Cool, Happy, and Fun Gulf Coast Restaurants Along the #USGulfCoast

From waterfront dining to relaxed upscale restaurants to amazing casual seafood shacks, here are some of our favorite US Gulf Coast restaurants. There are countless places to eat along the US Gulf Coast to fulfill any culinary urge but this article lists some favorites.

The following restaurants along the Gulf Coast states are sorted by state and listed from east to west. Please leave comments with your favorite Gulf Coast restaurants and we will try to visit them on future US Gulf Coast getaways.

Florida Gulf Coast Restaurants

El Siboney Restaurant in Key West

Choose from a dozen or more Cuban restaurants in Key West, knowing you are within 100 miles of Havana. El Siboney is my favorite for two reasons—my Cuban friends (I grew up in South Florida) recommend El Siboney and the prices, quality, and location make you feel like you have found something special. Duval Street is close enough to walk but far enough that most tourists do not realize this hidden gem is here.

For suggestions of things to do in Key West FL: 8 Great Key West Tips

21 Spices in Naples

Not only did I have amazing curry at 21 Spices in Naples, Florida but I met Chef Asif on the night before he beat Bobby Flay. Whatever entree(s) you choose—tandoori chicken and Chef Asif special seafood curry are suggestions—begin your dining experience with the phenomenal lobster mulligatawny.

8 Great Places to Eat in Naples Florida. Article by Charles McCool for McCool Travel
Chicken Tandoori at 21 Spices in Naples FL. Photo by 21 Spices.

For suggestions of Naples FL restaurants: 8 Great Places to Eat in Naples Florida

Peace River Seafood in Punta Gorda

Whatever I write will pale in comparison to this photo of my seafood platter at Peace River Seafood. Choose to sit outside under the magnificent oak trees when the weather is pleasant.

A fresh caught feast at Peace River Seafood in Punta Gorda FL
fresh seafood feast at Peace River Seafood in Punta Gorda FL

For suggestions of things to do in Punta Gorda FL: 15 Fun Things to Do in Punta Gorda Florida on the US Gulf Coast

Farlow’s on the Water in Englewood

One of the top five seafood houses on the Florida gulf coast is Farlow’s on the Water. Farlow’s typically has 8-12 fresh species every day. Their concept is fresh seafood and accompanying items with a Caribbean-Southern US twist. The crab berry salad is magnificent and the blueberry pie is truly remarkable.

crab berry salad at Farlows on the Water in Englewood Florida
crab berry salad at Farlows on the Water in Englewood Florida

Cabbage Key Inn & Restaurant

Parrothead legend is that Jimmy Buffett allegedly wrote Cheeseburger in Paradise after eating at the restaurant on Cabbage Key.  In addition to devouring a cheeseburger or a fresh fish dish, order a slice of key lime pie—prepared from Fern Butters original recipe from the 1930s. Bring a dollar bill (or many) to attach to the wooden walls.

dollar bills on walls of Cabbage Key, Florida
dollar bills on walls of Cabbage Key, Florida

For suggestions of things to do near Ft. Myers FL: Fun Things to Do in Fort Myers Beach on a Southwest Florida Vacation

Beach Bistro in Holmes Beach (Anna Maria Island)

Enjoy a glorious #USGulfCoast sunset celebration on the sugar sand beach in front of Beach Bistro then stay for dinner. Beach Bistro is one of Zagat’s highest rated US restaurants and definitely has a Florida relaxed luxury beach vibe. Start with the magnificent lobster appetizers. Tell owner Sean Murphy that McCool Travel recommended you visit and ask him to take you to Doctor’s Office after dinner.

sublime lobster appetizer at Beach Bistro in Anna Maria Island

For suggestions of things to do on Anna Maria Island: Cool Things to Do in Anna Maria Island Florida

Katch Twenty-Two in Lecanto

Richard Wiggins—former Executive Chef at the W in Washington DC—and his wife traded traffic jams and cold winters for the opportunity to operate their own place. Katch Twenty-Two is a small (make a reservation) off the beaten path hidden gem with amazing food.

