When I visit a destination I love finding restaurants that are the local favorites and dining hidden gems. There are so many great places to eat in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama.
You can’t go wrong with these family-friendly recommendations during your next vacation to Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Thanks again to Visit Las Vegas for hosting our visit. This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission if you click a link and purchase something we have recommended.
When you visit Gulf Shores, Alabama you are most likely going to also be traveling through Orange Beach too.
Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are only 13 minutes apart which means that there are lots of wonderful dining options in the area.
I’m sharing my experience at local restaurants from multiple visits to the area.
Breakfast at Sunliner Diner
100 E. 2nd Ave., Gulf Shores, AL 36542
Step back into the 1950s during your meal at Sunliner Diner. This is a fun restaurant for all ages.
Sunliner Diner serves hamburgers and milkshakes for lunch and dinner along with breakfast all day.
The restaurant is large with plenty of seating for groups. If you’re lucky you may even luck out and get to sit in the car booth.
I tried the Chicken and Waffle Benedict. It was made with Belgian waffle, hand-battered fried boneless chicken breast, and two poached eggs covered with creole hollandaise sauce.
The dish was topped with chopped red bell peppers and green onions and drizzled with syrup, served with hash browns or grits.
My son opted for The Big Daddy-O Breakfast, perfect for a healthy appetite.
It comes with three farm-fresh eggs made to order, bacon, sausage, griddled ham, and a pancake. It’s served with your choice of hash browns or grits.
Leave Your Mark With Duct Tape at Tacky Jacks
240 E. 24th Ave., Gulf Shores, AL 36542
Tacky Jacks offers menu options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, and Fort Morgan.
My son opted for the French Toast with a side of scrambled eggs and bacon.
If you want to leave your mark with a duct tape message before or after a meal, you need to visit the Gulf Shores location.
The hostess area has you covered with colorful pieces of duct tape already cut for guests to take and a Sharpie to use.
It’s also fun to read the messages left by previous guests.
Tacky Jacks has waterfront views of Portage Creek and activities along the water for guests to relax before or after they dine.
Celebrate at The Hangout
101 E. Beach Blvd., Gulf Shores, AL
If you are celebrating anything or just want to have a good time with friends or family, The Hangout knows how to work it with a crowd.
This restaurant doesn’t just have an energetic atmosphere, it also has great food.
The Snapper Po’Boy is a great option if you want to switch things up from a traditional Po-Boy sandwich.
The sandwich is made with fresh snapper blackened, grilled, or fried with shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, red onions, and drizzled with chipotle aioli, served with fries.
There are plenty of cocktails to choose from. I tried the Blueberry Mojito which was really refreshing.
My son doesn’t care for seafood so he opted for the Hang Out Wings with a side of fries.
If you visit in the evening there’s a good chance that you can enjoy live entertainment before or after your meal.
You also might see customers dancing on their chairs or tables…I told you that it’s a fun place with a group.
If you’re waiting for a table The Hangout has several photo-op areas, retail shops, a gigantic sandbox, a foam machine, a fire pit, and more to help you pass the time.
Coastal Vibes at Picnic Beach Bar & Grill
128 E 1st Ave, Gulf Shores, AL 36542
Picnic Beach is a great casual restaurant that offers indoor and outdoor seating.
There is a parking garage for restaurant patrons to park for free located directly under the restaurant. Their menu features fresh, clean ingredients including organic cocktails.
My son opted for the Buffalo chicken basket made with marinated chicken tenders, hand-breaded and gently fried served on top of a mound of fries drizzled with house-made buffalo sauce and creamy ranch.
If the upper seating area is full there is additional seating to the right of the staircase.
Fun, Food, and Music at Lulu’s
200 East 25th Ave., Gulf Shores, AL
Lulu Buffet is the owner of Lulu’s and yes, she’s also the sibling of legendary musician Jimmy Buffet. Good times run in the family because there is a LOT to do here before or after your meal.
You can listen to live music most evenings, play at the arcade, play beach volleyball, challenge yourself on the Mountain of Youth 3-story climbing aerial course, or just relax with a drink from the bar.
During your visit, you can enjoy views of boats passing by on the Intercoastal Waterway. You’ll probably notice Tacky Jacks on the other side of the water.
There are special menu options for gluten-free, dairy-free, shellfish-free, seafood-free, egg-free, and soy-free and there is even a small vegan menu.
If someone in your party has special dietary needs you’ll be impressed by LuLu’s extensive allergy menu.
Save room for the Hot Fun Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding made with Krispy Kreme donuts and served with vanilla custard sauce.
Dinner at Sassy Chophouse + Cocktails
8818 AL-180 Ste C, Gulf Shores, AL
Sassy Chophouse + Cocktails and Sassy Bass Cookout Tiki are great dining stops before or after your visit to Fort Morgan.
