Sunday, April 11, 2010

Eating in Birmingham

There is one thing that cannot be denied about Birmingham, Alabama - the restaurants are amazing.

In my hometown of Macon, Georgia- it seemed there was a church on every corner. In Birmingham - it is a restaurant.

What I am going to share with you is my culinary journey through my new home town. My taste may not be your taste, but I assure you, I am one picky eater.

Let's start with the beginning of the day - Breakfast! If I have friends in from out of town (or I want to treat myself and the egyptian does not say - WAFFLE HOUSE) I would go to Another Broken Egg Cafe in Mountain Brook.

(Let me explain neighborhoods here.. especially for my friends who may live in a city where there is only one place. Birmingham, (similar to ATL and other large metropolitan areas is broken up into many little places. So when I say something like - Mountain Brook, it is a city in the Greater Birmingham area.)

Another Broken Egg Cafe serves breakfast, brunch & lunch. They are open Monday-Friday 6:30am-2pm; Saturday-Sunday 7am-2pm. I am an omelet girl - and man oh man do they have some creative omelets! Two in particular wet my whistle. (See - I am not allowed to have pork in the house due to the egyptian's religion... sooo.. the only time I can is when I am out to eat.) Needless to say - for breakfast - I go for the bacon. My favorite omelet is the Bacquezo - it is filled with baked bacon, cream cheese, topped with melted Monterray Jack and Chorizo and green scallions. Then my other favorite omelet is the Bacado. LOL Two of my favorite things mixed together -it has baked crisp bacon and avocado slices topped with Monterray Jack cheese and salsa.
2418 Montevallo Road
Birmingham, AL 35223-2300
Now let's talk lunch. I have several choices and I don't want to go on and on about each.
First I would recommend (if you want to be a little impressive) - Cafe Dupont. Built almost entirely from steel, the corner of First Avenue North and Twentieth Street was once called "the heaviest corner on Earth." Now, it is home to one of the coziest fine-dining establishments. The Cafe has elements of the French countryside nestled in the chic, urban center of downtown to create an experience that will make you feel both comfortable and fashionable. Entrees include stuffed pork tenderloin, pan seared prosciutto wrapped scallops and poached sea bass. Lunch Tuesday-Friday 11am-2pm. Dinner beginning at 5pm Tuesday-Saturday. Also - Valet parking is always offered and much appreciated in the hell that is parking in Downtown Birmingham.
113 20th St. North
Birmingham, AL 35203-3603
One of my favorites, and yes - you will find me here a handful of times a month is Otey's Tavern. No frills, floor a bit sticky, but always yummy! It is literally a neighborhood bar & grill with an outdoor patio. Which, my co-workers and I take advantage of the patio. There are healthy options as well as not-so-healthy options. But hands-down, they make a mean cheeseburger. It is egyptian tested and approved! I like their buffalo wings (and I am telling you - drink lots of water!!) Their cheese fries are to die for. One of my co-workers always loves to ge their fried olives. (It's in Mountain Brook.)
224 Country Club Park
Birmingham, AL 35213-4244
The next place is an establishment my husband worked at - Sinbad's Mediterranean Cafe.
401 19th Street S, Ste 100
Birmingham, AL 35233-1915
Amazing kebabs, and I loooove the humus, tabboleh, and yogurt salad. PLUS - hands down - the best falafel in town!

Another new favorite stop for lunch (where I meet a lot of clients downtown) is Urban Standard. I am in love with their grilled cheese sandwich. It is basically three cheeses melted and served on white bread with a balsamic jam to dip. Be still my beating heart. I get it with a side of Balsamic Orzo Salad. There are so many amazing things on the menu I could not even begin to describe. YOU MUST click on the link above. Plus, the Chef's name is Zachory Meloy. Good creations Mr. Zachory! (PS - it's downtown.)
2320 Second Ave N
Birmingham, AL 35203-3808
I am not one for Deli's in general. But if I have to order for a group lunch to be brought in for a training, I always go for Chappy's Deli. I am more of a hot sandwich girl - and they have an amazing Sourdough Steakmelt that will have you ready to slap yo mama. It is sooo good. It is tender grilled sliced sirloin with horseradish sauce, provolone cheese, and sauteed onions on sour dough bread. AMAZING. (Located in Mountain Brook.)
2737 Highway 280 S, Suite 101
Birmingham, AL 35223-2478

Another great spot to people watch and grab a quick lunch is Billy's Bar & Grill. It's located in English Village. It is a great neighborhood spot for lunch, dinner and drinks. Famous chicken sandwiches, delicious salads, specialty sandwiches, and grilled hamburgers. Live music begins at 9pm. Monday-Saturday 11am-1:30am; Sunday Brunch 11am-3pm. I like their cheeseburgar and I always ask for ranch on the side. YUMM.

