A Native’s Guide to New Birmingham

There’s so much going on in the Magic City these days, and we don’t want you to miss a beat!

by Jenny Adams photography by Rachel Callahan

As a kid in Birmingham in the 1980s, I remember how dark it was downtown. Parking on Morris Avenue was plentiful, but you were also offering up your car to potential vandalism. And, hanging out on the railroad tracks at the very center of the city? That was outright dangerous.

Today, I return home to a new Birmingham in 2019. Over the last five years, the changes in downtown alone have been astonishing.

Railroad Park has replaced those sketchy sections of track. The green space features 19 acres of birch groves, native plants, a stream and lake system, a bike and scooter share service (Veo Ride) and a skate park. Adjacent trails—like the Rotary Trail—connect you to other neighborhoods on protected, planted pathways.

Regions Field is home to the Birmingham Barons Minor League baseball team.

Morris Avenue still retains its cobblestone and brick charm, but now you have places like The Essential. Homemade pastas, salads and both savory and sweet pastries come from Pastry Chef/Owner Kristen Hall. The late-1800s, brick-front Victorian building is just a few blocks away from the similarly housed Queen’s Park––a new cocktail bar by a global-award-winning bartender, Laura Newman. It’s an ode to a tropical, old Havana-styled hotel inside, with dripping foliage, vintage fixtures and concoctions like Newman’s Milky Way––featuring Tito’s vodka, vanilla and cereal milk.

Whether it’s your first time or your 40th visit to the Magic City, you’ll likely need a guide to make the most of everything new and old…and overall, exciting.

Sidewalk Cinema, dedicated to showing independent films, opened in fall 2019 in the basement of The Pizitz.

The Heart of Downtown

A great place to begin your New Birmingham experience is in the very heart of downtown. Regions Stadium was designed by HKS of Dallas (the same group that created The Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX) and it’s directly adjacent to both Railroad Park and local Good People Brewing company. After a game or a beer on the patio, you can stop by Birmingham’s grand and impressive food hall. Inside you’ll find cuisines from around the globe, like the barbecue chicken ramen at Ichicoro IMOTO and the closer-to-home, homemade pimento cheese at Busy Corner Cheese & Provisions.

What’s most notable about this food hall is its location inside the old Pizitz Department Store building. Owned and operated as a high-end department store from the 1920s-1980s, the 200,000-square-foot landmark building sat glaringly empty until Bayer Properties bought it for $1.6 million in the late ‘90s. Painstakingly restored, the main level reopened as a food hall in 2017.

The Sidewalk Cinema opened on the basement level with two screens for independent movies. It will be a new home base for the city’s long-running Sidewalk Film Festival.

“The Sidewalk Film Festival will takes place each August in the heart of Birmingham, Alabama’s historic theatre district,” offers Chloe Cook, Executive Director of the Sidewalk Film Center and Cinema, and the Sidewalk Film Festival. “We screen over 250 films in 10 venues, including the gorgeous 2,200 seat movie palace that is the Alabama Theatre and the newly renovated Lyric Theatre. In addition to film screenings, we host over 150 visiting filmmakers who participate in Q & A sessions, teach master classes and more. Plus, we host 8-10 parties and receptions, panels and workshops and lots of special events. The Sidewalk Cinema will be a permanent home for our organization— providing office and meeting space, two theaters, an educational space, a concession stand, and a full bar. The Cinema will be open 365 days a year so it will not only change the game for our organization but for the entire community.” For information about how to contribute to the Cinema project or attend the Sidewalk Film Festival, please visit www.sidewalkfest.com

There are so many places to see a show now in Birmingham. That’s the newest, but you should also visit the oldest—the theater district just a few blocks away. The Lyric Theater was reopened in 2016. This 1914 gem now offers live concerts and plays by regionally acclaimed acts. Directly across the street, The Alabama Theater is an institution, fully restored in the late ‘90s. Last year, the Dalai Lama sold out as a speaker and Willie Nelson performed.

The Carver Theater & the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame feature not only a museum to the state’s music legacy in this genre but also a performance space and a school for aspiring talents.

There’s retail, too, all along Morris and First Avenues.

Pop by the chic, minimalist ethically focused designer Basic for cozy sweaters, soft-leather handbags, outerwear and shoes. Stationary, totes, and charming, small home items line the shelves at Square One Goods. The Alabama Peanut Company will sell you fresh-roasted peanuts and a humorous, cool, logo’d t-shirt, and artisan chocolates from Honeycreeper make ideal gifts. After the retail extravagance, a finishing libation is just steps away. There’s the Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar—where the world’s most beautiful agave spirits shine— the long-loved Wine Loft for a glass of vino.

Locals enjoy concerts at Railroad Park.

Five Points & Lakeview

Start a weekend with happy hour at 5 Point Public House Oyster Bar, opened by Birmingham’s beloved chef, George Reis. Eight wines on tap are paired perfectly with oysters from Alabama, Florida, Virginia and Maryland, alongside heavier plates, like their hearty oven breads. Reis also owns the acclaimed Ocean—also in the Five Points district— where a modern, cool-blue dining room showcases seafood towers, sashimi and Alaskan king salmon, among other ocean delicacies. A few blocks away, you’ll find Makario’s Kabob––Birmingham’s answer to Middle Eastern delights. Massive plates of hummus with shawarma, meat grape leaves and fattoosh tawook make this a sought-after lunch or dinner option.

After filling up on food in Five Points (and stopping by for a photo at the famous Frank Fleming statue and fountain), take a short ride over to Lakeview for late-night. Lou’s Pub & Package has anchored a street of bars since 1987. We adore Oasis for not only its lengthy beer list, but also for the live music that happens almost every night. It’s an ideal place to encounter some of Birmingham’s best music acts. On weekends, Slice Pizza & Brew serves cheese-laden pies until midnight. If you work in the medical profession, Mondays are a must. They give 25-percent discounts to anyone employed in that field. And on Thursdays, you’ll find a brewery spotlight of local craft brews.

