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What Does Elvis And Jimmy Buffet’s Cheeseburger Have In Common? 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die

Cheeseburger In Paradise at Pirate’s Cove Marina & Restaurant in Josephine, Alabama is my #62cnd dish or 39th on my countdown to taste each food listed on 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die.

Whenever I read a post on Facebook that makes me say Rigg GH TTT,  You know those posts from my friends who are seemingly aliens, I have to “Snopes” it. I am the village skeptic that had to grind my ax before I wrote about my experience with this dish.

Reading the description on The 100 Dishes phone app, one might get excited to visit this establishment.  “Home of the legendary cheeseburger from Jimmy Buffet’s song, ‘Cheeseburger In Paradise’ …All you’ll need is one bite and your feet in the sand to understand how this place inspired a song.”

Where to begin with this statement? It’s simply not true. I know for a fact that a bar in Alabama was absolutely not the inspiration point for this song. Let me explain.

Lucy Buffet is a sister to famous Jimmy Buffet and is the owner of Lulu’s in Gulf Shores Alabama. Lulu’s has two dishes on the list of 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die; one of the dishes is called “Cheeseburger In Paradise.”   When I wrote my blog on that dish, I did a bit of research on the origin of that famous burger, it turns out that there are restaurants all over the world that claim to be the inspiration for that famous song. Here are a few places to note.

  1. Cabbage Key Inn on Cabbage Key, Pine Island, Florida. This place even has a dollar bill framed behind the counter, signed by Jimmy Buffet.
  2. Le Select, located on rue de la France, in Gustavia, St. Bart’s in the Carribean.
  3. Some place on a dock, in a bar. Road Town of Tortola Island, Virgin Islands. (Said to be the place, see below)
  4. Pirate’s Cove in Josephine, Alabama.

You get the idea.  Some writers have said that no one knows where the origin of this song came from, except the man himself.  So how about his words from his official website?   This story was also posted in an AA travel magazine.

Here is what Jimmy Buffet has to say on the subject of this myth. “The myth of the cheeseburger in paradise goes back to a long trip on my first boat, the Euphoria. We had run into some very rough weather crossing the Mona Passage between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico and broke our bowsprit. The ice in our box had melted, and we were doing the canned-food-and-peanut-butter diet. The vision of a piping hot cheeseburger kept popping into my mind. We limped up the Sir Francis Drake Channel and into Roadtown on the island of Tortola, where a brand-new marina and bar sat on the end of the dock, like a mirage. We secured the boat, kissed the ground, and headed for the restaurant. To our amazement, we were offered a menu that featured an American cheeseburger and pina Coladas. Now these were the days when supplies in that part of the world were rather scarce when horsemeat was more plentiful than ground beef in the tiny stores of the Third World. Anyway, we gave particular instructions to the waiter on how we wanted them cooked and what we wanted on them-to which little attention was paid. It didn’t matter. The overdone burgers on the burned, toasted buns tasted like manna from heaven, for they were the realization of my fantasy burgers on the trip. That’s the true story. I’ve heard other people and places claim that I stopped or cooked in their restaurants, but this is the way it happened.”  (1)  To note, in this source article, Jimmy Buffet lists several places that have inspired his cheeseburger palate.   Here is what he has to say about a Mobile, Alabama restaurant named The Dew Drop Inn, “This is where I grew up and my burger lust was formulated. The Dew Drop is still on the corner of Old Shell Road and Louiselle Street. The chili cheeseburger with the bun flattened on an industrial toaster is killer. This is also where the Heinz 57 came in. In my day, they cost 35 cents. Today they run $1.65 + tax. Still a bargain.”

You know you want to hear that tune, Jimmy Buffet’s Cheeseburgers In Paradise  Cheeseburgers In Paradise

So there you have it, a myth is a myth.  Now that my ax has been sharpened, I’ll move on.

*To be fair to Pirate’s Cove nowhere on their website is this cheeseburger claim made.

The place is kind of difficult to find and for sure off the beaten path. I couldn’t help but wonder how those roads would be difficult to maneuver after getting your party on.

I found a contrast of groovy funk with shiny yachts that seem to live in harmony.

piratehippie.jpg

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I visited in the evening when there was a benefit event for Autism. The party started much earlier in the day and it was packed with people trying to win one of two jeeps being given away. There had been lots of activities during the day and this wonderful benefit and cause drew a large crowd.   People were hanging out in many sitting spots.

pirateporch.jpg

In the area where Alabama meets Florida, there are beaches, bays and open water to navigate around.  I could see how this place became a local hangout. Many of the people arrived and left by boat. The joint is on a bay named Arnica Bay and the boats with their flags pull right up on the sandbar or the long dock.

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The outdoor area has a swimming area, a beach, games, and many places to lounge and watch the boats pass by.

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And dogs are welcome.  I met this cutie along with many others.

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Even Elvis, along with his entourage were there providing some great music.

