Dining at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
Gulf Shores is home to Alabama’s first certified “green restaurant,” Safari Club at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. This restaurant was a very pleasant surprise for me. I don’t normally think about what I’m going to eat when visiting a zoo, but Safari Club has shifted my thinking. The food was fantastic, and the atmosphere was engaging. As soon as I walked in the door, I knew that I was about to embark on a safari adventure. Wood and earth tones were present throughout the space with a few hidden treasures like the resin waterfall on the bar and tiny elephants throughout.
At first glance, the selections on the menu appeared to be mismatched with items such as falafel and shrimp and grits, but I learned they are very intentional. Executive Chef Greg Bushmohle put together a menu of dishes that represents the areas where the animals in the zoo are from. How fun is that? Not only can guests be transported to different areas of the world from seeing the animals, but their taste buds can be transported as well for a full-body experience. Speaking of full-body experience, rumor has it that a new dining experience with the giraffes is in the making. Safari Club is a must-see and do.
Foodie Tips: Keep your camera handy. The peacocks are known to prance across the patio while you’re dining. Also, order the key lime pie for dessert and take pictures in the private room. You’ll feel like you’re in a train cart on an African Safari.
Blast from the Past at Sunliner Diner
I felt like I stepped into the 1950s when I arrived at Sunliner Diner in the heart of Gulf Shores. It was truly a blast from the past with collector cars inside and outside the restaurant, the black and white tile floors, retro booths, and ‘50s uniforms worn by the staff. I didn’t miss the nod to the past in that the diner is named Sunliner. A Sunliner is another name for a Ford Crestline, Galaxie, or Fairlane made between 1952-1964.
Sunliner’s newspaper-style menu was filled with tasty, classic diner fare such as all-day breakfast, meatloaf, burgers, country fried steak, shakes, and more. One of the “more” on the menu that I appreciated was the addition of cocktails. My breakfast was immediately transformed into brunch simply by adding a Bloody Mary. For the record, Sunliner does Bloody Marys right. It was tangy, spicy, and loaded with olives, pickled green beans, celery, and bacon. It was practically a meal in a glass.