By Joni Williams
We don’t mean the Gulf of Mexico which, obviously, has been around for a long time. We’re talking about The Gulf, the much‑loved Orange Beach eatery and bar that recently opened a sister location bayside on Okaloosa Island. And we can think of at least five good reasons why you should check it out.
1. Location, location, location. Aside from the Boardwalk, Okaloosa Island doesn’t get many brand‑spanking‑new places of this magnitude. And the Gulf is sitting on some prime real estate, smack dab on the water, not far from Marler Park. The folks here have optimized the gorgeous, in‑your‑face waterfront view with plenty of glass and open spaces. Besides indoor and covered seating, there are plenty of outdoor picnic tables and other gathering spots paved with lush, green grass and palm trees lazily waving in the wind.
It’s beautiful in an islandesque way as well as incredibly functional. And big. There’s enough space here to host a special event. Or just you, while basking in the happy knowledge that shoveling snow isn’t on your Spring Break agenda. Can we get an amen?
2. The architecture. Slick, clean, modern lines, variegated walls and lots of glass, breezeways and interesting chandeliers. It hints of sophistication while remaining decidedly beachy and low‑key. The kicker is, the Gulf’s multi‑level building was actually constructed using modified shipping containers. If you’re a dedicated design buff like or just an ordinary HGTV addict like us, you already know this is one of the hottest building trends right now. Come see and be inspired. Or at least amazed.
3. It’s super clean. Don’t get us wrong. We love a good dive bar and would never let a little grit keep us away. But when it comes to our food‑loving heart, a spic‑and‑span kitchen area is a powerful aphrodisiac, especially when raw oysters and other fresh seafood are on the menu. Here you can see for yourself how clean it is, as the food prep area is in plain sight. Which brings us to…
4. They have good eats. Along with the aforementioned seafood, the Gulf is known for its burgers and an array of fast‑casual house specialties. The chalkboard menu rotates daily but always features freshly prepped items like squeezed‑from‑real‑lemons lemonade and hand cut fries.
5. They have a full bar that includes beer. It’s a good selection, too, even though they’re tap‑free (don’t hate—good beer comes in cans, too. Really!). Wisely, the list includes Cigar City’s Jai Alai, one of the few citrus ales that doesn’t taste even remotely fake and is seriously, addictively delicious. It’s also a perfect match for seafood.
But before you have a guzzle fest, remember you have more options. This includes Dale’s Pale Ale, an APA from one of our favorite brewers, Oskar Blues. Just shy of bread‑in‑a‑glass status, Dale’s is full‑flavored—plenty hoppy, not too malty and well‑balanced. We consider it the liquid soulmate of a big thick burger, which can usually be found headlining the Gulf’s chalkboard menu.
You’ll find some local faves here, too, like Fat Tire and Beach Permit (Grayton Beer’s canned version of 30A Beach Blonde) along with familiar classics such as Corona, Blue Moon, Dos Equis, Stella Artois and good ol’ Coors Light. Besides a variety of mojitos, there’s an ample assortment of wine and specialty drinks with Gulf‑appropriate names like Dark and Stormy and Surf’s Up.
Pricing starts at five bucks for craft beers and around eight or nine for mixed drinks and wine by the glass. Food pricing varies, but sandwiches generally start around seven, raw oysters 10, and a side of their almost‑famous fries for four.
But the view? It’s worth more than a million bucks. Literally. Real estate, especially waterfront, dang sure isn’t cheap in the current market. When you look at it that way, the prices—though not the cheapest in town—may seem downright reasonable.
And so worth it, compared to staring down snow and a waiting shovel.
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