Visit any Southern town, and you’re in for a treat when it comes to what’s to eat. Birmingham, Alabama, however, is an up-and-coming foodie hotspot where the down-home restaurants stay true to their roots even if they’re offering a sophisticated take on soul food. You haven’t eaten Southern cooking until you’ve tasted elevated collard greens, catfish, and more Southern specialties.
Po’boys at Rougaroux
Southern cuisine isn’t the only type of food. While nearly every state in the South has certain foods in common, each has its own delicacies as well.
The Rougaroux, 817 39th St. South, is all about bringing New Orleans eats to the heart of Birmingham. By all accounts, it’s a match made in heaven. In addition to po’boy sandwiches stuffed with everything from oysters and chicken livers to crawfish, you can also try a turtle and veal po’boy. Make sure you try the gumbo — all the gumbo. You can’t pass on the boudin, a type of sausage, either. If you do, you’ll spend your entire life in regret.
Innovative Eats at Foodbar
Foodbar, 3156 Cahaba Heights Road in Vestavia Hills, is special. It offers Birmingham natives and visitors the opportunity to enjoy fusion food based on Southern classics.
Collard greens, for example, are a Southern staple; they put the “soul” in soul food. Now imagine eating your greens with a bowl of homemade ramen. From house-smoked trout and pulled pork to blackened Alabama catfish and bread pudding, you’ll leave the restaurant feeling stuffed but happy — and probably ready for a nap.
Fish and More Fish at Hot and Hot Fish Club
Alabama is well-known for its fishing industry. People fish for leisure and profit. The Hot and Hot Fish Club, 2180 11th Court South, banks on that particular bit of infrastructure. You need to call ahead for a reservation unless you want to eat at the bar, and you better save up before you go, but the experience is worth every penny.
The restaurant serves up a to-die-for appetizer known as the Bayou La Batre Crab Beignet, along with duck confit glazed with pecan truffles and tuile. As the main course, you can get snapper, tuna, or scallops, but you can also find lamb, pork, duck breast, and chicken with grits. When you’re looking for a place to stay, check out the hotels in Birmingham’s foodie district for accommodations near all the great food places. Keep in mind, however, that you’re going to need to take a walk after every dinner.
High-End Southern Cuisine at Highlands Bar & Grill
From its succulent oyster bar to its Southern-inspired starters, Highlands Bar & Grill, 2011 11th Ave. South, will have your mouth watering as soon as you open the menu. Feast on gumbo, quail, or a mixed seafood fry. Move on to sweetbreads, snapper, or black grouper. Try the duck breast and be spoiled for life. Experience the delight of pork schnitzel with pencil cob grits. You can taste a savory bread pudding while you’re here — just order the flat iron steak.
Make no mistake that the above list isn’t a comprehensive collection of Birmingham’s hottest spots for Southern eats. Be bold during your visit and explore a variety of restaurants. Find a chicken joint on the corner or a diner praised for its shrimp and grits. Where’s your favorite place to eat in town?