There’s no shortage of renowned oyster establishments in the South. But TripSmarter.com pegged Wintzell’s Oyster House as its #1 destination for the specialty. “Fried, stewed, or nude,” they come served in every way imaginable at Wintzell’s—oysters are, unsurprisingly so, 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. While the original location became something of a landmark in historic Mobile, the restaurant has since expanded to multiple locations. Each one, though, retains the original’s decorative signature: several dozen whimsical signs on the walls. The website even features some of their slogans: “Never kick a man when he is down—he may get up.”
Cajun food has always played an important role in Michael and Melissa Lee’s life, from their childhood upbringing in Louisiana to their 15 years spent working at a southern seafood restaurant. The brother and sister teamed up to open Mikey’s Grill, pulling from their combined talents and years of experience to craft a menu filled with contemporary takes on classic Cajun dishes that have been lauded by reporters from Birmingham Weekly. Chef Michael “Mikey” Lee commands the kitchen, slicing steaks and grating cheese himself while ensuring only the finest seafood is used in his innovative pastas and specialties, turning away catches that aren’t fresh enough. Michael’s mother Donna can also be spotted in the kitchen, whipping up the restaurant’s freshly baked desserts from scratch and pinching any exposed cheeks in her visual range. Out in the dining hall, Melissa takes the lead, cheerfully greeting guests and captaining a team of friendly servers, who place plates of gourmet dishes, baskets of rolls, and glasses of colorful cocktails on red-clothed tables.
Nestled in Homewood, Meat and Three Cafeteria keeps American culinary traditions alive with home-cooked comfort food for customers either dining in or just passing through. Just as a dining-room table hosts different portions for all tastes, the menu features an array of country-style meats and vegetarian-friendly sides from which patrons can customize their own platters. Dishes such as beef tips, chicken and dumplings, and fried catfish join steaming servings of sautéed squash, fried okra, or yams, and desserts such as fresh pecan pie keep sweet teeth from storming out of their gums in envy.
George Sarris likes to know where his food comes from. In the case of his olive oil brand, named after his hometown of Tsitalia, he personally knows the Greek families who grow the olives. As for his seafood, much of it is "caught" inside his restaurant?lobsters and even rainbow trout are all kept live in Fish Market's advanced tank system. Anything that he can't pluck from the water himself gets fetched from the coast by the restaurant's own trucks, dispatched twice weekly for maximum freshness. There's shrimp from the gulf and oysters from Louisiana, among others.
All of these ingredients come together on a menu of Mediterranean and Southern specialties. It's an unusual but tasty merger: po' boys share tables with Sicilian mussels, and crawfish etouffee sits beside Athenian-style grouper. Some dishes, like the fried snapper throats, are Fish Market signatures that are hard to find elsewhere in or around Birmingham. Others still are limited to the restaurant's Sunday menu, such as pork chops drizzled in a citrus marinade.
Young Barn Pub & Oyster Bar respectfully contests the notion that the coasts have a monopoly on oysters. They put a southwestern spin on theirs, prepping them Texas-style?baked and covered in cajun seasonings, cheese, bacon, and jalapenos. There are also Wild Bill's oysters, named for the famous gunslinger's ability to hit an oyster from 20 yards away on the shoreline. These up the seafood ante with toppings of shrimp, scallops, and crabmeat, plus bacon and mozzarella.
Purists can still get their hands on oysters Rockefeller or oysters on the half-shell, of course. And aside from shellfish, Young Barn's menu features po'boys, ribeye steaks, shrimp platters, and even pizza and pasta.
After eating at Bryant's Seafood World, diners often rave about the made-from-scratch hush puppies served warm to tables. Those hush puppies are tasty, but be careful not to fill up on them; if you do, you might miss out on other house specialties such as peel-and-eat shrimp, oyster po' boys, and all-you-can-eat crab claws. The restaurant also serves up fried chicken, ribeye steak, and an assortment of desserts. Pair your meal with wine, cold beer, or a cocktail such as a hurricane.