Travel Blogger Shares Best Beach Apps at Favorite Restaurants

Six of the Best Beach Appetizers at My Favorite Coastal Restaurants

Orange Beach and Gulf Shores have a pretty amazing culinary scene, especially when it comes to seafood. However, I will admit that often I hold off on appetizers in fear of not being able to eat my entrée. With that in mind, sometimes my husband and I will just go to a restaurant that serves amazing appetizers, order a couple and sit at the bar or outside. It’s perfect for a casual night sprinkled with good conversation and sometimes even live music.

Fried Pickles at The Hangout

LuLu’s in Gulf Shores has long been a favorite in our household. And why shouldn’t it be? My goodness – there are delicious menu options, great (and unique) drinks, live music, a huge gift shop, a rope-climbing course and so much more! Yes, there’s usually a wait, but it’s part of the fun! Two appetizers that are always top of mind when visiting LuLu’s are A Mountain of Fried Okra and LuLu’s Famous Seafood Gumbo. The okra is deep-fried Southern-style with LuLu’s ranch dressing, and it’s so tasty! Of course, hand-stirred seafood gumbo is hard to beat as well, so just order them both! They go well with good ol’ Southern sweet tea, a cold beer or a Jet Ski Killer!

The Hangout serves some stupendous appetizers and has a fun atmosphere, too. Try the Fried Pickles with the avocado ranch dressing for dipping. And don’t miss the Local Smoked Tuna Dip and Hummus Platter that has olives plus roasted and fresh veggies, and comes with warm pita bread – and there’s plenty to share! Pair with a sunset and fruity umbrella drink for the perfect end to any day.

The Wharf in Orange Beach is home to one of my favorite restaurants: Villaggio Grille. A beautiful venue, Villaggio serves lovely wines, over-the-top entrees and superb appetizers (which they refer to as “snacks”). I’m not always a fan of calamari, but they serve one that I love – Calamari Fritti – lightly fried and seasoned with parmesan cheese, lemons and citrus sweet chili. Their Shrimp Arancini is also pretty special with panko-breaded risotto, gulf shrimp, roasted peppers, parmesan and diablo cream. If you happen to go for Happy Hour, ask about penny cocktails and order up some of these snacks to make it a meal!

Cobalt, The Restaurant

Ginny Lane Bar & Grill, a sister to Villaggio Grille and also located at The Wharf, is the perfect spot to wind down with a nice drink (think Happy Hour specials and penny cocktails) and a shareable appetizer. Two favorites at this waterfront dining spot include Cherry Barbecue Baby Back Ribs (four spice rubbed ribs, cherry barbecue sauce and celery), and Fried Green Tomatoes and Blackened Shrimp (just like the name says, with Creole remoulade). You can’t go wrong with either one!

Bill’s by the Beach is home to a wonderful weekend brunch, awesome dinners with fresh seafood, locally sourced ingredients and a fine selection of wines. What a lot of folks don’t know about is the gem of an open-air bar there at Bill’s – The Turtle Bar. Not only do guests have an amazing view of the sunset, but also a bar where juices are fresh and food is fantastic! “Not your Fried” Shrimp is out of this world with sautéed Wild American Shrimp, garlic chili sauce, toasted coconut and grilled pineapple! Another winner is the Smoked Tuna Dip with mesquite smoked yellowfin tuna, peppadew relish and crostinis. Also, I think it’s important to note that Bill’s has Happy Hour weekdays from 1 until 7 p.m. – nice and long, as it should be.

Cobalt, The Restaurant has a really sweet appetizer menu full of creative dishes, making it hard to choose only a couple of favorites. If I HAD to pick, I’d say the Bayou La Batre Crab Claws (gently fried with cocktail sauce) and the Cobalt Crab & Shrimp Dip (fresh blue crab and bay shrimp with sweet red peppers, two cheeses and grilled French bread). They also have nice cocktails, draft beers and an extensive wine list.

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