From James Beard Award-winning, white-tablecloth restaurants to taco trucks worthy of NPR stories by renowned food writer John T. Edge, Birmingham boasts one of the Southeast’s most lauded food scenes. The Magic City has a thriving culinary presence, and its masters are raising a crop of impressive talent who are now spreading their epicurean wings and the result is a major boom in fantastic new eateries. One of the most obvious new additions to our rockin’ epicurean landscape is the addition of the Pizitz Food Hall, which we recently profiled in detail in Your Ultimate Guide to the Pizitz Food Hall — it’s an awesome, must-visit foodie’s dream.
We’re looking back through the past eight months of hot new restaurants to make sure we’ve tried them all. From two new Lane Parke hotspots and an Asian cuisine eatery at the Summit to a Moss Rock taco oasis and eight new downtown restaurants, we’ve got 14 — yes, 14! — new Birmingham restaurants. Take note of your personal must-try eateries and mark your foodie calendar. New epicurean adventures await!
14 New Birmingham Restaurants You Must Try
300 Summit Blvd., Birmingham, AL 35243 • (205) 969-6858
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Named for its exuberant and creative chef, this eatery at the Summit is the Asian cuisine aficionada’s dream come true. While a college student, the enthusiastic foodie and Kathmandu, Nepal native, Abhishek Sainju, “Abhi” for short, had a dream of opening a restaurant. “When I came to America for school in 1996, I missed all the food,” he says. “The Birmingham food scene back in ’96 was either bad Chinese food or too expensive, like Highlands or Bottega, and I couldn’t afford that. I was in school. So, I started making all my meals myself — cooking, cooking, cooking. It became my hobby and my passion. I wanted to open a restaurant.” And with his trademark optimism, perfectionism and perseverance, the self-taught chef did just that, bringing the flavors that he missed from Asia to the Magic City. First through Everest Sushi, then Bamboo on 2nd, and now his very own brick-and-mortar eateries: Abhi Eatery + Bar and MOMO at the Pizitz Food Hall.
At Abhi Eatery + Bar, the chef was sure to include his signature momos, Nepalese dumplings stuffed with ground turkey, vegetables and spices, steamed and served in an Alabama tomato vinaigrette-infused broth; as well as lumpia, a crispy Filipino egg roll with turkey, carrots, celery, water chestnuts and a house sweet sauce; KFC (Kathmandu Fried Chicken) lollipops; thukpa, a warming Tibetan-style noodle soup; the tako salad of steamed octopus, cucumber, mint, green onions, ginger, tomato, peanuts, cilantro and sesame-ginger vinaigrette; a variety of umami-rich grilled skewers with mouthwatering dipping sauces; and, of course, his sushi, which has a cult following from his days of serving it at late-night bars around town. A former bartender of 12 years, Abhi also made sure his craft cocktails were extraordinary. So head to Abhi, grab a spot on the patio and savor these fabulous flavors!
4100 Third Ave. S., Birmingham, AL 35222 • (205) 703-9895
Hours: Monday, closed; Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Avondale Common House & Distillery owners Ellen and William Rogers are not new to the restaurant scene. Executive Chef William previously ran the show at The Grill at Iron City for five years, and Ellen had been working with the Bajalieh brothers, of Slice Pizza & Brew and Sol’s Sandwich Shop & Deli to open Sky Castle Gastro Lounge. Prior to that, the duo managed Ocean and 26 under Chef George Reis for eight years. “William and I both have a long history in fine dining, but neither one of us wanted to do that anymore,” says Ellen of the laid-back vibe and accessible menu. “The food reflects that training however, all locally sourced from the area, using local farms. And I think people really appreciate that.” Get a mouthwatering burger for a solid epicurean win. Or go for something more creative like the uber-popular Kung Pao cauliflower appetizer and the Reuben Rangoon. “They are both incredible,” says Ellen. “We’ve been open about four weeks, and all the dishes are selling very well!”
And while Ellen is also proud of the craft cocktail menu, which boasts great drinks priced at $5 to $6 and featuring Avondale Spirits’ liquors, her favorite thing about the restaurant is its large covered front patio. “At capacity, it holds 50 people comfortably and is a great place to people-watch, enjoy a rainy afternoon or lunch with the girls,” she says, adding, “I love the ambiance, the colors, the music. We try to keep things young and casual — we want our dining room to feel like home, and we have gotten numerous compliments that it feels that way.” This casual and inviting neighborhood spot is sure to be an Avondale staple.
