Best places to eat in Gulf Shores Alabama (2024)

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One of my favorite family friendly vacation destinations is Gulf Shores, Alabama (and its neighbors, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan). Last month, as I drove in from the Pensacola airport across Perdido Pass into Alabama, I felt like I had come home. Everything about this coastal community is so welcoming. On my most recent, hosted trip, I spent most of my time exploring the many things to do in Gulf Shores, including restaurants — on a quest to find the best places to eat in Gulf Shores, Alabama!

Of course, I enjoyed spectacular sunrises, too!

Sunrise on the beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama with silhouettes of people walking along the shore.

I hope you’ll use this delicious guide to find the best restaurants in Gulf Shores for your family beach vacation! Added bonus, if you stay on the beach, a lot of these places to eat in Gulf Shores are walkable!

Sunliner Diner, 100 E. 2nd Ave., Gulf Shores 

Sunliner Diner is an incredibly fun place to start your vacation day. Designed as a 1950s diner, it takes you back in time. The expansive menu ensures that everyone in the family will be satisfied. I’ve eaten here on several visits to Alabama’s beaches, and it does not disappoint.

Exterior of Sunliner Diner in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

When looking for places to eat in Gulf Shores, Alabama, Sunliner Diner also serves lunch and dinner favorites like burgers, sandwiches, macaroni and cheese and salads. Of course, no diner would be complete without handspun milkshakes. There’s even the boozy “Bushwacker” on the menu for adults!

We recommend:

  • The Chicken and Waffle Benedict, a delicious Belgian waffle topped with fried chicken, poached eggs and a creole hollandaise sauce, drizzled with syrup!
  • The Berry Stack Waffles, a blueberry waffle and a strawberry waffle, topped with — what else — berries! And then, drizzled with honey.
  • The Banana Nut French Toast, Texas toast soaked in custard and topped with bananas, candied pecans and candied bacon, all drizzled in caramel sauce.

And yes, candied bacon is a thing in the South! You can get a side of it, or maybe two, for the table to share. DELISH!

Waffles and bacon at Sunliner Diner in Gulf Shores.

Woodside Restaurant, 20249 State Park Road, Gulf Shores

Woodside is a counterservice restaurant located at Gulf State Park. Serving creative southern cuisine using locally sourced ingredients, you’ll enjoy a fresh, prepared-to-order meal in a bright, open space. Woodside Restaurant is popular with guests of the state park and with locals! It’s no surprise that it’s popular. The food is fresh and satisfying.

Exterior of Woodside Restaurant at Gulf State Park in Alabama.

The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor dining, with pets welcome outdoors. If you visit later in the day, enjoy lunch or dinner with live music outdoors and lots of other fun and games.

Avocado toast with eggs and salad.

Happy Pappy’s Coffee House, 1550 W 2nd St., Gulf Shores

This delightful coffee house, which is about a mile from the beach, was recommended to me by someone local I met during my trip. I trust local recommendations more than anything I can find online, and Happy Pappy’s lived up to the hype. The service was friendly, attentive and efficient. It’s the quintessential neighborhood coffee shop, and it’s happy! It’s absolutely one of the best places to eat in Gulf Shores!

Interior of Happy Pappy's Coffee House, one of the best places to eat in Gulf Shores Alabama.

The serve coffee, of course, and a fairly extensive breakfast menu. I opted for the blueberry danish pie, because it’s made in house, and a cup of house light roast coffee. But, they have lots of more savory dishes as well.

Blueberry danish pie and coffee in the garden at Happy Pappy's.

It was a perfect morning, so I enjoyed my breakfast outside in the garden. Dogs are welcome outdoors, too!

Lucy Buffett’s Lulu’s, 200 East 25th Ave., Gulf Shores

Another great destination restaurant at Alabama’s beaches is Lulu’s in Gulf Shores. Situated on the waterfront, watch the boats cruise by as you listen to live music while enjoying Lulu’s southern fare. There’s also a climbing tower for the kids (separate fee), a shop, and beach games. Lulu’s is about more than dinner. It’s a place to enjoy with family and friends.

Climbing at Lulu's restaurant in Gulf Shores.

Lulu’s gets our TOP PICK for families with food allergies. With eight separate food allergy menus and a separate kitchen to prepare foods for those with allergies, Lulu’s gets it — and makes it easy to enjoy a meal out without worry.