Avondale Park hosts festivals, weddings and other community events.

Avondale & Crestwood

These two historic neighborhoods are an easy drive or a decent walk from downtown.

Start in darling Avondale, where 1920s Craftsman homes stretch off in every direction from the main artery of 41st Street South. There’s a wealth of food options, from creative American to barbecue to cocktails. You should certainly have a craft beer at the now-iconic Avondale Brewing and peek in the windows at the floral displays at Rosegolden flower design. Stop by Mom’s Basement and transport yourself to a simpler time and good vibes. They offer a full bar, live music and a wall to hang a photograph of your mom.

Shopping is abundant, too. There’s vintage to peruse at Sozo Trading Company and incredible artistry at MAKEbhm. This design collaborative space offers access to space and equipment to a range of local artists in mediums from woodwork to ceramics to jewelers. They also feature classes and workshops that visitors will enjoy. Crestwood is just east of Avondale. It’s quaint and quirky. Youthful, with some great history to the homes. You’ll find old-school listening moments at Seasick Records, where artists frequently come to sign vinyl sleeves the way authors might sign books. Next door is the Urban Suburban Antique Shop, a true emporium for picking up something secondhand. And, we can’t get enough of The Filling Station—where it’s hard to choose between a Three Cheese Marinara or a Chicken Pesto pizza. It’s a fine place to catch an Alabama football game on the televisions, or you could meet the locals over at Crestwood Tavern for an open mic night and an affordable, affable pint.

Homewood, Hoover, & Vestavia Hills

Two of Birmingham’s closest neighboring cities are also seeing dramatic change and growth in retail, restaurants and more. Escape Day Spa in the Edgewood neighborhood of Homewood provides first-class spa services in a serene setting.

Ruth’s Chris Steak House in the Embassy Suites Hotel in Homewood serves the finest chef-prepared cuisine and offers an extensive wine list. For a more casual experience, visit Soho Social in downtown Homewood, Margaronas Cantina on State Farm Parkway, Baja California Cantina and Twin Peaks in Hoover. The city’s best pizza and brews can be found at Slice Pizza and Brew in Vestavia Hills.

The Summit & Highway 280 Corridor

Lying just south of downtown Birmingham is the Hwy 280 corridor which leads to Birmingham’s largest retail development, The Summit. Village Tavern is a landmark establishment at The Summit and is well known for delicious food, terrific cocktails and incredible service.

There’s so much to do, see, eat and drink in Birmingham these days. It has this writer thinking of moving back, honestly. From all the serene hiking (did you know this is the end of the Appalachian Trail?) to the views from the restored Vulcan Park…from the Barber Motorsports Museum (a sleek, striking homage to all things motor vehicle, vintage-to-present) to the fun of McWane Science Center, where all ages can pick up a little knowledge…this new Birmingham is truly something to see. 

Excerpted from EXCURSIONS Hotel Guestbook Metro Birmingham 9th Edition (2019-20)by EXCURSIONS BY CITYVISION

Jenny Adams is a full-time freelance writer, based out of Alabama and New York City. She was born and raised in Birmingham and has been covering food and drink stories for a number of publications for more than a decade. She writes frequently for Conde Nast Traveler, Robb Report, Portico Mountain Brook and Hemispheres magazine.

She’s working on a novel set in New Orleans and if you’d like to find out more, you can visit her work at JennyAdamsFreelance.com

Rachel Callahan is a professional photographer who specializes in capturing the immense beauty of Birmingham. All of the profits from her work are donated to The WellHouse, a local nonprofit that rescues and cares for victims of human trafficking, rescuing women both in Alabama and all over the country. Rachel sells prints, metal prints, digital files, and many photo products featuring her work.

Follow Rachel at @ObjectivityRach on Instagram and Twitter or PictureBirmingham on Facebook. Her website is picturebirmingham.com.

A Guide to Birmingham’s Craft Breweries

Craft beer became all the rage several years ago, and the Magic City has been fortunate to have several locally-owned and operated craft breweries that are brewing beer that is not only tasty but also pays homage to the city’s rich heritage. Check out these unique breweries and let us know which one is your favorite!

Avondale Brewing Company

It all began when a circus owner’s misfortune at a game of cards bestowed the city of Avondale with a great gift. His prize attraction, Miss Fancy the Elephant, would inadvertently become the city’s greatest spokesperson. Known as the Queen of Avondale, Miss Fancy performed a wonder of tricks at her home in Avondale Zoo. During prohibition, City Hall kept a special Miss Fancy reserve on hand at all times in order to treat her stomach ailment. When her stomach started acting up, Mr. Todd would call the prohibition officers down to the zoo for a little hooch action.

Miss Fancy’s Tripel is a strong Belgian golden ale rich in flavor and alcohol. The use of malts, traditional hops, a proprietary yeast blend, and Belgian Candi sugar creates a very special beer named after a very special elephant. Miss Fancy’s Tripel is remarkably smooth and refreshing for such a high ABV beer. CAUTION! Miss Fancy’s Tripel at Avondale Brewing Company is brewed for humans but strong enough for elephants.

Good People Brewing Company

In the South, when someone is genuine, honest, and caring, they’re called “good people.” That’s who Good People Brewing Company keeps in mind when they’re crafting beer—the kind of humble, caring, and respected folks they grew up with. That philosophy has carried over to how they designed their taproom and social spaces. The taproom and outdoor patios and terraces allow for beer-lovers, regardless of how many there in a group, to comfortably sit and enjoy great beer and engaging conversation. Great beer is meant to be set down on a tabletop and overshadowed by conversation, friends, family. And every glass is an invitation.

THE TAPROOM The vast indoor taproom features all of Good People’s mainstay brews and a rotation of seasonal and specialty brews only available on-site. Watch the magic happen in the brewery through the large windows while discovering your next favorite beers from the oldest and largest brewery in Alabama. Tours available.

