If you're like me, a beach vacation means three things: sun, sand, and fresh catch. Since we're from the Midwest (aka the land of beef and pork), my family makes sure to devour all the pan-fried grouper and blackened shrimp we can while staying on the beach.

My recent spring break trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama was no different. Since my grandparents spend every winter in this friendly coastal town, I definitely know my way around the restaurant scene. Needless to say, I didn't leave our week in the Gulf hungry. Here's a list of some of my fav places that you won't want to miss should you find yourself in this southern gem of a town.

Shipp's Harbour Grill 

Liz Flanagan

This cute little dinner spot is off the main drag but it's totally worth the trek because it has the ambiance of a five-star restaurant and the menu to match. Shipp's is known for their Tuesday night Grouper Ponchartrain special, which, if you're unfamiliar, was named one of 100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die. So, you can guess which night of the week we made a reservation at Shipp's. 

For a measly $15, you get a luscious and crispy grouper filet drenched in butter sauce and topped with sauteed shrimp and mushrooms, garlic mashed potatoes (heavy breathing), green beans, and a side salad complete with the house-made tomato and feta vinaigrette. Swoon.    

DeSoto's Seafood Kitchen

fried rice, seafood, shrimp, rice
Liz Flanagan

DeSoto's is the place to go if you're craving everything and anything under the sun (or sea I guess). You'll have the option of a variety of white fish, shrimp, crab, and even jerk chicken and pasta. Although not the most glamorous of venues, I've never had a bad meal at DeSoto's and better yet, their entire menu is easy on the wallet, making it a perfect spot for you and all your friends to fill up after a day on the sand. 

(Pictured: the Shrimp Lover's Platter)

Wolf Bay Lodge

chocolate, brisket
Liz Flanagan

Walking into Wolf Bay Lodge is like walking into a cozy cabin complete marina docks on Cotton Bayou, a perfect spot to watch the sunset. While their menu may look fairly typical for a seafood joint, Wolf Bay offers a salad bar included with almost all of their meals, so you can tell your mom you actually had veggies with a meal on spring break (!!!). I ordered the whole broiled flounder, which included everything but the eyeballs and it was divine. Also, a couple hush puppies never hurt anybody. 

Shrimp Basket

tomato, vegetable, meat, tacos, chicken
Liz Flanagan

Shrimp never tasted so good (or cost so little). Shrimp Basket is a spring breaker's paradise and with multiple locations in the Gulf Shores area, you won't have trouble finding one of these joints. With po boys, fried baskets, more traditional southern side dishes than you can count, and a frozen daiquiri machine, Shrimp Basket was clearly created by God himself so college kids wouldn't go hungry while visiting the Gulf. 

While this list only scratches the surface of the many delicious restaurants in Gulf Shores, I hope it gave you taste of the endless fried, broiled, and sauteed delights that await your next trip down south. Take it from me and make your next vacation beachy, sunny, and delicious.