Why Life Is So Good on Mobile Bay

Miller Mobley
by Winston Groom - Alabama - Feb/March 2011

Though it bears some striking similarities to New Orleans, Mobile dances to its own beat, which is just the way Mobilians like it

Around the Bay
Whether you're looking to explore the delta or just find a great dive bar, twenty-seven places for a taste of Gulf Coast culture
by John S. Sledge


Felix’s Fish Camp Grill
When you’re seated in the candlelit dining room, staring out at Mobile Bay or over toward the city’s glittering skyline, it’s easy to imagine yourself on the bridge of a big ship ghosting into harbor. The menu pays tribute to Gulf Coast history, including the West Indies salad, a marinated crabmeat delicacy invented in Mobile. Nobody does it better. 1530 Battleship Pkwy., Spanish Fort; felixsfishcamp.com

Tucked into a mid-nineteenth-century building saved from the wrecking ball and fully restored, this fine-dining establishment is captained by chef Chakli Diggs, a native Ethiopian and local culinary star. Among his mix of “Mediterasian” menu items are White Pekin duck breast and orecchiette pasta with pancetta, not to mention the restaurant’s superb wine list. 6 N. Jackson St.; nojamobile.com

OK Bicycle Shop
Don’t let the name fool you. Though it was once an actual bicycle shop, this restaurant and bar is now known for its great beer selection (more than fifty) as well as Southwestern-inspired fare that’s well beyond okay. House specials include a smoked-duck tostada and a margarita list with flavors such as blackberry-mint, strawberry-basil, and hibiscus-lemon, all made fresh on-site. 661 Dauphin St.; 251-432-2453

Osman’s Restaurant
Operated by Bosnian immigrants, Osman’s serves classic European cuisine in a decidedly unstuffy atmosphere. It’s consistently voted the best restaurant in town, with offerings such as shrimp meunière, eggplant parmigiana, and lamb chops Marsala. The intimate dining room fills up quickly, and reservations are required. But the food is worth it. 2579 Halls Mill Rd.; osmansrestaurant.com

A Mobile native, chef Wesley True decamped for New York City to make his way in the culinary world. But he came home to open this fine-dining venue, and the accolades have been steadily rolling in since. The atmosphere is, according to True, “like a Manhattan restaurant, but with a little Southern softness to it.” 9 Du Rhu Dr.; truedine.com

Wintzell’s Oyster House
Brimming with character, this downtown restaurant has been serving up oysters “fried, stewed and nude” since 1938. Though it’s now been franchised, the original locale is still the most memorable. While waiting on a cup of gumbo, a dish of fried okra, or a freshly shucked dozen, patrons can amuse themselves reading the original owner’s philosophizings rendered on hundreds of little signs. A sample: “Many of us have excellent aim in life, but no ammunition.” 605 Dauphin St.; wintzellsoysterhouse.com