Wow. Paul and I just got back from an amazing trip to Fairhope, Alabama. We fell in love with this town. On our way back from Gulf Shores this year, we decided to drive through the towns on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay and were amazed to find this town. It was much like our neighborhood - only an established city - not just a neighborhood. We immediately came home and booked a trip for Labor Day.
We started off the trip with lunch in Hattiesburg at Leatha's. If you've never been before, it's the gold standard to which I hold all other BBQ.
I got the lunch rib plate and it was by far the best thing on the menu. Paul's pulled pork was good, but the ribs had so much flavor and fell off the bone. We sat their in awe.
We made our way through the Mobile tunnel traffic and finally made it that evening to Fairhope. One of the things we were really excited about was being there during First Friday. Having First Thursday here in Fondren, we wondered how it would compare. At first, we thought there weren't many people out, but by the end we were really impressed with the charm of it. It's by no means as packed as ours, but we really appreciated the feel of it.
This is one of their main streets that they close off for the event. They have tons of art galleries and a large art center that were full of people. We popped into an art gallery and frame shop that was a owned by a friend of Jill Conner Browne's. She told us we had to stop in and introduce ourselves and mention her name. When we did, his face lit up and he immediately pulled out a town newsletter that had photos of their wedding reception in his shop. It was a fun connection to make.
I loved this little Italian "village" of restaurants that we walked through.
After sorting through restaurant reviews, we settled on R Bistro and Pastry. Paul thought his crawfish beignet was rather large...
The food was good and we had a great time rehashing our day. We were on a high after seeing how precious this town was.
The next morning we woke up and headed across the street to a local breakfast joint called Buck's Diner. One of their claims to fame is their donuts, a spin on donut holes and beignets. They were served with a lemon wedge and we were encouraged to squeeze just a little lemon on top to soak into the powdered sugar. So good!
Because it had been so packed the night before, we went back down to the Eastern Shore Art Center to check out the exhibits and see the rooms we missed. Their spaces are pretty incredible.
Our friend and Jackson brewery owner Chip told us we had to check out the tap room at Fairhope Brewing Company while we were there. To try the most beers to see what we liked, we split a flight.
The two on the end, a cider and a watermelon wheat, were my two favorites.
It was mid-afternoon and we both weren't that hungry, but I knew I wanted to try out this place called Old 27 Grill. The menu looked too good.
I sent this photo back to my mom and sister. Crab stuffed jalapeños? I have to try those next time.
Paul and I split a hot dog and a small order of chili cheese fries. It hit the spot.
This photo doesn't capture it well, but this place is very reminiscent of the atmosphere at The Shed in Ocean Springs. To the left of the "main house" is plenty of outdoor seating in structures made out of old windows and scraps. It was a very neat set up!
That afternoon we took the quick trip over to Foley to visit the outlet mall. Nothing special to write home about. The whole way there and back we couldn't stop talking about how special this place was to us.
We made our way back to Fairhope and decided to walk the municipal pier as the sun was setting.
The interesting thing about Fairhope is that no one, for the most part, lives on the water. The city is built up on a bluff and water is accessed by piers and public beaches. Since it's the bay, the water is brackish and the sand is much more akin to what you'd see on the Mississippi coast. So, when you're in the town, you're not exactly on the water.
We knew we wanted to try to eat near the water, if possible, and found rave reviews about Sunset Pointe, which sits on a marina. I'm not a big pasta person, but I decided to try a shrimp pasta dish (sautéed shrimp, fettucini, rosemary, lemon spicy tomato cream sauce). This was absolutely, by far, the best pasta dish I've ever had. The flavor was so interesting. Both of us couldn't get over it.
These desserts were also incredible. The key lime curd pudding had us speechless. This place was incredible.
Our last morning we woke up, had breakfast at the hotel and took a walk around town.
On the way out we followed the eastern shoreline and stopped at one of the many piers/small beaches. How beautiful is this?
Fairhope has a special place in our heart. We're already planning our next trip!