We recommend:

  • Lulu’s Fried Green Tomatoes, served with Lulu’s signature “WOW” sauce, an award winning dish for good reason,
  • Crazy Sista’s Pulled Pork Sandwich, made with slow-smoked pork shoulder tossed in sweet & spicy LuLu’s Lightning BBQ Sauce and served with a side of cole slaw,
  • Lulu’s Cheeseburger, a juicy seared burger seasoned with LuLu’s Salty Pepper Seasoning Blend and topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and choice of cheese and served with fries,
  • Jerk Chicken Sandwich, grilled chicken marinated in LuLu’s own Southern Jerk Seasoning topped with bacon, grilled pineapple and Swiss cheese and served with fries.
Burger at Lulus in Gulf Shores.

Picnic Beach, 128 E 1st Ave, Gulf Shores 

Picnic Beach is a great place for lunch, but I also like it for a light evening meal after a long day of sun and fun! Just one block from the beach, this is a relaxed, bright place to hang out. Order dinner at the counter, then grab a seat and play a board game while you wait. It’s so relaxed, you could make an evening of it. If weather is nice, enjoy your meal outdoors at the picnic tables. Everything about this place makes me smile! Every time I visit, this makes the list of places to eat in Gulf Shores.

We recommend:

  • The Beach Burger, topped with bacon, avocado, cheddar cheese, red onion, tomato, lettuce, and pickles,
  • The Tuna Poke Bowl, made with lime soy marinated raw tuna, jasmine rice, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, pineapple, and seaweed salad topped with smoked tomato aioli, shaved radish, crispy onions, and fresh Asian herbs.
  • Boba Tea!
Tuna Poke Bowl
Tuna Poke Bowl

Savanna, 20499 Oak Road E., Gulf Shores

If you go to the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo, make time for a meal at Savanna, the relaxed, fine dining restaurant at the zoo. Though, access is from the parking lot, so you could go just for lunch or dinner without visiting the zoo! I enjoyed eating outdoors where I could enjoy the beautiful scenery.

I highly recommend the Blue Waldorf Salad, topped with Granny Smith apples, blue cheese, blueberries and walnuts on a bed of arugula and iceberg lettuce. This salad was loaded with toppings and was a satisfying lunch. They also serve sandwiches and pizza at lunch, and more upscale dishes at dinnertime.

Blue Waldorf Salad at Savanna in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Tacky Jacks, 240 East 24th Avenue, Gulf Shores

My daughter’s favorite place to eat in Gulf Shores for the atmosphere and friendly staff is Tacky Jack’s. With three locations on Alabama’s Beaches, it is the place to go to enjoy satisfying food in a funky atmosphere. Built to look haphazard, the restaurant is actually quite organized! Lines can get long at prime dining times, so go for a late lunch or early dinner unless you don’t mind waiting.

We recommend:

  • The Mexican Garbage, a massive plate of beef and cheese nachos topped with tomato, onions, olives, sour cream, jalapeno and salsa. It can be a meal for two or three people!
  • The Fish Po Boy, Your choice of fried, grilled or blackened fish served on toasted New Orleans French Loaf served with fries, lettuce, tomato and pickle.
  • The Grilled Tuna “Samich,” served on a toasted, buttery brioche bun with fries.
Mexican Garbage at Tacky Jack's restaurants in Gulf Shores.

Burro Azul Beach Cantina, 300 W. Beach Blvd., Gulf Shores

When looking for the best places to eat in Gulf Shores, Alabama, don’t miss newcomer, Burro Azul Beach Cantina! This bright, festive restaurant serves delicious meals, great drinks and Mexican popsicles all with friendly, efficient service! Located just across the street from the beach, with indoor and outdoor dining and a large bar, it’s a great place to eat after a day on the beach.

Burro Azul, one of the best places to eat in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

I enjoyed the Burrito de Azul with carne asada, a mangoberry mule and, of course, an Orange Creamsicle Mexican popsicle. Every bite was packed with flavor and thoroughly enjoyable.

Carne Asada Burrito with chips and salsa and a drink.

One thing I really appreciate about all the places to eat in Gulf Shores, Alabama, is that they are geared for families, with great menus, allergy friendly options and attentive service. And, if you stay in Gulf Shores, like I did, many restaurants are within walking distance. I enjoyed seeing families on spring break, strolling through Gulf Shores enjoying their time — not just rushing from place to place.

I hope this guide helps you find some great new places to eat in Gulf Shores, Alabama on your next vacation.