SPECIAL EVENTS Good People regularly hosts small and large events both private and public. A regular rotation of local food trucks keeps appetites satisfied. Book your next private or corporate event at Good People Brewing Company.

TAPROOM HOURS: Mon-Wed: noon-10 p.m.; Thu – Sat: noon-midnight; Sun: 1 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Cahaba Brewing

Eric Meyer and Andy Gwaltney, friends with more than a common interest in craft beer and home brewing, came together to found a brewery to celebrate life’s passions and provide Birmingham with a broad selection of flavorful craft beers. With a love of the outdoors, they named the brewery after Alabama’s iconic Cahaba River. In the summer of 2011, they devised a plan to build a brewery and thus Cahaba Brewing Company was born.

Crafting excellent beer is their passion. Like the river itself, it is the source of the journey. They didn’t know what was around the bend, but this they did know—sitting on the bank was not an option. Now Eric and Andy are supplying Birmingham bars and restaurants with craft beers such as White IPA, Liquidambar, American Blonde, Ryezome Stout, Oka Uba IPA, and rotating seasonals.
cahababrewing.com; 205-578-2616; 4500 5th Ave S, Bldg C, Birmingham, AL 35222; Taproom hours: Mon—Thu: 3p-10p; Fri—Sat: 12p-12a; Sun: 12p-8p

TrimTab Brewing Company

Birmingham welcomes its newest member to the local craft beer family, TrimTab Brewing Company. A trim tab is a small rudder on the larger rudder of a ship – an unassuming device that requires little effort to steer an ocean liner or airplane, no matter the size. Using that metaphor as a namesake, TrimTab Brewing is dedicated to three things: celebrating people that are small sources of large-scale change, crafting balanced beers, and having a lot of fun while they do it.

The brewery launched in 2014 after three long years of hard work transforming a 14,000 square foot car museum into a production brewery. With the combined efforts of brewers from some of the most respected breweries across the country, TrimTab Brewing showcases a wide portfolio of unique styles of beer ranging from their flagships TRIMTAB IPA and Pillar To Post Rye Brown, to seasonal favorites such as Cucumber Saison and Raspberry Berliner Weisse.

Their “Tasting Gallery,” part taproom, part art gallery, is dedicated to promoting regional artists whose work is continuously for sale. The space combines industrial and modern elements to create an atmosphere that is light, open, and inviting for enjoying their masterfully crafted brews year-round. trimtabbrewing.com
2721 5th Avenue S., Birmingham, AL 35233
Tasting Gallery hours: Tue—Thu: 4-10p; Fri: 4-11p;
Sat: 1-11p; Sun: 1-10p

Birmingham District Brewing

Birmingham District is the name of the geologic formation containing plentiful supplies of iron ore, limestone, and coal, the ingredients needed to make steel. The discovery of these ingredients in 1865 led to the explosive growth of industry and population that made the city of Birmingham appear “as if by magic.” Birmingham has since been known as “The Magic City.”

There has been a bit of that magic over the last 10 years with the appearance of craft breweries in and around Birmingham. The area now has a reputation as a destination for quality craft breweries and none reflect the history, heart, and magic of the area better than Birmingham District Brewing Company.  

At BDBC you will find world-class beers crafted by artisans in a variety of styles from pilsners, IPAs, and stouts to fruited sours. Great indoor and outdoor spaces, they have places to watch your favorite sports team, play a round of corn hole, or reserve a quiet spot for an informal business meeting.  

If you can only visit one brewery while you are in town, do not miss Birmingham District Brewing Company.

Located at 2201 2nd Avenue South, Birmingham, BirminghamDistrictBrewing.com; 205-202-5779
Hours: Mon—Wed: 12p—10p; Thu—Fri: 12p-12a; Sat 11a—12a; Sun: 12p—8p.

Back Forty Beer Company

Come check out Birmingham’s newest craft brewery located at Sloss Docks, with dramatic views of historic Sloss Furnaces and a lively railroad scene from the tap room, porch and vast beer garden.
Master Brewer, Tosh Brown, freshly brews popular core Back Forty beers (Naked Pig, Truck Stop Honey, Freckle Belly, Paw Paw’s, etc.) as well as a steady rotation of new experimental beers available only in the local market.
Grab a pint and enjoy a delicious meal from Executive Chef, Russ Bodner, who offers a creative menu sourced primarily through local growers. Their Taproom Leader keeps the atmosphere fun with lots of family-friendly activities, including sports on TVs, Cornhole, Ping Pong, Foosball, Woofday Wednesdays for pups in the garden, yoga on the porch, Thursday Trivia, and frequent live music from local and regional performers.
Check social media for an updated calendar of events, menu and beers on tap, and come be a part of one of Birmingham’s hottest venues.

Located at 3201 1st Ave North, Birmingham, AL 35222; backfortybeer.com; 205.407.8025; Hours: Mon & Wed: 3-10pm Thurs: 11am-10pm Fri & Sat: 11am-12am Sun: 11am-9pm Closed Tuesdays

Other notable breweries: Ghost Train Brewing, Ferus Artisan Ales, True Story Brewing Company, The Grocery Brewpub, Dread River Distilling Co., Monday Night Brewing, and Slag Heap Brewing.

Favorite Places to Get Upscale Mexican Cuisine

You’ve probably heard people on social media saying, “I don’t know the meaning to happiness, but I’ve never been sad at a Mexican restaurant.” We totally agree. Check out these amazing restaurants to get some of the area’s best upscale Mexican cuisine.

Rosie’s Cantina

Named the “Best Mexican Restaurant in Huntsville,” Rosie’s Cantina is a fun and festive atmosphere for casual family dining. Serving honest, handmade Tex Mex favorites as well as innovative house specialties in an atmosphere filled with unique works of art, antiques from Old Mexico and upbeat music. Enjoy lunch or dinner indoors and out year round or relax fountain side beneath beautiful Mexican architecture. A full service bar features Rosie’s famous Margarita Menu, an extensive collection of Mexican beers, tequilas, select wines and martinis. Our Mambo Taxi is legendary. Locally owned and operated since 1995, Rosie’s is a Huntsville tradition.

