When describing what makes Birmingham special and forward-thinking, what sets our city apart, it’s hard not to wax rhapsodic about the virtues and integrity of the Birmingham food scene, the prestigious accolades and the national renown, the authentic international flavors and the incredible artistry of our fair city’s talented chefs. And some big-time players are taking note. Much to the dismay and, in some cases, absolute horror of many New Yorkers, Food & Wine magazine has announced that they’ll be moving their headquarters to Birmingham. Chefs from all over are eyeing our city as a place with sophisticated palates — a place to push the limits of their culinary creativity — chefs like New York-based acclaimed Chef and Restaurateur Akhtar Nawab, whose new Pizitz Food Hall eatery Fero now calls the Magic City home.
“I like that we are part of a community that is pioneering a resurgence of life in downtown Birmingham,” says Chef Akhtar. “We see old abandoned buildings getting refinished regularly. We see a lot of growth and are so excited to be a part of it.”
One could even argue that the dynamic food scene is what brought the first wave of investors here, and now, it feels as though the growth is no longer in spurts, but more like a freight train that is only picking up speed. Investors from inside — and more notably, outside — of Birmingham are building mixed-use downtown developments with first-floor retail spaces that give our talented chefs ever more opportunity to shine. And the chefs are taking advantage! In the past four months, 13 — yes, THIRTEEN — new eateries have cropped up around Birmingham, and we’ve got the scoop on them!
13 New Birmingham Restaurants
1017 Oxmoor Road, Homewood, AL 35209 • (205) 875-8226
Hours: Open 7 days a week, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Step into this chic eatery with a distinctly coastal vibe, and you’ll feel like you’re at a local oceanside restaurant on the edge of the world. “Our main goal was to create a getaway for customers — a place where they could come and be transported — an escape from the everyday and ordinary,” says bartaco President Scott Lawton. The atmosphere and design of the uber-cool interiors were inspired by the world travels and amazing photography of bartaco Co-founder Sasa Mahr-Batuz. “As for the menu, we were inspired by a visit to an area in New Haven, Connecticut, on the water, where tons of food trucks gather,” says Scott. “Together, the vibe and food create a place that’s unique and really fun. We are the place where parents can bring their kids for a casual dinner and the go-to spot for celebrations. We are also a great bar option for locals to pop in after work. bartaco makes it easy for guests to come as they are, and we shape the experience to ensure each guest has a great time.”
Try the ever-popular ribeye and chicken tacos, or if you are a more adventurous eater, delight in bartaco’s crispy oyster taco or the gluten-free tuna tatako served in a Bibb lettuce leaf. And the tuna poke, the classic Hawaiian snack turned trendy “it” dish, is also on the eatery’s beachy menu. But the most popular dish is actually not on the menu. “It’s our #bartacosecret,” says Scott. What’s the #bartaco secret, you might ask? Check out the hashtag on social media to discover bartaco’s special, seasonal tacos.
Scott says that he wanted a location where the community embodied the spirit of bartaco, and he adds, “Downtown Homewood — filled with fun-loving families and a lot of people out-and-about enjoying the neighborhood — felt like a natural fit.”
2839 Seventh Ave. South, Birmingham, AL 35233 • (205) 323-0008
Hours: Open 7 days a week, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Bernardo “Bird” Targett spent 13 years in LA, where he owned a development company that built restaurants. “When my wife’s brother, Alex Graffeo, passed away four years ago, I made the decision for us to move back to her hometown of Birmingham to be closer to her parents,” says Bird. “Alex’s dream had always been to open a bar, so I wanted to build this place as a way to honor him. I started working at her father’s catering company, Char House Foods, so I could learn the restaurant business inside and out.” His wife’s uncle, also the founder of California Pizza Kitchen, inspired Bird to develop a fast-paced pizza concept with a twist. And when the corner spot in a historic circa-1927 building in Lakeview (Alex’s favorite neighborhood) became available, the dream was set to become a reality.