4000 Third Ave. S., #104, Birmingham, AL 35222 • (205) 703-4712
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Ryan O’Hara and his wife, Geri-Martha, met while working as chefs at Bottega. “Having spent our careers in the restaurant industry, we had a shared dream to start an ice cream company,” says Ryan. “We got married in April of 2014, and decided to take the leap three months later.” The duo began with a bicycle-drawn cart and a food truck soon followed. Appearing at events all around town, Big Spoon quickly made a name for itself with its handmade artisan-quality ice cream sandwich. So, it’s no surprise that the beloved creamery has graduated to its first brick-and-mortar in Avondale, next door to Winslet & Rhys.
“We’re the only ice cream shop in Birmingham that makes ice cream completely from scratch. We also use as many local and seasonal ingredients as possible, as well as high-quality specialty ingredients,” says Ryan. Try the shop’s signature “Big Spoon” sundae or the ice cream flight, which is six small scoops of your choice. And the flavors are an epicurean treat. Currently, two unique flavors that may not get ordered as often as other mainstays, but are definitely just as delicious and worth trying, are the sweet basil and the goat cheese blackberry thyme. “I love leading our amazing team and really enjoy getting to interact with customers every day,” says Ryan. “Avondale has an incredible community feel, and everyone supports one another and helps each other. We love being a part of such a vibrant and energetic culture here.”
900 Jemison Lane, Mountain Brook, AL 35223 • (205) 802-9050
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m;, Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“My favorite thing about being in Mountain Brook is how welcoming the neighborhood has been to us,” says General Manager Rebecca Blake of Char Bar No. 7’s new Lane Parke digs. “I love seeing the dining room full of families, couples and friends all moving around to other tables saying hello to each other.” The Charlotte, North Carolina-based eatery has ties to Birmingham through its owner, Tyler Hager, who went to The University of Alabama and his sister, Kara, who went to Auburn and does all of the design work for her brother’s restaurants. And the interiors are contemporary yet comfortable, much like the menu. Chic decor mixes with down-home everyday scenes: kids enjoying kids’ menu staples, couples and friends grabbing a happy hour cocktail or folks eagerly following a sports game on a nearby TV.
Rebecca says that the menu offers variety without being too overwhelming. Char Bar No. 7 is known for their fried pickles, burgers and their certified Angus beef steaks. And the selection of salads and sandwiches are on point as well. “My favorite thing about Char Bar No. 7 right now is our ‘Build Your Own’ salad,” says Rebecca. “Perfect for lunch or dinner with so many choices of lettuce, toppings and proteins, our guests salad creations are always fun to see.”
1701 First Ave. S., #135, Birmingham, AL 35233 • (205) 730-1800
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Across the street from Railroad Park, in the street-front corner of the LIV Parkside development, Cosecha Urban Kitchen is cooking up an upscale twist on Latin street food. The brainchild of owners Justin White and John Green, this casual eatery offers street tacos, bowls and panini-style “flats,” as well as Cuban sandwiches, street corn, tamales, nachos, burritos, salads and, of course, some creative hot dogs, for the Barons baseball fans from nearby Regions Field. Open for breakfast through cocktail hour and into the evening, this fast-casual eatery is proud to use fresh, simple ingredients with authentic Latin recipes for a flavor that is muy bueno!
2268 Ninth Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35203 • (205) 322-7555
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We started out as a food truck because I wanted to bring some of the favorite recipes from my childhood to the Birmingham area and see how people responded,” says Zebbie Carney, owner and chef of Eugene’s Hot Chicken. “It was an instant success, and we had a great following. We were very blessed to have the people of Birmingham supporting our dream.” Just recently, the popular hot-chicken eatery opened its first brick-and-mortar restaurant in Uptown. And folks are keeping the lines long, ordering their favorite Eugene’s creations. The hot chicken tenders are a perennial fave, and one of Zebbie’s top choices is the hot chicken tender sandwich. “We just started with the catfish on our restaurant menu. It is pretty special,” says Zebbie. “You can add your heat level, but I recommend the hot catfish sandwich. It is delicious!”
