There’s no shortage of renowned oyster establishments in the South. But tripsmarter.com pegged Wintzell’s Oyster House as its No. 1 destination for the specialty.
“Fried, stewed, or nude”: the Oysters are served every way imaginable at Wintzell’s, where oysters are, unsurprisingly, the trademark dish. And they’ve been the trademark dish since the eatery’s flagship location opened in 1938. Regional seafood favorites also dominate the menu, from low-country boils to Cajun seafood fettuccine and bacon-wrapped shrimp.
Though the original location became something of a landmark in historic Mobile, the restaurant has since expanded to multiple locations perfect for catching oysters in the nude, served Rockefeller style, or wearing their favorite pajama pants. Still, each eatery retains the original’s decorative signature: several dozen whimsical signs on the walls. The website even features some of their slogans, including: “Never kick a man when he is down—he may get up.”
Since its first restaurant—literally a small, converted shack—opened in 1980, Uncle Bud's has filled its menu of Southern-style eats with golden-brown morsels of fried catfish, chicken, and shrimp. Succulent strips of chicken are breaded by hand before plunging into the deep fryer, and everything from catfish fillets and frog legs to wild-gator tails pile onto dishes such as the Bayou platter. The scent of fried po’ boys fills the dining area, which is decorated with license plates and vintage camping supplies, where patrons can happily slake their hunger or pack up carryout containers with family-size helpings large enough to feed an entire terracotta army.
Criallo's menu starts things off with a smattering of bold appetizers and tapas. Baked brie ($11) drizzled with raspberry lava sauce, indulgent lobster fondue ($10), oysters Rockefeller ($12), and crab cakes ($12) served in a shredded potato crust all serve to whet appetites and open conversational floodgates before generously proportioned entrees of sea flavors such as tilapia (stuffed with brie and lobster) ($22) and paella (chock full of chorizo, mussels, scallops, shrimp, and bits of lobster tail, $24). Other options include grilled lamb chops ($32), French roasted chicken ($26), and chorizo-stuffed pork loin ($24).
In 1938, J. Oliver Wintzell opened a tiny seafood joint on Dauphin Street in historic Mobile, Alabama. With room for just six customers to hop up on barstools and sample oysters prepared in three signature styles??fried, stewed, or nude"?the eatery harbored modest ambitions and kept itself in check with walls strewn with Oliver?s homespun sayings. Oysters this great can?t remain a secret for long, though, and Wintzell?s Oyster House began to grow at such a rate that Oliver was compelled to expand to new locations throughout Alabama.
Despite the restaurant?s rapid growth, remarkably little has changed since those early days. Oliver?s wit and wisdom still covers the walls, and the menu still tempts with its stuffed crabs, USDA-certified steaks, and signature oysters. In keeping with the cozy atmosphere Oliver cultivated by necessity more than 70 years ago, shuckers stationed at the oyster bar chat with diners as they garnish half shells with hickory-smoked bacon and slap away the tentacles of sneaky krakens. Tom Bross of Delta Sky Magazine has some helpful words of advice for first-time visitors to the restaurant: "Let the Southern hospitality, laid-back tempo and maybe a cold one help you unwind."
Waddell's dine-in lunch and dinner menus are full of fresh-caught seafood and American classics. Dine in singular style with their specialty—gulf shrimp straight from US waters—with the grilled lemon pepper shrimp ($7.50 lunch, $9.25 dinner) or bacon-wrapped shrimp ($7.95 lunch, $9.95 dinner) served on skewers, or tackle a whole pound of steamed snow crab legs with butter potato ($8.99). Other dishes include crab cakes with rémoulade and rice ($10.95) and large, golden-fried shrimp with cocktail sauce ($9.95). Landlubbing diners can stick to the half-pound Black Angus burger ($7.95), served with a side of sweet potato fries, or their lunchtime chicken salad sandwich ($6.95) with a fruit plate.
The wine list at 360 Bistro comes with more than 1,000 options, allowing diners to choose from plenty of rich reds and effervescent whites to pair with seasonal plates such as tomato gnocchi with lump crab or sweet-tea-brined pork chops. Owner Nick Jacobson?s efforts to create an outstanding wine program recently paid off with a nod from Wine Spectator, which has handed the restaurant the coveted and exclusive 2nd tier Best of Award of Excellence for five years in a row?360 Bistro is one of the only two restaurants to receive the accolade in the state.