Our first foray into Lower Alabama ended up filled with unique experiences. We spent a good bit of time exploring one thoroughfare in this historic southern city. Dauphin Street was one of the original from when the city was founded. It was designed to be the principal commercial avenue and it has held that distinction to this day. A blend of retail, and dining makes this the perfect place for some eclectic eats and people watching. Spying the small blue shopfront of Squid Ink intrigued us and sealed the deal for our lunch destination.
Stepping through the door, we found that the unique styling continued on the inside. Guests are greeted by a large bar area, which is wholly acceptable in a city like Mobile, Alabama. After all, the residents of the city embrace their happy hours. In fact, in 1907 the state legislature was debating the idea of passing a Prohibition Bill. Mobile’s Mayor led a delegation to the capitol to attempt to prevent this from happening. Other citizens got involved with the battle. N.J. McDermott, President of the Bank of Mobile, wired the statehouse legislators and told them that if the Prohibition Bill was passed, that Mobile would secede from the State of Alabama.
Eclectic Eats & Drinks
Squid Ink continues the tradition of encouraging patrons to imbibe by offering some interesting flavor combinations. We couldn’t pass up the chance to quench our thirst with one of their colorful cocktails. Strawberry Fields is a delightful blend of gin, mint, lime. rose, strawberry, and tonic water. It offers an invigorating punch with a cooling effect on a hot summer day. The hostess had seated us on the main floor, which offered us a great view of the bar. We could also watch diners arrive and move upstairs to the overflow seating. Outside, they had set up some tables on the sidewalk, which served people looking for further social distancing.
With our drink cooling us down, it was time to focus on the main draw, the eclectic eats found on the Squid Ink menu. We were in the mood for some handhelds, for which we found plentiful choices. My selection landed on the Chicken Bahn Mi Bao. This variation of a Vietnamese sandwich is made with grilled chicken thighs. Then they toss in the mix some pickled carrots and daikon, as well as fresh cucumber, shaved jalapeno, cilantro, and some spicy mayo for tons of flavor depth. It’s all contained in a bao bun which is a traditional Vietnamese steamed bread. This sammie went perfectly with the thin fries that accompanied it.
Crystal was predictable as always. I had seen the Avocado BLT on the menu and was predicting that she would select it. She has a love affair with avocado, so it was an easy choice. Squid Ink’s version provides a healthy amount of the green stuff. They also include bacon jam, tomato, cilantro, lettuce, gyoza, and aioli for another flavor-filled treat. Toasted multi-grain bread does an admirable job at holding this all together, but I did spot some leakage. Of course, that came from the fact that the sammie is packed full.
Dining in Lower Alabama
Exploring Lower Alabama was certainly a first for us, but we feel like it won’t be our last. With a whole state for us to investigate, we are betting the Gulf Shores will repeat in our future. Mobile makes a great home base for exploring the surrounding region. It has tons of stops, plenty of eclectic eats, and don’t forget that it is home to the start of America’s Mardi Gras. Toss in plenty of beignets and beads and it may be just about the perfect place to get a true taste of southern living.