For Zebbie, the magic comes from his secret seasoning, which makes the chicken tender and juicy and with just the right spice level. “We make everything from scratch, even the dressings. It is important to us to do that. There is a lot of love in our food,” says Zebbie. “Sometimes people come back up to the counter to tell us how great it was after they have enjoyed it. That’s a great feeling! That is what it is all about!”
616 Preserve Pkwy., Hoover, AL 35226 • (205) 783-1130
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
After the success of neighborhood pizza joint Vecchia Pizzeria & Mercato at The Preserve at Moss Rock, restaurateurs Brianna and Bernard Tamburello decided to embark on a brand-new concept: an authentic Mexican restaurant boasting a laid-back menu and full bar. “We’re trying a lot of really cool stuff on our menu that you can’t really get anywhere else in town,” Brianna says, adding that there are talks of having a weekend brunch menu with huevos rancheros and a “Bloody Maria bar” — Moss Rock’s take on a Bloody Mary. “We really want to put Moss Rock on the map and let other people know how great it is out here.”
2015 Fifth Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35203 • (205) 730-9003
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, closed
“My husband and I started this restaurant in 2010 in a little location in Alabaster. After we opened, we ended up moving to Pelham, then to Hoover. We ended up closing for three-and-a-half years,” says Samantha Delgado, who co-owns and manages Miami Fusion Cafe with her husband and the restaurant’s executive chef, Luis. The duo reopened their Puerto Rican eatery on May 22 of this year on Fifth Avenue in downtown Birmingham. In addition to their usual Cuban sandwiches, roasted pork and, of course, their famous Jesus cake, they have added a new offering: “Carimaki” rolls, a sushi-type roll filled with Caribbean food, rather than the traditional Japanese sushi. And Samantha encourages people not to overlook the Mofongo, a traditional Puerto Rican dish of mashed plantains topped with seafood, meat or vegetables and served with beans and rice.
“All of our recipes are straight from grandma’s kitchen in Puerto Rico, and we make everything fresh daily,” says Samantha, adding, “We also love the history behind the building we are in. We even chose to leave the marble flooring because of the history and its unique beauty. We enjoy hearing from people about the experiences that they had in the candy shop and Cameo’s Cafe from years past. Our motto is ‘building a family, not a business,’ and we absolutely love meeting and building relationships with our customers.”
2909 18th St. S., Birmingham, AL 35209 • (205) 879-2196
Hours: Monday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, closed
O’Carr’s is a longtime downtown Homewood staple run by Cameron and June Carr, which started as an ice cream parlor in 1975. The simple, vintage-esque concept evolved to offer a full menu of delicious and healthy dishes which earned them a loyal following, often leaving their eatery busting at the seams, sometimes with lines out the door. And now they have a new location in the heart of downtown Birmingham, just within a stone’s throw of the Lyric Theatre. This new eatery is offering up the same soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts that their fans have come to know and love. Part of June and Cameron’s food philosophy is eating an array of colors through healthy fruits and veggies, and one can clearly see that in their colorful and beautifully displayed dishes. SB Tip: Their milkshakes might just be the best in Birmingham. Head to this bright, airy eatery for a healthy plate, followed by a sinfully delicious milkshake!
1623 Second Ave. N., Ste. B, Birmingham, AL 35203 • (205) 730-1907
Hours: Monday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
In the restored Thomas Jefferson Tower on Second Avenue North in downtown Birmingham, Chef Brandon Cain — one of the pioneers of SAW’s Soul Kitchen and its Avondale neighbor, Post Office Pies — recently introduced Roots & Revelry. At his new white tablecloth eatery, Brandon wants guests to feel the elegance of an upscale venue while enjoying the laid-back ease of his “comfort food with a twist” — and at a fraction of the cost. With dishes like PB&J, New Orleans barbecue shrimp and a few po’ boys, the menu is a testament to that vision. And the “bites” section of the menu offers frequently changing menu items for $3, which allows guests the opportunity to expand their palates and complement their main courses. “It’s very much about education,” explains Brandon, who has Pilipino and Hawaiian roots and often likes to experiment with ingredients distinctive to his heritage. “Right now, Birmingham is a place where everyone is willing to take a chance and try new things,” he says. Treat your taste buds to Roots & Revelry, and don’t miss the rooftop patio overlooking the city!
