When you’ve had your fill of Oakleigh and its gorgeous grounds, just a few turns around the corner is another historic Mobile spot you won’t want to skip on.
Founded in 1938, Wintzell’s Oyster House began as a six-stool oyster bar in Mobile, Alabama. J. Oliver Wintzell founded the first of six locations on Dauphin Street near the heart of Mobile with a goal to bring the freshest of oysters and seafood to his diners. Much of the interior décor has remained the same over the years, featuring road signs, newspaper clippings, sports memorabilia, and posters of witty sayings coined by the founder himself. Since it’s opening over 80 years ago, the menu has expanded to include just about every southern seafood delicacy known to man. Fish, oysters, crab, and shrimp dishes abound. And for those who are more into red meat or watching their weight, steak and chicken options are also available. With sides like fried green tomatoes and their unique West Indies Salad—a cold salad consisting of lump crabmeat and onions marinated in an oil and vinegar dressing— there’s something for just about everyone looking to fill their stomachs and entertain their taste buds.
Their awards are too many to mention, but two that stand out are “Best Oysters and Crabs” by Willard Scott’s All-American Cookbook and “Best Gumbo” by readers of Mobile Bay Magazine and at the Taste of Mobile. This success spurred the current owners to open up six more locations, and with their reputation, they’re likely to open more across Alabama.
Here’s my experience at Wintzell’s. Firstly, they have two front doors. You’ll want to go into the one that has the sign reading “Fried, Stewed, or Nude!”. That’s where the hostess podium is. The other door leads into the bar. If you want to try their VAST selection of alcoholic beverages, go for it! Not only am I not a drinker, I was alone and going to drive back home that afternoon so I wasn’t looking to get buzzed. The waiter was extraordinarily friendly and patient as I had to comb through the menu for a while to really figure out what I wanted. I did find it a little off-putting that when I told him I wanted a Dr. Pepper, he suggested a particular mixed drink that incorporated alcohol. I was sitting alone, implying that I was driving, so I wasn’t sure if he was used to guests ordering alcohol when they were alone. Maybe I’m thinking too much on it and this is typical behavior of waiters. Either way, I politely told him that I didn’t want any, but he did offer other alcoholic drinks when my meal was over, which surprised me again. One amusing thing that happened was that I happened to be reading a book about drinking and drunkenness during the Civil War (during all of this mild badgering about ordering a drink). My waiter asked what I was reading and I showed him the cover. He asked if I was majoring in that. I told him I wasn’t, but apparently my awkward ass didn’t realize that he was joking. I tipped well, to compensate for it all. As a whole, the service I received was top-notch and I can’t really complain about that.
While I didn’t go for the oysters while I was there (regretting it in hindsight), I did order their Whole Stuffed Flounder. This dish, grilled and loaded with crab meat dressing paired well with their steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes. The broccoli was well cooked. Not too soggy or too firm, but dripping with a buttery sauce and I had to let it cool for a while. The mashed potatoes were seasoned well and not bland in the least. It didn’t come with gravy and I often prefer to have even a little, but this side dish didn’t need the added flavor. It was excellent by itself.
The flounder was fantastic, but I foolishly disregarded the subtle warning on the menu that said BONE IN. I was picking hair-thin bones from my cheek and teeth for a while until I figured out a trick that involved using my fork to “de-flesh” the fish. Next time I go (and there will be a next time!) I’ll avoid the dish for that reason. Apart from that, the taste and seasoning were perfect and probably the best grilled flounder I’ve ever had. Next time, I’ll go for their Oyster Sampler or perhaps their Oyster Carnival, which has lump crab meat, spinach, and hollandaise sauce. I’m a sucker for anything with crab.
Parking is good for their Dauphin Street location. You can either park along the street or in the lot across from the front entrance as I did. It’s free there. Be prepared to spend between $30-$40 for one person, depending on what you order and if you get an appetizer or alcohol drinks. Even then, it’s well worth it for a bit of this classic Mobile experience.
Address: 605 Dauphin Street , Mobile, AL 36602
Phone: (251) 432-4605
Hours: 11:00am – 10:00pm Sunday – Thursday
11:00am – 11:00pm Friday and Saturday
To see more from their menu or check out some of their other locations, go to their website below: