Restaurant Review: Doc’s Seafood Shack & Oyster Bar
26029 Canal Road
Orange Beach, AL 36561 (There is a second location in Gulf Shores)
Summary – Doc’s is a charming, “dive” that offers great fried food. It’s not fancy, but we enjoyed our visit and we will go back.
Service – 9/10
Decor – 7/10
Food – 8/10
Price – 6.5/10
Location – 7/10
My wife and I wanted to try a local seafood place around Orange Beach. On the beach, we’d seen planes towing banners that said “Doc’s – Best Fried Shrimp in the Entire Civilized World.” Intrigued, we visited during the “down” time between lunch and dinner.
Service – We had a bubbly, personable server who was very quick with new bowls of all-you-can-eat shrimp, even when we didn’t ask for them. Also, she let us take our uneaten shrimp home in a “doggie bag,” which is unusual for an all-you-can-eat deal. She was terrific.
Some of the staff was on break and eating in the restaurant’s back corner. Perhaps this was why no one bused the table behind us for 10 -15 minutes after we arrived. Also, our check was a bit slow in coming.
Despite my quibbles, the service was excellent.
Decor – Well, considering that Doc’s calls itself a “Seafood Shack,” you can’t get too upset if it doesn’t look like a five-star restaurant. Doc’s is in an old house and I liked the casual interior.
There are a few places at a bar near the entrance, but most people sit in a large dining room along the side. There are two dining rooms – front and back. Apparently, the back room is for overflow because no customers were seated there in mid-afternoon.
There are two booths along the front wall, but most diners sit at tables. There are tables along both walls and a row down the middle. We sat in the middle, where the tables are a little close, but not claustrophobic. There is a big beer cooler on the wall with a sign that says that you are NOT to “help yourself”; I’m sure there’s a good story there. Some of the walls have posters from the Gulf Shores Shrimp Festival, which helps create a nice “beach mood.”
The dining room is basic, but perfectly OK. It has dark, industrial carpet and it is very cool with both overhead fans and A/C going. Doc’s felt very “busy,” as there were three TVs (without sound). One TV was tuned to ESPN and the second showed an infomercial for the Genie Bra. I couldn’t see the third TV, as it was in the back dining room. There was a radio station tuned to classic rock – Boston and Bruce Springsteen, among others. One disappointment was that Doc’s sits right on the Intracoastal Waterway, but I don’t think that any tables have a water view.
The only true negative at Doc’s was the men’s room. It’s tiny, dirty, and awful. They need to update – pronto.
The crowd at Doc’s was “just folks,” about 20-25 diners. They were a mixture of old and young and – I would guess – from a variety of backgrounds. The woman at the next table was explaining to her friend how – as a teen – she’d been emancipated from her parents in Colorado. Anyone could eat at Doc’s and feel comfortable. With all of the hubbub, you could take kids and not worry (too much) about disturbing other diners. (Doc’s has high chairs and a kids menu).
Food – My wife and I couldn’t resist the all-you-can eat fried shrimp for $10.99. This is served with slaw, terrific hush puppies, crinkle-cut French fries, and saltines. Doc’s provides catsup and tartar sauce. Also, they provide small containers of horseradish, which you can mix with the catsup to make your own cocktail sauce. If you don’t mix enough catsup with the horseradish, you will clear your sinuses for several months.
As with any good, southern restaurant, Doc’s serves sweet tea; my wife and I both ordered it and the waitress brought us a pitcher along with our filled glasses. Happy Day.
(Doc’s has the all-you-can-eat-shrimp special Mondays & Wednesdays before 6:00 p.m.; Tuesdays & Thursdays they have all-you-can-eat fried fish before 6).
Doc’s offers many other items that I want to try – oysters, gumbo, sandwiches, key lime pie, and French silk pie. They have draught beer and offer pitchers. Also, there are several “non-seafood” options.
Interestingly, Doc’s will cook your fresh catch for you. Also, Doc’s sells T-shirts and other souvenirs.
Price – The prices at Doc’s are competitive. We paid $28 + tip for the special & the iced teas. Some of the sandwiches are cheaper if one doesn’t want to spend (or eat) as much. Doc’s has lunch specials, but they don’t “push” them, so perhaps you have to ask.
Location – Doc’s is in the heart of Orange Beach at the corner of the Canal Road and Highway 161. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, when heading east it’s difficult to enter the parking lot because you cannot turn left across the Canal Road. You have to go past Doc’s, take a left, then come back. However, as you leave it is easy to get out of the lot.
Doc’s is the Alabama Gulf Coast as it was before money transformed it. The food is good, with huge portions, and reasonable prices. Neither of us ate – or wanted – any dinner after our huge meal. Doc’s is well worth a visit for fun, laid-back dining.