50 Best Bay Area Restaurants in 2019

Mobile Bay editors share their picks for the top local eateries of the year.

Gorgonzola, Pear and Baby Spinach Salad from Dauphin’s // Photo by Frank Lee Roberts


Camellia Café

Best Bite: Flame-grilled artichoke with Parmesan and clarified butter
Ryan Glass, owner and chef at this sophisticated Fairhope café, specializes in crowd-pleasing steak tartare, fresh-from-the-boat fish dishes and addictive truffle fries served in a cleanly-designed dining room.

Chuck’s Fish

Best Bite: Gulf fish “Parmadine,” with crabmeat, Parmesan, roasted almonds and Gouda grit cake
As the name alludes, Chuck’s offers fresh, Gulf-to-table seafood. Not feeling fishy? This two-story Downtown hot spot is also known for its naturally-raised beef and award-winning sushi bar.


Best Bite: Sweet and spicy pecan-crusted fish with citrus beurre blanc and tropical mango salsa
Located 424 feet in the air at the top of the Trustmark Bank Building, Dauphin’s offers upscale menu items, ranging from venison carpaccio to gorgonzola, pear and baby spinach salad. “Smoking bonbons” for dessert add the perfect meal-ending flare.


Best Bite: New South Brussels sprouts cooked with bacon lardons, shaved red onion and honey balsamic dressing
Though the name and location (Bienville Square) of Dumbwaiter restaurant may be historic, the atmosphere brings a new flare to old style. Wes and Dana Lamberts’ restaurant menu includes classic items such as shrimp and grits and the Alabama Benedict.

- Sponsors -

Fairhope Inn

Best Bite: Pan seared diver scallops with balsamic glaze
The Fairhope Inn and Restaurant aims to maintain a charming feel throughout the historic cottage in the heart of Fairhope. The charm of the Inn extends throughout the menu, including roasted oysters, caramelized banana crepes and roasted beet salad.


Best Bite: Fresh catch with jumbo lump crabmeat Oscar and rich hollandaise sauce
Locals can enjoy fresh seafood as well as live music and stunning views from Felix’s Fish Camp on the Causeway. Creamy crab bisque, seared ahi tuna and classic Mobile recipes are among the variety of seafood offerings.


Best Bite: Ms. Anne’s fried chicken, served only on Sundays
Downtown Mobile’s FIVE restaurant makes dining out a bit easier, with a menu that includes only five dinners, five white wines and five red wines. All products are sourced locally, made from scratch and served in a hipped-up atmosphere.


Best Bite: Crawfish penne with andouille and tomato cream
Located in a warm red brick building in Daphne, Guido’s Regional Cuisine is a cozy and relaxed blend of cultures. The menu, always presented on a colorful chalkboard, features pizza, pasta and sandwiches, and lunch is a steal!


Best Bite: Dry-aged Delmonico ribeye Magnolia-style with crabmeat and hollandaise
A bit out of the way for most, but always worth the drive to Magnolia Springs, this one-of-a-kind steak house specializes in dry- and wet-aged beef. The seafood is also fabulous.

The Noble South

Best Bite: Pickled shrimp appetizer served in a Mason jar with a side of Saltine crackers
The masterminds behind Fairhope’s The Wash House opened this upscale yet casual Bienville Square restaurant offering a modern take on traditional southern ingredients. Deviled eggs, fresh fish, local produce and a popular hot plate lunch round out the menu.


Best Bite: Maple leaf duck breast with cabbage saute and rum infused jasmine rice
Restaurant owner and chef Chakli Diggs serves Mediterranean-Asian cuisine from a renovated 1840s townhouse in the heart of downtown Mobile. Fine dining options include small bites, such as foie gras, and larger entrees, such as Australian lamb chops.

R Bistro

Best Bite: Signature crawfish gravy over white rice
Don’t skip dessert after the entree. Joe and Misty Rider serve up made-from-scratch European pastries in a relaxed setting along Fairhope Avenue. Menu favorites include peanut butter pie, macaroon puffs and crawfish beignets.

Ruth’s Chris

Best Bite: Bone-in 40 ounce Tomahawk ribeye
Elegant Ruth’s Chris is known for its sizzling, butter-topped beef. Prime cuts are complemented with an array of salads, seafood, handcrafted cocktails and mouthwatering sides, like potatoes au gratin and lobster mac and cheese.

