In this second installment of my vacation review, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite subjects–food!
Since we were staying in a house with a full kitchen, home-cooking was a big highlight of our stay. We had a hot breakfast every morning with grits or biscuits, eggs, bacon or sausage and more. Heaven! We ate well at dinner too, enjoying everything from homemade gumbo and fried shrimp to fresh-grilled steaks and corn on the cob, to homemade spaghetti sauce.
Despite the amazing food at home, we did venture out for a couple of meals. Here are our reviews of the places we tried.
On our third full day in town, we went out to lunch at the Shrimp Basket, a popular spot at the big intersection of highway 59 and Beach Boulevard. My husband and I ordered gumbo, crawfish étouffée and raw oysters for an appetizer. Both stews were disappointingly thin, with the étouffée also having a slight fishy flavor. However, those were the only disappointments of the meal.
The raw oysters were great, and our entrees were also very satisfying. My husband had the crawfish po boy, and I had the oyster po boy with a side of fried okra. The restaurant features a full bar but since it was lunchtime, most of our party chose a refreshing beer. Atmosphere is casual and family oriented with indoor and outdoor seating, but beware that both dining areas are small and tight, which can made for a noisy meal.
The Tin Top
For dinner on our next to last night, we ventured out to the Tin Top, a great little restaurant located a bit off the beaten path in Bon Secour. It’s a small restaurant, so expect a bit of a wait, but the fresh, local seafood is worth waiting for. Our table started our with platters of fried pickles and fried crab claws. Both were pleasantly light and very hot and fresh.
For dinner, the restaurant features steaks and chops as well as seafood, but seafood is what we were there for, so that was our focus. My husband had the soft shell crab with tasso hollandaise sauce. The crab was perfectly prepared; light, crisp and juicy, it was one of the standouts of the entire trip. I had the grilled shrimp, which were big and juicy and tossed in a light sweet chile sauce.
The sides were also good. We both enjoyed the collard greens, and I sampled the lima beans with andouille sausage, while my husband enjoyed the gouda cheese grits. The greens we topped with the spiciest, best pepper vinegar I’ve ever had. This wasn’t one of those skinny little jars you buy at the grocery store. It was a huge mason jar jammed with every kind of pepper you can think of: green chiles, jalapenos, and some intense little red chiles. It was so good that I think we might make a little DIY project trying to reproduce it at home.
Those were the eats at the beach this summer. What foods do you like to eat on vacation? If you’ve been to Gulf Shores, do you have a favorite restaurant there?