Despite Birmingham, Alabama’s post-civil war origins, it is the birthplace and beacon of the 1950s and 60s Civil Rights Movement, which some would argue is the second civil war.
The many battlegrounds of the civil rights movement still exist today as important landmarks that you can spend days touring to learn about the turbulent and ongoing fight for equal rights.
For a break from sobering history lessons, Birmingham is surrounded by natural beauty. You can take a bike ride through Red Mountain Park or listen to the soothing sound of waterfalls at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve.
Of course, my trip wasn’t all about nature and history. I had to make time for my favorite pastime: eating.
Birmingham restaurants exceeded my expectations, offering a wide variety of cuisines in a diverse array of dining experiences.
Whether you’re looking for casual barbeque joints or fine dining Italian bistros, restaurants in Birmingham have it all.
Best Restaurants in Birmingham
- Hot and Hot Fish Club
- Saw’s BBQ
- Chez Fonfon
- Cafe Dupont
- John’s City Diner
- Trattoria Zaza
- El Barrio
- Yo’ Mama’s
- Gianmarco’s Restaurant
- Automatic Seafood and Oysters
- Texas de Brazil
- The Original Pancake House
- Dreamland BBQ
- Bistro Two Eighteen
- Hattie B’s Hot Chicken – Birmingham
- Bocca Ristorante
- The Rougaroux
- The Refinery
I have compiled a list of the best restaurants in Birmingham to satisfy any craving and charm every customer with Southern hospitality. Read on to plan your restaurant tour around Birmingham.
Hot and Hot Fish Club
2901 2nd Ave S Suite 110, Birmingham, AL 35233
Hot and Hot Fish Club is a fine dining New American fusion restaurant from the James Beard Award-winning owners and chefs, Chris and Idie Hastings who combine techniques and flavors from California, the deep South, and classic French cuisine.
Their location inside the artists’ collective Pepper Place in Birmingham’s Creative District offers a beautiful setting in a light and airy dining room with an open kitchen.
The Hastings pride their menu as a modern take on classic Southern, Californian, and French cuisine, using locally sourced and foraged ingredients.
The modern and artistic presentation of each dish is as stunning as its flavor. I had to go with the most basic southern dish of pork and beans, which they served in the most beautiful and flavorful display accompanied by collard greens, Chow-Chow, and crackling cornbread.
Standing for “Sorry Ass Wilson,” Saw’s BBQ joint was founded by the not so sorry Mike Wilson who brought his North Carolina heritage along with his impressive culinary resume to Birmingham’s barbeque scene in 2009.
Since then, Saw’s BBQ has been voted the Best Barbeque in America by Men’s Journal, and you can find multiple Saw’s BBQ locations in the Homewood, Southside, Crestline, and Avondale neighborhoods.
Chef Wilson’s perfect barbeque features meats like ribs, pulled pork, and chicken smoked to perfection and served with your choice of three different house-made barbeque sauces, not to mention all the amazing Southern sides.
I recommend getting a combo plate so you can try all the meat, plus your choice of sides. They make some delicious deviled eggs and cheese grits.
Slice Pizza & Brew
725 29th St S, Birmingham, AL 35233
Located in the lovely Lakeview neighborhood, Slice Pizza and Brew is committed to local sourcing and a welcoming local feel.
Owned and run by three brothers, Slice Pizza and Brew is a neighborhood favorite for families and friends to enjoy great food in a wonderful atmosphere while supporting local artisans, brewers, and purveyors.
You can find 10-12 rotating beers on tap all from local breweries along with a long list of domestic bottles, wine, and hard seltzers.
The food menu consists of gourmet small plates, salads, and desserts as well as thin-crust specialty pies.
My favorite specialty pie was the Basic Pesto, a white pie with a pesto base topped with Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, local goat cheese, and shaved red onions.
2007 11th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35205
Chez Fonfon is a friendly and lively French bistro with over 20 years as a Five Points South neighborhood favorite for casual yet refined dining.
The fun French décor and the old-school European design of the interior evo+kes the kind of establishment you’d find in any French city or town.
The French bistro fare is as classic and authentic as I hoped, garnering head chef and owner Frank Stitt a James Beard Award for best chef.
Their wine list is as impressive as the menu, and what better to accompany French food than a nice bottle of French wine? I recommend starting with steak tartare with cornichons and arugula followed by the Poulet rouge (roast chicken) with herbes de Provence and duck fat potatoes.
113 20th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203
Located in a beautifully preserved 1870’s building in Birmingham’s historic North End, Café Dupont is a New American bistro featuring a daily rotating menu of locally sourced farm-to-table dishes prepared by chef and owner Chris Dupont.
The interior of the building retains the same structure as the original storefront with industrial-chic décor to accentuate it, earning an award from Birmingham City Council for its impeccable preservation.
Chef Dupont uses local organic purveyors to create a menu that honors regional and seasonal cuisine. The menu changes daily per the seasonal availability of the ingredients.