Southern National

Best Bite: Chicken schnitzel with mustard cream sauce
The creatives behind Atlanta’s One Flew South, Restaurateur Reggie Washington and chef Duane Nutter, moved south and now bring to life creative Southern cuisine, from grilled okra and shishito peppers to braised short ribs.

Southwood Kitchen

Best Bite: Korean BBQ marinated Snake River Farms wagyu teres major with a sunnyside egg
Located on Highway 98 in Daphne, Southwood Kitchen is comfortably casual and run by well-known and well-traveled chef Jeremiah Matthews. With knowledge and experience from Le Cordon Bleu and Michelin-starred kitchens, the chef showcases his talent of combining classic French food with Southern ingredients.

Thyme on Section

Best Bite: Lintz Hangar steak with truffle fries and truffle aioli
Located in downtown Fairhope, Thyme on Section offers a unique blend of modern flare and traditional roots. Husband and wife duo Adrian and Rachel Yots bring fresh and local ingredients to the table with menu items ranging from Pho to burgers.

The Wash House

Best Bite: Local red fish with crawfish and Vidalia onion soubise
Robert Yarbrough and executive chef Chris Rainosek head this Point Clear mainstay, open only for dinner. The Wash House is known for its impeccable service and locally inspired cuisine. Among popular menu items are soups and salads, chateaubriand and New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp. The Key lime bread pudding is a must.

Brisket Sandwich from Meat Boss // Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau


Butch Cassidy’s Cafe

Best Bite: Butch burger dressed with bacon, cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles, mayo and mustard
Established by Roy Seewer in 1993, Butch Cassidy’s reasonable prices, low-key atmosphere and burger options aplenty keep locals coming back. Daily specials, along with sandwiches, seafood, nachos, wings, and low-carb options round out the menu. 

The Cheese Cottage

Best Bite: The artisan cheese and charcuterie board with local honey, housemade jams, nuts, fruits, crackers and crusty baguette
Owner Kristi Barber left the corporate hustle and bustle to open this charming Downtown cheese shop in a converted gas station. More than 100 cheeses are offered, six of which are highlighted each week for tastings. The lunch menu includes fresh salads, pressed sandwiches, sweets and more. The covered patio with picnic tables and café lights is a favorite local spot when the weather is right.

Cereal Killer

Best Bite: Sunny shrimp tacos with cornflake crusted shrimp, over-easy egg, pickled red onion and avocado crema on a locally made corn tortilla
It’s breakfast all day at this downtown Fairhope hot spot offering a modern twist on traditional brunch recipes. Whether you’re in the mood for breakfast ramen or the wildly popular boozie French toast, Cereal Killer excites.

Cotton State BBQ      

Best Bite: Beef brisket sandwich with a side of coleslaw
Instead of the typical pulled or chopped meat, the folks at Cotton State serve it thinly sliced on unexpected eats like nachos, fries and baked potatoes. With every menu item at $7 or less, a trip to Cotton State BBQ makes for the perfect weekday lunch.

Dew Drop Inn

Best Bite: The Dew Drop Inn hot dog with homemade chili, sauerkraut, mustard, ketchup and a pickle slice
History abounds at this hot dog mecca where regulars keep the same booth, same waitress and same order year after year. The place and the menu as a whole have remained unchanged throughout the decades. The restaurant offers various, amusing ways of serving their bright red hot dogs like upside-down with wiener on top or female, with no wiener at all. A side of homemade onion rings is a must.

Dragonfly Foodbar

Best Bite: Spicy red curry coconut chicken noodle bowl with jalapenos, edamame and Asian pesto
This one-of-a-kind eatery serves up inventive tacos, Asian noodle bowls and creative appetizers with a kick. Locals love the outdoor patio and the seasonal Damselfy cocktails.

FOY Superfoods

Best Bite: Detox Super Bowl with shredded raw veggies, brown rice, quinoa, almonds and cranberries in a ginger detox vinaigrette
FOY, or Fountain of Youth, is Mobile’s one-stop shop for all things healthy. Owners Liz Garza and John Smith offer nutritious meals to go and South Alabama’s first cold pressed juice bar. Soups, smoothies, avocado toast and acai bowls are just a few of the body cleansing menu items that FOY offers.

