Mobile, Alabama is a gracious city. Cordial, polite, hospitable, well-mannered. It's also a fun place that knows how to throw a party. That's right, y'all, Mobile is the original Mardi Gras City. (If you don't believe us, feel free to bring it up with locals next time you're in town for a lively conversation.)
But there's more to Mobile than beads and floats particularly when it comes to good food. Maybe it's the subtle infusion of southern grace into the "good time" town that's brought such an exciting flair to the city's inspiring food scene. All we know is that any city that creates the level of innovative cuisine we had at Kitchen on George and Southern National, and still enjoys neon-pink hot dogs at the Dew Drop Inn, charred oysters at Wintzell's, and an occasional Moon Pie - all of which we happily devoured - must be doing something right. From old school favorites and local seafood joints to an entertaining food tour and a private Chef's table with a view, you're in for a treat when you eat Mobile, Alabama. We hope you check out these great food experiences on your next visit. Mobile is a fun food city!
Eat Mobile, Alabama
1. Kitchen on George
Located in the Oakleigh Garden Historic District, the farm to table philosophy of Kitchen on George is based on four key values - fresh, regional, seasonal, and sustainable. Accordingly, their menu changes to focus on fresh, locally sourced produce and regional cuisine featuring fresh Gulf seafood. On certain nights there are "Chefs in Training" perfecting their skills under the supervision of the head chef. The night we visited Kitchen on George was one of those nights, and honestly, it didn't matter. Everything from quality to presentation was excellent.
We started out with appetizers for the table. Several intrigued us, and every dish really hit the mark - from the Duck Confit Spring Rolls, Roasted Mushroom Soup, Panagia farm greens, and the Kog charcuterie board. The Chefs also surprised us with marinated lump crab in nasturtium leaves with his compliments, a perfect blend of savory and peppery. Everything was super fresh and delicious. I love when a dish comes to the table exactly as it's described on the menu.
As it turned out, our appetizer sampling was more than enough so we skipped the entrees (this time) and went straight to the desserts - the Bread Pudding with Brown Sugar Rum Sauce was sublime, as was the Ricotta Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce, both finished with a pillowy mound of homemade whipped cream. The desserts we chose were delicious, and not overly sweet. The ambiance at Kitchen on George is relaxed and inviting, with a happy crowd and excellent service. We'd go back here anytime we're in Mobile.
351A George St, Mobile, AL
2. Serda Brewing Company
Located on Government Street in downtown Mobile, Serda Brewing Company isn't just the usual brewery with a small tasting room. This converted tire shop occupies an entire acre which includes a large wonderfully shaded outdoor beer garden. Focusing on traditional German-style beers while giving them a fresh American spin brings a unique style to their brews. When you visit, be sure to have a pint of their flagship beer, Hook, Line & Lager.
600 Government St., Mobile, AL
Serda’s also brews some of the best coffees from around the world like Costa Rican and Ethiopian at Serda’s Coffee Company on Royal Street in downtown. If you love your morning (or anytime) Cuppa Joe, this is your place. Prefer an espresso or a cappuccino? They have those too and more, along with coffee-style drinks, wraps, sandwiches, desserts, pastries, and everyone's favorite - gelato.
3 S. Royal St., Mobile, AL
3. The Cheese Cottage
A new addition to the Mobile dining scene is The Cheese Cottage, located just outside of the downtown area. Recently opened, the converted small building has a cottagey look and feel with a nice covered patio area with overhead fans. Our enthusiasm got the best of us as we listened to the owner describe the cheese board offerings, and we waaaay over-ordered. But fortunately, it was all very good and we managed to do some serious damage to the beautiful presentation.
This is a fun farm-to-table experience with cheeses that are locally sourced in Alabama and from other domestic cheese makers. The cheese and charcuterie selections served here aren't found anywhere else in Mobile. If you're not in the mood for cheese, try their muffuletta or one of their homemade salads. What's a cheese board in the afternoon without wine? Our rosé wine selection paired well with the cheese, was chilled perfectly and nicely priced. The Cheese Cottage is a perfect place to relax with friends and good wine on a sunny afternoon.
