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As the temperatures drop, flavors begin to pop, and you’ll start to notice your cravings shifting from light and refreshing to comforting and belly-warming. It’s truly remarkable how a rich, flavorful meal can warm our wintery spirits. We’ve rounded up 11 of our bucket-list comfort food dishes from Birmingham eateries. From a crispy, spicy fried chicken to a soul-nourishing shrimp and saffron dish (finished with a warm chocolate chip cookie, of course), these local comfort food picks are sure to warm you up from the inside out this winter.

11 Comfort Food Dishes To Try in Birmingham

Johnny’s Restaurant

2902 18th St S, Homewood, AL 35209 • (205) 802-2711
Hours: Monday through Friday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Closed Saturday

Order: Chicken pot pie

Caramelized onions, fresh thyme, backyard bay leaves, shredded baby carrots, baby peas, diced celery and fresh chicken stock — all bound by a nutty, light brown roux that is made daily with milk and pulled Greek chicken. Ultimately, the pot pie is seasoned with toasted and crushed black peppercorn and kosher salt. “My passion is to make people happy through food,” says Chef Timothy Hontzas of Johnny’s. “As my Papou Johnny Hontzopolous always said, ‘We prepare food for the body, but good food to feed the soul.’”

The chicken pot pie at Johnny's Restaurant is unforgettable. Image: Johnny's Restaurant

The chicken pot pie at Johnny’s Restaurant is unforgettable. Image: Beth Hontzas

Bottega Café

2240 Highland Ave, Birmingham, AL 35205 • (205) 939-1000
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Closed Sunday and Monday

Order: White pie

Fennel sausage, onion, ricotta and provolone come together on this comforting Italian pie at Bottega Café. “Bottega’s white pie is this amazing combination of flavors and lusciousness with the crackly, crispy and just the right chewiness from the crust,” says Chef Frank Stitt. “The combination of a roast garlic and ricotta base with caramelized onion, our homemade fennel sausage, provolone and mozzarella makes for my favorite pizza. The aromas fill the room — my idea of comfort food.” And you can enjoy this half pie with a half salad and a cold brew, a bar special they offer every day, all day for a mere $10.

An crusty-and-chewy rustic crust is the foundation for this authentic Italian cheese and sausage pie. Image: Bottega

A crusty-and-chewy rustic crust is the foundation for this authentic Italian cheese and sausage pie. Image: Bottega

RELATED: 20 New Birmingham Restaurants to Check Out This Fall

Daniel George

2837 Culver Rd, Mountain Brook, AL 35223 • (205) 871-3266
Hours: Lunch is served Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Dinner is served Monday through Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Order: Roasted Colorado lamb chops

Tucked in the outskirts of bustling and quaint Mountain Brook Village, this unassuming neighborhood joint serves uncompromisingly good food. Daniel George’s roasted Colorado lamb chops are served atop breaded fried eggplant, arugula, blue cheese and roasted almonds, drizzled in a lemon-tomato vinaigrette and finished in a red wine reduction. Sometimes you need a nice meal to splurge on, specifically a delicious cut of meat, and “DG,” as the locals call it, is a great place to do so.

Fresh, warm and aromatic, this dish combines spicy arugula and citrusy vinaigrette with a savory blue cheese, crispy eggplant and tender roasted lamb for a dish that makes an impression. Image: Daniel George

Fresh, warm and aromatic, this dish combines spicy arugula and citrusy vinaigrette with a savory blue cheese, crispy eggplant and tender roasted lamb for a dish that makes an impression. Image: Daniel George

MELT

4105 4th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35222 • (205) 917-5000
Hours: Closed Sunday and Monday; Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Order: Mac melt

Grilled cheese is a classic comfort staple, but why not sass up that cheesy center by inserting mac ‘n’ cheese? The mac melt at MELT represents everything that is comfort — warm, cheesy and yummy for kids of all ages. Most people add bacon to this gooey goodness, but forego the bacon, and the mac melt is still divine!

Take your grilled cheese experience to new heights with the mac melt. Image: MELT

Ashley Mac’s

3147 Green Valley Rd, Birmingham, AL 35243 • (205) 822-4142
5299 Valleydale Rd, Birmingham, AL 35242 • (205) 346-6186
4730 Chace Cir #100, Hoover, AL 35244 • (205) 259-5044
1831 28th Ave S Suite n101, Homewood, AL 35209 • (205) 582-0062
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Order: Poppyseed Chicken

In this beloved casserole, white-meat chicken is mixed in a rich sour cream sauce, topped with buttery cracker crumbs and baked until golden. A favorite among busy families, this dish has become a Birmingham staple, but it is also a warming lunch enjoyed in one of Ashley Mac’s four cafes. “It’s one of our more simple dishes, yet it’s the biggest seller on our menu,” says Ashley McMakin, owner of Ashley Mac’s. “We cater this meal to hundreds each month, stock lots of personal freezers from our gourmet to-go pre-made meals section and serve countless plates in our cafés — come and try this comfort food next time you visit us!”

Ashley Mac's poppyseed chicken casserole is one of their most simple recipes, yet it is beloved by their loyal following. You can enjoy it in the cafe or grab different pre-made and frozen casseroles to take home.

