Chain restaurants have their place. When you are on the road and you need familiarity, when there is a specific dish you want (we all have Mac Attacks sometimes).
When you want something really special and delicious, homegrown favorites are best. We have some of the best white tablecloth restaurants in the South, but our casual restaurants are special too.
Birmingham Post Herald staff eats at these restaurants regularly. These are places that do a great job and do it consistently. You can confidently take friends from out of town and be proud of what’s served. Lunch is more casual and all of these restaurants are reasonably priced ($10-20 per person or less).
Delta Blues Tamales (5 points)
Technically, this is probably more Mississipean instead of Mexican. The owners are from southern Mississippi, an area famous for tamales. They brought their expertise to Birmingham. Their menu is wider than just tamales (fried dill pickles!) and will have something for every taste. Ample seating and a dedicated parking lot next door.
El Barrio (downtown)
This is not your basic Tex Mex. Tacos Al Pastor with pulled pork, great salads and wonderful meatloaf. You can still get a quesadilla or taco, but it is just a bit better than usual. Fresh, good quality ingredients.
Trattoria Centrale (downtown)
Same owners as El Barrio. Really well done Italian. Their brunch is a favorite in town. Everything from sweet potato gnocchi to a slice a pizza for $2.70. Limited seating.
Slice (Lakeview near St Vincent’s)
Fancy pizza (or cheese if you like). Slices are available for lunch. They have the classic styles, build your own or specialty pizzas with toppings like brisket and braised short ribs. Hearty salads (kale with smoked salmon and citrus vinaigrette) are an option for those in your group that are watching the carbs.
Yo Mama’s (downtown)
Their fried chicken and waffles are their claim to fame, but they also have shrimp and grits and fish tacos, to name some additional options. This restaurant is lunch only (10am-2:30pm weekdays and some Saturdays). Located next to Urban Standard. Blink and you will miss it. Limited seating, but it turns fast.
Saw’s (Avondale and Homewood)
Good quality barbeque and Southern vegetables with a gritty feel. If you want to feel Southern, this is a great place to go. Limited seating, but it turns fast.
Birmingham Breadworks (Southside)
This restaurant’s claim to fame is the bread. Handmade on site. Go for the smell of the fresh bread alone. The fillings (Boar’s head meats, high quality cheeses) are as delicious as the bread. Soup, salad and daily pizzas by the slice too.
The Bright Star (Bessemer)
One of the oldest restaurants in the area (over 100 years old) and one of the reasons that the Greek salad is the house salad in Birmingham. Gumbo and grilled snapper throats are standouts. Daily lunch specials and southern sides. A great place to stop on the way to Tuscaloosa or to take out of towners. Reservations are available. Good for a group.