Katch Twenty-Two Restaurant in Citrus County FL
Katch Twenty-Two Restaurant in Citrus County FL

For suggestions of things to do in Crystal River FL: Fun Things to Do in Crystal River FL: Manatee Tours and More

For more Florida Gulf Coast information, see these resources:

Visit Florida | Paradise Coast (Naples FL) | Pure Florida (Punta Gorda / Englewood) | The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel (Cabbage Key) | Bradenton Gulf Islands (Anna Maria Island)

Alabama Gulf Coast Restaurants

Southern National in Mobile

Locally sourced seafood, craft cocktails, upscale Southern cuisine are reasons most people venture to Southern National. When I saw a friend (chef Austin from White Pillars, see below) dining here the day prior to me, I asked what to order. Austin said to let Chef Duane run with it. I dined with two local experts and frequent Southern National guests, so I did kind of sit back and enjoy the show. Knowing that James Beard Foundation has granted Chef Duane several Best Chef nominations additionally gave me confidence. Truly, it does not matter what you get here, everything is phenomenal (even the tater tots).

one of the best things to do in Mobile is eat at Southern National
amazing appetizer at Southern National in Mobile Alabama

The Noble South in Mobile by Charles McCool

Two months later, I still fondly recall the deviled eggs at The Noble South. Their oh, so Southern (my term) lunch options include meatloaf or catfish with your choice of two sides. Please email me some deviled eggs!

deviled eggs at The Noble South in Mobile AL

Dauphins in Mobile by Charles McCool

Visit Dauphin’s for the amazing view but stay for the magnificent Poke appetizer. The executive chef trained in Maui and won Poke contests against chefs from around the world.

tuna poke at Dauphin's is one of the best things in Mobile AL
try the amazing  tuna poke at Dauphin’s in Mobile AL
dark & stormy with a grand view at Dauphins in Mopbile Alabama
dark & stormy with a grand view at Dauphins in Mobile Alabama

Original Oyster House in Mobile or Gulf Shores

People flock to Original Oyster House for the po’ boys, seafood entrees, salad bar, fire-grilled oysters, and Royal red shrimp. Key lime pie and chocolate chip peanut butter pie are sold by the slice or whole pie. Their food is fresh and delicious but the community outreach and sustainability practices of Original Oyster House really impressed me.

Original Oyster House fire-grilled oysters are among the best things to eat in Mobile AL
order the fire-grilled oysters at Original Oyster House in Mobile AL

See also: 15 Fun Things to Do in Mobile Alabama on a US Gulf Coast Getaway

Fisher’s in Orange Beach

On my latest #USGulfCoast road trip, two separate and unrelated people in Mobile recommended that I eat at Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina so I knew it was a place to try. Chef Bill Briand has received James Beard top chef nominees for three straight years. Craft cocktails and fresh seafood dishes are the items to try at Fisher’s.

fresh oysters at Fisher's at Orange Beach Marina
fresh oysters at Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina

Salt at San Roc Cay in Orange Beach

Chef Robert at Salt at San Roc Cay in Orange Beach told me their philosophy is the best local ingredients done simple. They do not intend to reinvent Southern cuisine but just want to make people happy. Well, having a spicy jalapeño margarita on the menu made me happy. Murder Point oysters made me happy. The US Prime Plus steak made my dinner partner happy.

Murder Point Oysters at Salt in Orange Beach
Murder Point Oysters at Salt in Orange Beach

Perch at The Lodge at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores

A new, spectacular, world class sustainable The Lodge at Gulf State Park was imagined, designed, and created—after the original property was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The culinary highlight of the property is Perch, a magnificent relaxed luxury waterfront restaurant utilizing local fishermen and farmers.

>>> See also the McCool Travel article: Cool Things to Do in Gulf Shores Alabama

For more Alabama Gulf Coast information, see these resources:

Sweet Home AlabamaAlabama’s White Sand Beaches (Gulf Shores and Orange Beach) | Visit Mobile

Places to Eat in Coastal Mississippi #SecretCoast #BigShrimpin

The Greenhouse on Porter in Ocean Springs

Start your day, every Coastal Mississippi day if possible, with the daily biscuits (one sweet, one savory) and a cup of tea or coffee at Greenhouse on Porter. Spend a few minutes in the greenhouse, plotting out your day, and hopefully distracted by Marigold (the resident cat with an nice Instagram presence). They also have live music on Thursday nights.

biscuits at Greenhouse on Porter, Ocean Springs
biscuits at Greenhouse on Porter, Ocean Springs

Vestige in Ocean Springs

I have had the utmost pleasure to dine at Vestige in Ocean Springs three times. Each visit, Chef Alex Perry, a 2019 Best Chef: South nominee from James Beard Foundation, raises the bar and heightens my senses as no other US Gulf Coast restaurant has. Combining highest quality proteins, local produce, and Asian and other international spices, Chef Alex creates extraordinary dishes that have me longing for the next visit.

Miso braised salmon from James Beard Foundation semi-finalist Alex Perry.VestigeCoastal MississippiUS Gulf Coast

Posted by Charles McCool on Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Deconstructed tomato pie.Heirlooms, red shiso, saffron aioli, and a bunch of brilliant stuff.VestigeVisit Mississippi Gulf Coast#MSCoastLife #BigShrimpin

Posted by Charles McCool on Thursday, December 6, 2018

White Pillars in Biloxi

During my recent lunch at White Pillars—with Coastal Mississippi tourism maven Anna Roy—Chef Austin Sumrall gushed about the local oysters from Deer Island. He said they can be served with two hours of leaving the water, resulting in an amazing fresh seafood experience. During two White Pillars visits, I have sampled (or more correctly entirely devoured) a dozen or so different offerings and all have been exceptional.

local French Hermit oysters at White Pillars in Biloxi MS
Mississippi Gulf oysters from French Hermit at White Pillars in Biloxi MS

Austin Sumrall, chef at White Pillars Restaurant and Lounge, just received this delivery of local yumminess. Have you ever seen such incredible mushrooms?Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast#MSCoastLife #BigShroomin

Posted by Charles McCool on Thursday, December 6, 2018

 

>>> See also the McCool Travel article: Fun Things To Do On The Mississippi Gulf Coast

For more Mississippi Gulf Coast information, see Coastal Mississippi

Cool Louisiana Gulf Coast Restaurants

These New Orleans restaurants were suggested from 2FoodTrippers 10 Cheap Eats in New Orleans.

For more Louisiana Gulf Coast information, see these resources:

Louisiana Travel | Louisiana NorthshoreNew Orleans Plantation Country | Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou

Places to Eat Along Texas Gulf Coast

F&B in South Padre Island

Their tagline Modern American With a Coastal Flare is accurate but does not begin to appropriately describe how remarkable F&B SPI (South Padre Island) is. Chef Walter Greenwood (and his fiancé Brandi Hackett) envisioned upscale, relaxed luxury cuisine in South Padre and just celebrated the restaurant’s one year anniversary. F&B leverages the magnificent seafood bounty in southeast Texas (look for red snapper, Gulf shrimp, and grouper) and works with the highest quality area produce farms. Perhaps the truest accolade for F&B is that people are visiting South Padre Island SPECIFICALLY to dine there.

red grouper at F&B SPI South Padre Island
red grouper at F&B SPI South Padre Island

Until I have a chance to explore more of the Texas Gulf coast dining scene myself, I received suggestions from some local experts. Please note that the #USGulfCoast staff have not tried these restaurants but the information is provided by sources deemed to be reliable at time of publication.

  • Galveston: Willie G’s, The Grotto, and Home Cut Donuts — suggested by Kristina from Business Travel Life
  • Galveston: Le King’s Confectionary — suggested by Daniel from Upon Arriving
  • Galveston: Benno’s on the Beach, Gaidos Seafood, Hey Mikeys, and Miller’s Seawall Grill — suggested by Candess from Make Food Safe
  • Houston: Les Givrals and Velvet Taco’s — suggested by Erika from Erika’s Travelventures
  • Port Aransas: Virginia’s on the Bay — suggested by Liz from Faveable

For more Texas Gulf Coast information, see these resources: Travel Texas | Visit Beaumont Texas | South Padre Island

Phew, thank you for sticking with this list of cool, happy, and fun places to drink along the US Gulf Coast. By no means is this a comprehensive list. That would be a lifetime quest (any volunteers researchers?). Please, however, comment with your favorite US Gulf Coast restaurant. This #USGulfCoast article will be updated as needed!

Here is a map of cool, happy, and fun Gulf Coast restaurants.

 

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11 thoughts on “Cool, Happy, and Fun Gulf Coast Restaurants Along the #USGulfCoast”

  1. I love seafood and the Gulf Coast sure has a ton of great choices. You need to get over to St. Pete it’s a wonderful food town. And don’t forget to try a piece of Keylime pie wherever you go – they are all so different and delicious!

  2. Yes, I’ll volunteer to join you on the quest! 🙂 These places and dishes look amazing. The hubby, in particular, would be in heaven with all the seafood choices. Great list — I’m going to PIN it.

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