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Laid back atmosphere.  Barefeet and swimsuits are also welcome.

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The burger is one of two dishes from this establishment that are found on 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die. The other dish is a drink called a Bushwacker but that’s for the next Tuesday’s much shorter blog.

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I ordered my cheeseburger from the dude at the counter and wasn’t quite sure what to do from there; I am a quick learner and learned that they bring the burger to you by wandering around calling your name. You can eat under covered areas or take your burger to an outside spot.

 

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Where cigarettes greet your order

 

The 1/3 pounder is the never frozen fresh Angus beef topped off with grilled onions, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and some special sauce. The burger comes out wrapped in thin paper that shows just how juicy this burger is.

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My burger  was a hot mess and may have lost its cheese, the lettuce had seen better days and the over salt/seasoning made me lose my taste buds. But it was o.k. and I bet it tastes amazing after several Bushwackers.  To be fair, it was an extremely busy day for the staff.

Even though this burger is not the inspiration for Jimmy Buffet’s song, it was a fun stop. I would bet that the walls of this beach bar have some great stories.  I can see why this spot has become a stop for the party-goers who arrive by land or sea. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

If you read Mr. Buffet’s words carefully, it was more about satisfying your lust.  I know how he felt since I rarely eat meat. I have tasted my own cheeseburger in paradise and it is in the hills of Wisconsin.  Where is your cheeseburger in paradise?

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Yes, I believe in aliens, I see them all the time. Who knows maybe mythical Elvis is alive and well in Alabama.

MEGastars: 2 **  My burger just wasn’t very good. It was o.k. The place, however, was a hoot and a half, I had fun. From the f****d up patrons, the happy dogs, the jeep giveaway for Autism, the boats wearing their pride cause, the great setting, topped off by Elvis crooning in the background, I bet it would be a blast to ride up on the boat with friends and hang until you got the munchies.

MEGatips:

  1. Do not drink and drive these curvy roads.
  2. Would be a super fun place to boat around these bays but do NOT  BUI.
  3. Located off of County Road 95 in Josephine (near Elberta,) This place open 7 days per week.  8 A.M.- 8 P.M.
  4. They even serve breakfast with locally-smoked sausage.
  5. They are reputed to make a pretty good pizza which is served on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only.
  6. Pirate’s Cove Marina & Restaurant Link to the restaurant website.
  7. Looks like they sponsor some super fun events throughout the year.  From Halloween, Mardi-Gras, Cove Dog Olympics, Songwriter’s Festival to wood boat regatta’s, I recommend visiting at these times for a fun party.  See website link above for specific dates.  Or/And
  8. Live music on Saturday nights.
  9. This is not a white cloth place, it is about the party on the bay, be aware of this fact before you decide to visit.  There are dogs, who poop in the restaurant.  I’ll spare you the photo.
  10. If you like the drink, check out a Bushwacker. (Next week’s blog.)

Sources:

[1] Coconut Telegraph from the official Margaritaville website.  *To note, this is not a full read but from here, one is able to link to the original source.

This MEGabites and MEGastars description is found at the bottom of each post. If you are new to my 100 Dishes in Alabama escapade, this may be helpful information.

ABOUT:  *100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die,” is a compilation of food to chow down on “Bama style.”  Thanks to Tourism Alabama, www.alabama.travel my Alabama bucket list just became a little easier.  I am going to have some food fun while making my way like Ms. Pacman, in yet another state that I call home.   From the little old diner to the white cloth setting, this journey is an opportunity for me to explore my new state and experience pride in food from restaurateurs who are dedicated to local food, with some Alabama style. From the local BBQ smoker to James Beard recipients, you too will take a culinary trip across scenic and historical Alabama.  From this list, I select stops based upon convenience of location and they are in no particular order (but I already have a few favorites.)  Perhaps when I finish this list, I will rank my favorite dishes. You too may pick up the brochure at Alabama Tourism stops or download the alphabetical brochure that begins in Abbeville and ends in York.

I use a 5 MEGastar system.  For the most part, I am traveling a distance to try these dishes and these places get one shot at how I view the food and experience.   I will not be taking an average of three visit experiences and I factor this in when I give my star rating. That said, I’m very easy to please, I can overlook quite a bit and have worked in the food service industry.  I am not a paid food critic, just Meg, a curious traveler, with an interest in trying different foods and sharing my two cents on the experience.  I try to follow my own star system so that I may be fair to the wonderful dishes on this list.

  • *meh food. Just wasn’t good. Maybe the food came from a can? or,  the place was not one that I would want to send someone to show pride in Alabama.   This has happened to me a few times and is a difficult write.
  • ** passable – the food was “ok” but the place  was not “ok” or vice versa.
  • *** good but not outstanding or unique.
  • **** Very tasty dish AND meets one of the definitions set forth by Alabama Foods/Tourism, of local food and/OR truly highlights Alabama Pride.
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