Buenavista Mexican Cantina

At Buenavista Mexican Cantina, their belief is that good food is finding that perfect balance between the way something looks and how it tastes. Their menus offer traditional Mexican fare like fajitas, burritos, quesadillas along with Buenavista specialties like Mexican Lasagna made with your choice of chicken or steak, and Cocktel De Camaron, which is Buenavista’s take on shrimp cocktail.

Josie’s Cafe

Josie’s is a café serving dishes originating in America, Italy, France and Spain. Adding flavor and style to Second Avenue.

5 Point Public House and Oyster Bar

For fresh Southeastern coastal oysters as well as sushi and more unusual items like alligator tacos, fried pork skins unique burgers, look no further than 5 Point Public House and Oyster Bar. The new South-side hot spot boasts an eclectic menu that is the brainchild of award-winning chef/owner George Reis. The foods aren’t the only attraction, with more than 30 craft beers, 20 beers on tap and cocktails offered to pair with the food. The restaurant also has something unique to Birmingham—eight keg-style wines on tap to be served with dinner or enjoyed in the pub-style atmosphere of the new gastropub.

Baja California Cantina

With outstanding reviews and consistently high praise from customers, Baja California Cantina and Grill in Hoover should be on the top of your list for the best Tex-Mex cuisine, delicious drinks with your favorite spirits and impeccable service.

Margaronas Cantina

Visit Margaronas Cantina in Homewood, Alabama. Serving traditional and authentic Mexican dishes, Margaronas Cantina has quickly become a stand-out among locals. The modern atmosphere pays tribute to Mexico with a heightened level of comfort and sophistication. Enjoy dining inside or out on the covered patio. The full bar offers the finest tequilas and all of your other favorite spirits. The owners and staff will greet you at the door and ensure your experience is the very best in Birmingham.

Best Rooftop Bars in Huntsville & Birmingham

The view from The Roof at Redmont Hotel in Downtown Birmingham. Photo: Brent Boyd

An amazing view just makes that drink or meal even better, right? The city lights and sounds make for an experience that you’ll remember and talk about for days and months. Check out some of our favorite rooftop bars in the Huntsville and Birmingham area:

HUNTSVILLE

Stella’s Elixir Lounge

Stella’s Elixir Lounge was voted Best Cocktail Bar in Huntsville! This sophisticated, fun, upbeat lounge is the perfect meeting place after work or date night destination. Gather around a cozy fire pit and sip on your face elixirs while catching up with friends.

Rhythm on Monroe

Rhythm on Monroe is the on-site restaurant at the Von Braun Center in downtown Huntsville. This trendy restaurant features locally sourced urban fare and local craft brews and wines. You’ll have an amazing view of Big Spring Park.

Pourhouse at Stovehouse

 Pourhouse at Stovehouse comfortably swanky bar sits at the heart of the food garden at Stovehouse, a mixed-use development. The unique round bar is the first of its kind in Huntsville, serving cocktails, wine, and beer with a large screen, showing movies and sports daily. The first rooftop bar in Huntsville also offers a wrap-around patio with fans and heaters, making this outdoor seating area comfortable year-round.

The Martin Bar & Bistro

The Martin Bar & Bistro is an open-air bar overlooking Washington Street in downtown Huntsville. The entrance is located at ground level immediately south of the Clinton Street parking garage. Ascend the original Art Deco terrazzo staircase from the 1950s into the original projection room from the renowned Martin Theater. Design elements include 18-foot ceilings with exposed original beams, intimate seating, multiple TVs, a large island bar serving artisan cocktails and classic American food.

BIRMINGHAM

The Roof at the Redmont

The Roof at the Redmont Hotel (see opening photo) in downtown Birmingham offers the most stunning views both day and night of the sites of Downtown Birmingham. It also offers the most stunning sunset views. Available for events, The Roof is open seven days a week beginning at 4 pm.

Roots & Revelry

If dining under stars is your idea of a great night out, Roots & Revelry will not disappoint. They are located in the historic Thomas Jefferson Tower in downtown Birmingham and have been lauded for their inventive menu serving update American classics, specialty cocktails, and weekend brunch. Open Tuesday through Thursday for dinner, Friday and Saturday for brunch and dinner. In addition to rooftop dining, they have a beautiful dining room, also and can accommodate you regardless of weather conditions. Be sure to make reservations at opentable.com as this is one of the hottest spots in the Magic City.

Carrigan’s Public House

Located on historic Morris Avenue, Carrigan’s Public House is the place to experience the best of Birmingham’s food and craft cocktail scene. Each cocktail at Carrigan’s is hand-crafted and the beer selection includes plenty of locally brewed choices as well as favorites from all over the world. The menu features traditional pub food taken to a higher level with fresh ingredients and everything made in-house from scratch.

From the huge front patios on both the main and upper levels, you can see a bit of over-the-mountain Birmingham as well as the historic train yard and cobblestones of Morris Avenue. And when the sun goes down, Carrigan’s comes alive with locals enjoying great food and city nightlife. Open Monday through Saturday beginning at 4 pm.

Other favorites: Moon Shine at the Elyton, Michael’s Restaurant, and The Southern Kitchen and Bar.

Kid-Friendly Birmingham

Looking for some kid-friendly places to take the kids? We’ve put together a list of fun and educational places that are sure to entertain the kiddos!

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

Have you considered how exquisite a motorcycle is in its styling, mechanics, and capabilities? Their artistry is what Birmingham native George Barber saw when he began collecting motorcycles in 1988. Six years later, he established the Barber Museum as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Today, it is home to the largest collection of motorcycles in the world.

Birmingham Zoo

Located within a short walking distance to Mountain Brook Village, The Grand Bohemian Hotel and Lane Parke, the Birmingham Zoo is an ever-evolving adventure with approximately 900 animals of 230 species. Visitors come from around the Southeast to experience the Wildlife Show, Predator Zone, Giraffe Feedings and the Sea Lion Show. With new features such as a jaguar and howler monkeys, the Birmingham Zoo is the perfect place to make memories to last a lifetime.

High Point Climbing

High Point Climbing and Fitness in Birmingham is located in the completely renovated Next Fitness facility on Highway 280. High Point Birmingham brings world class climbing to Alabama with 25,000 square feet of indoor climbing surface featuring up to 52+ feet of climbing. The facility is now completely open with the Kid Zone, Bouldering, Weight, Aerobic, Yoga Room, and Route Area! Climbing Clubs and Team can be joined at anytime.  Yoga is now offered five nights a week and is included with any Membership or Day Pass.Come have fun and get fit at High Point!

McWane Science Center

Fun and learning never end at McWane Science Center, a nonprofit, hands-on museum and IMAX® Dome Theater. Four floors of interactive exhibits celebrate science and wonder — from an amazing collection of dinosaurs to innovative environmental showcases, imaginative early childhood playgrounds, and an awe-inspiring aquarium. The energy and excitement of discovery spring to life through an extensive lineup of science demonstrations performed daily by talented educators. The adventure intensifies in the IMAX® Dome Theater, where wide-eyed visitors experience the sights and sounds of breathtaking films on a 5-story-tall screen surrounded by 3 tons of high-intensity speakers.

Vulcan Park & Museum

What kind of city builds a huge statue of a burly, bearded, bare-bottomed man to tower over its entire population? One that never forgets its roots. Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge, watches over all of Birmingham as a symbol of the city’s iron origins–and the ever-present spark of its indomitable spirit.

Best Burgers in Birmingham

Who doesn’t love a thick, juicy hamburger with all the fixins? And fries? And an ice-cold Coke…or craft beer? Ok, we’re starving now, so let’s jump into the list of the best burgers in Birmingham.

5 Point Public House Oyster Bar

(Feature photo) For fresh Southeastern coastal oysters as well as sushi and more unusual items like alligator tacos, fried pork skins, unique burgers, look no further than 5 Point Public House and Oyster Bar. The new South-side hot spot boasts an eclectic menu that is the brainchild of award-winning chef/owner George Reis. The foods aren’t the only attraction, with more than 30 craft beers, 20 beers on tap and cocktails offered to pair with the food. The restaurant also has something unique to Birmingham—eight keg-style wines on tap to be served with dinner or enjoyed in the pub-style atmosphere of this local favorite.

Avondale Burger Co.

This one on the list is a food truck you’ll find in the Birmingham area, and it serves up some amazing craft burgers by Chef Nick.

Chili cheese burger by @chefnicksy at Avondale Burger Co.

Jack Brown’s Burger & Beer Joint

You definitely want to grab an award-winning burger from Jack Brown’s Burger and Beer Joint! They use 100% Wagyu that’s sourced from a family owned and operated farm in Boise, Idaho.

Bacon burger at Jack Brown’s Burger and Beer Joint.
(photo by Jack Brown’s Burger and Beer Joint)

Melt

With three locations in Alabama, Melt has a variety of delicious food from burgers to sandwiches to fried macaroni and cheese.

The cheeseburger at Melt is a must! (photo by Melt)

Mudtown Eat & Drink

Even though we named a restaurant after dirt, the food is fantastic, fresh and fun. The beverages are cold and unique. The atmosphere is inviting and comforting. As you walk in to Mudtown, you will feel the prevailing friendly spirit, smell the enticing aromas from the kitchen and anticipate a quality dining experience served by people who genuinely appreciate you stopping by.

Cahaba cajun burger at Mudtown Eat & Drink. (photo by Mudtown Eat & Drink)

The Ridge

The Ridge is Birmingham’s newest family dining experience. Located on Rocky Ridge Road, in Vestavia. The Ridge offers a fantastic selection of American fare. From custom burgers to original sandwiches and entrees that will impress any fine food lover, our menu has something for everyone. Share  Bookmark Claim this Listing

Cheeseburger at The Ridge. (photo by The Ridge)

The Standard

The Standard is a modern take on the classic Birmingham hamburger and hot dog shop. Created by Chef Matt Ralph, it features fresh ground burgers and all beef hot dogs.

Also on the menu, you’ll find a house-made veggie burger, patty melt and a fried bologna sandwich—a southern classic. All of the sandwiches and hot dogs include fresh vegetables and house-made sauces.

Optional additions include pimento cheese, bacon jam, fried egg, and avocado. Add a side of fries, tots, coleslaw, or chips to complete your meal.

The Standard changes menu items seasonally, but the cheeseburger remains on the menu year round.

The Standard cheeseburger. (photo by The Standard)

Twisted Root Burger Co.

Their burgers are self-proclaimed “slap yo mamma” good and have been features on “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.”

The Western burger at Twisted Root Burger Co. (photo by Twisted Root Burger Co.)

Village Tavern

Village Tavern Scratch Kitchen-Craft Bar stands out for its passion and perfection of classic American cuisine. Be it for business lunches, gatherings or date night, Village Tavern is the place for all occasions. They are committed to providing the highest quality food, wine and service at an affordable price, while creating unforgettable dining experiences with exceptional hospitality.

Delicious burger at Village Tavern. (photo by Village Tavern)

5 September Events You Don’t Want to Miss

The weather is cooling down, and there are many fun events in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Decatur to help you welcome fall!

Sloss Furnace Fest

Furnace fest 2021 will be held at Sloss Furnace in Downtown Birmingham on September 24-26. You can buy tickets here: www.freshtix.com/events/furnacefest.

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Night Blooms at the Huntsville Botanical Garden

Night Blooms will lead you on a one-mile walking journey through the Garden in the evening. As you make your way through the Garden, you will discover vignettes of botanical lanterns integrated into the natural surroundings. Intricately designed and handmade by trained artisans, these lanterns bring plants and wildlife to life, reimagining the living things of the Garden as illuminated, technicolor, and larger than life. From poppies and orchids to turtles and spiders, Night Blooms will show you just how extraordinary a walk through the Garden can be. Through September 26.

