The fresh seafood market gives them the feeling of what life must have been like a half century ago for coastal fishermen. For one who has always loved history, my dad views a trip to Billy’s as a nostalgic walk back in time. And, we get to buy a bunch of fresh seafood to prepare back in the kitchen of their Gulf-front vacation rental.
Once you turn left off Ala. Hwy. 59 N. and head west on County Road 10 toward Billy’s, it’s a bit like time has slowed. County Road 10 is home to second-hand shops, a roadside walk-up barbecue shack (Try the brisket!), beautiful riverfront homes, an automotive repair shop that could be straight out of Mayberry, a trophy shop and more.
Just past the stoplight, you’ll have to veer left to head down toward Billy’s and other retail and wholesale seafood operations whose bounties are delivered fresh from boats that pull right up to their docks.
When you curve around, you’ll pass a mix of residences with well-kept yards, homes that double as antiques and collectibles shops, one of the oldest elementary schools in the county, a quaint little church, a tiny post office, and the rustic Tin Top Restaurant & Oyster Bar (specializing in fresh local seafood – trust me, it’s worth the drive for dinner one night).
Keep going straight until the road dead ends and you must turn left or right onto River Road, which fronts the Bon Secour River. Turn right, and you’ll see Billy’s just ahead on the water.
Once you enter the screen door into the retail shop, you’ll see fresh shrimp and fish from the morning’s haul spread before you. There are also oysters, scallops and even shrimp salad on ice made special by Billy’s mom. Every time we go, Bubba (a local celebrity if you ask me), who has worked at Billy's forever it seems, is kind enough to help us with our order and give us tips on preparing our choices back at the condo.
Call ahead for special orders. Or, if you want to take some seafood home with you, Billy’s will pack to travel and even ship overnight.
Billy’s Seafood Open Air Market: 16780 River Road, Bon Secour, AL 36511. (251) 949-6288.
Aquila Seafood is also located on River Road. A family-owned and operated seafood market since 1971, Aquila Seafood is known for its royal red shrimp and fresh fish and will also pack a cooler to make the journey home.
Aquila Seafood Inc.: 17309 River Road, Bon Secour, AL 36511. (251) 949-6658.
If you do not wish to make the drive to Bon Secour, other fresh seafood retail markets in the area stand ready to serve.
At Gulf Shores Seafood, pick up your favorite fresh fish, produce, steaks, shrimp, oysters scallops, crab meat, barbecue essentials and more.
Shrimp can even be boiled and seasoned for you in your choice of mild, medium or Cajun spices. Your fresh catch can also be paired with corn on the cob, new potatoes, and sausage.
At this market, you’ll even be able to pick up a delicious key lime pie for dessert.
Gulf Shores Seafood: 921 Gulf Shores Parkway, Gulf Shores, AL. (251) 948-8456.
With locations in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Blalock Seafood & Specialty Market is a local institution.
Open daily offering fresh seafood, Black Angus meats, fine wines and gourmet products, Blalock’s provides a large selection of high-grade, locally caught seafood.
Voted a People’s Choice Award winner for Best Seafood Market by local media, Blalock is known for its vintage wines, gourmet seasonings and dry rubs, and fine cheeses—specialty items you are unlikely to find in the local supermarkets.
Blalock Seafood & Specialty Market: 24822 Canal Road, Orange Beach, AL 36561 or 1911 Gulf Shores Parkway, Gulf Shores, AL 36542. (251) 216-3778.
In Orange Beach, Lartigue’s Seafood Market is a family-owned and operated business specializing in locally caught seafood from the Gulf.
Pick up the fresh seafood of your choice to prepare back at your vacation rental. Or, the Lartigue family will steam your shrimp for you. The market also offers a complete line of Lartigue’s branded seafood dipping sauces, marinades and hot sauces.
Side dishes are also a favorite of shoppers and include steamed potatoes, corn, tuna dip, potato salad, Cajun cheesy crab dip, garlic bread and even cold beer!
While you’re there, pick up one of their cookbooks to take back home. They’ll pack your seafood to travel if you ask!
Lartigue’s Seafood Market: 23043 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach, AL 36561.
In Perdido Key, give Perdido Bay Seafood a try. It offers a selection of locally caught fish, shrimp, crab and oysters. The store is also stocked with homemade dips, pies and soups. You can even pick up a hot fried lunch plate.
