Our state has no shortage of great restaurants serving Alabama Gulf Seafood. And yet, just like our bountiful harvest on the Gulf Coast, new eateries keep popping up year after year.
Of course, many of you are already familiar with some of the hot new spots in town—and maybe you’ve already eaten there a few times! But if you’re traveling within the state, or if you’re visiting from outside Alabama, it never hurts to have a few restaurant recommendations, right?
This year’s restaurant round-up includes a headline-grabbing new oyster bar in Birmingham, a second location for an Orange Beach favorite, a relaxing (and healthy) new eatery in Gulf Shores, a surplus of fresh Gulf product served in Opp, and three brand new restaurants in Mobile.
Learn more about what was cookin’ in 2019, then pay them a visit in 2020!
Automatic Seafood & Oysters (Birmingham)
Chef Adam Evans had already made a name for himself in the Southern food scene thanks to lengthy stints at The Optimist and Brezza Cucina in Atlanta. Last year, this Muscle Shoals native returned to Alabama to open Automatic Seafood & Oysters in Birmingham, and it’s already a huge hit.
Evans’ restaurant isn’t just making diners happy—it’s actively contributing to our sustainability efforts on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. Along with seafood favorites (and oysters from the Gulf and East Coasts, of course), Automatic’s menu features a rotating list of different finfish, including several bycatch species based on availability. All this variety and local sourcing could be why Thrillist named Automatic Seafood & Oysters one of the Best Restaurants of 2019.
Doc’s Seafood & Steaks (Orange Beach)
Locals and beach vacationers have known about Doc’s Seafood Shack & Oyster Bar for years and years. In fact, some might say they have the best fried Gulf shrimp you’ll ever taste. And in 2019, they expanded with a second location to provide extra convenience.
Six miles from the original location and three miles from Gulf State Park, Doc’s Seafood & Steaks is the newest chapter in the Doc’s saga. As their name suggests, they’ve got a great menu of steaks and other essentials, but their fried seafood is a must-try. You can even create your own platter with shrimp, fish, crab, oysters, and more. Get ready for a seafood feast, folks.
The Hummingbird Way Oyster Bar (Mobile)
Okay, we’ll admit it: We’re a little bit biased with this one. Chef Jim Smith is the Chairman of our Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission—but he also had a lengthy run as the Executive Chef for the State of Alabama, and he was a recent contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef”. Needless to say, it’s about time he opened his own restaurant.
The Hummingbird Way is nestled in Mobile’s Oakleigh historic district, in the same building that once housed Kitchen On George, and they just enjoyed a grand opening last week. And since Chef Smith works closely with us to further the Alabama Gulf Seafood mission, you can bet the farm that there’ll be plenty of Gulf seafood on the menu!
Picnic Beach (Gulf Shores)
There are several seafood shacks all along Alabama’s Gulf Coast, but none quite like the brand new Picnic Beach in Gulf Shores. With white picnic benches for seating and bright green AstroTurf below your feet, it’s almost like—well, it’s just like having a picnic, really.
Picnic Beach offers all kind of healthy treats like vegan fare, açai bowls, and fresh fruit smoothies. But their real breadwinner is their meats, like their smoked wings and ribs, burgers made from bison and Wagyu beef, and of course, fresh Alabama Gulf Seafood like peel-and-eat shrimp and blackened Mahi Mahi. Keep them in mind for a family meal or your next catered event too!
Socu Southern Kitchen & Oyster Bar (Mobile)
Erica Barrett made an impact in Atlanta with the Southern Culture Foods brand. But when it came time to open her first restaurant, she returned home to Mobile, AL. And when it comes to her “reinvented” Southern classic plates, she’s using plenty of hometown ingredients, too.
We’d recommend starting with a dozen oysters either charbroiled or Socu Signature style, and there’s more Gulf seafood where that comes from. Enjoy some fresh Gulf shrimp on a Caesar salad, or with grits (Oprah’s favorite!), or perhaps the aptly named Old Town Road Shrimp. And if you’re feeling really fancy, give the High Roller Crab Cakes a whirl.
Squid Ink Eclectic Eats & Drinks (Mobile)
Chef Pete Blohme, known in South Alabama as Panini Pete, has made a name for himself in Mobile through high-quality fast-casual food, including lots of Gulf seafood. And in 2019, he expanded his portfolio even further with Squid Ink Eclectic Eats & Drinks.
It’s safe to say there’s nothing quite like this restaurant. The Fresh Fish Sandwich and Shrimp Po Boy will serve you splendidly for lunch, but there’s even more on the dinner menu. Start with a Smoked Oyster Tin and some BBQ Shrimp, then give the Seafood Pasta a try, or the Pressed Spicy Tuna Sushi if you’re feeling more adventurous. If you love Panini Pete’s other restaurants, this one’s a no-brainer.
Earlier this month, Chef Jon Gibson and Merrill Culverhouse opened a remarkable new restaurant in their small hometown of Opp, Alabama. What’s so remarkable about it, you might ask? The sheer amount of Alabama Gulf Seafood on their menu, that’s what.
At Wheelhouse, you’ll find standards like Shrimp & Grits and Chargrilled Gulf Oysters nestled in with creative dishes like Bacon & Crab Cheesecake and Southern Seafood Pasta. But when it comes to their “Catch of the Day,” you can find Alabama fish like Sheepshead, Grouper, Triggerfish, Tripletail, Queen Snapper, or Yellowfin Tuna. No matter what you choose, they’ll make it delicious.