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Peak Butterfly Season in the Purdy Butterfly House

The Purdy Butterfly House is a must-see in May through September! Peak Butterfly Season is the best time of year to visit the fluttering butterflies in the nation’s largest open-air butterfly house. This immersive habitat is home to over 1,000 brightly-colored native butterflies, as well as turtles, fish, and frogs. Come meet our winged friends while enjoying a stroll among the waterfalls, ponds, streams, and lush vegetation. The Purdy Butterfly House is open during regular Garden hours and is included with Garden admission. Through September 30.

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Drones: Is the Sky the Limit? at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center

Developed by subject experts from the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, and produced by Imagine Exhibitions, Drones: Is The Sky The Limit? explores the modern phenomenon of drones, their uses throughout history and the exciting possibilities of the future role that drones will play in our society.

Over the last 75 years, drones have evolved from remote-controlled planes used for target practice into versatile and highly specialized aircraft. As these aircraft fill the skies, they raise concerns about airspace, privacy and ethics in modern warfare. But these concerns are eclipsed by excitement for their potential: someday drones will explore Mars, serve as pilotless flying taxis, and deliver packages and groceries to our front doors.

Drones: Is The Sky The Limit? features real drones, in-depth label paneling and rich audio-visual content. The exhibition also includes a drone racing video interactive and provides a birds-eye view of the aeronautics, engineering, science, technologies and innovations of one of the most intriguing topics dominating our current culture.

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Concerts by the River at Rhodes Ferry Park in Decatur

Concerts by the River will be September 13, 20, & 27 at Rhodes Ferry Park (Hwy 20 at Oak St) unless otherwise noted. All concerts are FREE and will begin at 6pm. There will be food trucks, so don’t forget to bring your chairs or blankets. Weather info, cancellations, or venue moves will be posted, or you can call (256) 341-4818.

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The Best Thing to Happen This Winter in Birmingham

Birmingham Restaurant Week (BRW) organizers are pleased to announce the dates for BRW 2021 – Winter Edition presented by Spire. Happening Thursday, Jan. 14 through Sunday, Jan. 31, the 18-day Winter Edition seeks to further support the restaurant and bar industries during a time when it is more crucial than ever. https://bhamrestaurantweek.com

This event will boast to-go and curbside pickup options as well as the traditional, but limited, dine-in options, as health precautions are still being mandated. With aims to keep guests warm, fed and safe and to allow for al fresco dining no matter the weather, many restaurants are making special accommodations to safely serve diners during the winter by offering outdoor high-powered heaters, cabana tents and “igloos” to expand upon outdoor and patio seating.

From fine dining to down-home cookin’, food and drink lovers with a taste for adventure can enjoy special two and three-course breakfast, lunch and/or dinner prix-fixe menus ranging from $5 to $50 per person – making it easy and affordable for everyone to enjoy a taste of Birmingham’s diverse dishes and sips. BRW 2021 – Winter Edition aims to keep bellies full, restaurants cooking and jobs safe. BRW is more than eating and drinking, it is about supporting local restaurants and giving people an opportunity to enjoy the South’s most vibrant culinary destination by offering incentives for patrons to revisit their favorite restaurants, bars and food trucks or to experience new ones.

“Spire is once again excited to partner with Birmingham Restaurant Week in supporting our local restaurants,” says Joe Hampton, president of Spire Alabama, Gulf Coast and Mississippi. “As we enter into the winter months, these local restaurants need our support more than ever. With plenty of curbside and to-go options available, this winter’s event will be a great example of how we can continue to move forward and get through this – together.”

BLUEROOT in Mountain Brook

“This has been an incredible experience, and I am so thrilled we joined up this year,” said Viscaino. “Our sales have been incredible, and I could barely keep our cheesecake stocked! I made more cheesecake in the two weeks of BRW 2020 than I did all summer! We appreciate the continued support, and I am really looking forward to next year’s event.”

Ocean Restaurant in Five Points South

Organizers are excited to announce the official list of BRW 2021 – Winter Edition participants: 5 Point Public House, Ash, Ashley Mac’s at The Pizitz, Avondale Burger Co., Basil Pizza & Bar, Bay Leaf Modern Indian Cuisine & Bar, Birmingham Candy Company at The Pizitz, Blueroot, Bobby Carl’s Table, Carrigan’s (Downtown), Classic Wine Co., Crestline Bagel Co. (Mountain Brook, Cahaba Heights & Downtown), Dreamland Bar-B-Que (Southside), Edolyn’s Pies at The Pizitz, El ZunZun, Eli’s Jerusalem Grill at The Pizitz, Farrelly’s Southern Bar and Kitchen, Filter Coffee Parlor, J Wings at The Pizitz, JuicedUp Essentials at The Pizitz, Kamali Creole Kitchen, La Tía Paisa Taco Shop, Lou’s Pub & Package Store, Michael’s Restaurant, Piper & Leaf Tea Co. at The Pizitz, Porky’s Pride Smokehouse, Ocean, Ono Poke at The Pizitz, Ovenbird, Pho Pho Vietnamese at The Pizitz, Rojo, Roots & Revelry, Sabor Latino, Silver Kati at The Pizitz, Slice Pizza and Brewhouse (Lakeview & Vestavia), Sol y Luna Restaurant, Spring Street Bar & Grill, Taj India, The Fig Tree,, The Louis Bar at The Pizitz, The Lumbar, The Standard at The Pizitz, The Woed Experience Food Truck, The Yard, Tortugas Pizza – Birmingham, Tostadas, Tropicaleo, Unos Tacos at The Pizitz, and Vino & Gallery Bar.