Meat Boss

Best Bite: Smoked brisket with jalapeno jelly and crunchy slaw on a sweet bun
This West Mobile outpost satisfies your craving for hearty barbecue and comforting sides. Owners Dara and Benny Chinnis started the business as a takeout counter with only one window, but loyal patrons pushed them to expand. Write your order on a brown paper bag and walk out with a smile and a big stack of napkins.

Mediterranean Sandwich Co.

Best Bite: Beef and lamb gyro with cool tzatziki and warm pita bread
Owner Vlad Moldoveanu presents a casual dining atmosphere with an affordable menu, and every item is prepared fresh when ordered. Multiple locations on both sides of the Bay make it an easy place to meet up for lunch.

Ox Kitchen

Best Bite: Smoked pork and greens sammy served with fried Brussels sprouts in a ponzu dressing
Ox Kitchen chef and owner Bo Hamilton offers a modern take on traditional Southern ingredients at his tiny outpost inside The Mill in downtown Fairhope. Families enjoy game nights, live music and access to other eateries under one roof.

Panini Pete’s

Best Bite: House-roasted turkey panino with housemade mozzarella cheese on fresh baked foccacia bread
Pete Blohme showcases his talents for pressed sandwich making (and killer burgers, too) at his family-friendly breakfast and lunch joint. The restaurant’s signature New Orleans beignets are also a crowd favorite. Pete’s other establishments are worth a visit, too.


Best Bite: Barbacoa brisket tacos on handmade tortillas with pickled red onion, cilantro, guajillo salsa and queso fresco
Casual Latin vibes and authentic Mexican and Cuban fare make this one of downtown Mobile’s favorite stops. Grab a Tajin-rimmed margarita and a table outside to keep an eye on the activity up and down Dauphin Street.


Best Bite: Jungle Fish Buddha Bowl with fresh steamed veggies, grilled local fish and sesame lime ahi sauce
Garage-style doors roll up to bring the nice weather inside this south-Fairhope bakery and lunch spot. Homemade donuts, croissants, kolaches and more sit alongside fresh grain bowls, sandwiches and hearty Southern dishes. The perfect mix of comfort and health food keeps this outpost hopping.

Swordfish from Playa // Photo by Elizabeth Gelineau


Anchor Bar & Grill

Best Bite: Pork belly banh mi with pickled peppercorn mayo
This hidden gem located in Terry Cove has become a locals’ favorite. Go by boat and hang all day! The restaurant, shaped like a big wooden ship, offers covered areas for families to relax and enjoy a meal while taking in the fresh Gulf breeze and beautiful views of the Gulf of Mexico.


Best Bite: Flaming oysters ladled with butter and secret ingredients
Guests come for the fresh local seafood and stay for the lively and casual atmosphere. Open for lunch and dinner, this Causeway favorite right on the Delta marsh grass offers something for everyone. The menu ranges from crab claws and smoked tuna dip to fried chicken tenders and, of course, the flamin’ oysters, a Bluegill specialty.

Ed’s Seafood Shed

Best Bite: World Famous Yo Mama’s Platter
As part of the Panini Pete Hospitality Group, Ed’s Seafood Shed offers imaginative — and appetite-filling — seafood selections. Located along the Causeway, “sammiches,” soups and more are served with a heaping side of sun swept views.

Fisher’s Orange Beach

Best Bite: Blackened swordfish with caramelized Vidalia onions
Johnny Fisher gives you two reasons to stop by Orange Beach Marina: a casual dockside cafe downstairs and a fine dining restaurant upstairs. Both kitchens turn out incredibly fresh food, with casual seafood and burgers dockside and a James Beard-nominated, fine dining menu upstairs. Be sure to catch one of the Southern Grace Dinners at Fishers Upstairs, where acclaimed Southern chefs stop by to cook for one night only!

Grand Hotel: Southern Roots

Best Bite: Fried chicken and waffles with red chili honey
Southern Roots’ meticulously prepared menu is inspired by on-site gardens, local farmers and high-quality ingredients. Everything at this resort restaurant is locally sourced right down to the plates used to serve the food themselves. The menu changes daily and features items such as red snapper aguachile and poulet rouge breast.

The Gulf

Best Bite: Korean BBQ chicken with coconut jasmine rice key lime coleslaw
Creative shipping container architecture makes this hangout on Perdido Pass perfect eye candy for beachgoers. Family friendly, The Gulf has couches under the palms or picnic tables in the sun with menu items ranging from sharable snacks to fresh fish and tacos.


