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. Baked brie drizzled with raspberry lava sauce ($11), indulgent lobster fondue ($12), oysters Rockefeller ($14), and haystack crab cakes served in a shredded potato crust ($12) all serve to whet appetites and open conversational floodgates. Dip a toe or fork in the generously proportioned entrees of sea flavors such as tilapia (with an almond crust and tropical salsa) ($28) and paella (chock-full of chorizo, mussels, scallops, shrimp, and bits of lobster tail, $36). Other options include grilled lamb chops ($38), chicken Francaise ($26), and a pastry-wrapped fillet of beef wellington ($38).
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."
Though Mexico is our neighbor, O.K. Jose's menu is extensive enough to read like a letter to a long-lost relative. In the kitchen, cooks top grilled nachos with shrimp and chorizo, stuff tortillas with spicy chicken and sauteed onions, and smother baked potatoes with cheese sauce and salsa. On karaoke nights, guests take a break from their meals to belt out tunes into a microphone topped with guacamole and sour cream.
Under the glow of golden chandeliers that hang down from wood beams overhead, a trio of performers sits on the slightly elevated stage at 3 Brothers Deli & Brewhouse, which now resides at a brand new location. On nights with live music, the eatery's interior buzzes with visitors who sip craft beers and dig into freshly constructed sandwiches or burgers stacked with hand-formed patties. On Mondays and Tuesdays, visitors can stop in to test their knowledge during trivia night, showing off their ability to recall obscure historical facts such as which side won the Revolutionary War.
According to an article by John Hampton of Examiner.com, Rolo's opened in 1991 as homage to a train trip taken by Huntsville restaurateur Chuck, and his son, Rolo. Reportedly, the two were on the way to New Orleans for a football game, when Rolo looked to his father and said, "Trains keep attention for the kids and the grandparents." A light bulb went off in Chuck’s head––he would open a homestyle restaurant paying tribute to the train-riding days of yore. He'd call it Rolo's Cafe.
In a burst of whistles and chugs, a multicolored model train can be seen rounding a wooden track suspended high above the dining room. The locomotive circulates the aromas of lightly fried pond-raised catfish, juicy grilled steak, and housemade peach cobbler. Breakfast biscuits arrive to tables saturated in signature chocolate gravy for pairing with sugar-cured ham and fresh hush puppies. After polishing off a slow-smoked pork chop, patrons can make choo choo noises on train station-style wooden benches, or peruse the room's vintage train signs, framed articles, and photos of locomotives.