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i've only lived in Birmingham for about 3 months, but i can recommend a couple places. Pita Stop in Cahaba Heights is very good, as is the Saigon Noodle House on 280 if you like Vietnamese. Camp Taco at 5 points is good for a burrito if you are on the Southside of downtown, and Lucy's at University and I think its 20th street has really great panini type sandwiches. Gus's on the northside has a great hotdog if you are in a hurry (and have cash on you). Kool Korner Sandwiches has a terrible name but a great Cuban sandwich. I've heard great things about Saw's barbeque in Homewood but I haven't been there personally. Jim n Nicks and Full Moon are both above average barbeque joints.
I just started working two months ago so I haven't had the spare cash to go anywhere nice yet
Hey, here are a couple of other affordable places that are good for going out but are a notch above bar food. Nice neighborhood places that are locally owned but do okay:
-- Silvertron on Clairmont Avenue. Dependable and great for people watching.
-- Mudtown in Cahaba Heights. Dependable and good.
-- Johns. An icon that's gone through some ownership changes. Ate there last week and was still pretty good. Not top-notch place, but worth a visit.
-- Saw's, Dreamland, Full Moon, etc. etc. About five million good BBQ places in town.
-- Flip Burger. I normally don't like chains, but I'll make an exception for this place, which makes upscale burgers
-- Jackson's. Dependable place in Homewood
-- Dodiyos. Also in Homewood. Greek food
-- Bottletree. Good sandwiches and vegetarian fare
-- Lovoys. Italian. Not bad. Not outstanding either.
-- Niki's. If you need a meat-and-three, there's no better place to go.
-- Irondale Cafe. Another outstanding meat-and-three, this one inspired Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe.
In short, lots of great places to eat, none of them chains.
I lived in Birmingham for a number of years - and, if there is one thing I miss about the place, it's the BBQ. I've never seen so many BBQ joints and most were very good. Since I have family in B'ham, I visit a couple of times a year.
Favorites: Demetris BBQ in Homewood Full Moon (I hear there franchising now, yikes) Golden Rule (I only go to the original in Irondale, the fries are outstanding)
Unfortunately, while living in Birmingham, my wife and I had extremely limited funds (i.e dirt poor), and did not patronize the more expensive restaurants. However, we lived near Five Points and did go to Surin West occasionally. Outstanding thai.
I love Lebanese/Middle Eastern food (now) and will need to try Pita Stop. It's a shame I didn't try it at the time (when I was living in B'ham) - I could have walked to the restaurant!
Birmingham actually has a fantastic culinary scene, but I'll just stick to listing restaurants in the areas you mentioned (Downtown, Highland Park, Mountain Brook and Hoover).
- Cafe Dupont: Fine dining, focus on local ingredients, voted one of the 5 best restaurants in the city
- Mix: Gourmet bakery and sandwich shop, just opened on 19th st. Owned by the chef from Cafe Dupont (Chris Dupont)
- Urban Standard: On 2nd ave. north in the loft district, really popular. Serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Trattoria Centrale: Pizza, Italian, and brunch. Great restaurant and really popular. The brunch was surprisingly awesome.
- Brick & Tin: Gourmet sandwich place, really good
- John's City Diner: Interesting place, kind of upscale diner food.
- Rojo: Latin American food and bar food. A Highland Park staple, really popular.
- Little Savannah: In Forest Park, focus on local ingredients, fairly expensive, but good
- Dreamland BBQ: The original is in Tuscaloosa, but the one in Birmingham is just as good. Get ribs and white bread (that's all the original serves). Incredible.
- Jim N Nicks: Great bbq. Get the cheese biscuits.
- Surin West: Solid thai food. The coconut soup is particularly outstanding.
- Hot & Hot Fish Club: Fine dining, really popular (amongst both locals and food critics). The James Beard foundation has named Chris Hastings one of the top 5 chefs in the South for the past 3 years.
- Taj India: Good Indian food
- Camp Taco: Great tacos, some eccentric combinations, cheap meal. IMHO, best tacos in town. I recommend the special taco with chicken, corn, and white BBQ sauce.
- Ocean: Fine dining, seafood--incredible.
- 26: Ocean's sister restaurant. They have an amazing happy hour (quality drafts beers for $2 and appetizers/sushi rolls for $2 and $6). Just as good as Ocean.
- Highlands Bar & Grill: Widely considered to be the best restaurant in town (and I agree with the consensus). Has been voted a top restaurant in the nation by numerous publications. The James Beard foundation rated it this year as one of the 5 best restaurants in the US (the other candidates were in Chicago, NY, and San Francisco).