The starters include a wide array of excellent cheese and charcuterie boards, including my personal favorite, a baked triple crème French Brie with apricot chutney Eastaboga honey and compressed pears.
John’s City Diner
112 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N, Birmingham, AL 35203
John’s City Diner is a modern revival of downtown Birmingham’s historic downtown city diner, wherein chef and owner Shannon Gober has created a contemporary take on classic diner fare in an updated space that still retains old-school charm.
As is a common theme in Birmingham, ingredients are locally sourced, organic, and hormone-free produce, meat, and dairy.
John’s City Diner has a full bar with 15 different wines by the glass, locally brewed artisanal beers on tap, and delicious craft cocktails. Chef Gober’s menu is a contemporary diner menu that’s heavy on Southern influences.
She has a selection of gourmet mac and cheeses and chicken and waffles that she deems “not your mama’s.”
I tried the Three Little Pigs mac and cheese with prosciutto, bacon, and pulled pork, topped with crispy fried onions.
2810 3rd Ave S #200, Birmingham, AL 35233
Another visionary restaurant from the founders of Hot and Hot Fish Club, Ovenbird is a farm-to-table refined dining restaurant and wine bar specializing in contemporary Latin cuisine from Spain, Portugal, Uruguay, and Argentina.
Ovenbird is in a beautiful indoor and outdoor space in the same creative Pepper Place space in the Market District, a few steps from its sister restaurant.
The wine menu and food menu go hand in hand, with specific wine pairings for each menu item.
I recommend starting with the by-catch ceviche, featuring the freshest daily mixture of fish and shellfish marinated Peruvian style with sweet drop peppers, pickled vegetables, and radish. The Argentinian-style hanger steak with chimichurri is fantastic.
207A 20th St N, Birmingham, AL 3520
Located in downtown Birmingham’s Second Avenue North area, Trattoria Zaza is a stylish, modern Italian eatery in a beautifully designed space.
I loved the contemporary wood furniture, tastefully tiled bar, glossy cement floors, and richly colored leather booths. Trattoria Zaza has weekend brunches that draw a serious crowd with lines out the door.
While house-made pasta and a signature rectangular-shaped flatbread pizza were enticing, I wanted to see what the brunch was all about.
I’m sure glad I decided to come for brunch, with amazingly delectable Italian-inspired breakfast comfort foods like breakfast pizza, seasonal frittatas, and the best mascarpone stuffed French toast I’ve ever had.
2211 2nd Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203
Meaning “the neighborhood” in Spanish, El Barrio is Central City neighborhood’s favorite regional Mexican food restaurant and cocktail bar, serving refined Mexican dishes using locally sourced, organic ingredients.
The cool and trendy interior features an awesome graffiti-style Mural with Mexican-inspired imagery. There’s also outdoor street-side seating shaded by large trees.
Their Mexican cocktail menu has all your favorites, from Palomas to Margaritas to enjoy with a wonderful selection of guacamole, bean dip, or my personal favorite, a tequila-spiked goat cheese queso fundido with chipotle.
They also serve authentic street tacos from Al Pastor to Carnitas, but I couldn’t pass up a piping hot bowl of green pozole with slow-roasted pork, cabbage, hominy, bacon, and tomatillo served with a large slice of cornbread.
2328 2nd Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203
Located just down 2nd Avenue from El Barrio in Downtown Birmingham, Yo’ Mama’s is a lunch eatery featuring down-home cooking and modern takes on regional comfort food.
Yo Mama’s started as a wildly popular fish and chicken stand at the Seabreeze Jazz Festival in Destin and Panama City, drawing such widespread acclaim that it soon opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Birmingham.
Chicken and fish are still stars on the menu at Yo’ Mama’s, and you can get it in numerous varieties from fish tacos and shrimp and grits to chicken and waffles and hot wings plate.
My favorite dish was their Shrimp plate with battered and fried shrimp, fresh-cut fries, coleslaw, and house-made tartar sauce.
721 Broadway St, Birmingham, AL 35209
Owned and run by father and sons Giovanni, Giani, and Marco Respinto, Gianmarco’s Restaurant is a refined Italian restaurant and bar in the Homewood neighborhood.
The Respinto family comes from generations of Italian cooks with decades of culinary experience, serving the most authentic Italian dishes in a multi-course format.
Along with a multi-course dinner and lunch menu, there are daily specials for each course including antipasti, salads, pasta, entrees, and desserts.
Their fried calamari was super light and perfectly fried. I also enjoyed the seafood risotto with clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari, spicy marinara, butter, and grana padano.
2240 Highland Ave, Birmingham, AL 35205
Drawing inspiration from the wine bars and trattorias of the Italian countryside, Bottega is a fine-dining Italian bistro and wine bar, using ingredients from the deep South and Italian countryside to create award-winning Italian dishes.
Executive Chef Frank Stitt, who is also the founder of Chez Fonfon, co-owns Bottega with his wife Pardis who oversees the fine dining experience.