“The three most popular pizzas are the chicken bacon ranch pizza with our house-made ranch dressing, the Thai chicken pizza and the Big Lou pizza — made with Graffeo Brothers Italian sausage, local sausage made by my father-in-law and his cousins,” says Bird. (Graffeo Brothers started in 1906!) At the bar, the “Ball and Chain” cocktail made with strawberries, balsamic vinegar, basil and vodka, as well as the Frosé, a frozen rosé drink, are crowd favorites. Head over for game day to root for your team on one of the restaurant’s 13 TVs, while you enjoy the special game-day menu, which features a meatball appetizer and a Philly cheesesteak pizza.
And if the sprawling patio and roomy dining space isn’t enough for you, head next door to “Bird’s Barcade,” a space with its own bar, pool table, basketball machine, pinball and darts that can be rented out for private parties. This gem with deep local roots is a must-visit!
105 Summit Blvd., Birmingham, AL 35243 • (205) 967-3600
Hours: Open 7 days a week, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar is a fusion of burger and sushi, featuring “burgushi” items like sushi rolls using burger ingredients, and pick-up style sandwiches incorporating sushi components. And there’s also straight-up sushi and unadulterated burgers for those looking for the familiar classics. How did such a concept come to be? “The Cowfish Co-founders, Alan Springate and Marcus Hall, were running a sushi restaurant in North Carolina,” says General Manager Scott Fohl. “At the time, Alan was running a gourmet burger joint next door to the space and that’s when he proposed knocking down the wall and combining the two restaurants. Marcus immediately called him an idiot.” Then they kept talking and realized it wasn’t a bad idea. “Once they committed to such a seemingly crazy idea, they knew they wanted something that was funny and weird and in your face. And that’s how The Cowfish was born!”
The decor reflects this creative and playful concept with Pac-Man accents, commercial Cowfish-themed illustrations and an enormous fish tank. Guests love The Cowfish bento box, a combo meal that includes a gourmet mini-burger, sweet potato fries, Thai cucumbers, edamame and your choice of a four-piece sushi roll. “The Prime Time” filet and lobster burgushi roll — a sushi roll that includes lobster and cucumbers inside, topped with seared rare seasoned filet mignon, pan-fried Portobello mushroom slices tossed in truffle oil, green onions and spicy mayo — is the top fusion roll. And on the burger side of things, the Texas Longhorn beef burger with cheddar cheese, onion strings, jalapeño bacon, lettuce and tomato with tangy barbecue sauce on a brioche bun is a killer choice.
2306 Second Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35203 • (205) 202-4496
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Closed Sunday and Monday
Situated along the hip Second Avenue North corridor downtown, EastWest Kitchen & Bar is exactly what its name suggests: a blend of traditional Asian with contemporary American (the East fused with the West) along with creative craft cocktails — all in a sharp, ultra-cool atmosphere. “Our staff is one of the best things about the place,” says Colby Conklin, owner and operator of EastWest. “They really care about the guests’ experience. Our Chef and owner Joey Mitchell is by far the star. He is relentless in his pursuit for perfection. There is no other way to describe him other than a talented and experienced workhorse.” Colby and Jeff previously worked together for over 13 years at Chuck’s Fish and Five restaurants, and both had longtime dreams to open an eatery like EastWest. So the duo got together and turned the dream into a reality.
And people are loving the popular Chinese duck nachos, Mongolian ribeye, soft-shell bao bun and the Korean fried cauliflower. Colby encourages people to try Chef Jeff’s to-die-for Korean short ribs, blistered shishito peppers and the sweet-and-sour pork rice bowl. “Our favorite thing about our spot downtown is the synergy that we have with the other restaurants on Second Avenue North,” says Colby. We are fortunate to be in the same area as these fine establishments that helped pave the way for people like us, and we are proud to share the street with these great places.”