Their award-winning Tiki Rita is definitely worth trying! The drink is made with Caz adores Reposado, Cointreau, agave nectar, and freshly squeezed juices.
The Shrimp Creole Skillet is a fantastic option with bread to soak up all of the additional sauce. The dish is made with Gulf shrimp sauteed in their tangy island sauce and served with crusty dipping bread.
Make sure that you save room for the Pina Colada cake! This cake is a vacation in a glass, flavorful and moist.
During our visit, Sassy Bass Cookout Tiki was a few weeks away from reopening but you can see that the area is set up with shade canvases, fire pits, and string lights.
Over the Top Mega Milkshakes at The Yard Milkshake Bar
3800 Gulf Shores Pkwy., Gulf Shores, AL
The Yard Milkshake Bar is THE place if you want an over-the-top IG-worthy dessert.
You might recognize The Yard from their episode on Shark Tank. The business started in Gulf Shores and has since expanded to 23 locations.
I ordered the Peanut Butter Brownie Bliss and my son ordered the Cookie Dough Delicious. I got about halfway through it before I had to tap out.
You can opt to have your milkshake in a paper bowl or a souvenir mason jar.
There are monthly seasonal milkshakes along with classics on the menu. The hardest part is narrowing down all of the creative milkshake options…and attempting to finish a giant milkshake.
If you opt for the quart size over the pint be prepared to share.
Try a Homemade “PopTart” at BuzzCatz Coffee & Sweets
25689 Canal Rd., Orange Beach, AL
Serving up homemade pastries made fresh daily, there are lots of great breakfast options at BuzzCatz Coffee & Sweets.
We tried two of the BuzzCatz “PopTarts,” a flaky pastry made with a handmade filling. (Cherry and Peach)
You also can’t go wrong with any of the housemade pastries including cinnamon rolls and muffins.
The bigger challenge will be narrowing down your options.
BuzzCatz serves locally roasted coffee. I enjoyed a hazelnut latte in the relaxed atmosphere.
I’d also recommend their three-egg omelet with veggies and cheese for some extra protein in between pastries.
There is ample seating for guests both inside and outside or you can take your order to-go.
Try An Incredible Chicken Sandwich at CoastAL Orange Beach
25722 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach, AL
CoastAL Orange Beach has an incredible chicken sandwich that’s worth the hype!
The CoastAL Chicken sandwich is made with crispy fried chicken, aged white cheddar pimento cheese, tomato, red onion, green leaf lettuce, dill pickle chips, and peach aioli.
Rumor has it that the chicken is brined in sweet tea and after you try it, you’ll understand why it’s one of their signature sandwiches.
CoastAL has plenty of great options to choose from when it comes to craft cocktails.
I opted for the “Key West Margarita” made with Patron tequila, gran gala, agave syrup, key lime juice, orange juice, and sea salt foam.
In fact, CoastAL is only steps away from the white sand beach and beautiful views of the ocean as the only beachfront restaurant in Orange Beach, Alabama.
As an added bonus, parking is free for CoastAL customers and Orange Beach residents.
22843 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach, AL
The Southern Grind is another breakfast option that can be a sit-down restaurant or to-go option.
There are several tables outside and there is plenty of seating inside, including a few large tables too.
While you’re waiting on your food, you can browse the gift shop filled with great decorations that you might want to bring home.
I’m a big fan of sweet AND savory so my dad and I split two menu items.
We tried the Belgian Waffle with Fresh Strawberries & Cream. The Belgian Waffle was topped with powdered sugar & raspberry drizzle and served with our choice of bacon, sausage, or ham.
For our protein, we tried the Mexican Omelette. It was made with 3 eggs scrambled, diced tomatoes, chopped onion, sausage, chopped jalapenos, and cheddar cheese, served with 2 flour tortillas and a side of salsa.
Coffee drinkers have plenty of ways to enjoy their coffee including their House Blend, Single Origin, Cold Brew, Nitro Draft, and Dublin Cold Brew (Guinness, cold brew, cream.) There are plenty of non-coffee drinks too.
Dine on the Border at Flora-Bama Yacht Club
17350 Perdido Key Dr., Perdido Key, FL 32507
Take a picture near the dividing line and then enjoy a meal with scenic views of the Ole River nearby.
Guests can enjoy the casual laid-back setting of dining on the beach or inside the covered dining area at Flora-Bama Yacht Club.
The Flora-Bama complex of restaurants and bars is also within walking distance, across the street from the world-famous Flora-Bama Lounge, Package & Oyster Bar.
For appetizers, we tried their Bacon & BBQ Fire-Roasted Oysters. They are made with char-grilled Louisiana oysters and finished with Sriracha-cured bacon, butter, New Orleans BBQ sauce, and cheese.
