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Fairhope’s Dragonfly Foodbar won the Nappie Award for Most Innovative Menu.
It’s been a heck of a year for food in the Port City, with new menus, new restaurants and new winners flooding the pages of our paper. Diversity is key to a good culinary scene. I have my favorites (and least favorites) in fine dining, casual affairs, cook-offs, fast food and downright trashy eating. You do, too, and you’ve made it well known by casting your delicious votes, and the winners all deserve a spot at the table.
Briquettes nabbed the coveted Best Overall Restaurant as well as Best Steak — they cook a mean one over there. Best New Restaurant went to Southern National as the team of Reggie Washington and Duane Nutter are making a name for themselves in the region after flying farther south from Atlanta’s One Flew South. Welcome home! Best Eastern Shore Restaurant is Sunset Pointe. Have you had their snapper throats? Try them every way. They also won for Best Outdoor Dining. On the beach, you chose LuLu’s of Gulf Shores as your favorite. It’s hard to outparty a Buffett!
Best Chef is Chris Rainosek. Even with all the talent here I don’t think anyone could disagree with your choice. The Noble South is one of the first places I take visitors for a great meal and I’ve not been let down yet. I look to him as the one who started the sort of gastro avant garde menu in Mobile, paving the way for new chefs to be daring. I always get the deviled eggs with caviar and the pickled shrimp.
Speaking of Most Innovative Menu, Dragonfly Food Bar has always kept the bar high. Hey, guys, how about a Mobile location? If it’s atmosphere you want, then who doesn’t want to look down on the city from 30-plus stories high at Dauphin’s? If you’re afraid of heights, just stick to the bar; you’ll love the piano music.
Best Appetizer is Bang Bang Shrimp at Bonefish Grill, while the Best Entrée is the Filet Oscar from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. For wings you like the giant selection at Buffalo Wild Wings and for tenders you couldn’t fake the foo with your local Foosackly’s. For dessert you don’t care what it is as long as it comes from Stevie’s Kitchen.
Best Lunch Spot in Mobile is Bob’s Downtown, which has great breakfast and drinks early in the morning. They also won for Best Hangover Food — fitting that I have a fondness for chicken livers and a bloody mary. On the Eastern Shore your favorite lunch can be found at Panini Pete’s. Sure, those sammies are stellar, but don’t neglect the beignets with a squeeze of lemon. It looks like a scene from “Scarface” when Graham gets on the powdered sugar. If it’s brunch you’re after, then Brick and Spoon is serving your choice. Their insane bloody mary options can replace breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s like an adult smoothie.
Your favorite server is Dane Batley from Stevie’s Kitchen, and Best Overall Service goes to Felix’s Fish Camp.
When the subject arises you’re all over the place for wine. Best Restaurant Wine list is at Red or White, but you’d be a fool not to pair it with whatever oysters and specials Arwen and crew are cooking up. Your preferred Wine/Gourmet Shop or Grocery is Domke Market while your choice of retail Best Wine Selection is Pour Baby (a la Cork) near Providence Hospital. In other booze, Greer’s took the gold in retail Best Beer Selection.
In the ethnic food categories, Gambino’s Italian Grill won best Italian with Mellow Mushroom taking Best Pizza. Mediterranean Sandwich Company wins Best Ethnic Restaurant as Vlad and his team keep expanding. You chose Rooster’s Latin American for Best Mexican, and hey, those tacos are insanely good. I’m lobbying for a Best Taco category next year — there are plenty of competitors. Best Home Cooking/Soul Food is Judy’s Place. Greek Fest won for Best Annual Food Event.
Carpe Diem Coffee and Tea Company is your favorite coffee shop in Mobile. Alan Tolson and his staff are still doing it right on Old Shell Road. On the Eastern Shore, Serda Coffee Co. is king of the county, and we appreciate having a location downtown as well.
Our grocery game in Mobile is really booming right now, with new shops and revamped old stores. Your favorite local store is Greer’s. I’m crazy about their prices and their deli. The Best Grocery Chain is the newly rebooted Winn-Dixie. In your quest for fresh, local produce the Old Shell Market helps you veg out (I can’t leave without two packs of Stage Planks and a Faygo), while Allegri Farm Market gives our neighbors to the east something to crunch on.
You really spread the love in the barbecue categories. Moe’s Original BBQ is your pick for Best Barbecue Restaurant (and they have several locations to choose from), while Dreamland smokes your favorite ribs and Meat Boss slings your favorite sauce. Texarbama wins for Best Food Truck, but now they’ve secured a brick and mortar location.
Seafood is heavily contended, with Wintzell’s serving your favorite oysters, Southern Fish and Oyster your favorite market and Half Shell your Best Seafood Restaurant. Best Gumbo deservedly goes to Royal Scam, Po’boy is Mudbugs DIP Seafood and sushi goes to the incomparable Chuck’s Fish. Get the Raiza Special.
Best Caterer is Naman’s Catering. You’re not a Mobilian if you’ve never had it. Pollman’s Bake Shop is too legendary to topple in the bakery category, but Flour Girls won for Best Cupcake.
Best Burger is at Butch Cassidy’s. Roy Seewer is making magic between his buns. Just a short distance from his back door is Cammie’s Old Dutch, your favorite for Best Ice Cream/Yogurt/Gelato.
This is the first year I can say I have visited every restaurant and business on the list, and I’m impressed by the diversity of your choices. I personally don’t vote but am glad you do. Let’s hope for more categories next year and more choices for Best New Restaurant! See you at the ceremony.
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