Ashley Mac’s poppyseed chicken casserole is one of their most simple recipes, yet it is beloved by their loyal following. You can enjoy it in the café or grab different pre-made and frozen casseroles to take home.

Hamburger Heaven

180 Oxmoor Blvd, Homewood, AL 35209 • (205) 941-1668
Hours: Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Closed Sunday

Order: Sliders

These mini burgers are chargrilled to perfection and topped with pickles and Hamburger Heaven’s house sauce. It’s not fancy or pretentious, just a straightforward, old-school presentation that stirs nostalgia, satisfying the belly and the soul. Hamburger Heaven is off the beaten path in a spot along Oxmoor Boulevard, but it is certainly worth the jaunt. When we’re craving a good ol’ fashioned burger, this hidden gem is one of our go-tos.

These little sliders are so tasty, we could pack away a dozen in one sitting! Image: Hamburger Heaven

These little sliders are so tasty, we could pack away a dozen in one sitting! Image: Hamburger Heaven

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

2808 7th Ave S #101, Birmingham, AL 35233 • (205) 578-6018
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Order: Hot chicken & waffles

For Sunday Brunch only, the classic Hattie B’s Hot Chicken is paired with Belgian waffles. Guests choose their heat level: Southern (no heat), mild (touch of heat), medium (warming up), hot (feel the heat), damn hot (fire starter) and shut the cluck up!!! (burn notice), and then the crunchy, spicy fried chicken is complemented by the pillowy waffles and sweet syrup. “Our hot chicken & waffles is an incredibly rich dish, and it’s our most popular item on Sundays. Guests love the juxtaposition of something savory with something sweet,” says Nick Bishop Jr., co-founder of Hattie B’s. “For us, it’s nice to offer a brunch item and shake up the menu, even if it’s just once a week.”

The pillowy, sweet waffles are the perfect complement to the kicky, crunchy spice of the hot chicken. Image: Hattie B's Hot Chicken

The pillowy, sweet waffles are the perfect complement to the kicky, crunchy spice of the hot chicken. Image: Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

The Yard at the Elyton Hotel

1928 1st Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203 • (205) 226-9298
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Order: Saffron shrimp

This delectable shrimp dish is prepared with white wine, lemon, thyme, shallots, garlic, saffron and stock and served with butter-slathered bread, perfect for dipping into the aromatic sauce. Created by The Yard‘s Executive Chef Haller Magee, this dish is a striking combination of fresh and warm – perfect for a chilly night. Plus, the ambiance of the hip hotel takes the element of comfort to the next level.

Crusty artisan bread is slathered in butter and begs to be dipped in this aromatic saffron sauce. Image: Carlos Martinez, Elyton Hotel

The Essential

2018 Morris Ave, Birmingham, AL 35203 • (205) 703-3012
Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Order: Croissants

Flakey, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth goodness … a freshly baked croissant paired with an espresso drink of choice is a classic European combination for a reason. It is at once comforting and invigorating. Kristen Farmer Hall of Birmingham’s new “it” café, The Essential, whips up these to-die-for pastries and more. If you are looking for something heartier to comfort you on a cold day, their homemade pastas will surely hit the spot.

Light, airy, crispy, buttery, rich — how can a pastry encompass so many wonderful qualities at once?! Image: Stacy Allen of Mountainside Photo Co.

Light, airy, crispy, buttery, rich — how can a pastry encompass so many wonderful qualities at once?! Image: Kristen Farmer Hall

RELATED: A New, Chic Restaurant in Birmingham: The Essential on Morris Avenue

Saw’s BBQ

1008 Oxmoor Rd, Homewood, AL 35209 • (205) 879-1937
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Closed Sunday

Order: Pork-stuffed tater

A meal consisting of barbecue during a fall Saturday is a thing of beauty. But a loaded, jumbo baked potato filled with butter, cheese, chopped green onions, tender pulled pork and topped to perfection with SAW’s house barbecue sauce can’t be beat. Warm up your soul with a pork-stuffed tater and a crisp beer – you won’t regret it. Calories don’t count on the weekends, right?!

SAW's pork-stuffed tater with all the fixin's is the best kind of gut bomb. Image: SAW's

SAW’s pork-stuffed tater with all the fixin’s is the best kind of gut bomb. Image: SAW’s

Cookie Fix

2854 18th St S, Homewood, AL 35209 • (205) 582-2623
Hours: Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Closed Sunday

Order: Skillet cookies

Take a frozen pack of Cookie Fix’s salted caramel toffee chocolate chip cookies from the freezer. Place the dough into a single-serving iron skillet and half-bake the confection until the edges are browned to a crisp finish, while the center of the cookie remains ooey, gooey and delicious. Top the warm skillet cookie with a dollop of vanilla ice cream for an a la mode treat that is simply heavenly.

A salted caramel toffee chocolate chip cookie is baked in a skillet until brown on the edges and warm and gooey in the center, topped with a scoop of ice cream — Swoon! Image: Cookie Fix

A salted caramel toffee chocolate chip cookie is baked in a skillet until brown on the edges and warm and gooey in the center, topped with a scoop of ice cream — swoon! Image: Cookie Fix

Happy indulging, Birmingham!

*****

For more culinary scoop, find our local restaurants section here!

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