It can’t be argued that Birmingham has a flourishing food scene, and it only continues to expand. The abundance of first-class restaurants and delicious signature dishes is a marvel for locals and visitors alike. We’ve rounded up our top picks for eight essential dishes (in no particular order) in Birmingham this summer, from seasonal salads to burgers and desserts.
Marinated Crab Claws at Automatic Seafood & Oysters
More info: automaticseafood.comWith a menu that reflects the bounty of the Gulf of Mexico, Automatic Seafood & Oysters lends itself to a coastal setting reminiscent of Southern shorelines. Their Marinated Crab Claws are served chilled with lime, mint, and fish sauce and are best enjoyed outside on the patio alongside a crisp glass of wine.
Birmingham Dog at Carrigan’s Beer Garden
More info: carrigans.com
A quintessential summer staple, there’s just something about a hot dog that tastes best when the weather starts to warm and the days get longer. At Carrigan’s Beer Garden, their Birmingham Dog certainly hits the spot. Nathan’s Famous hot dog is served on a Hawaiian roll and dressed in a special sauce, sauerkraut, and mustard. Even better, it’s served alongside their homemade fries and a choice of house dipping sauce.
Seasonal Guac at El Barrio
Neighborhood: Druid Hills
More info: elbarriobirmingham.com
El Barrio puts their own spin on basic guacamole, adding seasonal produce and tricked-out ingredients to the mix. Their current version is a delicious departure from the OG classic — strawberry habañero with candied bacon. Later in the summer, we hear they’ll switch to a peach version with pickled jalapeños. Savor this rotating, flavorful dip on a hot day with plenty of salty tortilla chips and a margarita or two.
Hamburger Fonfon at Chez Fonfon
Open since 2000, Chez Fonfon is a taste of France in the South. Quintessential French fare is served in this bustling neighborhood bistro, including escargots and traditional steak frites. But the real star of the menu is the Hamburger Fonfon. Seasoned with salt and pepper and lightly brushed with olive oil, each hand-ground burger is cooked over an open-flame grill and topped with melted Comté cheese, grilled red onions, and house-made pickles. During the summer months, when tomatoes are in season, the burger comes topped with a sliced heirloom tomato from a local Alabama farm.
Tomato Salad at Hot and Hot Fish Club
Neighborhood: Pepper Place
More info: hotandhotfishclub.com
The tomato salad at Hot and Hot Fish Club became a seasonal sensation when first added to the nationally-acclaimed restaurant’s menu several decades ago. Simple yet complex in flavor, the salad highlights the best of Alabama’s summer produce — tomatoes, okra, field peas, and corn, all topped with bacon and drizzled with house-made aioli. The dish is wildly popular amongst locals, and it’s available from late April to early September when the South’s tomato season comes to an end.
Smoked Chicken at Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q
Neighborhood: Cahaba Heights
More info: missmyras.com
Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q has been serving authentic, hickory-smoked barbecue since 1984, and the Cahaba Heights landmark has built quite a reputation amongst barbecue aficionados. In particular, Miss Myra’s smoked chicken has been named some of the best barbecue in America. To make the chicken, whole birds are smoked with the skin on in a custom-built brick pit, which turns the meat juicy and moist on the inside and golden and crispy on the outside. Miss Myra’s famous white sauce adds the perfect touch of tanginess, taking the chicken to a whole new dimension of flavor.
Croissant at The Continental Bakery
Neighborhood: English Village
More info: chezlulu.us
For over 30 years, The Continental Bakery has turned out delicious and deliciously fragrant bread and pastries prepared from scratch by artisan bakers. Their hand-formed croissants are made using traditional European methods, with the dough being rolled and folded until there are more than 80 layers. Flaky and buttery, the croissants come with an assortment of fillings, including chocolate, almond, ham and cheese, and more.
Ice Cream Sammie at Big Spoon Creamery
Neighborhoods: Avondale + Homewood
More info: bigspooncreamery.com
Big Spoon Creamery is an artisan ice cream company creating flavors that highlight seasonal and local ingredients. Their signature ice cream sammie consists of their small-batch ice cream smooshed between two homemade cookies cut into thin rounds. Summer sammie flavors include “Harvest Farm Strawberry,” which features strawberry ice cream on honey-graham cookies half-dipped in Valrhona Strawberry Inspiration. And you can always choose one of their year-round sammie flavors, like “The Classic” with vanilla bean ice cream, Valrhona chocolate chip cookies, and sea salt.
Happy summer, Birmingham!
Discover more delicious local eats in our monthly installment of New Birmingham Restaurants!