This Underrated, Gorgeous City Is The Seafood Capital Of A Southeastern State

Who knew that a town with a population of less than 3,000 residents would be known as the "seafood capital of Alabama?" Bayou La Batre is located in Mobile County, Alabama, along the Mississippi Sound on the Gulf of Mexico. Founded in 1786, it was the first settlement in this county and quickly garnered attention as a tourist town. Today, it's an iconic destination for seafood lovers and a thriving maritime trading port that produces an annual base income of $80 million, according to the Chamber of Commerce. This quaint coastal town receives and packages seafood from hundreds of shrimp and fishing boats each year. An iconic maritime port city, it's renowned for its delectable ocean-to-table dining and dozens of shipyards (if you search closely, you might just be able to spot "The Black Pearl" from Pirates of the Caribbean docked along the edge of the harbor).

The extraordinary seafood, coupled with the state's Southern hospitality, makes this an underrated hot spot for seafood lovers. Early April to mid-May and late September to late October are the best times to visit. From tasting scratch-made seafood to perusing the harbor where fishermen haul their fresh catch to shore each morning in the early light of dawn, you'll never regret a trip to this small-town Southern coastal gem. Seafood aside, this region of the Gulf Coast is a treasure trove of natural wonders, from its waterways and salt marshes to endemic wildlife species that inhabit this territory.

Where can I taste the seafood?

From crab shacks dotting the roadside along the coast to upscale five-star seafood experiences, nearly every restaurant in Bayou La Batre serves a unique version of this county's bread and butter. Fried shrimp, crab, oysters, and fish are the specialty around here, complemented by other non-seafood Southern classics, like gumbo.

It may not be a five-star luxury dining room, but it's not the aesthetics that beckon locals to form a line a mile long down the sidewalk at the Lighthouse Restaurant. This no-frills eatery's fried crab claws, fried catfish with mac-n-cheese, and crab omelets are all equally divine and put the marine life on display with their house-special creations. As a family-owned and operated business, many of the dishes served in-house are recipes passed down in the family tree over generations.

If anything constitutes a worthwhile roadside pit stop for some snacks, it's the Bayou Seafood Company. The yellow exterior with blue trim windows makes this establishment look less like a seafood shack and more like an outdated residence. According to owner and founder John Harbison, the restaurant doesn't even need a sign, as the fully packed parking lot is enough of a signal fire to attract business. The menu is dotted with house specials in between cozy appetizers, like crispy fries and gumbo with crab and shrimp. The restaurant's entrees are where things get difficult. Seafood platter or the shrimp burger? Crab or oysters? The options are endless, and you can't go wrong with whatever you choose!

Fresh oyster markets or upscale seafood venues — take your pick!

Apparently, Murder Point Oysters' seafood is so good that they're "oysters worth killing for." The process of harvesting and seasoning the fresh catch served in this oyster house begins not in the kitchen but out at sea. All of this establishment's oysters are raised in baskets within the Gulf of Mexico. Longline farming allows the founders to closely monitor the oysters while illuminating the need for traditionally farmed seafood. This exclusive oyster business has been in the same family for five generations, a testimony to their commitment to quality seafood. The end result? A creamy taste, with mingled notes of butter and metallic — the reason this seafood market has become one of the most famous seafood markets in all of Bayou La Batre.

If you're looking for an upscale venue, Chuck's Fish is an elegant, trendy maritime eatery, known for its seafood, steak, and sushi. Tucked in the Central Business District in Mobile County, it's one of six locations across various Southern cities. All the seafood delivered to this restaurant is freshly caught and imported from the company's personal wholesale market at Harbor Docks. With an award-winning sushi bar and naturally raised fresh-cut beef, you can't pass up this incredible seafood outpost. The parmesan-crusted gulf fish with risotto, Surf-n-Turf with stuffed shrimp and beef filet, expose the richness of this region's agricultural landscape. Of course, you can never end the night without dessert, and their blondie sundae exceeds this necessity!