Don't underestimate Alabama's coast

"I haven't found a seafood I didn't like," Al Sawyer said. That's saying something for a 60-something who has spent his whole life on Alabama's coast catching, selling and cooking seafood.

"When I was a boy, my father took me out to Bon Secour Bay, and we shucked oysters right there in the water," he said. "That was the first seafood I ever had, and I fell in love with it."

He hopes you'll love it too.

After a career in sales for a local fishery and a couple of stints working in restaurants, Sawyer and wife, Diane, opened their own eatery. It's the sort of ma-and-pa place you might pass by without a second thought — until you see the line of hungry people waiting outside.

The small, white, one-story building with royal-blue roof and awning looks like it might have been a 1960s gas station or fast-food joint. Popular with locals and visitors in the know, King Neptune's Seafood Restaurant serves up some of the most critically acclaimed platters of seafood on Alabama's 32 miles of coastline.

And it's a bargain, too, with a $4.95 lunch special.

You'll find Sawyer's beloved Bon Secour oysters and some blue crab on the menu, but 60 percent of the orders are shrimp, he said. Neptune's is known for its royal reds: shrimp almost as big as a banana and as succulent as lobster.