The water that laps against the white sand of Orange Beach is home to some of the best shrimp, crab, oysters, flounder, and grouper you’ll ever eat. Seasoned with the Southern flavors that waft in from New Orleans, they are most commonly served grilled, fried, blackened, or stuffed into a po’boy. If you enjoy fresh fish and seafood, you’ll be delighted to see it dominate the local food scene in Orange Beach, Alabama.
Whether you’re seeking breakfast or brunch, dinner, drinks, or dessert, here is what to eat (and drink) in Orange Beach.
1. The Southern Grind
With two locations in Orange Beach -- one connected to Hotel Indigo and one at The Wharf -- The Southern Grind is a great place to kickstart your day with caffeine and more in Orange Beach. If you like starting your morning with baked goods, you’ll find everything from French-style pastries to New York-style bagels. And if you want to pack in a bit of protein, consider a biscuit sandwich that layers either a piece of crispy fried chicken or an egg, cheese, and breakfast meat between one of The Southern Grind’s buttermilk biscuits.
But The Southern Grind is more than a coffee shop. Let them grill up a burger, press a panini, or toss a salad for a casual lunch in Orange Beach. The strawberry pecan salad featuring salad greens, toasted pecans, crumbled feta, and sliced strawberries is especially delicious!
2. Ruby Slipper Cafe
Established in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the first Ruby Slipper Cafe was founded in the Mid-City neighborhood of New Orleans in 2008. Today, diners can click their heels together for breakfast at more than 10 Ruby Slipper locations in the Southeast, including one in Orange Beach, Alabama.
Try one of their creative eggs Benedict dishes, including one made with Gulf shrimp (of course) or fried green tomatoes. The Ruby Slipper Cafe makes it easy to sample several Benedicts with The Trifecta (a trio of their most popular Benedicts) or The Peacemaker (you pick two). Other delicious ways to start your day include pain perdu (stuffed French toast) or the bacon praline pancake -- a classic buttermilk pancake topped with applewood-smoked bacon, toasted pecans, and a buttery brown sugar caramel sauce.
3. City Donut
From basic to bizarre, the best donuts in Orange Beach (if not the state of Alabama) are at City Donut. If classic cake or traditional glazed are your style, you’ll find everything from chocolate and vanilla to blueberry and maple-glazed in this family-owned-and-operated donut shop. There are also jelly- and cream-filled delights as well as donuts topped with fruity breakfast cereal, crunchy sliced almonds, and mounds of shredded coconut. If you haven’t tried a “cronut” -- a fresh perspective on the most traditional French baked good that is part croissant and part glazed donut -- yet, you can give it a go at City Donut. Because the wide variety of donuts at City Donut are made fresh in house each morning, arrive early for the best selection!
4. Cosmo’s Restaurant And Bar
Just a few steps from Wolf Bay, Cosmo’s Restaurant offers all the fresh local seafood you’d expect from a Gulf Coast establishment. But if you need a break from the Gulf’s famous shrimp, try the banana leaf-wrapped fish at Cosmo’s.
Inspired by his Filipino heritage and Southern upbringing, Chef Jack Baker wraps a seasoned sea bass filet first in parchment paper and then a banana leaf. This one-two punch ensures the fish is baked to a light and flaky perfection before being plated with rice and vegetables. And don’t just take my word for it: The Alabama Tourism Department has named this meal one of 100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die.
Here are a few other things that make Cosmo’s Restaurant and Bar a great place to eat in Orange Beach:
- If you’re visiting with a four-legged friend, Cosmo’s offers a large, pet-friendly outdoor patio area.
- Before you head to Cosmo’s, you can visit their website to check out the daily specials.
- And if you’re looking for an afternoon pick-me-up or early dinner, Cosmo’s offers happy hour specials from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day of the week.
5. Fin And Fork
Fin and Fork serves up all of the locally sourced, expertly prepared fresh shrimp, oysters, flounder, and grouper options you’d expect from a restaurant along the Gulf Coast, so my recommendations focus on the extras.
Start your meal with an order of crab beignets. As separate ingredients, nothing beats the taste of freshly caught crabs and the fried French fritters known as beignets in Bayou Country. But this appetizer pairs the two, turning them into a power couple that would make even George and Amal Clooney jealous!
And regardless of what delicious meal you pick for your main dish, be sure to include a side of hushpuppies. The tasty fried cornmeal balls at Fin and Fork include jalapeno, white cheddar, and smoked Gouda.
If you’re looking for a great place to eat in Orange Beach on Sunday, check out the Sunday brunch, served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For just $20, you’ll get three courses and unlimited champagne. And if it rains during your beach vacation, stop by Fin and Fork for unlimited bubbles for $6.
6. Tacky Jacks
Surrounded by unbeatable waterfront views, Tacky Jacks offers delicious food from sunrise until well after sunset. So if you want to grab a bite or sip some suds, sit back, and chill, Tacky Jacks is the perfect place. Just be sure you keep an eye on the water for dolphins frolicking nearby!
If you’re brave enough to try a truly local dish, the gator bites are delicious. Give tender chunks of alligator tail nuggets a try by ordering a half-pound that have been either fried or blackened. If noshing on swamp creatures is outside of your culinary comfort zone, then try the smoked tuna dip, Tacky shrimp, fish tacos, or a po’boy instead.
Fun Fact: While you’re likely to pass one of the other Tacky Jacks locations along the long sliver of land that stretches from the Florida state line to Fort Morgan, Alabama, the location in Orange Beach is the original.
7. Anchor Bar And Grill
Landlubbers can have their Orange Beach experience and eat what delights them, too, in this boat-shaped restaurant right on the water at Hudson Marina.
Along with gorgeous views of Terry Cove, enjoy a small but delicious menu that provides a respite from the local seafood. Try the Cuban sandwich with smoked pork, sliced ham, creamy Havarti, and mustard and pickles grilled into a French baguette. The More In Than Out Burger is made with Louisiana Wagyu beef, and the coleslaw with creamy cucumber tzatziki sauce.
Don’t Forget To Drink A Bushwacker
No matter where you break bread in the morning or dine at night, you’ll definitely want to enjoy a Bushwacker when you visit Orange Beach. Originally concocted in the Virgin Islands, this cross between a chocolate shake and a pina colada is a local favorite. Chocolatey, coconutty, and creamy, this blended cocktail is definitely one of the local flavors you won’t want to miss in Orange Beach!
Most bars along the Gulf Coast offer Bushwackers, but several of the establishments on this list offer them with a unique twist:
- As a coffeehouse (rather than a bar), The Southern Grind offers a non-alcoholic version of the Bushwacker as a frappe, latte, or shake.
- The Bushwacker at Fin and Fork uses creme de banana as an alternative tropical flavor to cream of coconut.
- And at Anchor Bar and Grill, try a blonde Bushwacker made with vanilla vodka, Frangelico, and ice cream. Or, enjoy one of their specialty Bushwackers, including Alabama apple pie, watermelon coconut, or blueberry cheesecake.
When you order your Bushwacker, the bartender will likely ask if you’d like a “floater.” Consider saying yes to this extra shot of dark rum floating on the top of your frozen boozy milkshake. You are on vacation, after all!
From before dawn until well after the sun has set beyond the scenic horizon, these are the best restaurants in Orange Beach, Alabama, to help you experience the local flavors.
Wondering what to do on a rainy vacation day beyond indulging in unlimited $6 bubbly at Fin and Fork? Take the 10-minute drive to enjoy these 10 things to do in Gulf Shores, Alabama, on a rainy day.