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A vacation to Alabama is something those of us here in the North dream about during the dreary days of winter. Beautiful beaches, warm southern hospitality, and a rich history make Alabama an ideal destination for a family vacation.
If you like to plan your vacations around local food, Alabama has you covered. More and more locavore restaurants are popping up every year, as restaurant owners take advantage of the region’s bounty. From fresh Gulf Coast seafood to the region’s local produce crops, Alabamians are spoiled with many delicious local options. And 2015 has been dubbed the “Year of Alabama BBQ,” with several of the state’s barbecue restaurants appearing on best-of-barbecue lists locally and nationally.
Five Locavore Restaurants in Alabama
There are so many noteworthy restaurants throughout the state. I’m highlighting five locavore restaurants in Alabama that make me want to book a flight pronto.
While many locavore restaurants are too fancy to bring your kids, these five all have family-friendly options on their menus while still maintaining their commitment to locally-sourced food. When I travel with my husband and our two kids, we’re always looking for restaurants like these that have something for all of us without being exclusive or expensive.
LuLu’s is a popular restaurant located on the water in Gulf Shores, but this is nothing like what you’d typically expect from a busy summer restaurant. Despite serving 4,000 customers on a summer day, LuLu’s is able to remain committed to serving locally-sourced food. Seafood from the Gulf, grass-fed burgers, and an allergy-friendly menu are some of the highlights of this Alabama destination. If you have to wait for a table, you and the kids can cool down at the Fountain of Youth, climb the 3-story rope climbing structure, or play volleyball on the beach. With live music every night and beautiful views, LuLu’s is quite an experience.
Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina is another Alabama favorite, with an upscale restaurant upstairs and a casual eatery downstairs (that’s where you’ll find me). Fisher’s sources ingredients from local fishermen and farmers, and their menu includes southern classics like Gulf fish ‘n grits, fried green tomatoes, and house-smoked pulled pork. This waterfront restaurant’s beautiful location, decor, and landscape capture the essence of an Alabama vacation.
Spring House, on the shores of Lake Martin in Alexander City, features fresh, seasonal southern food on its ever-changing menu. This charming, family-friendly restaurant offers produce and meat from local farms as well as fresh Gulf seafood. Spring House hosts unique dining experiences throughout the year, including special wine dinners and family-friendly Sunday suppers that feature seasonally-inspired dishes. Lake Martin offers hiking, biking, and lake recreation, so this is another great spot for a family getaway.
Ollie Irene is the kind of restaurant that’s hard to find in other parts of the country. This Mountain Brook restaurant is named after the owner’s grandmother, and it pays homage to the concepts of open-armed hospitality and homegrown food. The cozy, simple dining room has the feel of someone’s home. The food on the menu, as well as the beer and wine, are sourced from local farmers and producers. Homemade pickles and fried catfish are a few of the favorites here.
Jim ‘N Nick’s is one of the biggest barbecue success stories in Alabama. What started as a small barbecue place in Birmingham in 1985 has grown into a southern institution with 33 restaurants in 7 states. They’re a partner in Fat Back Farms, a collaboration that supports regional production of heritage hogs. As a result of this collaboration, their restaurants are able to serve pastured-raised, high quality heritage breed pork. Fat Back Farms is influencing the pork industry so that raising heritage hogs is a viable option for farmers. Aside from serving great food, Jim ‘N Nick’s has a strong commitment to serving its community by contributing to local education, wellness, and farming programs.
Alabama Tourism offers so many resources to help you plan your vacation. The Road Trips App helps visitors to zero in on what they’d like to do while in Alabama. As for food, the BBQ Trail app and the 100 Dishes app provide guidance as travelers narrow down the many delicious dining choices in Alabama.
My Real Food Travel Gallery highlights family travel destinations where healthy, locally-sourced food is celebrated. Is Alabama on your list?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Alabama Tourism. The opinions and text are all mine.