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This small, picturesque city of less than 10,000 lies nestled by water almost entirely around it, making it a sleeper tourist attraction. Visitors know that a vacation here means not having to deal with the bustle and crowds of other popular hotspots, as Gulf Shores is the vacation equivalent of that charming hole-in-the-wall joint only you and your friends know about. Because of its close proximity to Oyster Bay, Little Lagoon and the Gulf of Mexico, Gulf Shores has strong ties to the fishing industry — the city knows how to prepare a mouth-watering meal and top it off with amazing service. The next time you visit Gulf Shores in Alabama, make sure to drop in on one of these five seafood shops.

King Neptune’s Seafood Restaurant

When we said before that Gulf Shores is a vacationer’s favorite spot because of its laidback atmosphere, King Neptune’s is the exception that proves the rule. Heading here for a dinner meal is bound to result in a wait, with the restaurant’s quality a popular hit among locals and tourists alike. While you wait for a booth to open, head across the street to take in a round of mini golf or two, and then head back for a meal you’ll remember the rest of your trip. Share an appetizer of battered mushrooms and delight in the horseradish-ranch dressing, as opposed to getting cocktail sauce at most other restaurants. For the main course, the blackened Red Snapper or Mahi Mahi are excellent choices that highlight Gulf Shores’ industry, with a soft, flaky texture and seasoning done just right. But if you and your family or friends want a little taste of everything, then the Neptune’s Seafood Platter is the dish to order.

Bahama Bob’s Beach Side Café

Arrive early or be prepared for a bit of a wait, but it’s all worth it when you’re seated with a prime view of the water. Its cozy atmosphere makes you feel like you’re in a friend’s home having a meal prepared for you, but the service is elevated beyond that. Try the Pirates Well Alligator Bites for a breaded seafood adventure, or opt for either the Treasure Island Seafood Gumbo or Spicy Cajun Fried Crawfish Tails for an appetizer that’s a little tamer. Whatever you order, make sure you’ve left room for the Steamed Crab Legs or the Great Stirrup Grilled Gulf Shrimp, two popular choices on Bob’s menu that’ll have you salivating as soon as you send the order in.

S & S Seafood Market

When you want a truly great meal in Gulf Shores, you come to S & S, the top place in Gulf Shores for fresh, delectable seafood. You can either take fresh seafood home with you or have them cook it for you to enjoy on the beach while the sun goes down, and be guaranteed a great meal every time. No matter how discriminating your tastes are, it’ll be hard not to be bowled over by their jumbo boiled shrimp plates, snow crab or steamed creole shrimp. The prices are pretty reasonable, too, and if you take drinks and dessert with you, you have a perfect picnic for the beach.

Sunset Cork Room

At the Sunset Cork Room, Chef Tiffany is more than just a cook, she’s an artist as well. Everyone here understands the importance of food looking as good as it tastes, and each dish is a masterful creation in both aesthetic and flavor. Make sure to call in with a reservation, as locals eat here frequently and you want to be assured of a great table. Start off with the Lump Crab Salad, which comes with a delectable lemon Caesar dressing that’ll prime you for round two. After you’ve let that settle, either the Gulf Grouper (we prefer ordering it blackened) or Seared Ahi Tuna will have you never wanting to cook for yourself again. Finally, top it off with a glass of wine from their extensive drinks menu, with the servers able to recommend the perfect bottle for anything you order.

Original Oyster House

There are some restaurants that put oysters on the menu to prove they’re adept at a wide range of seafood, but that’s not good enough for the seafood lover. Where Original Oyster House does things differently is take the time to understand what makes good oysters great, and then specialize in them. Oysters aren’t the only thing on the menu, such as with appetizers (the Crab Claws and Barbecue Butter Shrimp are two of our favorites), but it’s the main course you’ll want to save your appetite for. The Oysters on the Half Shell or Joe and Dave’s Favorite is a good place to start, while the Mahi Down on Da Bayou and Bourbon Grilled Ahi Tuna & Fried Shrimp are excellent alternatives for non-oyster fans. Try getting there during off-peak hours so you can get the best seat in the house, right by the window.

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