Why We Love the Gulf

Jimmy Buffett Drinks Here

The Margaritaville mogul toasts the Gulf Coast bars he loves the most

Photo: The Shark Attack at Lucy’s. By Sara Essex Bradley

The Shark Attack at Lucy’s.

The son of a son of a Mississippi sailor, Jimmy Buffett got his start bouncing around Biloxi dive bars and New Orleans drinking dens before finding fame in Key West. “Culturally and historically, the Gulf is a unique stretch of water and land,” he says. “It always feels like home.” We asked the sun-
tanned troubadour to revisit his roots via his favorite coastal watering holes. “A place where you can have a cold beer and look out at the water,” he advises, “is the essence of throttling down.”


Spanish Fort, Alabama

“It’s a landmark,” Buffett says of this rambling assemblage of low-slung wooden structures, open-air porches, and wharves that beckon boaters on the causeway between Mobile and Fairhope to tie up for a basket of the waterside dive’s famous crispy oysters. Weeknights from Tuesday to Friday, and all hours on weekends, the icon—one of the oldest restaurants in coastal Alabama—hosts a toe-tapping roster of live music. “I like that if I left anything on the coast, it’s the legacy that having a beach-bum guitar player in your bar is an attraction,” Buffett says.   bluegillrestaurant.com

Island Hotel

Cedar Key, Florida

“The Island Hotel is a throwback,” Buffett says. “It’s a small old hotel—the kind of place where they couldn’t really care less whether you come, as opposed to those overmarketed tourism spots.” Once you find your way to the forties-era inn in Cedar Key, though, you’ll get the full friends-and-family treatment. Inside the hotel’s snug cypress-and-cedar-paneled Neptune Lounge—a mural of the Roman god hangs behind the bar—the beer is cheap, the sunbaked regulars are friendly, and there’s Old Florida charm to spare.  islandhotel-cedarkey.com

Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar

New Orleans, Louisiana

“It’s not exactly a beach bar,” Buffett says. “Lucy’s is a surf bar in the middle of New Orleans, where nobody surfs—which, if you think about it, is totally appropriate for New Orleans.” Painted turquoise and yellow, with Christmas lights strung from the windows, Lucy’s channels the funky Caribbean corner of the Crescent City’s soul. At the recently expanded bar, order the Shark Attack, a kitschy mind-erasing concoction of four liquors (don’t ask), sour mix, and a plastic shark. Who needs a hurricane? lucysretiredsurfers.com

LuLu’s at Homeport Marina

Gulf Shores, Alabama

“The Flora-Bama in Orange Beach is always reliable; it was my coming-of age bar,” Buffett says. “But I’ve got to mention LuLu’s. It’s my sister’s place, but it really is a great spot right on the Intracoastal Waterway.” When the state refused to renew Lucy Buffett’s lease on Weeks Bay, she simply loaded the original beer-and-burger joint onto a barge and motored it to a new home—with an outdoor stage for music and a private beach. lulubuffett.com/gulf-shores


Pascagoula, Mississippi

“I played in Pascagoula a couple months ago, and we used Scranton’s as our de facto headquarters,” says Buffett, whose grandfather, the inspiration for his song “The Captain and the Kid,” lived in the small Mississippi town. “Scranton’s has been here as long as I can remember. You can see the Pascagoula River there.” Don’t expect to run into many other A-listers, though. Scranton’s, which serves regional standards like red beans and rice and spicy shrimp gumbo in a onetime downtown firehouse, is a hangout for sand-between-their-toes locals.  scrantons.com

Trapani’s Eatery

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

“Most of my funky old bars around Biloxi blew away [during Katrina],” Buffett says. Tony and Jolynne Trapani’s Bay St. Louis beach bar and grill went the way of the storm surge, too. But with the abiding resilience of Gulf Coast lifers, the Trapanis rebuilt on the same waterfront spot. “I had a roommate from Bay St. Louis, and Tony’s place still reminds me of the time I spent in the area during my not-so-stellar collegiate career,” Buffett says. Now there’s a second-story bar with live music and even better views to complement the oyster po’boys.  trapaniseatery.net

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