Daily Archives:

May 21, 2019

The Gulf

If I’m going to blog about Gulf coast restaurants, there’s no better place to start than The Gulf. This quirky, re-purposed freight container establishment sits at the west end of the Perdido Pass bridge. ‘Location, location, location,’ certainly applies. You won’t find a better, more entertaining view of the Gulf of Mexico than at The Gulf.

From your car window, the place hasn’t much appeal. But the chunky blue containers hide a waterside oasis and an Alabama success story. The brainchild of Shaul Zislin, owner of The Hangout in Gulf Shores, and Johnny Fisher, former general manager of Lulu’s. Fisher later opened Fisher’s Upstairs and Fisher’s Dockside. The original plans for The Gulf included a 600-seat restaurant with a parking deck, boardwalk, and shops. In 2012, however, the seawall at Alabama Point, where the 4.5-acre property is located, needed $7-$10 million in repairs. This meant that the original concept would have to wait.

Picnic tables and palm trees looking out over the Pass between Cotton Bayou and the Gulf of Mexico

Enter Courtney Brett. An architectural phenom, Ms. Brett started her college career in Virginia at the age of 14. At 16, she transferred to Auburn University, graduating with a degree in Architecture in 2007. After working for several years on projects around the globe for a firm out of New York City, Ms. Brett returned to Alabama. At 24, she became the youngest architect in the U.S. to start her own company.

The 2012 opening of Casburn Brett Architecture, in Daphne, Alabama came at just the right time. Brett’s commitment to sustainable architecture and Zislin and Fisher’s desire to open The Gulf sooner rather than later led to the intriguing locale we all now enjoy. What was supposed to be temporary will hopefully be here to stay.

Enjoy a meal or a mojito at The Gulf, and you’ll find a lot more to look at than your smartphone. From dawn to dark you’ll be treated to a non-stop parade of boats. Sailboats, private vessels, fishing charters, dolphin cruises (and dolphins), parasailers, and even the local ‘black and white’ police boats provide continual entertainment as they slide in and out of the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico.

Tips for visiting The Gulf

  • Go early for lunch or expect to wait in line to order your food.
  • You can order food at the bar if you are seated at the bar.
  • Expect for there to be kids playing in the sand and randomly running around having fun.
  • There are two bars & two kitchens. Check the menus at both because they offer different choices.
  • Wear sunscreen and watch the weather forecast. There is no indoor seating in case of rain.
  • Check out the vinyl record collection in the gift shop. That’s the source of the tunes you’ll be hearing.
  • Plan to stay a while because you are going to love the view and the vibe.

Bill E’s Bacon

When a menu boasts locally-sourced ingredients, the source can range from just around the bend to 100 miles away. Around here, it’s likely to be pretty close. The area is lush with farms, pecan groves, freshly caught seafood, and locally harvested oysters. It’s also home to a variety of culinary artisans, Bill Stitt, among them.

Eat at the Original Oyster House in Gulf Shores, and you’ll find Bill E’s Bacon adorning the Oyster’s Rockefeller. Dine at upscale Voyagers, and you’ll see it featured in the Scallops A La Plancha and might even find it garnishing your bread pudding. 

Stitt credits his father with encouraging him to learn a skill. His time as a young man working with a local butcher must have made an impact. Because, after graduating from Ole Miss and working for nearly two decades at the corporate level for Ruby Tuesdays, Bill returned to his craft. His small-batch smoking operation sits alongside the restaurant he also owns, the Old 27 Grill on Hwy 181 in Fairhope, Alabama.

Find out more about the Bill E’ Bacon backstory and the secret to his bacon at MeatandPoultry.com.