Best Bite: Steam snapper in a banana leaf with poblano butter
Vintage California decor with a cool surfer vibe welcomes vacationers looking to dine on Caribbean and Latin flavors paired with fabulously fresh cocktails. Owner Johnny Fisher and executive chef Bill Briand crafted a menu of street tacos, conch fritters, grilled swordfish and more, but the frozen drinks are worth the drive alone.

Sunset Pointe

Best Bite: Eastern Shore bouillabaisse with fresh shell fish, Gulf shrimp and fish
Pete Blohme aims to please with a restaurant that revolves around the amazing westward views from his dining room and patio. This standout menu features bouillabaisse, steamed mussels and fried snapper throats, but the menu has something for every palate.

Sugar Rush Burger from LoDa Bier Garten // Photo by Elise Poche


Callaghan’s Irish Social Club

Best Bite: Bacon cheeseburger, fully dressed
The Irish-style pub makes it easy for guests to feel right at home in big wooden booths or on the dog-friendly patio. The burgers and sandwiches draw you in, but some of the best live music in town keeps you glued to your seat.    

The Haberdasher

Best Bite: Avocado fries
Downtown Mobile’s go-to bar for craft cocktails and an ever-rotating selection of craft beer and Mobile’s best spirits. The food bar is open nightly serving a variety of fresh, handmade bar foods and more.

LoDa Bier Garten

Best Bite: Sugar Rush Burger with root beer sauce, served between two Sugar Rush glazed doughnuts
With over 100 different beers, locally sourced, farm-fresh ingredients and large TVs aplenty, it’s no wonder diners choose LoDa to unwind or watch the big game. Menu offerings range from burgers to Jagerschnitzel and salads.

Moe’s BBQ

Best Bite: Moe Nachos, served with tangy white barbecue sauce
At Moe’s, barbecue is king, but the side dishes are the crowning jewels. Tender, smoked meats are paired with above-average sides.

OK Bicycle Shop

Best Bite: Chicken flautas filled with jack cheese
Fabulous Latin fare and fusion sushi make it hard to choose at this buzzing watering hole on Dauphin. The adventurous should stop by for Sunday Gospel Drag Queen Brunch in the courtyard!

Pour Baby

Best Bite: Tenderloin sliders with bacon jam and homemade slaw
This Mobile wine bar and bistro boasts a stunning wall of bottles. Foodies can enjoy a classic variety of appetizers, from homemade spreads and crostini to beef short ribs.

Red or White

Best Bite: Bruschetta with housemade Boursin cheese and olive oil
Retail wines, a wine bar and plenty of small plates to share have established Red or White as a mainstay on both sides of the bay.

Squid Ink

Best Bite: Calamari a la plancha
Panini Pete’s newest restaurant draws its menu inspiration from Mobile’s founding nations: France, Spain and England.Hearty options include a burger with brie and shallots, paella balls with romesco and deep-fried Scottish eggs.

Chicken Pad Thai from Von’s Bistro // Photo by Blair Merrills


El Papi   

Best Bite: Plato ala Mexicana, grilled with chipotle sauce
With a tagline of “Tequila, Tacos, Trouble,” El Papi promises diners authentic Mexican food and fun. The cuisine is made from scratch and includes traditional items like burritos, tacos, fajitas, nachos, and of course, margaritas and cervezas.

Master Joe’s Sushi

Best Bite: Cat’s Meow roll, oven baked and dressed with kapa sauce
Master Joe’s Fairhope and Orange Beach locations offer dozens of rolls and Japanese dishes in chic venues. The menu features chef Joe Ou’s specialty rolls, like the Bay Roll and Sushi Pizza, as well as traditional rolls, teppanyaki and noodles.

Sage Lebanese

Best Bite: Lebanese hummus
Fairhope’s Sage restaurant offers authentic Mediterranean and Lebanese dishes with a modern approach. Exceptional food and surprising flavors are a result of the freshest, best ingredients and a perfect blend of spices. The dining room is tiny but the flavors are huge!

Von’s Bistro

Best Bite: Drunken Thai noodles with pan Asian sauce
Von and Paul Larson’s bistro boasts high ceilings, rustic wood and an exposed brick frame opening to the kitchen where Von serves as head chef. Fresh ingredients anchor a fusion menu of Pad Thai, three-layer lasagna and Southern hog tacos.

Get the best of Mobile delivered to your inbox

Be the first to know about local events, home tours, restaurant reviews and more!