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.
An extensive menu of fresh and comforting treats takes shape in Jefferson’s laid-back interior, where friendly servers warm up crowds with starters such as fried dill pickles ($3.00/$5.75), corn nuggets ($6.50), and Ultimate fries, smothered with three types of cheeses, Cajun seasoning, and a layer of crispy bacon ($6.95). Spice up a slow workday or a slow-moving fasting day with an order of Jefferson's fully customizable wings ($6.95 for 10), or nosh on a fried oyster po' boy, a hearty hoagie stuffed with fresh gulf oysters that are battered and fried until golden brown ($7.95). Other seafaring portions include fried catfish ($7.50), a spicy shrimp basket ($8.25), and a melodious band of fish 'n' chips fronted by soulful slaw and backed by harmonious hush puppies ($7.95). Customers craving candied confections can find fulfillment in slices of creamy peanut butter or pecan pie ($2.95 each).
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."
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).
The chef at Blue Orleans Seafood Restaurant has such a handle on New Orleans flavors, his establishment won a 2012 Chattanooga Times Free Press award for Best Cajun restaurant. His menu reads like any you'd see in the Big Easy, with classic dishes such as po' boys, seafood gumbo, and crawfish etoufee, all of which pair perfectly with Abita craft brews. And it's not just the food that's setting the scene?beads are strewn on tables, paintings depict street musicians, and exposed-brick walls evoke the feel of a vintage teleportation machine.
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.