This past weekend we celebrated Mother's Day. I'm thankful for my mother and the relationship that we have. But, I know for many, it can be a tough day. I have many friends who are mothers and have invited me into their families. They have each shown me something different in what motherhood is and what it means to love. As Annie F. Downs and Psalm 68:6 reminds us, “God sets the lonely in families.” My friends have exhibited that immensely by letting me be a part of their families. And it’s something I hold dear and hope to never take for granted.
And I have many other friends who hope to one day be mothers, whether single and longing or married and longing. With them, I pray the peace and hope of our Savior fills the space that feels empty. The journey is long, a marathon they say. And they say it takes a village to raise kids, I say it also takes a village to just live life. I hope we are all surrounded by friends and families who pull us in close.
And what is one thing that draws us all closer together? Food! It makes us gather around a table, breaks down barriers, is different in every culture, and we all need it! So, this weekend, we celebrated Mother's Day by going on a food tour in downtown Mobile. This tour was so much fun and has something for everyone! There were families, young couples, old couples, and even kids on our tour. My mom loved the food aspect and getting to visit the restaurants. My dad loved the history side, getting to know more about Mobile. I loved it all, let's be real. We visited many restaurants that I hadn't been to yet, I got to spend the afternoon in my city that I love (with my parents - double win), and I got to taste amazing food along the way. A definite win and a great experience. We visited seven spots in the downtown area, each with a different menu and style, on our three hour tour. About 15 to 20 minutes were spent at each location and we were definitely full as it came to an end. Good thing we were walking in between! Chris, our tour guide, also told us that we ate three of the "100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die"! So while I would love to cross the other 97 off, I'm excited to go back and visit these spots again. Keep reading to see where we went and what we had!
The Royal Scam 72 S. Royal Street
What we had: Seafood gumbo. A classic gumbo with shrimp, okra, tomatoes, rice, and the best blend of spices. Some gumbos can be a little on the spicy side, but this, to me, was perfect. It wasn't too spicy or too salty and the shrimp (along with all the vegetables) was firm and fresh.
Other things on the menu: Spicy Crab Cakes, Roasted Duck Panini, Bankhead Burger, Chicken Bienville, Filet Mignon
Panini Pete's 102 Dauphin Street
What we had: Beignets and panini. Most people think of New Orleans first when they hear beignets, but Pete's are so good and he serves them hot with powdered sugar, of course, and lemon. I have to admit, I never used the lemon before this tasting. But, it is a total game changer. I will forever squeeze the lemon on top now. As for paninis, there were a variety to be tried, but I sampled the Famous Muffaletta Panino with Italian meats and cheeses, olive salad, and on Italian bread. I'm not much of an olive fan, but this was delicious. Panini Pete's does everything just about as fresh as you can, including slicing their meats daily and making their own cheeses. I've been to Pete's quite a few times, as it's one of my favorite spots in downtown, but I usually get the same thing. This tasting made me excited to try something different the next time I'm there!
Other things on the menu: Pete's Original Breakfast Panino, Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato (my absolute favorite!), French Quarter Burger
Noted: Best Eastern Shore Lunch Spot (Fairhope location), Best Sandwich Shop in the State, Chef Pete is Member of BCA Best Chefs of America and founding member of "The Messlords", a group of celebrity chefs who travel the world and bring their food to US troops by land and sea!
Von's Bistro 69 St. Michael Street
What we had: Gulf Crab Wontons and Crispy Pork Spring Rolls with Sweet and Sour Sauce. These were some of the freshest wontons and spring rolls I have ever had. Definitely not something you would get off the Chinese buffet line. The sweet and sour sauce was served warm, something I feel is normally cold elsewhere. The warm sauce with the warm wonton was so good. We also sampled two wines here, a merlot and a chardonnay.
Other things on the menu: Fried Green Tomatoes, Vietnamese Pho Soup, Chicken and Waffles, Pad Thai, and weekly specials like Hamburger Steak, Homemade Lasagna, and Shrimp and Pork Belly Ramen Noodle Soup
What makes Von's different: the menu! There is so much to explore on Von's menu that I will definitely be back to try and there seems to be something for everyone. Von grew up in the Mobile area, but her background exposed her to so many different types of food. The Asian recipes (which I'm most excited to try) have been passed down throughout her family and she has a background in the seafood industry! You can see and taste it all in her restaurant. Her food truck has also been named the best food truck in Mobile by locals.
Three George's Candy Shop 226 Dauphin Street
What we had: Pralines and Chocolate Covered Strawberries. This was such a fun stop, because we got to go behind the counters and see the pecan pralines made from start to finish. From the constant stirring of the sweet sugar mixture, the adding of the pecans, and then the dipping out. They settled up right there in front of us and we got to eat this rich treat warm. We also had chocolate covered strawberries dipped in milk, white, and dark chocolate.
Other things in the store: Chocolate Malt Balls, Pecan Pie, Cheese Straws, Candy Galore
Wintzell's Oyster House 605 Dauphin Street
What we had: Oyster Sampler and Fried Pickles. As it's name shows, this is the place for oysters. Living on the Gulf Coast, most likely you are well acquainted with seafood. Oysters is one of those dishes that has grown on me the older I've gotten. My favorite would be chargrilled, with a side of toast to soak up all the juices, but I love them about anyway you put them in front of me, like Rockefeller with all the spinach. I also tried Oysters Bienville, covered with shrimp, crabmeat and parmesan. It could be my new favorite. And I wasn't too sure if I had ever had a raw oyster, so I grabbed a cracker, topped it with the oyster and dabbed on some hot sauce and now I can say for sure that I've had it raw. Also, the fried pickles were, of course, delicious and hot from the fryer. Another appetizer that I would most likely order.
Other things on the menu: Smoked Tuna Dip, Whole Stuff Flounder, Shrimp N' Grits
Noted: Voted Best Raw Oysters in Mobile last year by locals
Heroes 273 Dauphin Street
What we had: Spinach and Crawfish Dip with Pita Bread. Maybe one of my favorite things we had on the tour. This dip is loaded with spinach, crawfish, cream cheese and a blend of other things that make you want to lick the cup it comes in. Plus, the pita bread is soft and fresh, the perfect pairing.
Other things on the menu: Sweet Potato Fries, Mexican Eggrolls, The Funky Philly Sandwich, The Hero Burger (add any cheese you like!)
Noted: Heroes, named Best Sports Bar in Mobile last year, is from the same owners as The Royal Scam, the Spinach and Crawfish Dip was named Best Appetizer in Mobile last year
A&M Peanut Shop 209 Dauphin Street
What we had: Sampling of roasted peanuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, cheese straws and fresh roasted peanuts still in the shell. When you walk down Dauphin Street, the aroma from the peanut shop is undeniable. It's one of the best things ever and they are probably why the squirrels are fat in Bienville Square.
Other things in the shop: Creole Peanuts, Party Mixes, Brazil Nuts, and Candy
Noted: The Peanut Shop has been around since 1947, it was part of the Planters chain stores that used to be around. They still roast their peanuts in the same roaster!
If you're ever in the Mobile area, be sure to stop at one of these places.
Sign up for the Bienville Bites Food Tour here!
Click here for the list of 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die.
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