In our third travel blog on the Gulf Shores, I wanted to share a few of our experiences with the local food and music. Once again, since we had only a couple days, this is a limited selection but it might be of a little assistance for anyone coming down to the Panhandle. We actually found a couple of terrific spots that you might want to try.
When we arrived at the Gulf Shores a bit early for check in, we ventured over to a fun restaurant called the Sunliner Diner. It is a great choice for families with kids. It is an authentic old-time diner with some great vintage cars both outside and inside. Unfortunately, the food is also vintage diner fare: Heavily fried and not especially good. The service is also hit and miss. We tried their signature fried pickles (which we did not especially like) and onion rings (which were good). Frankly, Jack and I loved the interior but ranked this last on the food scale for the places that we tried. I did like Jack’s Banana Split shake however. The waffle on top was particularly good.
We also ate at the Perch at the Lodge. We had their oysters which were great and we both liked the alcohol Banana daiquiri that Jack ordered. I had the moonshine based tea cocktail (which Jack liked more than I did). The shrimp and grits were good as was Jack’s grouper. It is a pricey place but the view is awesome and the service is outstanding.
The last restaurant worthy of note was the best. It is The Gulf. It is a beach restaurant constructed entirely from old shipping containers. It is located near the bridge and right on the bridge. It is great for family since the kids can play on the beach and the open areas for the tables. It is packed and is clearly a local favorite. We had to stand in line for about an hour. However, they give you a tracking device so you can sit anywhere and they will find you. The food came out pretty quick for it all worked out fine in terms of timing. I had the shrimp tacos, which were outstanding. Jack had the grouper again and really liked it. We also got the homemade guacamole which was quite good as was the tuna dip. This is also a pricey place but more than worth it. It is a unique location and fantastic food. If you go to one restaurant in the area, I would recommend The Gulf.
Finally, we went to one place of music entertainment: The Flora-Bama. It was the highlight of these establishments.
This is a music hub for the area with five stages. It is a legendary beach bar that has been featured in many songs including a famous song by Kenny Chesney.
You are met at the door by a guy with a magnetic wand to relieve you of knives and guns. This is a real honky tonk bar and they prefer to keep the weapons outside.
You can also order oysters and food as you listen to live music. The signature drink is “The Bushwhacker,” a frozen drink with three shots including coffee liquor and rum. Jack loved it. I thought it was good but not quite my cup of tea (or high-voltage shake). Careful on this drink however. It is best experienced with Uber if you are going to have more than one.
The bar is a Labyrinth of stages covered in the flotsam and jetsam not just from the coast but the wild beach music scene. This includes ceilings decorated with hundreds of bras.
We played some pool but the tables are as beaten up as the bar. (We were short four balls and the people next to us were short a cue ball. However, after a Bushwacker, it really doesn’t matter).
I recommend the open mics nights when locals play on one of the stages. It was really a lot of fun as these musicians play for drink tickets. They were really good and fun to watch.
We loved The Flora-Bama. We were told that they charge for entry on busy nights. We went on a Tuesday and it was free to get in.
Here are some pics from the Flora-Bama: