The US Gulf Coast is a seafood lover’s dream. Our Seafood Trail guide outlines places to savor local Gulf seafood catches. Some places are iconic and popular, some are quirky and hidden gem spots. But all focus on local, fresh, and native seafood and are our choices for our US Gulf Coast Seafood Trail.
Our US Gulf Coast Seafood Trail selections are not always the “best” restaurants in the area but we list our reasons why you should make a special effort to visit them on your Gulf Coast trips. The twelve restaurants we selected for the US Gulf Coast Seafood Trail do an excellent job of representing their local area and seafood options.
The following US Gulf Coast Seafood Trail entries are listed from the southern tip of the Texas Gulf Coast (South Padre) to the tip of the Florida Gulf Coast (Key West). We chose this direction because driving this route, you will be closest to the Gulf side the entire way. But, of course, you can choose to visit any of the places at any time in any order.
Popular Gulf seafood choices available local and fresh in most US Gulf Coast destinations include shrimp, grouper, snapper, red drum (redfish), black drum, mahi-mahi, sea bass, sheepshead, triple tail, and crabs. Seafood items that are locally popular in certain areas are mentioned below. For instance, oysters and crawfish are present in northern Gulf waters while stone crabs, hogfish, and spiny lobster are from southern Gulf areas.
For tips and recommendations about US Gulf Coast road trips see Ultimate US Coastal Scenic Drives Resource Guide and for the absolute top Gulf Coast restaurants 34+ Best US Gulf Coast Restaurants and Chefs.
US Gulf Coast Seafood Trail Restaurants
Please read below for a description of each of these 12 Gulf seafood restaurants along with dozens of our other favorite ones.
Texas Gulf Coast Seafood Trail Places
Tropical Texas is known for amazing seafood ceviche, redfish (red snapper), and flounder. If you see local Texas oysters or black drum on the menu, order it!
#1: F&B SPI in South Padre, Texas
Let us start our Gulf Coast Seafood Trail with something light but magnificent. Something to tempt your senses and make you crave more incredible Gulf seafood. That describes the seafood ceviche at F&B SPI, an upscale coastal cuisine restaurant in South Padre. F&B offers a daily seafood ceviche so you know it will be different and fresh every time you visit.
For more great places to eat in South Padre, see South Padre Island Restaurants: Fun Places to Eat in SPI Texas
#2: La Playa Mexican Grille in Port Aransas, Texas
Start with any of the three different seafood ceviche items at La Playa Mexican Grille in Port Aransas or order the sampler to try all three. Daily fresh fish specials are the thing to order here but it is so hard to pass up the excellent Mexican dishes. Hopefully you will have a few people in your dining party and can share food. McCool Travel tip: during peak season, arrive 30 minutes before opening and put your name on the list.
#3: Larry’s French Market in Groves, Texas
Larry’s French Market specializes in Louisiana-style crawfish boils, crabs, Cajun seafood buffet, and fresh Gulf fish. They host annual crawfish eating contests and is an especially lively place during the Elite Redfish Series tournament comes to Port Arthur.
For more great places to eat in Port Arthur, see Fun Places to Eat in Port Arthur Texas
Some other Texas Gulf Coast seafood spots to consider:
- Painted Marlin Grille (South Padre). Their tuna appetizer is magnificent. My group sampled six different local fish and shrimp entrees but I will not forget that tuna appetizer.
- Sea Ranch (South Padre) amazing redfish and grouper served in a classic old school setting overlooking Laguna Madre Bay.
- Water Street Oyster Bar (Corpus Christi) features oysters, shrimp, and other Gulf seafood. Oysters are half price 3-6pm every day.
- The Phoenix (Port Aransas) is an upscale place but knows how to properly prepare and serve local Gulf seafood. Look for snapper, crab, scallops, and other local items.
- Roosevelt’s (Port Aransas) is another higher end place, featuring incredible flounder, tuna, Mahi Mahi, and other fresh Gulf seafood.
- BLVD Seafood (Galveston) is a wonderful place on the Galveston Seawall serving amazing versions of Gulf grouper, snapper, shrimp & grits, and much more. Fresh oysters are popular at BLVD.
- Katie’s Seafood House (Galveston) serves the freshest caught fish from their own boats and their own seafood market. Shrimp, oysters, and daily catches are solid choices. Nearby Shark Shack is convenient for fish/shrimp tacos and fish & chips.
Louisiana Gulf Coast Seafood Trail Places
Welcome to Crawfish country! When crawfish is in season, ORDER IT! In huge quantities. With cajun seasoning.
Most other US Gulf Coast seafood items—such as shrimp, redfish, flounder—are available here but local Louisiana seafood choices to look for include catfish and trout (especially from Lake Pontchartrain). By the way, although sheepshead can be found all around the Gulf Coast, the largest sheepshead was actually caught in Lake Pontchartrain.
I only included three US Gulf Coast Seafood Trail stops in Louisiana (and eight strong contenders) but I could include so many more. Oh, and I did not even cover any in New Orleans because there are so, so many places.
#4: Steamboat Bills and/or Seafood Palace in Lake Charles, Louisiana
There is a big local debate in Lake Charles. And it is not whether Crawfish or Crayfish is the proper spelling. The debate in Lake Charles is whether to eat CRAWFISH at Seafood Palace or Steamboat Bills. Such a silly argument. We say go to both. Steamboat Bill’s is conveniently located right next to I-10 so definitely go there if you are short on time and just driving through Lake Charles. Seafood Palace is only a seven minute drive from there so try them both in the same day.
By the way, crawfish and crayfish (and crawdads) are essentially the same. The difference in spelling is usually regional.
For a great place to stay in Lake Charles, try Relaxed Luxury at L’Auberge Lake Charles
#5: Spahr’s Seafood in Des Allemands, Louisiana
Catfish is king at Spahr’s Seafood overlooking Bayou Des Allemands. Fresh shrimp, crawfish, trout, tuna, crabs, oysters, and other local catches are also available and amazing. But try the catfish, believe you me.
Other Louisiana Gulf Coast seafood spots to consider:
- Fremin’s (Thibodaux) is the only place where I have found a pearl in one of my oysters. Very good oysters, too.
- Mandeville Seafood is a super popular no-frills and amazing seafood place on the Louisiana Northshore. Crawfish in season is the menu item to order.
- Bec’s at the Lake (LaPlace) has a waterfront setting on the west end of Lake Pontchartrain and the staff will treat you as family. And also prepare and serve you some amazing classic seafood. Stuffed Fish Maurepas is the delicious chef specialty.
- A-Bear’s Cafe (Houma) classic, old school, cajun place. Fried catfish with all the trimmings.
- 1921 (Houma) amazing oysters, crabs, and other seafood.
- Rose’s Cafe (Galliano), historic memorabilia about local oystermen and shrimpers. Try the seafood gumbo and massive seafood platter (shrimp, oysters, crawfish, crab, and fish).
For more Louisiana travel info, see:
- 22 Great Things to Do in Houma: Louisiana Bayou Near New Orleans
- 27 Fun Things to Do in Louisiana Northshore
- 15 Fun Day Trips From New Orleans LA
Another aquatic Louisiana delicacy, although not seafood, is alligator meat. Yes, gator. Gator farms in Louisiana raise gators just like midwest farms raise cattle and if you are going to try gator anywhere, you might as well try it in Louisiana! Read more about gator farming at Louisiana Bayou Tour at Greenwood Gator Farm
Coastal Mississippi Seafood Trail Places
The 62 mile stretch of Mississippi Gulf Coast is anchored in the middle by Biloxi, once called the Seafood Capital of the World. Biloxi is still where most domestic Gulf shrimp is caught and harvested. Visit the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor (next to Hard Rock Hotel) to see shrimp boats and maybe buy some freshly caught shrimp direct from the boat at below market price.
Besides savoring the freshest Gulf shrimp anywhere, while visiting Coastal Mississippi you should try to find the amazing local oysters from French Hermit. Ask around, but one place that is the most likely to carry them is our next recommended stop on the US Gulf Coast Seafood Trail.
#6: White Pillars in Biloxi, Mississippi
Chef Austin Sumrall of White Pillars has won awards for his shrimp and grits* and he was a James Beard Foundation nominee in 2020 for Best Chef South. White Pillars is also a fantastic place for local French Hermit oysters and Chef Sumrall can serve French Hermit oysters within a few hours of them being harvested.
* Coastal Mississippi warrants its own Shrimp and Grits Trail and I volunteer as tribute to research and create it. Some entries I would include on a Shrimp and Grits Trail include Sycamore House (a spicy shrimp and grits version), Le Cafe Beignet, 200 North Beach, Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar (another zesty version), and, of course, White Pillars.
#7: The Blind Tiger in Biloxi, Mississippi
For a classic US Gulf Coast experience, enjoy a dozen (or two) royal reds on the deck of The Blind Tiger while watching a phenomenal Coastal Mississippi sunset. The Blind Tiger has three other US Gulf Coast locations (in Bay St Louis, Covington, and Slidell) but I love the waterfront deck seating here the most.
See also our Biloxi travel tips: 25 Fun Things to Do in Biloxi Mississippi
Some other favorite Coastal Mississippi seafood spots include:
- Vestige (Ocean Springs), chef Alex Perry marries Japanese and other exotic flavors with coastal fresh ingredients resulting in phenomenal creations. He was a 2019 James Beard nominee.
- Bozo’s Grocery (Pascagoula) for amazing po’ boys. Order a 1/2 oyster, 1/2 shrimp for a double hit of local Gulf goodness.
- Sea Level (Pass Christian) for shrimp tacos and fish tacos at a casual, waterfront setting. Another great spot to watch sunset.
- Thorny Oyster (Bay St Louis), local Gulf oysters are the focus but there are plenty of grouper, shrimp, and other local seafood options too.
- Charred (Ocean Springs) features fresh Gulf oysters but the tacos (shrimp and fish) and other local seafood dishes are definitely worth trying.
- Mikey’s on the Bayou (Ocean Springs). $5 for dozen oysters at an outside table overlooking the bayou is a great way to spend part of an afternoon (or all of it).
For more places to eat in Coastal Mississippi, see 71+ Sensational Mississippi Gulf Coast Restaurants in Coastal Mississippi
And note that since 2014 there has been a Mississippi Seafood Trail.
Alabama Gulf Coast Seafood Trail Places
Here at US Gulf Coast HQ, we consider the Alabama Gulf Coast to be synonymous with Lower Alabama and to include Mobile and parts south to the gorgeous Alabama beaches. Luckily, Original Oyster House has locations in Mobile Alabama AND Gulf Shores (along the coast) and is our favorite spot for seafood along the Alabama Gulf Coast.
#8: Original Oyster House in Gulf Shores and Mobile, Alabama
Treat yourself to fire-grilled oysters and royal reds (deep water shrimp) at Original Oyster House. That was my exact order on my first visit and I was instantly treated as a local, as family. My server was impressed that I knew what both were since first-timers usually order something fried or ordinary. On subsequent visits, I tried other menu items but the oysters and royal reds remain my favorites.
Both locations have overwater views. I really admire that Original Oyster House replenishes oyster beds in Mobile Bay, uses renewal energy sources, and is heavily involved in community initiatives.
Some other note-worthy Alabama Gulf Coast seafood spots include:
- Fishers (Orange Beach), multiple James Beard nominated chef serves impeccable Gulf seafood.