FILTER Coffee in Five Points South

With almost 60 participants, BRW 2020 had a whole new recipe with the new to-go and curbside pickup options. Only locally owned businesses were allowed to participate, as nearly 65 percent of the revenue from local independent restaurants recirculates in the local economy (compared to about 30 percent for chain restaurants). Other new additions included family-style meal options, cocktail kits and to-go alcohol, which were easily some of the biggest successes of this summer’s event. Traditional dine-in was still an option for some restaurants and bars; however, socially-distanced tables, capacity limits and mask requirements were mandated to ensure safety for guests and employees. For the first time, BRW extended the normal 10-day event to 18, offering more days for patrons to partake and more opportunity for incoming sales for participating businesses.

Giving back to the community has always been an essential component for BRW with more than $75,000 raised for local nonprofits in its 11 years of existence. After BRW 2020, organizers donated $2,500 to the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama (CFBCA) to help aid in its mission to end hunger tomorrow. The CFBCA feeds over 80,000 people at risk of hunger per month and supplies food to 250 food banks, shelters and children’s programs in 12 counties in Central Alabama.

mo:mo: at The Pizitz Food Hall

“Right now donations are very important from the community because we’ve almost doubled the amount of food that is going out into the 12-county Central Alabama region this year,” said CEO of CFBCA, Brett Meredith. “We have gone from about 1.1 million pounds a month to roughly 2.2 million pounds a month right now, so that makes such a difference.”

BRW could not be possible without the generous support from sponsors, including Spire, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Birmingham Bud, Red Diamond, Fox 6 WBRC, Coca-Cola, Birmingham Mountain Radio, Bham Now, The Birmingham Times, The Pizitz Food Hall and EXCURSIONS by CityVision.

For more information about BRW and the Winter Edition, visit www.bhamrestaurantweek.com. BRW is active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and can be found @bhamrestweek. The official event hashtag is #BhamRestWeek. 

ABOUT BIRMINGHAM RESTAURANT WEEK

Established in 2010, BRW is an 18-day culinary affair where local restaurants offer incentives for patrons to revisit their favorite restaurants or to experience new ones, celebrating the landmark eateries that helped make Birmingham’s food scene what it is today. BRW gives chefs the opportunity to showcase how they’re feeding the city—from creating nationally-acclaimed dishes that feature locally-sourced ingredients to mentoring the next generation of culinary entrepreneurs. BRW is organized by Birmingham advertising agency Style Advertising and James Little. This event is proudly co-sponsored by CityVision and EXCURSIONSgo.com.

#brw2021 #bhamrestweek #inbirmingham #excursionsgo #supportlocal #eattheham

EXCURSIONSgo.com Sponsors Sidewalk Film Festival 2020! AUG 24-30! Tickets going fast!

All the info and links you need to experience the Festival!

Locating the Drive-In

The Grand River Drive-In address is 1451 Grand River Pkwy, Leeds, AL 35094.
• From I-20 traveling east or west, Take Exit 140.
• From I-65 or I-59: Take 459 to I-20 Atlanta, On 459, exit to I-20 Atlanta and take Exit 140.
• At Exit 140, turn left at the exit onto Hwy-78 and cross under the bridge to reach the entrance of the venue. 
• Turn right on Grand River Parkway and follow it until it dead ends, and the drive-in is on the right.

Click here for Google Directions


Festival Map

The Grand River Drive-In offers 4 drive-in screens, a concession stand and grill, an off-leash dog park for the furry friends, a playground for the kiddos, a mini-golf course, and yard games. There will be four traffic lanes to enter the venue, and you will be directed to your screen by our staff. 

Gates will open tentatively at 6:30 pm each day. If you purchase tickets to two screenings at different screens, once the first film ends you will be able to navigate your vehicle to the next screen. If you happen to purchase tickets to two films at the same screen, you don’t need to move your car – you can just stay where you are parked after the first screening.

Each screen has a different capacity, the smallest being 78 cars and the largest being 177 cars! The lots at the Grand River drive-in are staged so that any car of any size can park anywhere and can get a clear view of the screen. This means that parking your vehicle will be easier than it was if you attended any of our pop-up drive-ins at The Summit. We do ask that if you plan to leave a screening early to park at the back so as not to disrupt other patrons.


What to Bring

• Everyone should bring an open mind and an adventurous spirit!
• A mask or cloth that covers your nose and mouth. Masks will be required any time you are outside your vehicle and when interacting with Sidewalk staff or volunteers from inside your vehicle
• Since this is a drive-in festival, you may want to consider the following items: camp chairs (we have limited-edition Sidewalk chairs for sale!), blankets, comfortable shoes (much of the venue is not paved), and a debit/credit card (some points of sale will be cashless due to COVID-19).
Please don’t bring: Outside food or drink, Bad attitudes, Weapons of any kind, Drugs


Audio + Car Etiquette

The speed limit within the venue is 5 mph. Once you arrive, our volunteers will provide you with the radio frequency for your screen. If your radio does not work unless your car is running or you plan to sit outside of your vehicle, we suggest you consider bringing a portable FM radio. 

After parking, we ask that you ensure that your headlights are not on to create a better viewing experience for those around you. 


Food + Drink

Since you’re unable to bring in outside food and drinks, concessions will be handled by the Grand River Drive-In. Their snack shack offers everything from the classic popcorn, candy, and nachos to a grill with burgers and hotdogs! They also offer a full bar so grab a beer and a burger and enjoy the film! 

Click here to view the menu


Audience Choice Balloting

We are moving our audience ballot process to a digital format. You will have information on the pass you receive upon entering the festival to access the digital ballot for the screening you are attending. Simply submit your vote and follow up at the end of the festival to see if your favorites win!


Did we answer all of your questions? 

If not, reach out! Email us at tickets@sidewalkfest.com or call our box office line at 205-413-3794. 


Help us spread the word!