1821 Second Ave. N., Ste. 176, Birmingham, AL 35203 • (205) 582-9250
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Kentucky native and New York-based acclaimed Chef and Restaurateur Akhtar Nawab was brought to the Magic City through the developers of the Pizitz Food Hall. “[Developer Bayer Properties] offered us the space that Fero is located in, which was a no-brainer for us,” says Chef Akhtar. Fero — Latin for ‘steel’ as a nod to the Steel City’s roots — is a modern Italian eatery with its own full dining room in the Pizitz Food Hall. “Our goal has always been to offer the best possible experience with high-quality and creative, original twists on traditional favorites at a price point that’s accessible,” says Akhtar. “Being so close to and able to work with local farmers is a blessing for us. Our menu is very dependent on what we find at the farmers’ market.”
Chef Akhtar says the most popular dish is the ribeye with smoked chanterelle mushrooms and pickled mustard-seed gnocchi. A close second is their version of lasagna, called Free Form Ravioli on the menu. It has loose sheet pasta that is tossed in a little butter and topped with a rich lamb ragout and smoked ricotta cheese for a re-imagined, deconstructed take on a traditional dish.
“I think one of our strongest dishes is the vitello tonnato with cured veal breast shaved like prosciutto and dressed with some spicy greens and tuna aioli, plus a soft poached egg and crispy cornichons — one of my favorite dishes at Fero, for sure,” says Akhtar, who is not only excited, naturally, by food, but also by Birmingham. “I like that we are part of a community that is pioneering a resurgence of life in downtown Birmingham. We see a lot of growth and are so excited to be a part of it.”
633 Montgomery Hwy., Vestavia, AL 35216 • (205) 848-8720
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Closed Saturday; Sunday, 10:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This old-school meat-and-three’s original location was founded in January 1983 in Trussville by Joel Rickles. In 2016, Charles Matsos, owner of Golden Rule Bar-B-Q, bought Joel’s, and this Vestavia location is his first franchise. “The Matsos family are geniuses when it comes to restaurants and food,” says Joel’s General Manager Barry Bagley, who sings the praises of their customers as well. “The atmosphere is awesome and we are surrounded by good people and businesses.”
Barry says the fried chicken and chicken with dressing are by far the most popular of their classic main courses. But, he encourages people to try the liver and onions, saying simply, “It’s pretty awesome.” The menu changes daily and includes the usual meat-and-three sides, as well as some surprises like speckled butter beans, squash croquette and deviled eggs. And make sure to finish off your Southern lunch with a sweet, down-home treat, like a slice of coconut pie, lemon pie, chocolate pie, banana pudding or a fudge brownie with ice cream.
1830 29th Ave. S., Ste. 175, Homewood, AL 35209 • (205) 769-6080
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Closed Sunday
This dynamic little market-meets-restaurant offers prepared meals served in their eatery, as well as meal kits (with ingredients and directions for cooking at home) and mix-and-match meat and sides for folks to grab and take home. “We wanted to provide awesome food that was delicious and easy to prepare,” says Laurel Mills, CEO of Market Table, adding, “because we understand that dinner should be about sitting down with your loved ones at the end of the day, not worrying about what to eat, how long it will take to make or whether or not you have time to hit the grocery store between school pick-up and bed.”
Laurel says that the smoky pimento cheese and turkey sandwich is the most popular these days. “I was born and raised in the South, so it’s nearly impossible to keep me away from a good pimento cheese, and having a really stellar turkey sandwich on the menu was incredibly important to me,” she says. “My grandfather used to say that there were only two things to know in life: how to make a good sandwich and something else we’ve all forgotten. Since we’ve lost half of this wisdom, I’m glad I can carry out some of his legacy via smoked meats.”
A recently updated menu boasts new breakfast bowls, like the farro and fruit bowl, as well as frittatas, like the spinach, artichoke and goat cheese frittata. Fourteen hours of preparation go into the delectable brisket for the brisket sandwich; the salads are fresh and creative; and Laurel describes the blackened chicken salad as “beyond delicious.”
