Christiana Roussel chimes in today to give us the low down on some of Birmingham’s best places to dine all over town.
Tis the season when schedules ramp up even more than usual and we find ourselves on the run, evening after evening. Whether you are “helping Santa” after work, shuttling between basketball games, or making the rounds at office parties, you need to take a little time out and grab something delicious to eat. No matter what part of town you find yourself, we’ve got a spot for you.
Located adjacent to Pepper Place, sister restaurants Bettola and Vittoria Macelleria share a pass-through at the back. But they also share a talented chef. James Lewis and his staff put out some of the best food in town. Bettola serves Italian staples like wood-fired pizzas and classic pasta entrees without ever being heavy (you still need to fit into that cocktail dress at New Year’s!). Vittoria offers hand-crafted salami, cured meats, steaks and more. The vibe here is certainly more industrial in feel and there is not a kids menu in sight. But with a strong wine and spirits program, that might be just what you’re looking for.
When your Five Points favorites are over-run and the line at the bar is three-plus deep, head a few blocks over to 20th Street North. A hand-crafted sandwich and lunch spot by day, Mauricio Papapietro’s brick & tin restaurant stays open late on Fridays for dinner. Papapietro trained under Frank Stitt and it shows in everything he does, quietly sourcing the best local ingredients and carefully transforming them into something remarkable. Beer and wine are thoughtfully available too in this come-as-you-are locale.
Café Dupont. Chef Chris Dupont has helmed his eponymous restaurant since 1994 when it was located in nearby Springville. He moved to his present location in 2003 and has been consistently and steadfastly producing fine dining in line with his New Orleans roots. The classic black and white tiled dining room floor has seen its share of celebrations and toasts; make your next one here.
Whether you are dashing out for a quick date night or meeting friends for a gab fest, the choices in Mountain Brook are plentiful. Between the new Urban Cookhouse in Crestline or Dyron’s Lowcountry standby, or something-for-everyone Avo/Dram you can’t go wrong. My perennial favorite is Ollie Irene in Mountain Brook Village. Chef Chris Newsome consistently produces well-considered seasonal specialties like stuffed Duroc pork, roasts and rillettes. Housemade sausages pair perfectly with any of the pickled vegetables on hand. The bar program ensures a memorable pairing with each course while the hunt club décor will have you wishing for a nice fireplace to curl up next to.
Of course, should we have that mild winter we’ve been promised, you’ll want to hit Al Raibee’s Vino in English Village. His pebble-lined allee begs for you to linger with that glass of red wine, watch the traffic stream by and search the winter sky for Orion’s belt. His plates are large enough to share and you have to make time to stop in Gallery 1930 just next door.
When you’ve maxed out your Visa in downtown Homewood, make a bee-line for Saw’s BBQ in nearby Edgewood. They close at 7:00 p.m., so get there before then. I’d suggest placing a to-go family dinner order then enjoying a beer while you wait. Yes, you’ll arrive home smelling like a wood-fired pit but once the family sees you brought home that famous mac ‘n cheese, all will be forgiven.
GianMarco’s is the Homewood favorite I always forget how much I love. The menu has not changed much over the years and the regulars like it that way. Their carpaccio is out-of-this world with large caper berry slices that prove how thoughtful each dish is. Sure you may have to wait for a table but the wine bar in the back parking lot makes it worthwhile. Rumor has it, this is the best retail selection in town.
Vestavia Hills/Cahaba Heights/Summit
If you’ve braved the Summit at this time of year, you already deserve something special. Lucky for you, there’s Satterfield’s. Owner and pastry chef Becky Satterfield gives Chef Haller Magee the requisite room to shine. The pleasure he takes in being thoughtful and creative with his menu shows at every turn. He makes the most of what local farmers and producer bring his way. Satterfield’s will take good care of you.
New to the area is George McMillan’s FoodBar. Chef McMillan (formerly of daniel george) has put together a menu that is both approachable and delicious. Sit inside to avoid the strip mall feel and enjoy one of Zak Kittle’s famous libations.
Not ready to leave the Summit yet? Try Seasons 52 where nothing on the menu is over 475 calories. Salad and flatbread offerings are tasty but still leave you room for dessert, even if it is just a spoonful or two.
Thanks for this great list of dining options, Christiana!
Southern food and lifestyle writer Christiana Roussel lives in Crestline. When not enjoying the occasional biscuit festival or bourbon tasting, there are four chickens, three dogs, two children and one husband who keep her very busy. You can follow her culinary adventures online at ChristianasKitchen.com.