- Chez Fonfon: French, owned by Frank Stitt (the chef from Highlands). Slightly more affordable than Highlands and Bottega. Great for lunch.
- Bottega: Italian. Owned by Frank Stitt. One of my favorite restaurants.
- Veranda: New Orleans food, pretty expensive. I haven't been there yet, but I've heard good things. It's in the Five Points area with the majority of these restaurants.
- Sol y Luna: Upscale Mexican food in Lakeview, served tapas style. Good place, but pricey
- Cosmo's Pizza: Interesting place, good pizza, a fixture in Five Points. Last time I went there had a pizza with pineapple, jalapenos, and alligator sausage. It was fantastic. Fun place to drink. They also do a brunch.
- Chez Lulu: English village, great soups and sandwiches. My favorite brunch in the city--their cheese grits are unbelievable.
- Daniel George: Mountain Brook village, haven't been, but it's fine dining in Mountain Brook, have heard good things.
- Gilchrist: Mountain Brook village, old soda fountain, amazing milkshakes and malts.
- Avo: Mountain Brook village, upscale California food, pretty good
- Dram: Mountain Brook village, whiskey bar below Avo, great hamburgers
- Davenport's Pizza: Mountain brook village, a lot of people love their pizza, they put their toppings under the cheese. It's good, but far from the best in town IMHO.
- Dyron's Lowcountry: Crestline village, focuses on coastal cuisine from Charleston/New Orleans, very good
- Mafioza's: Crestline village, very good pizza, good atmosphere (I think it's better than Davenport's). Great happy hour.
- I honestly don't venture to Hoover too much, so I don't know what's there really. But I'm sure someone else can fill in the gap.
If I were to leave, probably the only places I would miss would be Bettola, and maybe Makarios and BBQ a little bit (assuming I was moving back to California).
Surin's sushi is not so good for me, as neither is Surin itself. I haven't tried a lot of sushi here, but the only decent stuff I had was way out at Thai Emerald. I guess Ginza or Jinsei or soemthing gets good reviews. I just generally don't trust sushi around here much.
Taj India is not good, but has a loyal following from the times it was the only place in town. THe best is still Silver Coin out in Hoover,and genuinely good Indian. Sitar in 5 points area is far better than Taj India, is cheaper than Silver Coin, and in a convenient location from Birmingham.
If you want tacos, I would do Gordo's, or the Taco truck down the street from there.
I'm not a huge fan of Southern food, but I second Niki's West, that place was pretty good. I haven't been to Niki's downtown, but supposedly that's unrelated and not as good? Personally, I thought the Irondale Cafe is gross. Tastes like everything is made from packages and cans.
Fish market is pretty good, with huge filling portions.
BBQ: I like Dreamland. Jim n Nicks and Saws were good too. I definitely was not impressed with Golden Rule in Lakeview. I think Fullmoon on valley wasn't bad, but not good enough for me to drive to.
Rojos is very popular. The ambience is nice, but I'm not a huge fan of the food. For that style, I'd rather go to Cantina, closer to downtown. Or even Camp Taco.
Bettola is the best Italian place I've ever had. By far my favorite place in Birmingham. I liked it better than Highland or Bottega Cafe or Cafe Dupont.
I went to Dodiyos once, and it seemed to totally vary by dish. This Basque mussel dish was amazing, but the other stuff really sucked (undercooked eggplant, some other non-memorable food). but that was one time. maybe it was a bad day or i ordered the wrong things (besides the amazing mussels)
Flip Burger seems to be hyped up. I went to one in Atlanta. Perhaps I'm biased, given that I got extremely sick-of the food poisining/flu variety, which I blame on the steak tartare burger. but who knows. I didn't think it was that amazing going down anyway, despite not being cheap.
cosmo's and chez lulu aren't bad.
tortuga's is a real gut buster. i've never eaten so much cheese in my life. Prepare your stomach. its pretty good, but i can only eat like that once in a year or something.
people like davenport's, although i think i've been there but barely remember it. same with sol y luna. for good tex-mex Iguanas out in Hoover is awesome.
Decent Chinese: Red Pearl on Valley and Mr. Chen's in Hoover.
Ok Vietnamese: Saigon Noodle House
Best Korean you can manage to find: Seoul Restaurant
Pita Stop is quite good, but since Makarios opened I prefer there. That's pretty good.
Last edited by bluebeard; 01-30-2011 at 04:29 PM..
I did miss some that others got. I love these threads because I am always reminded of a place I haven't been to. Sounds like I need to check out Bettola. I will second that Silver Coin is the best indian around in my opinion.
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