Market Table caters, offers office lunches and hosts breakfast meetings, and the light and airy space is available in the evenings for private dinners. Keep an eye out for their upcoming special events like wine tastings on the patio. “In many ways, we’re the grandmother that always wants to make you a plate,” says Laurel. “Relax and let us do the work because we love sharing our food with others.”
2031 Cahaba Road, Mountain Brook, AL 35223 • (205) 730-1699
Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Closed Monday
This award-winning chef, best-selling author, restaurateur and television personality came to Birmingham from Florida. “I’ve worked on the concept for a year or more, but being new to Birmingham I wasn’t sure where the best home would be for a restaurant like Root to Tail. When I found English Village in Mountain Brook, it was a perfect fit,” says Ben Vaughn. “The property owner Shirley Kahn and I had the same vision for the future growth of the village and creating the area as a dining destination.” And the interiors of this spot, which has housed many eateries, is nearly unrecognizable. Bright and renewed, the space is flooded with natural light and features exposed brick, pops of greenery, a rustic bar with warm lighting and striking local art — including the “The Walken,” the restaurant’s walk-in fridge, which can be seen from the dining room and is emblazoned, appropriately, with an illustration of Christopher Walken.
“I’m creative and inspired by seasons and locally grown ingredients, so for me to cook something specific over and over would possibly drive me insane,” says Ben, who changes the menu daily based on the ingredients he has from local growers and groups like Urban Food Project, partnerships forged over a shared dedication to sustainable living. Creative Southern fare is obviously popular, but if you are a more adventurous eater, you’re likely to find a delightful dish like Ben’s octopus dish. “I sous-vide the octopus until it is butter-tender, then char it on the grill. We serve it with a creamy cauliflower puree and homemade chorizo,” he says. “The depth of flavor is outstanding and the dish is solid.”
It’s been about six weeks since Root to Tail opened its doors, and Ben says the excitement of the guests, staff and community has been amazing. “From the day we opened our doors the city of Birmingham has embraced this restaurant as its own,” he says. “We are lucky to call this place home.”
1820 Third Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35203 • (205) 291-6660
Hours: Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Downtown, along Third Avenue North in the burgeoning Theatre District, is Birmingham’s latest (and only) izakaya — an informal Japanese gastropub — called Shu Shop. The concept came from Jason Templin and Adeeba Khan who first met as coworkers at Sakura (the one-time sushi joint in Five Points) and decided to team up and create their own ideal Japanese eatery. The interiors are dark yet warm, perfect for a cozy conversation over sake and noodles.
The food, composed of snacks, small plates and ramen noodles, is divine. Adeeba says Jason has studied Japanese cuisine for years — and his detailed attention to authenticity is obvious in each beautifully plated dish. Appetizers on the constantly evolving menu include miso-cured egg, Japanese pickles, shishisto peppers; and the small plates feature such dishes as spicy seared tuna tataki with wasabi remoulade, snapper sashimi with ponzu sauce, vegetable and pork gyoza, soy butter scallops, smoked yellowtail collar with yuzu sauce and, of course, the stars of the show: the warming ramen noodle bowls, which can come vegetarian, with seafood or pork. Don’t miss this fabulous spot. Read our full feature on Shu Shop.
521 Montgomery Hwy., Ste. 101, Vestavia, AL 35216 • (205) 637-3031
Hours: Seafood market and butcher shop hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Cafe hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This longtime Vestavia seafood shop recently expanded into the space next door, adding a butcher shop, two more experienced chefs and an eat-in cafe. And longtime fans of the shop couldn’t be more thrilled. “It just kind of morphed into more than we thought it was going to be,” says Pam Scott, who co-owns the joint with her husband and resident gumbo master, Kent Scott. “It started out as seafood, but then it grew to be Snapper Grabber’s Land & Sea to represent all aspects of the protein world.”