Want cajun/creole for lunch?? Then head to Doodles Muffelettas in Fultondale. It is a bit off the beaten path - but I head up that way to meet with North Jefferson News from time to time, and I try to stop by Doodle's. Muffulettas are a specialty, but the New Orleans fare also includes Po' Boys and red beans and rice. Side orders also include shrimp creole, jambalaya and gumbo. Some nights, the restaurant features cajun dancing.
1415 Decatur Highway
Fultondale, AL 35068-1735

Finally - for lunch - my favorite barbecue joint is Demetri's. I have tried them all in town - and I LOVE this tiny little place. It's located in the middle of Homewood.
1901 28th Avenue S
Homewood, AL 35209-2682

Now it's time to move to the BIG BOY category - dinner. Birmingham likes to show off it's local restaurants, and who can blame them? EXCELLENT. Please note: I am NOT a fan of chains. But I will end up mentioning one.

Okay, let's start with the one place I go to on my birthday (3 of the 4 years I have lived here) - Ali Baba's Persian Restaurant. I am a big fan of kebabs - and they do it right. Plus there is an amazing appetizer option with a variety of dips - like hummus, baba ghanoush, etc. Sunday there is a buffet. Thursday nights they have live belly dancing. PLUS - it's located in my "hood" - Hoover.
1694 Montgomery Highway #110
Hoover, AL 35216-4910

Next favorite is Iguana Grill in Hoover. It is authentic as it gets for Mexican Food, and is located in a hispanic shopping center. The service is impeccable, the food - fast & delicious! I LOVE their guac and margaritas. When I have a bad day - this is where I would stop and meet friends. They have amazing fajitas and quesadillas. Not to mention - it is GORGEOUS!
2085 Colonial Dr
Birmingham, AL 35216

Right down the street from Iguana is Costa's Mediterranean Cafe. I LOVE the food here. (I know, I know, it seems I am only pointing out lunch places close to where I work, and dinner places close to where I live - but HEY - this is reality and how most people do things.) Costa's has Italian and Greek cuisine featuring pastas, the finest cuts of meats, and the freshest seafood. Robust, hearty, well-seasoned food in an informal, energetic and friendly atmosphere. Monday-Thursday 11am-9:30pm; Friday and Saturday 11am-10:30pm. I like their gyros!
3443 Lorna Road
Hoover, AL 35216-5201
Okay - I know I have some seafood lovers out there. There are two seafood restaurants that my friends want me to tell you about. (I don't eat seafood.) Hot & Hot Fish Club is the first one. Yes, I have been here - and yes, there are land lubber options. Basically the Hot & Hot Fish Club has a bustling West Coast atmosphere. It's a creative, upscale restaurant--the recent winner of the 1998 Robert Mondavi "Award of Excellence." The restaurant features a dining counter, an open kitchen with a menu that changes daily including fresh seafood, grilled sirloin, free-range chicken, vegetable plates and special fare such as quail, rabbit, homemade pasta and sausage. Entrees are grilled or roasted in a wood-fired oven. Dinner only, Tuesday-Saturday.
2180 11th Court S
Birmingham, AL 35205-2810

The next one is Ocean. Rated four stars by the Birmingham News, Ocean offers fresh seafood in a comfortable, contemporary, upscale atmosphere. It's sassy and fun.
1218 20th St. South
Birmingham, AL 35205-3814

Next place I have to recommend is Surin of Thailand. It is authentic Thai food and delicious! I like to go to the one in 5 points South.
64 Church St
Birmingham, AL 35213-3734

Want to spend more??? Want to impress??? Well.. here we go.

Bottega Italian Restaurant (everyone loves) - They have an elegant blend of Italian and other Mediterranean cuisine. Daily specials and seasonal dinner menu. Al fresco dining available. Reservations recommended. The Cafe is a casual trattoria, boasting pizzas and pastas from their woodburning oven. Daily cafe specials and seasonal dinner menu.