650 St Louis St, Mobile, AL
4. Southern National Restaurant
Southern National is an upscale restaurant and bar with a casual vibe situated in the restored historic Wilkins-Higgins building in Mobile's popular Arts District. In a nutshell, it's artfully crafted comfort food. We loved the cool minimalist decor, and the busy and inviting open kitchen. Sure, a lot of restaurants have an open kitchen, but what's unique was the finishing station just outside of the kitchen in the main dining area commandeered by Chef Duane Nutter, who put his final touches on everything that went to the tables.
The menu offers "small" and "large" plates. We opted for several small plates so we could try more of the house specialties - like the Soy glazed Grilled Chicken with grilled okra & shishito pepper, the Honeysuckle Vodka-cured Salmon (my favorite hands down), the Arugula & Golden Beet Salad, and Homemade Garlic-Rosemary Tater Tots (you'll never grab them from the frozen section ever again). And for dessert - and this was amazing - Nutter Butter Chai Panna Cotta. Drooling?
Southern National was among the best restaurants we had tried on our entire Gulf Coast Road Trip - the wine list, creative presentation, modern ambience, service, and of course the food, was just excellent all around.
360 Dauphin St, Mobile, AL
5. Ed's Seafood Shed
Mobile's popular waterfront eatery, Ed's Seafood Shed, has a prime location on the bay side of the Hwy. 98 causeway right on Mobile Bay. Recently revamped by new owner and local restaurateur Chef Pete Blohme, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, this is still the home of "Yo Mama's Platter!" a generous blend of fried local seafood that's a hallmark in this part of the south.
In the indoor dining room, you're surrounded by eclectic artwork and mounted fish trophies. Chef Pete also maintains a table devoted to POWs and MIAs based on his involvement with the Messlords, a group of chefs he helped found with a mission of entertaining and cooking for members of the armed forces on military bases all over the world.
Or you can dine outside on either the upper or lower deck with gorgeous views of the Bay. The menu specializes in seafood - gumbo, shrimp, oysters, redfish - but is doing great things with local fish like mullet. And lest you turn up your nose at mullet, Chef Pete - with his signature colorful party pants - will prove otherwise if you let him. It was the first time we tried deep-fried mullet and it was surprisingly mild, flavorful, and really delicious. If you stop here, be sure to add the homemade hush puppies and fried green tomatoes to whatever else you order. You won't be disappointed.
3382 Battleship Pkwy, Spanish Fort, AL
6. Dew Drop Inn & Restaurant
Now we're talkin'! Founded in 1924, the Dew Drop Inn is the oldest restaurant in Mobile, with an old school feel - and it's still going strong after all these years. With vinyl booths and walls crammed with old photos of folks you've heard of and many you haven't, you might think it was designed to look this retro, but the dated appearance gives it away. The Dew Drop is original, and charmingly so.
The specialty of the house is the famous Dew Drop Hot Dog which you order "all the way" if you don't want to stick-out as a tourist. That'll get you a dog with kraut, chili, mustard, ketchup, and a big pickle chip. Just try not to blush when you order it.
Their burgers are supposedly a favorite of Jimmy Buffett when he's in town, but we were too full to try one. With our added sides of baked potato salad, coleslaw, their version of french fries along with house made onion rings and homemade cheese curds, we were stuffed! The Dew Drop Inn is a fun place with everything made to order. If you love nostalgic local joints that have been around forever and still serve the foods that made them famous, you'll love the Dew Drop. It's just as good now as we imagine it was so many years ago.
