Best Restaurants of Birmingham

Best Restaurants of Birmingham

By Linda Milks

As a food, travel, and wine writer, my anticipation about the food of Birmingham was rewarded on a recent trip with such delicious arrays from an evening of cocktails and dinner at the well-known Highland Bar and Grill to Saw’s Soul Kitchen, a small no-frills cafe.

Famed Chef, Frank Stitt, a nine-time James Beard Foundation finalist, greeted us at Highlands Bar and Grill where he displayed his mastery of converting Southern standards into new and wonderful dishes showing his French training. From creative cocktails such as the Lillet Liberte with Lillet Rose, gin, and orange bitters to a creative assortment of starters like the Crispy Duck Confit and Stone Crab Claws our meal proceeded to the main courses of which one was the Stone Ground Baked Grits and Manchester Farms Quail. Next, a myriad of desserts adorned our table with each more decadent than the next, such as cardamom and vanilla bean crème brûlée and the dense chocolate cake.

For a lovely sidewalk café breakfast, try Trattoria Centrale where you will find the only truly local latte in the city.  Seeking a lighter breakfast, I noticed two dishes with butternut squash. The joke was on me when I couldn’t resist the breakfast pasta of bacon, butternut squash, onions, garlic cream and fried egg. Others indulged in the pumpkin spice waffle.

Bougue’s Restaurant has been serving stick-to-your-ribs breakfasts since 1938. You will find Southern cooking, including biscuits topped with scrambled eggs and pepper gravy.

If buffets are your thing, try Johnny’s Restaurant where you will find a wide variety of Southern vegetables, cornbread, sweet potatoes, and Greek dishes like Greek meatballs and Greek salad. I found myself in big trouble with more food than I could fit on my large tray!

Another wonderful buffet is Niki’s West that frequently makes best-of-restaurant lists due to steam tables chock full of an array of 70 items with a Greek take as well as Southern favorites.

If you can’t decide what you want, meander over to Pizitz Food Hall located in the old Pizitz department store where budding chefs are able to open their first place in a small space. You can also find cocktails at The Louis and dessert at Waffle Works.

The Bright Star Restaurant has been serving since 1907 with delicious specialties such as Greek-style snapper and steak, seafood gumbo and award-winning pies. It is a James Beard Foundation award winner for American Classics. Try the crab-stuffed shrimp for a dinner you will remember.

For the true flavor of Southern BBQ, don’t miss Saw’s Soul Kitchen, a small, no frills place with food served in paper baskets. Saw’s serves up some of the best smoked pulled pork, wings, and chicken along with shrimp n’grits.

Of course Birmingham is about more than amazing food. Please look for my article entitled “Birmingham—So Much History and Good Times”  to learn about the delights to explore in this complex and historical city.

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Linda Milks is a member of the
International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association

As is customary in the industry, my trip was sponsored by the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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