The chefs at Dusty’s Sports Bar—though nestled in a new location inside Eastern Shore Lanes since this March—continue to cook up the same classic pub snacks and seafood that have sated their customers' appetites since 1959. Plates fill with hearty fare such as oven-baked stuffed potatoes, homemade soups, and seafood ranging from steamed Gulf shrimp to hand-breaded fried crab claw. In the rest of the 35,000-square-foot amusement complex, guests can bowl in the 24-lane alley, shoot pool at the billiards tables, compete in laser tag bouts, or practice for Olympic hurdle time-trials by vaulting over games in the arcade.
Having taken up residency where Fairhope's Central Cafe once lived, Courtyard at 311 carries on the historic building's tradition with an updated, casual dining experience. Inside, waiters dole out seafood and sandwiches for lunch and dinner daily, including the Battle's Wharf, a po'boy that fuses hot turkey, ham, and sautéed shrimp with spicy melted cheese. Owners Harry and Alissa Johnson and Zack Smith–who also own Rosie's Grill–work with a staff of 30-plus employees to create an inviting atmosphere, which receives a musical boost on Thursdays and Sundays when live bands perform.
Nestled in the heart of historic midtown Mobile, Ashland Midtown Pub catches the eyes of passersby with its pleasant open-air patio before ensnaring them with the irresistible wafting aromas of cheesy breadsticks, roasted garlic, and freshly baked pizzas and calzones. Once inside, guests perch upon cushy barstools, surrounded by colorful canvases and plates of piping-hot lasagna or fillets of ahi tuna and flaky blackened grouper. Diners polish off feasts of po’ boys or basil-and-bacon-crowned pizzas with frosty draft brews at the rustic, knotty-pine bartop. As they sup on meals of upscale pizzeria cuisine, patrons dance to the tunes of live musicians or enjoy the interior's fresh, clean air thanks to the pub's no-smoking and no-rudimentary-steam-engine policies.
With multiple locations throughout northwest Florida, Helen Back Cafe does its best to ensure that cold drinks and hot comfort foods are always nearby. The eateries' signature items are its hearty pizzas. These hand-tossed pies won the 2012 reader' choice poll for Best Pizza in Emerald Coast Magazine, and Esquire urged readers to visit and, "eat the best pizza you've ever shoved in your sunburned face."
With 17 toppings available?including everything from meatballs and jalape?os to chicken and onion?patrons are able to build their own custom pie from scratch. A small selection of sandwiches and other classic finger foods round out the menus, giving visitors snacks to nibble as they enjoy a frosty beer or cocktail from the bar and listen to the live bands on select Friday and Saturday evenings.
For Helen Back Cafe, keeping customers happy is almost as important as giving back to the communities it serves. The staff regularly provides donations to charitable causes, and Helen Back Cafe proudly supports The Special Ops Warrior Foundation, which helps the dependents of fallen soldiers continue advancing their educations.
Play combines the creature comforts of childhood with those of adulthood: arcade games and beer. Taps and cans dispense an ever-rotating reservoir of 20 microbrews—more than enough liquid confidence to attempt high scores on the rows of coin operated games such as Pac-Man, Street Fighter, and Galaga. All around, the thumping bumpers of pinball machines mingle with the clack of pool balls and the hiss of air hockey tables. But beneath the flashing surface of Play is a drive to bring people together.
When not wagering the next round of drinks on a game of hoops, or butting heads in a DJ-accompanied skee-ball tournament, guests can team up to test their mental mettle during trivia night. Karaoke evenings arm friends instead with microphones so that they can belt out a duet or practice eulogizing each other in front of a rapt audience. Quieter interaction can be found in an '80s-inspired nook, where an original Nintendo and a VHS-player revive summer afternoons spent playing Super Mario Brothers and writing love letters to John Cusack.
Chef Pri’s gustatory adventures meet at the intersection of Thai specialty dishes, American comfort food, and international influence. Tables play host to artfully wrapped Japanese sushi and curries accented by pineapple and butternut squash. Chicken or shrimp cozy up to stir-fried noodles, and for heartier food, Chef Pri piles pot-roasted duck infused with cinnamon atop a sautéed spinach and garlic chili sauce.
The restaurant’s dining room exemplifies the same modernity found in the menu, with coal-black ceilings and geometric artwork against mustard-hued walls. Burnt yellow lights hang like glowing champagne glasses above Jasmine’s fully stocked bar, where diners can retreat for a cocktail or wine by the glass.