Perdido Bay Seafood: 13506 Perdido Key Dr., Pensacola, FL 32507. (850) 492-0455.
Another Perdido Key option is Nix Brothers Seafood, offering fresh fish and shrimp.
Nix Brothers Seafood: 13470 Perdido Key Dr., Pensacola, FL 32507. (850) 492-1234.
If you have a little extra time between playing at the beach and shopping for souvenirs, consider a visit to Joe Patti’s Seafood, a unique seafood shopping experience at the intersection of South A Street and Main Street in Pensacola.
Not only will you find fresh local seafood but you will also find seafood items from the Northeast and Northwest such as lobster, swordfish, salmon and other fresh choices.
Stay a little while and explore Amangiari’s Deli and Specialty Food Market, a deli and specialty food shop, or perhaps dine at the on-site seafood restaurant, called Captain Joey Patti’s Seafood Restaurant. There is also an on-site sushi bar and café.
Joe Patti’s Seafood Company: 524 South B Street, Pensacola, FL 32502. (850) 432-3315.
If you’d rather catch your own, plenty of charter fishing excursions are available. There are even many restaurants in the area that will prepare your fresh catch to order.
Try This Recipe From Lulu's Out On Your Group!Lucy Buffett, otherwise known as LuLu (sister of famed crooner Jimmy Buffett), is the author of numerous cookbooks, including one that just hit shelves this summer.
Dylan Feenker, her executive chef at LuLu's restaurant in Gulf Shores, was kind enough to share his favorite shrimp-n-grits recipe for our blog: Sunday Shrimp & Smoked Gouda Grits.
Pick up a couple of pounds of shrimp and the other ingredients and give it a try on your next vacation! This recipe serves 12.
Sunday Shrimp and Smoked Gouda Grits
Dylan Feenker, Executive Chef
Ingredients· 1 tbs olive oil
· 1 tbs butter
· 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
· 1/4 lb tasso
· 1/4 lb Andouille sausage
· 1 yellow onion, diced
· 1 bell pepper, assorted colors, diced
· 1 stalk celery
· 1 tbs garlic, minced
· 1 qt tomatoes, diced
· 3 1/4 cup white wine
· 1/2 – 3/4 cup heavy cream
· 2 lbs 21.25 Alabama Gulf Shrimp
· 1 tbs Zatarains Creole Seasoning
· 1 branch rosemary, stripped and chopped
· 2 lemons, juice extracted
· TT (to taste) Worcestershire sauce
· TT LuLu’s Perfect Pepper Hot Sauce
· 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
· 1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
· 1/2 – 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese for garnish
· Gouda Grits, recipe below
Instructions - Prepare Shrimp & Vegetables
1. Heat olive oil and Butter over medium heat until butter melts.
2. Add red pepper flakes.
3. Once butter begins to sizzle, add celery and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
4. Add bell peppers and continue to cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
5. Add yellow onions and cook for another 1-2 minutes
6. Add garlic and allow vegetables to “sweat” until translucent in color.
7. Add tomatoes, white wine, and heavy cream.
8. Season the mixture with Zatarains Creole Seasoning.
9. Add rosemary.
10. Add shrimp
11. Add lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and LuLu’s Perfect Pepper Hot Sauce.
12. Simmer the pan until the shrimp are pink in color.
13. Add green onions and parsley
14. Serve over Gouda Grits
15. Garnish with parmesan cheese
Ingredients - Gouda Grits
· 6 cups of chicken stock
· 2 cups of heavy cream
· 2 cups of grits
· TT salt
· TT black pepper
· TT cayenne pepper
· TT hot sauce
· 1 lb of shredded smoked Gouda cheese
Instructions - Prepare Gouda Grits
1. Bring chicken stock and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat.
2. Add grits, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and hot sauce to the boiling liquid. Whisk well to avoid clumping.
3. Turn heat to low and cover pot for about 30 minutes, whisking grits every 10 minutes to remove any lumps, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
4. Add cheese to grits, whisking until melted.
5. Turn off heat and cover until ready to serve with shrimp and vegetables on top.
Be sure to visit one of these fresh seafood spots when you stay in a beach house or condo vacation rental in Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan, Orange Beach or Perdido Key.