1830 29th Ave. S., Ste. 160, Homewood, AL 35209 • (205) 423-8080
Hours: Sunday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
SoHo Social opened this year in the heart of SoHo Square in Homewood. “We’re still really new, but our Whistlestop egg rolls and fried Brussels sprouts have been popular. Smoked wings and burgers have been really popular as well,” says Dave Horn, co-owner. “It’s hard not to say the food is my favorite thing about SoHo Social, because I really do think it’s awesome, but I think my most favorite thing may be Homewood itself — there’s such a cool mix of people and personalities, from eclectic to conservative. I really enjoy that.”
“Our approach to doing business and who we are is what I’d say sets us apart,” says Dave. “We really do strive to be hyper-local. We aren’t a Birmingham spot — we’re a Homewood spot.” Head to this neighborhood eatery for cocktails and eats with friends, football-viewing, a date night or a family night on the patio, in the lounge room or in the great dining room. With inviting decor and delicious eats, you can’t go wrong!
920 Lane Parke Court, Mountain Brook, AL 35223 • (205) 900-8672
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
In the heart of Mountain Brook’s new Lane Parke development, The Local Taco is serving some of the best hand-pressed tacos in town. Their creative tacos are filled with from-scratch ingredients and pair perfectly with Local Taco’s devilishly good margaritas made with daily fresh-squeezed lime juice. “In 2009, Local Taco was the first spot in Nashville to launch a neighborhood-oriented gourmet taco shop,” says Jess Eccher, Local Taco’s Director of Marketing. “The vision was to serve tasty tacos and great margaritas quickly and to find ways to be involved in the community.” Local Taco is rapidly expanding its catering to serve wider audiences, and they can host small parties in one corner of the restaurant.
The sprawling patio is pretty sweet as well. Grab a table, bask in the sun, sip a craft cocktail, people-watch and order a tasty dish, like the most popular hot chicken taco with Wickles Pickles and a side of Mexitots, Latin-inspired tater tots. “If you haven’t tried either, I would highly recommend,” says Jess, adding that people often overlook the veggie taco. “Give it a chance, veggies can be fun!”
1801 Fifth Ave. N. Alley, Birmingham, AL 35203 • (205) 730-1181
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, closed
“My cousin David and his wife Andrea founded Urban Cookhouse seven years ago in Homewood on the principles of using local produce, cooking meat over real hickory wood and providing the best service in the industry,” says Brad Snyder, Corporate Purchasing Manager and Manager of Urban Cookhouse’s new downtown location. This family-run business extends that family feel to all aspects of the dining experience. “Honestly, it’s just a very welcoming family feel,” adds Brad. This popular local eatery boasts an out-of-this-world white barbecue chicken sandwich. “We sell more than 1,700 a week at the four locations we operate,” says Brad, who encourages people to try the grilled chicken special with a side of their white barbecue sauce. “It’s great on that meal!”
1006 Oxmoor Road, Birmingham, AL 35209 • (205) 874-6957
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, closed
Birmingham restaurateur Tim Vakakes’ new eatery, Vinnie Baggs, is a charming Chicago-style neighborhood restaurant and bar. The cozy spot is reminiscent of Cheers, with its warm wood paneling and vintage wall art. Tiny table lamps provide low-lit ambience in this laid-back space. Tim, formerly of P.T.’s Sports Grill, brings his seasoned chops to the kitchen, offering a crowd-pleasing menu. The neighborhood grill is cooking up classic American sandwiches and hamburgers with an Italian twist — thus the Italian beef sandwich with Italian giardinera pepper mix and the hot Italian burger — as well as salads, hot dogs, wings and a kids’ menu. After 5 p.m., the simple dinner menu of hot entrees includes Greek and Italian favorites like Greek-style flaming saganaki cheese appetizer, Italian meatballs and sausage appetizer, linguine (alfredo or marinara), eggplant Parmesan with spaghetti, chicken marsala with rigatoni and spaghetti and meatballs. Stop by to enjoy their happy hours with free wings, Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., or their live music Fridays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.!
Make your reservations or hop in your car and head to 2017’s new restaurants that you might not have tried. And make sure to tell them StyleBlueprint sent you!