- Wintzell’s Oysters (Mobile) is a superb place for oysters. Raw oysters are plentiful and popular but also consider the sampler platter (16 oysters total with four different preparation styles).
- The Gulf (Orange Beach) has a fun gulf front setting with amazing fresh seafood choices. You cannot go wrong with the grouper sandwich, shrimp tacos, or the delectable lobster & shrimp roll.
- Southern National (Mobile), another place with multiple James Beard nominations and recently was named one of top 50 places to eat in US by NY Times.
For more great places to eat in Lower Alabama, see
And note that the Alabama Beaches tourism office has developed several food themed trails, including Oyster Trail and Shrimp Trail.
Florida Gulf Coast Seafood Trail Places
The Florida Gulf Coast stretches 900 miles from Perdido Key (near Pensacola) to Key West, almost exactly the same distance as it is to the Texas-Mexico border. Florida, then, should have half of the entries in our US Gulf Coast Seafood Trail but I struggle to limit the choices to only four.
#9: Family Coastal Restaurant in Eastpoint, Florida
There are dozens, maybe hundreds of places to find tasty fresh seafood tacos, sandwiches, and entrees along the Florida Gulf Coast. Family Coastal Restaurant in Eastpoint looks unassuming but serves outstanding Gulf seafood items. A local recommended it after he heard me order a mixed grouper/oyster po’ boy at Hunt’s in Panama City. He told me about the Seamonster here, which includes grouper, scallops, and shrimp. On my next visit I will ask them to add oysters. To lend authenticity to the scene, there is an oyster processing facility next door.
#10: Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill in Clearwater Beach, Florida
The beachfront setting of Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill in Clearwater Beach will immediately improve your mood, even if you show up on top of the world. Frenchy’s menu has a separate section for Grouper Sandwiches and you will not be disappointed with any of them. Plenty of other fresh Gulf seafood items are also available. Just ask your server what is fresh.
For more local information, see our article about the next town south of Clearwater Beach: 8 Fun Things to Do in Indian Rocks Beach
#11: Peace River Seafood in Punta Gorda, Florida
If you stop at only one place in Florida on the US Gulf Coast Seafood Trail, this is the place. Peace River Seafood quality is astounding. Their selection usually outshines other great Florida seafood places. They also supply other restaurants and one of our favorite settings is Starfish Market in Cortez (see below).
On our last visit to Peace River Seafood, the couple next to us said they drove 90 minutes specifically to eat here. A family on the other side said it is their first stop whenever they visit Southwest Florida. Ask your server for advice on what to order, what is freshest, what is most local. You cannot go wrong with the seafood platter.
As we head south into the Florida Keys, look for local delicacies such as conch, pink shrimp (Key West pinks), wahoo fish dip, and spiny lobsters (aka Florida lobster or Caribbean lobster).
For Florida Keys seafood restaurants, although I have been many times, several of my favorites have closed in the past few years. So I enlisted assistance from a friend who is a Florida Keys resident and a guide with Florida Keys Food Tours (ask for Craig Z.).
#12: Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen in Key Largo, Florida
The original Mrs Mac’s Kitchen is my favorite first stop when driving to Key West from Miami. Fresh seafood items to order east Mrs. Mac’s include conch chowder, lobster and grits (yup!), snapper or fresh fish of the day, pink shrimp, and yellowtail snapper. And their key lime freeze sets the mood for a perfect Florida Keys trip.
Other recommended Florida Gulf Coast seafood places (listed in geographical order from Pensacola down to Key West)
- Hunt’s Oyster Bar (Panama City)—also mentioned above—is a local favorite hidden gem in Panama City (note, NOT Panama City Beach!). Oysters are of course a highlight here but their grouper and other seafood items are wonderful.
- Scooter’s Fish House (Navarre). Place your order at the front counter for delicious blackened grouper and definitely order a slice of key lime pie (might be the best key lime pie in Northwest Florida).
- Seafood Seller (Crystal River) is a Cajun themed seafood joint featuring fresh catches from their own boats.