2240 Highland Avenue S
Birmingham, AL 35205-2922

Daniel George - Opened last fall, this new restaurant features classic American cuisine. What makes it distinguishable is its eclectic menu and inviting decor. Owners Daniel Briggs and George McMillan can be seen circulating the three dining rooms, chatting with customers or taking drink orders. Their passion for the culinary arts is evident as soon as you sample one of their creations!! I would recommend the Chicken Saltimbocca, it comes with creamy polenta, french beans, grainy mustard pan sauce.
2837 Culver Road
Mountain Brook, AL 35223-2347

Veranda on Highland - This to me IS the south - Southern food mixed with Caribbean and New Orleans accents. Lunch and dinner, Monday-Saturday. My favorite is the double cut lamb chops. It comes with Brown Butter Roasted Turnips, Braised Greens and Roasted Apples, with Mint Julep Syrup. To die for.
2220 Highland Ave S
Birmingham, AL 35205-2908
Another favorite of the "younger" trying to be snazzy crowd is Chez FonFon. This restaurant is an authentic French bistro focusing on French provincial food and wine - the French equivalent of the friendly neighborhood bar. The country pate is a must for those who want to savor a really rich French specialty. Lunch Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; dinner Tuesday-Saturday 5-11 p.m. Closed Sunday and Monday.
2007 11th Avenue S
Birmingham, AL 35205-2801

I can't finish out this category without mentioning a little jewel tucked away near my neighborhood - The Silver Coin Indian Grill. They have a daily lunch buffet. Then on Wednesday night,  belly dancing and buffet.  Lunch: Tuesday-Friday 11am-2pm, Saturday and Sunday 11:30am-2:30pm. Dinner: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday 5:30pm-9:30pm; Friday and Saturday 5:30-10pm.
3321 Lorna Rd
Hoover, AL 35216-7406

Other notable places to stop by (in my humble opinion) are:
Culinard Cafe at Innovation Depot - Offering a wide variety of breads, pastries, cookies, cakes and dazzling desserts, along with a selection of premium coffees.
Edgar's Old Style Bakery - a personal favorite for cupcakes
The Purple Onion - offers a deliciously simple, trendy concept - gourmet Middle Eastern dishes in a fast-food setting. Diners can enjoy pita roll-ups, gyros, hamburgers, sandwiches or tabouli around the three-tiered fountain in their brick courtyard.

The Garage Cafe - you seriously have to see it to believe it
J. Alexander's - hands down - the best prime rib in town!
J. Clyde's - excellent place to go for a drink after work and have something deep fried. ;-)
George's Lebanese Cuisine - the sweetest Lebanese couple own this shop!  Plus - if you want to buy a sheesha/hooka - George is the man!

Niki's West - Steak and seafood restaurant serving Birmingham since 1957. Ocean fresh seafood, charcoal broiled steaks, fresh home cooked meats & vegetables, homemade pies, breads. Be careful - they do yell at you there!

Paw Paw Patch - Featuring the area's only country cooking drive-thru. There's no written menu because every day its different. Seven meat choices and 14 vegetables, salad, bread and plenty of sweets.

Rojo - very trendy hot spot. PLUS they have live music most nights. Get on their mailing list and you will never sit home alone or bored again!Owners Laney DeJonge and Clark Lopez consider it a casual neighborhood restaurant on Highland Avenue. Featuring both Latin and American cuisine, Rojo is the perfect place to unwind with friends for lunch, dinner, or late night drinks. Rojo also serves a delicious weekend brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 11am until 3pm.

Que Huong Vietnamese Restaurant. - good - but it did upset my tummy a little. Service sucks - but taste divine.
Davenport's Pizzeria - I only put this one in here for my boss. He swears by this place. The jury is still out for me on this one. The slightly Mediterranean motif with iron work and vintage pictures does set this pizza palace apart. Dough and sauce are made fresh daily.

The Bottle Tree Cafe - please check out their website. Sincerly the quirkiest cafe in town. The BottleTree is a live music venue with an emphasis on national touring acts, and also a wonderful restaurant that serves an eclectic mix of food that caters heavily to vegetarians and features locally grown, seasonal vegetables.

Finally - my favorite splurge of all- Century Restaurant - It is located in the historic Tutwiler Hotel is now open. Featuring Premium Bone-In Steaks, Fresh Gulf Seafood, Local Favorites and Chef Specials Nightly.

That's it my friends. There are seriously at least a hundred or so more restaurants in Birmingham - but these are the ones I would give props to and my $$.

What are some of your favorite in Birmingham???


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Allison said...

Next time you're in Birmingham, you need to try Tortugas pizza, 2801 Hwy 150 (just past the Galleria, across from the WalMart shopping center in Galleria Trace Plaza shopping center). It is owned by Carlos and Carol Vizcaino. He learned to make pizza in Chicago, so he has both the traditional deep dish and thin (but it's thick, not cracker thin). He grinds the meats and cheeses daily. Open Tues-Sat. Check out his website for hours, etc. You won't be disappointed!


(Not to be confused with the Tortugas Pizza Cafe off 280 - their is NO comparison)


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