Summer is busy season for Alabama’s many lake communities as everyone looks to escape the heat. Alabama is home to several gorgeous lakes that are ideal locations for a quick weekend trip on a hot summer weekend. While you’re spending a relaxing weekend on the water, the last thing you want to think about is cooking, so in between sandwiches on the boat or easy grill-out nights, head out to have lunch or dinner made by someone else. Here’s our guide to eating out when you’re at the lake this summer, no matter which stunning Alabama body of water you choose to visit.
Look out into the massive expanse of Lewis Smith Lake from the stunning Lakeshore Inn, Restaurant, and Marina, one of the most popular spots on the lake’s 500 miles of coastline. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week. Offering both indoor and patio dining, there’s not a bad view in the house. For breakfast, order a classic stack of pancakes or biscuit sandwich. Lunch and dinner offer something for everyone from fried catfish to steak, shrimp, or wings in a casual environment.
Offering lakeside dining on Smith Lake in Crane Hill the sunsets are truly something else at this destination dining spot. Since 2016, visitors have loved making this a regular stop for everything from a multigenerational family meal to a casual night out with friends or a romantic date night. The menu is casual and features salads, sandwiches, and baskets that range from fish tacos and chicken tenders to a black bean wrap. Signature tropical cocktails like the Green Alligator and A Day at the Lake add to the fun, as do the selection of frozen drinks.
Arrive by car or boat at his quintessential lakeside restaurant that’s been serving the Lake Martin community since 1953. Grab a seat on the expansive deck for unobstructed views of the water. You can watch boats, jet skis, and water skiers whizz across the placid expanse while you nosh on favorites like catfish tacos, Alabama shrimp, and a stuffed jumbo sweet potato. At Kowaliga’s Old Pine Head Bar, order a Pine Head Punch or Georgia Peach Tea to sip on as you watch the sunset over the water.
For a special night out, there’s no better place than SpringHouse. Perched on a hilltop overlooking The Stables at Russell Lands, SpringHouse serves fine dining cuisine in an elegantly rustic atmosphere. Menu items utilize the bounty grown by local farmers, as well as the freshest seafood and meat available. Diners can choose to have their meal on a covered patio overlooking a field or in the cozy main dining room complete with a giant fireplace. In summer, expect dishes using seasonal produce like Chipotle Peach Gazpacho, Melon & Prosciutto, and the famous SpringHouse Vegetable Plate with creamed corn, braised field peas, heirloom tomato, squash salad, sweet potato casserole, and homemade cornbread.
Since 2002, families have flocked to Niffer’s for great food in a great atmosphere. Every meal at Niffer’s should start with a basket of the restaurant’s famous golden sweet corn nuggets. Then, order from a huge menu of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and wings that are perfect for filling you up after a long day on the water. On Burger Night, a specialty burger and fries will only set you back $7.50, and be on the lookout for other special deals on Bingo Night, Kids Night, and more. Expect regular live music and a party on the expansive patio. During happy hour, you’ll want to grab a $5 Nifferita.
Nothing says eating on the water like fried catfish. Established in 1982, Top O’ The River started out in Anniston in 1982 and eventually opened its third location in Guntersville in 2002. Dine on farm-raised, grain-fed catfish or choose from a selection of fresh seafood that gets delivered directly to the restaurant twice a week. For a taste of it all, order the self-proclaimed Largest Seafood Platter in the World that comes with a fried catfish filet, fried Gulf shrimp, creole boiled shrimp, crab meat, and popcorn shrimp. At Top O’ the River, things are done family style, so when you sit down, you’ll have a skillet of cornbread, plus pickled onions and coleslaw to go around.
Expect live music, waterfront views, great food, and a wonderful happy hour at Fire by the Lake in Guntersville. There’s a little of something for everyone on the menu. There’s pasta, sandwiches, burgers, chicken, seafood, steak, and a whole host of sides and salads to accompany. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with a slice of key lime pie or a double-stacked brownie with ice cream. If you choose to sit inside, panoramic windows offer views of the water, and when the weather’s just right, snag a seat on the outdoor patio for an unbeatable evening.