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Orange Beach

Anchor Bar and Grill

If your navigation of Orange Beach consists of turning left onto Canal Road after crossing the toll bridge, hanging a right at the Tom Thumb, and then spending the rest of the week trolling east and west on Perdido Beach Boulevard, you’ve probably never set eyes on the Anchor Bar & Grill. Here’s how to get there. Venture east down Canal Road. Turn right on South Wilson Boulevard. Stop when your tires get wet. 

The Anchor is a small place with mostly outdoor seating. The menu is short and seasonal. Give it a glance, and you’ll see typical bar fare – big burger, Cuban sandwich, fish tacos, etc. But eyeball the ingredients and you’ll see that Chef Johnathan Kastner has a creative streak a mile wide — caramelized onion and tomato jam, Tobacco smoked pork, pickled LA crawfish salsa, and refried butter beans.

Outdoor dining at the Anchor Bar & Grill overlooking the water

A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Kastner studied culinary arts in Chicago. After gaining experience at several Gulf Coast restaurants, the events that led him to Orange Beach began. In 2013, two friends asked Kastner to develop the menu for their new venture, the original Brick & Spoon restaurant in Lafayette, LA. Just a few months later they opened a second location in Orange Beach. Kastner came to help with the launch.

It wasn’t long before the Louisiana chef decided he wanted to stay. The opportunity to open a restaurant at Hudson Marina quickly followed and the Anchor Bar & Grill opened in 2015. It’s been a favorite of locals and visitors ever since. In 2018 his regulars along with the rest of Orange Beach got to cheer him on as he competed in the Food Network’s Ultimate Summer Cookoff.

Here’s the kicker. What’s better than eating fresh seafood made by someone who knows what they’re doing? Eating your own fresh catch prepared by someone who knows what they’re doing while bragging to your friends about how you reeled it in. That’s right. If you hooked it, but don’t want to cook it, the Anchor will do you the honors.

Our favs: Tile-fish tacos and the Cuban

Tips for visiting the Anchor Bar & Grill

  • Out on the water? Come by boat. The Anchor has a beach and dock tie-up for boats of all sizes.
  • Check hours in the offseason. Winter menu changes weekends.
  • Clean your fish before you bring them. Call ahead to be sure the service is available and what the cost and preparation options will be.

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.