The Living Room Lounge | Chere Coen | New Orleans Magazine, July 2024

Like many college graduates, Chris Rainosek left the University of Alabama with a political science degree and was contemplating his next move. He went to Colorado with friends and found a job.

“I started working in the restaurant business while I was considering the bigger plan,” he said.

He didn’t expect to fall in love with the culinary arts, but it sparked a passion. Rainosek attended culinary school, became a chef and later returned to Mobile where he grew up to start a career as a chef.

After opening the Dauphin Street Taqueria, then serving as executive chef of the Wash House in Point Clear, Rainosek now helms The Noble South, a farm-to-table fine dining establishment in the heart of Mobile. He recently was spotlighted on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” for his crawfish étouffée, chicken-fried quail and cornbread made with heirloom cornmeal from a Baldwin County farm, although his restaurant is hardly considered one of the title three “Ds” from the show.

“They were really nice to work for,” Rainosek said, adding with a laugh. “If nothing else, my kids thought I was cool.”


Mobile’s Noble South just celebrated its 10th anniversary in May serving up Southern specialties with regional ingredients. Rainosek utilizes southern Alabama farms, especially those in nearby Baldwin County, for his menu that includes craft cocktails designed by General Manager Emi Bencsath and seasonal dishes by Chef Josh Lear. Summer means fresh produce such as tomatoes, okra and peppers and much of the menu centers around what produce comes in to the kitchen. “We’re fitting proteins to the produce and not the other way around,” Rainosek explained.

The Noble South was one of several Mobile restaurants spotlighted on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” part of the growing culinary scene downtown. Arwin Rice of Mobile’s Red or White has been nominated for Best Chef: South at this year’s James Beard Awards.

“It’s a small scene but there’s a lot of variety and the general quality has gone up quite a bit,” Rainosek said.


The Admiral Hotel on Government Street opened in 1940 as a nod to Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes who commandeered the CSS Alabama and spent his later years in Mobile. It’s also known for Jimmy Buffett’s early job playing tunes for $10 a night plus tips in the hotel’s lounge.

The Admiral has been undergoing a massive renovation by owners Jon and Lisa Weitz of the Charleston-based Avocet Hospitality group. Lisa Weitz has decorated the hotel next to Government Plaza in shades of purple and gold (a nod to the city’s longstanding Mardi Gras traditions) and modern art mixed with historical figures, such as France’s Louis XIV.

“She picked out every little piece for us,” said Lexie Trinkle, assistant general manager. “She wanted modern luxury and technology but also to pay homage to our roots.”

The Admiral opened its newly decorated guest rooms, which includes several suites, but this summer debuts the LeMoyne’s Chophouse, a fine dining restaurant focused on steaks, and The Living Room lounge.

Don’t Miss

Visitors entering the National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico are greeted by eight decks of a container ship. Literally. Each deck offers more than 80 interactive exhibits that range from piloting a cargo ship through a simulator, experiencing the bunkroom of a World War II ship and exploring the earth’s weather patterns through a massive globe, among so much more. Visitors can even learn about fire ants, those pesty creatures brought to the Gulf South on a banana boat.

“The entire museum is literally inside a container ship,” said Karen Poth, executive director.

Even better, all teachers may enjoy free admission to the museum this summer. Just don’t miss the incredible views of the Mobile port.