During Prohibition, “New Merkle,” now known as Cahaba Heights, had a reputation as a rowdy hotbed for moonshine production and bootlegging, and in the 1800s, the Creek Indians inhabited the area. But today, it seems Cahaba Heights may be enjoying its day in the sun. The charming enclave has blossomed into a bustling neighborhood with plenty of attractions. Whether you’re looking for an upscale night out, a leisurely family day or an afternoon shopping with the girls, you’ll find it in Cahaba Heights. Keep this guide handy for the next time you want to explore one of Vestavia Hills’ most charming neighborhoods.
Date Night in the Heights
If you’re looking for upscale flavor in a laid-back atmosphere, then this is your place. FoodBar is a cozy restaurant located inside The Heights Village Shopping Center. The menu gives a nod to Executive Chef George McMillian’s farm- and food-centric upbringing, which is rooted deep in Alabama soil. From The New Merkle Shellfish Stew to the FOODBAR burger made with Delta, AL, beef, every dish is packed with flavor and authenticity. George credits this to the many local farmers who supply his ingredients. Take your sweetheart to this beloved spot on Wednesdays when they have half-off select bottles of wine. Finish the night with their shortbread crumb and toasted meringue. Read our full article on FoodBar.
Old World flavors married with modern sensibilities is what Satterfield’s has become known for. Located in the heart of Cahaba Heights, this elegant space opened their doors in 2005 and has been attracting locals looking for a fine-dining experience ever since. With seating in the main dining room, the chef’s counter, full-service bar and outdoor patio, Satterfield’s is the ideal setting for both the butterfly-laden first date and the celebratory anniversary. Make sure to ask the knowledgeable staff for a drink recommendation. They won’t steer you wrong!
If you’re looking to go where the locals hang out, then take your date to The Olive Branch. The family-owned restaurant is bursting with charm and is rarely empty. Naimeh Shunnarah and her family are the ones to thank for the restaurant’s authentic Mediterranean menu, which features all the cultural classics like gyros, stuffed grape leaves and authentic hummus.
Naimeh’s grandson, Alex Shunnarah, says being located in Cahaba Heights has only strengthened the restaurant’s authentic feel.
“Most of the menu is family recipes,” Alex says in between greeting customers and flipping gyros on the grill, which is centrally located within the restaurant so customers can watch their dishes being made. Come early and settle in for a leisurely dining experience at this restaurant. Order the sampler platter, and enjoy their patio if weather permits.
Blackwell’s Neighborhood Pub
Transitioning from a dating-app romance to a real-life courtship? We suggest meeting up at Blackwell’s Neighborhood Pub. This spot is perfect for first-time dates — it’s not too fancy but still conducive to great conversation accompanied with a cold beverage. Located off Green Valley Road, Blackwell’s is a beloved haunt by many locals. Known for their large portions, Blackwell’s features great American cuisine perfect for splitting with your potential beau. Try the pub nachos — they’re famous — and the Blackwell’s poutine, their take on the iconic French-Canadian dish seasoned with Guinness gravy and melted mozzarella.
Specializing in some of the best Southern cuisine, the Fig Tree is a foodie haven. A small café with subtle Cajun flair, the Fig Tree is the perfect place for impressing the meat-lover in your life. Chef Jon Holland specializes in game meats, Southern soul food and fresh Gulf seafood. The restaurant’s ambiance provides the romance factor and the menu delivers the taste. From Creole favorites like gumbo and jambalaya to shrimp and grits, this hidden gem is a Cahaba Heights favorite.
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Family Day in the Heights
Comfort food that tastes just like mama made it — and maybe even a little bit better — is what Ashley Mac’s specializes in. Now with four locations open in Birmingham, the Cahaba Heights store stands as a go-to place for local families looking for good, home-style food on the go. Ashley and Andy McMakin started the restaurant as a catering service out of their Homewood home. From there, business skyrocketed as the demand for Ashley’s nostalgic dishes — like chicken salad sandwiches and strawberry cake — couldn’t be met fast enough.
Stop by Ashley Mac’s and dine in with the family. Her popular salads and heartier main dishes are perfect for mom and dad, while the on-point kids’ menu is clearly crafted by a parent. Or, if it is toward the end of a long day playing in the Heights, opt to take a family meal to go with Ashley’s Gourmet To-Go options from the long wall of coolers and freezers — because let’s be honest, sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day to whip up dinner. Ashley has you covered. Read our full article on Ashley Mac’s.
This quaint, newly finished park is the perfect size for a young family. With a charming picnic pavilion and nearby playground, everything is within eyeshot. Grab a picnic from Ashley Mac’s or pack your own — and maybe swing by Learning Express Toys of Cahaba Heights to grab a fun outdoor toy for the fam — and head to Meadowlawn Park for an afternoon of games, playing, walking the sidewalk loop and even reading — the park features a Free Little Library! Bring a book or two, a Frisbee or whatever makes your gaggle light up, and have a ball.
This restaurant has Cahaba Heights’ earliest settlers — the Creek Indians — to thank for its distinctive name. Characterized by its swampy, muddy conditions as a result of heavy rains, the Creeks first dubbed this patch of land as “Mudtown.” The moniker proved to be a good marketing ploy for what would become Mudtown Eat & Drink — a casual restaurant known for its inviting atmosphere and flavorful food. This is the perfect spot to go after a long day of family fun. There’s something for everyone here. From burgers to fish tacos to po’ boys, Mudtown will satisfy guests of all ages. Try the Beale Street Burger, smothered in barbecue sauce, jack cheese and thick bacon. SB Tip: The adorable porch is a great spot for the fam to watch the world go by as you enjoy an alfresco meal! Read our full article on Mudtown.
