also (sorry, can't help myself), bigbobt, maybe you should work on punctuation and paragraph usage if you want people to actually read your posts. I read it because it was about a restaurant where I'd just recently dined so I was particularly interested, but otherwise I'd have never even attempted that horrendous wall of text. Jeez.

            2. My husband & I ate last nite at the Fish River Grill 2 in Foley, and he got the seafood platter, which was very generous, and he said very tasty. I had the cajun pistols, and they were by far one of the best things i have ever tasted. I woke up craving them again today. Their staff was very friendly and generous with refills, there was live music till about 8:30. They have a bar, and they serve until 9:00. I can't wait to go back.

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              Fish River Grill
              11950 County Road 32 Lot 1, Fairhope, AL 36532

              1 Reply
              1. re: thesse

                I returned on Friday and ate at Shipp's Island Thyme- at Zeke's landing -very good baked oysters and sushi - had a guitar player out on deck then I picked up fried platter another night -it was very good- A friend said that Big Fish is also a very good restaurant- on Canal Road- go left at Doc's and it's on left- make reservations though if possible.