People typically associate Alabama with rolling fields, cow pastures, and football. While certain parts of Alabama are rural (and everyone does love a good football tailgate), there are many metropolitan areas with great food options. Take the Lower Alabama region, teeming with great Deep South cooking, beachside eateries, and multicultural experiences. After living here my whole life, I have compiled a short list of ten of my favorite places.

1. Pizzaria Delfina


Photo courtesy of Pizzeria Delphina

Pizzeria Delphina is a local favorite. As stated by its name, it is a pizza restaurant. Don’t be fooled though, this is not just your run-of-the-mill “mom and pop” pizza place. Pizzeria Delfina serves some of the best pizza around, and was recently voted Best New Restaurant in the 2016 Nappies.

#SpoonTip: The spinach calzone is a great lunch option for vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.

2. Soul Bowlz


Photo courtesy of Soul Bowlz

Soul Bowlz is one of the Gulf Coast’s first smoothie bowl restaurants. Their açai bowls are one of the most delicious things I have tried this year. Post a picture of one of these bowls on Instagram, and suddenly everyone will want to know where it is from. With locations in Fairhope and Gulf Shores, it is no wonder this groovy shop made the list.

#SpoonTip:The Energy Açai Bowl is a popular favorite for first-timers.  

3. Spot of Tea


Photo courtesy of Spot of Tea

Established in 1994, Spot of Tea has a spot in the heart of many Mobilians, and once you experience the food and atmosphere you’ll understand why. Spot of Tea serves up everything from soups and salads, to your favorite brunch foods like French toast. If you’re ever looking for a lovely place to meet with a friend, Spot of Tea is your place.

#SpoonTip: The Monte Cristo with potatoes is a timeless favorite.

4. Saisho


Photo courtesy of Saisho

Saisho is so unique that I must allow its website to speak for itself. It’s described as a “Modern American Gastropub, inspired by Japanese cuisine.” Sounds awesome right? Well, it is. Saisho is located in downtown Mobile, and serves up funky dishes such as the MOB burger (“red wattle” heritage pork burger, miso, tomato, frites).

#SpoonTip: The slow cooked salmon is a must-try as well.

5. Mediterranean Sandwich Company


Photo courtesy of Mediterranean Sandwich Company

This isn’t your typical deli sandwich place. Mediterranean Sandwich Company, also know as just Mediterranean by locals, is a not-so-hidden gem nestled in Downtown Mobile that many locals love to stop by for a quick bite. With its quick service and great food, Mediterranean has won the hearts of many. So many, in fact, that they’ve now opened a second location in Daphne.

#SpoonTip: Any gyro paired with the spinach orzo is always a great combo.

6. Kitchen on George


Photo courtesy of Kitchen on George

How many restaurants can say that their award winning chefs are still students? Not many, but at Kitchen on George that’s standard. All of the food is locally sourced and cooked by Culinard students.Kitchen on George is a restaurant located in the historic Oakleigh Garden District. Their executive chef, Bryan Cates, has an impressive slew of awards and accolades,and their shrimp and grits are great.

#SpoonTip: Have an allergy? Feel free to tell your waiter and they will adjust the order for you!

7. Original Oyster House


Photo courtesy of The Original Oyster House

Don’t be fooled by the name, this Gulf-side restaurant serves up far more than oysters. In fact, it serves up one of the largest seafood selections on the Gulf Coast, which means you’re bound to find something you love here. From classic favorites like gumbo, to a slightly less traditional option of alligator, the Original Oyster House has you covered.

#SpoonTip: A cup of gumbo and a shrimp po’ boy go great with a window seat. The Original Oyster House is the perfect place to watch a bayside sunset.

8. Cafe Grazie


Photo courtesy of Cafe Grazie

Cafe Grazie highlights the best of the Gulf of Mexico, serving up seafood with a view, but with a slight twist. Cafe Grazie is an Italian restaurant. Each day, Cafe Grazie proves that gulf seafood and Italian do belong together, and that in itself is notable. Not to mention that it’s located just minutes away from Orange Beach.

#SpoonTip: Enjoy the cheese tortellini in a vodka cream sauce after a long day at the beach. You will not regret it.

9.  Jerusalem Cafe


Photo courtesy of Jerusalem Cafe

Jerusalem Cafe is unique in its own right. Although there are plenty of Mediterranean food places around, Jerusalem Cafe will always reign supreme in the eyes of many locals. The reason for this is that Jerusalem Cafe offers many traditional Mediterranean food options that will suit everyone’s food tastes.

#SpoonTip: The krass stuffed pastry or the chicken pastry are two of my personal favorites.

10. Lulus


Photo coutesy of Lulu’s

Last, but certainly not least, we have a restaurant with a star-studded background. Lulu’s is owned by Lulu Buffet, sister of Jimmy Buffet. Don’t fret though, you don’t have to be a Brown Eyed Girl to enjoy this beachside escape. Lulu’s offers a relaxed environment that is perfect for enjoying a summer shrimp salad, and with live music almost daily, you can’t help but have an amazing time here.

#SpoonTip: Love steak, but want to try a fish dish? The mahi-mahi basket is the way to go.