Sidewalk needs your help to get the word out about this year’s festival on social media! It helps even more if you can personalize your posts by talking about a film you are particularly excited to see, but really anything helps! Here are a few captions you can copy and paste to share on the platform of your choice and an image you can use:

FACEBOOK: I’m going to the #sidewalkdrivein this August 24-30! Join me and check out some new independent films and some beloved classics, all from your car! Check out the online schedule here: sidewalkfest.com/schedule

TWITTER: I’m going to @sidewalkfilm ‘s #sidewalkdrivein 8/24-30. Check out the online schedule here: sidewalkfest/com/schedule

INSTAGRAM:  @sidewalkfilm is hosting a drive-in film festival! Join me at the #sidewalkdrivein August 24-30. You can find the full schedule at sidewalkfest.com/schedule

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EXCURSIONS Proudly Sponsors Birmingham Restaurant Week Aug. 14-31, 2020

SPIRE PRESENTS BIRMINGHAM RESTAURANT WEEK AUG. 14 – 31, 2020 WITH EXTENDED DATES AND TO-GO & CURBSIDE OPTIONS

Birmingham’s premier dining out event adds bars, food trucks and eight extra days of Second Helpings to maximize restaurant sales

The 11th annual Birmingham Restaurant Week (BRW) presented by Spire will be held Friday, Aug. 14 through Monday, Aug. 31, 2020 with 18 days of dining out deals. Normally a 10-day event, this year’s BRW provides an additional eight days of Second Helpings to maximize sales for area businesses due to COVID-19 and to allow patrons more opportunity to support participating businesses. Birmingham’s Premier Culinary and Beverage event features a new recipe this year with an emphasis on new Curbside, To-Go and Delivery options available from participating restaurants, bars and food trucks. 

5 Point Public House Oyster Bar

Established in 2010, the annual event celebrates the city’s burgeoning culinary reputation, demonstrating to locals, the region and the world why Birmingham is the South’s most vibrant culinary destination by offering incentives for patrons to revisit their favorite restaurants, bars and food trucks or to experience new ones. From fine dining to down-home cookin’, food and drink lovers with a taste for adventure can enjoy special lunch or dinner 2 and 3-course, prix-fixe menus ranging from $5 to $50 per person – making it easy and affordable for everyone to enjoy a taste of Birmingham’s diverse dishes. BRW is inviting locally owned bars and food trucks to participate this year as well.

Ocean

New for this year, patrons have the opportunity to bring BRW home to their table and enjoy with family and friends by choosing from new To-Go and Curbside Pick-Up options, as well as Delivery, if available from the restaurant. The traditional Dine-In option for BRW will be available but limited for businesses and with safety precautions, such as socially distanced seating, disposable table items, mask requirements and more. Family-Style Meals, To-Go Cocktails and Cocktail Kits have been included by many participating BRW businesses. 

Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar

“Birmingham Restaurant Week is going to be huge for the restaurant industry this year,” said Zebbie Carney, owner of Eugene’s Hot Chicken. “I believe that the restaurant industry has taken a bigger hit than most industries with the influx of customers. Even if people are just ordering to-go or buying gift cards during BRW, it will tremendously help restaurants!”

Nothing about 2020 is business as usual. And yet, BRW feels the weight of importance in supporting local restaurants which represent both small businesses and the food which defines our culture. In fact, in the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, it was local restaurants that rapidly implemented curbside and delivery plans in order to keep Birmingham fed.

“This year, it’s more important than ever to support our local restaurants among all they’ve faced as a result of the pandemic,” says Bill Stoeffhaas, co-founder of Birmingham Restaurant Week and partner at Style Advertising. “Each restaurant has created their own unique way of moving forward during this challenging time, and this year’s BRW provides an opportunity to spotlight that and provide them with the community support and promotion they deserve.”

Slice Pizza & Brew

Only locally owned and operated businesses will be allowed to participate this year, as BRW has decided to be hyper local and support the local community. Participation is welcomed from local establishments throughout metro Birmingham, including the City of Birmingham, Mountain Brook, Vestavia, Homewood, Hoover, Trussville and other neighboring cities. 

“Spire is excited to work with BRW in supporting our local restaurants during this difficult time and highlight our mutual commitment to the health and safety of our communities. This year’s BRW is a great example of how we can begin to move forward and get through this – together,” says Joe Hampton, President of Spire Alabama.  

“All of the hardworking and dedicated individuals who are the heartbeat of the culinary talent in our city have suffered the brunt of this crisis, and it’s up to us to support and promote them during this time,” says James Little, co-founder of BRW and owner of Filter Coffee Parlor. “We’re asking everyone to take advantage of this year’s BRW more than ever by ordering to-go or curbside pickup meals, purchasing family packs and cocktail kits and enjoying all that the restaurants and bars are bringing to the table this year.”

In spring 2019, BRW organizers surveyed diners and found the following:

  • 86% of those diners want to expand their palate. Diners intentionally sample new restaurants during BRW and 71% cite that as the primary reason they value BRW.
  • 98% of diners want another helping and return to new restaurants they have tried AFTER Restaurant Week has ended.

Throughout 10 years of BRW, more than 1.2 million BRW menus have been sold, raising over $24.5 million in gross receipt sales and generating more than $2.2 million in sales tax for local cities. In 2019, an estimated 108,000 meals were served, generating more than $2.1 million in total gross revenue to participating restaurants. BRW has also raised more than $75,000 for local nonprofits, which is a goal of BRW to continue doing this year. Planning is underway for Winter Restaurant Week which will take place Jan. 22 – 31, 2021.

BRW is active on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, and can be found @bhamrestweek. The official event hashtag is #BhamRestWeek. The BRW “Free Food Friday” contest is taking place again, allowing fans to win gift certificates to a BRW-participating restaurant each Friday. 

Restaurants, bars and food trucks can sign up for BRW on the “Business Sign-Up” tab at www.bhamrestaurantweek.comor click here. The deadline is July 24, 2020. Those wishing to sponsor the yummiest event in town can do so by emailing info@bhamrestaurantweek.com for more information. All other details can be found at www.bhamrestaurantweek.com

In addition to Spire, gracious sponsors include Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Clyde May’s, Birmingham Budweiser, Red Diamond, Fox 6 WBRC, Coca-Cola, Birmingham Mountain Radio, Bham Now and EXCURSIONSGO.com