Myra Grissom Harper rarely sees a face she doesn’t know walk through her restaurant, which has been a Cahaba Heights staple since it opened in 1985. Miss Myra’s menu is uncomplicated — just like a good barbecue pit’s should be. Focusing on quality meat and tasty sides, this is the ideal spot to come satisfy your meat-and-three craving. Myra’s personal favorite menu items are the pork and a side of chess pie. She has a strong love for chocolate, and she won’t deny her visitors of a large serving of the sweet stuff! Read our full feature, Myra Grissom Harper of Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q: FACES of Birmingham.
If you’re looking to spice up your night out on the town, head over to El ZunZún for some traditional Latin cuisine. This laidback restuarant boasts a friendly neighborhood vibe as they serve up some authentic dishes full of flavor and variety. From small plates to tacos to delicous desserts, you’re sure to find your new favorite meal at this new Cahaba Heights gem.
When the Alabama heat becomes too much to bear, Cahaba Heights locals flock to Doodle’s. Named for its founder Paul Champion, who loves to doodle, Doodle’s has become a mainstay for residents looking for a cold treat. Specializing in sorbets and Italian ices, Doodle’s offers a large selection of flavors that’ll satisfy the whole family. Shake things up and order two flavors, like watermelon and lemon, and then give them a swirl. Mr. Doodle would approve!
Alabama Biscuit Company was built on the simple mission of making a darn good biscuit with the best ingredients. With heaps of both savory and sweet options, Alabama Biscuit Company has something on the menu for every family member. Entice your youngest ones with the pecan butter and honey biscuit — made with house-milled organic pecan butter and drizzled with local honey. It’s so good, mom or dad might have to sneak a bite when no one is looking!
Before embarking on your Cahaba Heights adventure, swing by Magic Muffins Bakery. Offering assorted low-fat muffins, biscuits and breakfast pastries, Magic Muffins is a must for families looking to carb-up for a big day of adventure. Get a varied assortment of this bakery’s delectable treats — we promise it’ll both satiate and satisfy!
New to the area is the incredibly delicious Martin’s BBQ Joint. This open-air space is a no frills, family-friendly restuarant that offers Tennessee-style smoked meats over coal and hickory wood, incredibly sides made by family recipes, and delectable desserts. From briskets to smoked wings to their famous redneck tacos, there is something for everyone at this fabulous new BBQ spot. Add Martin’s to your Cahaba Heights to-do list!
After getting your grub on at Martin’s, walk right next door to satisfy your sweet tooth at Bendy’s. With the winning combination of delicous cookies and yummy ice cream, Bendy’s has quickly become a favorite among locals and visitors alike. What started as a dream and a food truck, Bendy’s moved into their first brick and mortar location in early 2019 and have served up some of the best cookies and ice cream to the Cahaba Heights community ever since. There is truly something for every sweet lover at this delicious spot.
Shopping in the Heights
Named for Manhattan Beach, CA, this chic boutique is best described as carefree yet carefully curated to offer a mix of chic elegance alongside hip yet laid-back looks. Owner Lesley Vedel thoughtfully plans each season’s collection with on-trend style and versatility in mind. With new merchandise arriving daily, Manhattan South stays on the cutting edge of the most sought-after styles. Stop by with a group of girlfriends, and stock up on the latest fashion. You’ll be the best dressed at your next dinner party or night out. Read our full article on Manhattan South.
Shopping for teenagers can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be. Thanks to GiGi’s Teen, girls can find fashion-forward clothes that work for both the school bus and the school dance. Known for their variety and long list of sought-after brands, Gigi’s is the one-stop shop for teens and tweens looking to look — and feel — their best. Stop by and peruse their great selection of clothing, shoes and accessories.
Want the designer look without the designer price tag? Head to Second Hand Rose, Cahaba Heights’ go-to spot for the best consignment finds. As Birmingham’s longest-running consignment shop, Second Hand Rose is the place to find a great deal on a great piece of clothing. Stocked with some of the latest trends and popular designers, Second Hand Rose won’t disappoint. Designate ample time to sift through their impressive selection of clothing and accessories. Read our full article on Second Hand Rose.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift or something special for yourself, The Blue Willow will have it. Known for their wide selection of tasteful home decor, monogram items, baby and graduate gifts and other adorable finds, this sweet boutique won’t let you leave empty-handed. From cookbooks to candles and totes, this store is known as a one-stop shop among locals looking to satisfy their shopping craving while checking off every box on their shopping list.
Clothing, gifts and home goods abound at Cradle + Bee. Started by three sisters who are also moms, Cradle + Bee was born from a desire to offer expecting, new, and seasoned moms a place to shop for clothing that fits and flatters their ever-changing body. They also offer gifts and accessories to make your shopping experience even more fun and complete. Peruse their shoes, gorgeous clothing and unique decor for a fun-filled day of shopping with your girlfriends.
Now, plan your ideal agenda for a day spent in Cahaba Heights and head out there this weekend — Have fun!
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