- Waterfront Social (Crystal River). Try the blackened grouper and chips.
- Sea Breeze Island Grill (Redington Shores) has a relaxing waterfront setting (on the bay) and serves excellent fresh grouper and other seafood. Their raw bar is also very popular, as our the $4 margaritas and sunset menu specials (until 6pm).
- The Sandbar Rstaurant (Anna Maria Island). Try the fresh and delicious grouper tacos while sitting at a waterfront table with your feet in the sand. A classic US Gulf Coast experience.
- Starfish Market (Cortez), world’s best blackened grouper sandwich (fight me!) while overlooking fishing boat docks complete with pelicans and gulls. This is one of my favorite US Gulf Coast scenes (and eats). The photo at the top of this article is from here.
- Farlow’s on the Water (Englewood) is one of the top fresh seafood places on the US East coast, featuring up to a dozen fresh seafood items every day. Their style combines Caribbean with US Southern and there are countless amazing options here.
- 21 Spices (Naples). Chef Asif beat Bobby Flay in a televised competition so you know he is a culinary wizard. Chef Asif’s Special Seafood Curry is a masterpiece featuring local seafood including an entire lobster tail. Extraordinary.
- Pinchers (Naples). Pinchers is a great place for stone crabs and other Gulf seafood. They have a dozen locations but the Tin City spot in Naples overlooks the water and seems to make the stone crabs taste even sweeter.
- Trulucks (Naples) is a upscale place featuring many fresh Gulf seafood items including a splurge-worthy all-you-can-eat stone crab dinner.
- Grimm’s Stone Crab (Everglades City) is the stone crab supplier for many Naples and Miami restaurants SO why not go right to the source? Order your stone crabs right off the boat, sorted, and steamed.
- Key Largo Fisheries (Key Largo) uses their own boats and sells fresh seafood in their market (and wholesale). Recommended items from their cafe are conch salad, stone crab chowder (yes!), and lobster BLT. Since we nearing Cuba, choose sides like tostones and plantains.
- Islamorada Fish Company (Islamorada) try the smoked wahoo dip, which is served with cucumbers at this legendary sunset location. Raw local shrimp and and stone crab claws, along with oysters, are popular items. Also visit the nearby Islamorada Shrimp Shack, where the shrimp fritter is a favorite of Guy Fieri.
- Chef Michael’s (Islamorada), upscale restaurant with a motto of “Peace, Love, and Hogfish.” They focus on local Keys seafood including the invasive and predatory lionfish.
- Island Fish Company (Marathon) serves local pink shrimp along with loads of other fresh seafood choices. Fun note, it is the only restaurant in the Florida Keys that you can arrive at by air. They have their own heliport.
- Off the Hook (Key West) is a great place for ceviche, hogfish, and stone crabs.
- The Lobster Shack (Key West) offers several types of lobster rolls and a few other seafood options. Try the Key West style lobster roll with butter and key lime juice.
Note that Apalachicola calls itself the Oyster Capital of the World but oyster farming in Apalachicola Bay is suspended until 2025 (in order to regenerate a thriving oyster population). At any US Gulf Coast seafood restaurant, ask where the oysters come from. We love our Gulf oysters!
In Crystal River, catch your own scallops during the season (July 1 to mid September) and several local restaurants will prepare them for you. And in the winter, you can swim with manatees. See our article: Fun Things to Do in Crystal River FL: Manatee Tours and More
For more great Florida Gulf Coast seafood restaurants, see
- 34+ Best US Gulf Coast Restaurants and Chefs
- 8 Great Places To Eat in Naples Florida
- 8 Fun Things to Do in Indian Rocks Beach
- 10 Best Tampa Restaurants to Eat and Drink Local in Florida
Was your favorite seafood restaurant included? Which places would you add to the US Gulf Coast Seafood Trail? Check back as we intend to add more and update this list often.