Southern travel tends to be associated with historic cities with a pre-Cretaceous past-Charleston, Atlanta, Richmond. Birmingham, while a post-Civil War “nouveau riche” city, has maintained its identity and is known for its downtown Renaissance and Southern food is getting more and more attention.
Alabama’s most populous city, Birmingham was founded in 1871 as an industrial and immigrant city. In fact, it was so prominent in the steel industry that it earned the nickname “Pittsburgh of the South.” Today, the city remains an important commercial center for the region, but for banking. In addition to business, as the state’s arts and culture capital, Birmingham is also home to many museums and festivals.
Another attraction of this destination is the food. Birmingham’s prime location gives its chefs access to an abundance of fresh, local ingredients, from fresh seafood caught in the Gulf of Mexico to Produce grown in Appalachia. All of these regional treasures combine to create an Alabama staple – soul food. Here are five of the best places to enjoy comfort food.
SAW’s Soul Kitchen.
Opened in 2012, SAW’s Soul Kitchen is part of the SAW’s family of restaurants, encompassing the From barbecue to soul food Southern cuisine.SAW’s Soul Kitchen offers traditional, home-cooked Southern fare. Served on a Styrofoam plate, you’ll be full and satisfied. Specialties include pork pulled pork, pork and vegetable and shrimp grits, served with mustard egg, potato salad or fried green tomatoes. There is also an array of stuffed ‘tarts’ with ingredients ranging from homemade chili to piles of chicken. What’s the perfect ending to a perfect Southern meal? Banana Pudding.
215 South 41st Street.
Southern Kitchen and Bar
The perfect place for a date night with a soul food lover, Southern Kitchen and Bar is chic and cozy and casual at the same time. Here, Southern cuisine is served alongside specialty cocktails. You can start with a Southern dish, including Southern fried pickles, fried green tomatoes and Hoppin’ John dip, to start Your Dining Experience. For your entree, while you can choose steak or salmon, more regional options include grilled scallops and grits and Southern stir-fry ( (Grilled chicken or blackened shrimp, sautéed Conecuh sausage, okra, grape tomatoes, corn and onions). Have no fear: there’s banana pudding here, too, but in pudding form, topped with whipped cream, vanilla wafers and strawberries.
2301 Richard Arrington Jr.
Carlile’s opened in 1945 and is still serving the same great BBQ today. The menu is limited (a trend you’ll notice with all the “great” barbecue joints) because the focus is on the quality of the food, not the Quantity. Choose from grilled sandwiches (there’s even a vegetarian option), burgers, salads, and plates or platters of everything from pork and chicken to Smoked sausage. Signature dishes include baked stuffed potatoes, open-faced pork and fries, and wings. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with deep-fried apple pie.
3511 6th Ave. south.
Spicy Fish Club
For soul food with a twist, Hot and Hot Fish Club is a fusion of French, Southern and California cooking styles to create an upscale experience unlike any other. While the dishes are certainly eye-catching and unique, the ingredients still harken back to Alabama’s rustic roots, whether it’s the signature tomato salad (served with a side of Sweet corn, peas, fried okra, and smoked bacon), or wood-fired chicken tenders (with pickled cabbage, cornbread, and pickled green tomatoes) (Black-eyed peas and chicken skin).
2180 11 Court South
The Yard has established itself as a Southern progressive restaurant with outstanding food and classic Southern hospitality. The chef’s resume is impressive, and that’s reflected in the menu. Among the breakfast selections, you’ll find plenty of buttermilk biscuits, farm eggs and country ham. Dinner is more extravagant, but you’ll still find traces of Southern roots in dishes like braised Mississippi rabbit and roasted tenderloin, served with spring Peas and wild mushrooms. The top dessert, of course, is pecan pie with molasses ice cream.
1928 1st Ave. north.