1808 Old Shell Rd, Mobile, AL
7. The Bienville Bites Food Tour
There are several must-eat places to eat in Mobile for foodies - some of which fall firmly in the category of "Beloved for Generations" like Wintzell's Oyster House, Three Georges Candy Shop, and the A&M Peanut Shop for example. Then you have places like The Royal Scam and Heroes Bar & Grill, where a good time is always had by all. Food Network fave Panini Pete's is worth going first thing in the morning for the best beignets in the world (it's all in the lemon!) and again for a panini at lunch. Add some Asian spice to the mix at Von's Bistro and you have a well-rounded mini tour of some of Mobile's most delicious food. Thankfully, the Bienville Bites Food Tour includes a stop at all of these places - in one 3-hour food tour of the Lower Dauphin Street Historic District known as the LoDa Stroll. It's the first tour of its kind in Mobile, and one of the most fun activities for foodies visiting the Azalea City.
8. Dauphin's Restaurant
It's hard to beat the WOW factor of one of Mobile's most popular restaurants. On the 34th floor of downtown Mobile's Trustmark Bank Building, Dauphin's greets their guests with panoramic views of the city and Mobile Bay that will take your breath away.
Dauphin's is upscale with custom artwork, impeccably set tables with crisp linens and elegant glassware. There's also a piano bar decorated in peaceful shades of blue with its baby grand piano. And did we mention the view?
The menu at Dauphin's is billed as "classic coastal cuisine with hints of Caribbean and Creole soul", the type of menu where you want to order just about everything. For appetizers you have the traditional favorites like Fried Green Tomatoes, Alabama Shrimp Remoulade, and of course, Fresh Gulf Oysters on the Half Shell - you're in Mobile after all! But the entrees step it up further with Ono Island Tuna and Mobile Bay Stew with fresh seafood and a poached egg on top, a house specialty. The dessert menu is short and artfully prepared, with something for every sweet tooth.
For a unique experience, make your reservation far enough in advance for the Chef's Table where you can chat with Executive Chef Steve Zucker while making your dinner and wine selections. There are just two seatings at 5:30 and 8:00, and only for six people at each.
RSA Bank Trust Building, 107 St Francis St #3400, Mobile, AL
9. Moon Pies & Tipsy Milkshakes
Throw me a Moon Pie, Mister! The term Get Mooned takes on a whole new meaning in Mobile with these gooey, flavored marshmallow pies that have been THE TREAT of Mardi Gras for generations! Thrown from the passing floats during Mardi Gras parades, they're as ubiquitous as the beads. At first - being the Yankees that we are - we had no idea what Moon Pies were, other than they sounded an awful lot like cow pies, which where we come from isn't appetizing at all! But the packaging was fun and colorful, and everyone we talked to instantly got a huge smile on their face when we asked about them. So we headed downtown to the Moon Pie General Store on Royal Street, and had a ball looking at Moon Pie everything.
Before you get to the stockpile of pies toward the back of the store, you'll see a fun adult surprise behind the ice cream counter up front - the Tipsy Milkshakes - handmade adult alcohol-infused ice cream beverages. They're pricey but looked insanely delicious, and for an added $2.99 you can add a floater on top. If it weren't 10 o'clock in the morning, we would have imbibed.
So on to the back of the store where we were pie-eyed!
Moon pies are actually made in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but that doesn't stop Mobilians from devouring them by the truckloads. At the General Store, we bought a few handfuls of the five main flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla, Banana, Strawberry, and Salted Caramel, and headed outside to try them out. It was pie in the sky! But while we weren't exactly over the moon (they were a little dry for my taste), the marshmallow and crunch combo was yummy and the outside flavor was good. It also stood up well in the heat so that's a plus! Surprisingly, the vanilla and banana were my favorites.
Then it dawned on me why people smiled when they told us about Moon Pies...and why their smiles turned wistful. Because while they may not be the best thing in the world - or the best for you - they've been the nostalgic symbol of fun, family, and Mobile tradition for millions of locals. And that's always a great reason to enjoy a marshmallowy Mobile treat like a Moon Pie.
RSA Bank Trust Building, 107 St Francis St #115, Mobile, AL
Many thank to Visit Mobile for hosting us on our stay and introducing us to the city's delicious food scene. As always, all opinions are based on our first hand experience!