I personally prefer char-grilled oysters over raw ones.
We also tried the Greek Shrimp Nachos. I normally would not have chosen this option but it was AMAZING!
The Greek Nachos are made with fried wonton chips smothered in a spinach-feta-cream sauce, topped with grilled Gulf shrimp, tomatoes, crumbled feta, Kalamata olives, peppadews, banana peppers, green onion, and red onion.
For drinks, the “Bushwacker” signature drink at Flora-Bama Yacht Club is a fan favorite. It basically tastes like a boozy frosty from Wendy’s. You’ll find variations of the drink throughout the area.
Whenever you see Tripletail on the menu, I would suggest trying it.
I ordered the Blackened Gulf Tripletail and it was wonderful! It was served with creamy Cajun dirty rice and steamed local vegetables, topped with Orleans sauce.
My dad ordered the Blackened Shrimp Tacos made with house slaw, diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, and spicy mayo drizzle.
I highly recommend visiting Flora-Bama at some point during your vacation.
Try Royal Reds at King Neptune’s Seafood Restaurant
1137 Gulf Shores Pkwy., Gulf Shores, AL 36542
If you like mom-and-pop restaurants, this is the stop for you.
King Neptune’s Seafood Restaurant sources its Alabama wild shrimp from Bon Secour Fisheries. You’ll find both locals and visitors dining inside or at the picnic tables outside.
They are known for their Royal Reds which are deep-water shrimp. Royal Reds are often compared to the texture of lobster and are sweeter than regular Gulf shrimp. Once you try them you can’t go back!
I tried Royal Reds for the first time in Coastal Mississippi a few years ago, and now I order them at least once whenever I’m dining near the Gulf.
You also can’t go wrong with their fried shrimp Po Boy sandwich.
Waterfront Views From OSO at Bear Point
5749 Bay La Launch Avenue, Orange Beach, AL
This waterfront restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
You can drive or boat to this waterfront restaurant at Bear Point Harbor.
If you happen to dine outside at OSO at Bear Point during sunset you’re in for an extra treat.
Experience Fresh Off the Boat
27267 Perdido Beach Blvd #105, Orange Beach, AL
Located at SanRoc Cay Marina, the name “Fresh Off the Boat” says it all when it comes to the freshness of the fish.
Guests can dine inside or enjoy the large patio space that looks out on the Marina.
Their marinated crab claws are very popular so we opted to try the Fried Crab Claw Basket instead of an appetizer.
The fried crab claw basket is served with coleslaw, fries, hush puppies, and a housemade cocktail sauce.
If there was a bottle of cocktail sauce available for purchase, I would have bought it. It was the best I’ve tried.
We also split the Pecan-Crusted Redfish.
The Redfish was topped with peach-pineapple chutney and served over stone-ground cheddar grits and fresh vegetables of the day. The flavors of the fish and cheddar grits were also VERY good.
Dine at Original Oyster House
701 Highway 59, Gulf Shores, AL
Original Oyster House has several awards under its belt including “Winner of Best Bites Challenge” and “Reader’s Choice Favorite” for their Fire-Grilled Oysters by Mobile Bay Magazine.
It’s also been voted one of the Best Seafood Restaurants in the southeast by Southern Living.
This is a very popular restaurant so be prepared that you could experience a long wait if you want to dine at a popular meal time.
If you do have a wait, you’ll be given a pager that works while you browse the stores in the same complex. Another option is to enjoy the view around the corner on the back deck.
We decided to split the Crab Cakes with rémoulade sauce and the Crab Stuffed Flounder.
The Crab Stuffed Flounder is made with mild flakey fillets stuffed with blue crab dressing, baked, and served with hollandaise that comes with your choice of sides.
Our main objective was to save room for dessert after our delicious dinner. We both have a sweet tooth and wanted to try their homemade pies.
We opted to split both the key lime pie and the peanut butter pie.
You need to see the peanut butter pie from another perspective to truly appreciate it.
I was really glad that we split both pies even though we somehow thought we would be bringing some home. The peanut butter pie is really rich which is perfect for splitting or boxing up the other half for later.
Grab a Local Brew at Big Beach Brewing Company
300 E 24th Ave, Gulf Shores, AL 36542
While you are in the area, make sure that you stop by Big Beach Brewing Company for a drink before or after a meal.
There is plenty of room for groups both inside and outside in the courtyard areas.
Fun Facts: Big Beach Brewing Company is the southernmost brewery in Alabama and the brewery began in the garage of a local dentist.
My dad typically enjoys light beers and I enjoy sours. We both found an option that we enjoyed while listening to live music in the background.
There are up to 12 beers on tap at a time and you’ll also find IPAs, Stouts, Cream Ales, and Belgian-style beers available.
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Thanks again to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own.