Don’t miss Kent’s unparalleled signature gumbo, which you can grab from the “Sea” side to take home, or saunter over to the “Land” side and enjoy a piping hot cup of it in the cafe. The butcher shop’s case is filled with beautiful cuts of protein and oftentimes uncommon and interesting meats, such as fresh rabbit, wild boar ribs, venison and even ostrich steaks. “It’s not for the faint of heart when it comes to eating. It’s going to be a little more out-of-the-box, but the customers love it, because they’re all foodies,” says Pam. And the menu at Land & Sea reflects that diversity as well. From their ever-popular Baja shrimp tacos and their fish sandwiches to gourmet soups, burgers and the beloved salads, this eatery has something for everyone. Read our full feature on Snapper Grabber’s Land & Sea.
The Yard & Moon Shine at the Elyton Hotel
1928 Firstst Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35203
The Yard (downstairs) • (205) 226-9298
Hours: Breakfast is served Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Saturday & Sunday, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.; Lunch is served Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Brunch is served Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Dinner is served Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; and no dinner service on Sunday.
Moon Shine (rooftop) • (205) 731-3600
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to midnight (food served from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.); Sunday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. (food served from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.); Closed on Mondays
There are two fabulous eateries in the newly renovated historic Elyton Hotel, formerly referred to as the Empire Building — the more upscale Southern progressive fare of The Yard, a modern yet classic white-tablecloth restaurant, and then the rooftop cocktail-centric scene of Moon Shine, a more bar-forward gathering spot with small plates and breathtaking views from atop the Elyton.
“I’ve always loved this building,” says Haller Magee, executive chef of the Elyton Hotel, a post which encompasses responsibilities not only for The Yard and Moon Shine, but also for the hotel’s in-room service, meetings and special events. “You know, 20 years ago, when I moved here, obviously not a lot of things were going on downtown. And to see and to be a part of that growth is pretty cool. And this was just a really great opportunity to be involved in the growth of the city and where it is going right now, and to be in what is arguably one of the most prestigious-looking buildings downtown — it’s just a really good project to be a part of.”
The Yard’s Southern progressive menu is peppered throughout with creative and unexpected global influences. Haller says the fresh Gulf seafood dishes are consistently a hit. “And believe it or not, our braised rabbit on mustard tagliatelle pasta with butternut squash, mushrooms and sage — that one’s really taken off. Everybody loves it; I love it.” Haller is in the process of revamping the menu for Moon Shine, which has a more simplified style revolving mostly around the rooftop venue’s wood-fired hearth oven. “Our pizzas are probably the most popular upstairs, and we have a tuna dip that’s pretty great,” says Haller.
2131 Seventh Ave. S., Birmingham, AL 35233 • (205) 323-0030
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Closed Sunday
Just a hop and a skip from Five Points and Lakeview in the heart of the UAB community, the new Yum Yai Thai Takeout place is ready to please the professional and medical communities of downtown as well as UAB students and Birmingham epicures. It’s great for students and professionals on-the-go, who want to grab a tasty Thai dish to enjoy at their desk. The eatery is co-owned by Kay Sathianphatthanakul and Golf Suchodayon. “For a long time, we have tried different takeout options in Birmingham, and we took notes to improve the convenience and availability. The convenience of dine-in, call-in and, very soon, a mobile app will make it quick and easy,” says Golf. Kay adds, “We also wanted to offer some of our personal Thai dishes and some unique Thai recipes being offered for the first time in Birmingham.”
Try the Crispy Pad Thai, a special from Kay’s hometown of Nakhon Sawan, Thailand, which replaces the chantaboon rice noodles with fried wontons. And you can’t go wrong with the spicy and flavorful stir fry drunken noodles — wide rice noodles stir-fried with housemade chili-garlic paste. Kay and Golf also recommend the roti canai, a creamy massaman curry with Indian naan, served with pickled carrots as a palate cleanser. Place your order now!
Now head out to try one of these fabulous new eateries, and tell them StyleBlueprint sent you!
New Birmingham Restaurants Since January 2017
Story published in June 2017
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!