A wonderful restaurant for a special, world-class meal, Bottega’s menu offers simple Italian fare that highlights the highest quality ingredients and expert craftsmanship.
The menu features a wonderful list of small plates, salads, pizza and sandwiches, and main entrees.
I split numerous small plates like grilled octopus and crispy potatoes and creamy polenta with shaved truffle and a farm egg. I also loved their Neapolitan-style pizza with smoked salmon, dill mascarpone, and capers.
Automatic Seafood and Oysters
2824 5th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233
Named for the Automatic Sprinkler Corporation building in which it’s located, Automatic Seafood and Oysters is the newest fine-dining addition to the Lakeview neighborhood.
Owned and operated by Chef and designer duo Adam and Suzanne Evens, Automatic Seafood and Oysters is a seafood and oyster house in a giant stylishly revamped warehouse setting with an open kitchen and fresh seafood counter with the freshest local catches of the day displayed.
Automatic Seafood and Oysters source all their seafood from the Gulf of Mexico or the southern and eastern coastlines.
The spectacular dishes from Chef Evens have been featured in news articles from the New York Times, Thrillest, The Spruce Eats, and more. I recommend the fried oysters with tabasco onions and horseradish mayo.
Texas de Brazil
2301 Richard Arrington Jr Blvd N, Birmingham, AL 35203
Meat lovers and vegetarians alike can rally around a Brazilian-style churrascaria, a smorgasbord of spit-fired meats sliced tableside and accompanied with never-ending sides of vegetables, starches, fresh bread, and an amazing salad bar.
Texas de Brazil is one of the U.S. ‘s treasured fine-dining Brazilian steakhouses, and Birmingham’s North Side location upholds the same standard of excellence.
Dozens of spit-roasted meats rotate around the restaurant, sliced onto your plate by expert meat connoisseurs at your request. It is the ultimate all-you-can-eat experience, so come hungry enough to sample everything.
Your vegetarian friends can enjoy a wealth of hot sides like sauteed mushrooms, garlic mashed potatoes, cheese bread, and fried bananas along with the most elaborate salad bar you’ve ever seen.
The Original Pancake House
1931 11th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35205
Located a few blocks from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, The Original Pancake House is Birmingham’s go-to breakfast spot.
Originating in 1952 in Portland Oregon, The Original Pancake House has been a family-owned breakfast restaurant from over three generations of expert pancake makers whose perfect rendition of pancakes from around the world has turned them into a national treasure, with locations in around 30 U.S. states.
Their massive menu of meat, waffles, egg scrambles, omelets, crepes, cereals, and fruit juices offer every type of breakfast imaginable.
Still, the star of the show is the pancake, and their two signature specialties are the Apple pancake covered in sauteed cinnamon apples and baked, and my personal favorite, the famous Dutch Baby, a giant air-filled fluffy pancake baked in a deep cast-iron skillet and served with lemon whipped butter and powdered sugar.
Originating in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1958, Dreamland BBQ is founder and Barbeque legend John “Big Daddy” Bishop’s dream-made reality.
Mr. Bishop’s local fame for his trademark hickory-smoked ribs soon became state-wide knowledge and for the past 60 years, Dreamland BBQ has expanded to 10 locations around Alabama, its Birmingham location in the Southside neighborhood.
Dreamland’s no-frills barbeque menu still uses the late Mr. Bishop’s famous hickory smoked recipes along with their signature vinegar-based, spicy barbeque sauce.
The unique menu has plenty of sandwiches, stews, salads, and meat-loaded baked potatoes. Still, you must try the pork ribs with a side of fried okra and creamy potato salad.
Bistro Two Eighteen
218 20th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203
Bistro Two Eighteen is downtown Birmingham’s most charming French bistro and cocktail bar, with an elegant minimalist design inside a historic building.
The cocktail, wine, and beer bar are in a separate lounge where guests can enjoy a more casual meal, or they can head to the classy wood dining room with high ceilings and walls lined with art from local painters.
Bistro Two Eighteen’s proximity to Birmingham’s Theater District makes it a favorite haunt for pre or post-show meals.
Their menu uses locally sourced fish from the Gulf Coast as well as local foragers and farms for the freshest produce.
Their menu is classic French, with traditional dishes like duck confit and steak frite. My favorite was the classic Beef Wellington, a pastry-wrapped filet mignon with mushroom duxelles and veal glace.
Hattie B’s Hot Chicken – Birmingham
2808 7th Ave S #101, Birmingham, AL 352333
Located between Five Points South and Red Mountain, Hattie B’s Hot Chicken is a fried chicken institution in the south.
Originating in Nashville, Tennessee, Hattie B’s quickly expanded to its surrounding neighbor states and even Las Vegas.
They’re a fast-casual fried chicken joint serving the best-fried chicken and southern fix-ins you’ll have for a low price.
Chicken is the name of the game, and you can choose the spice level from Southern to Shut the Cluck UP spicy.
You can also choose whether you want a whole bird, half a bird, chicken tenders, or chicken sandwich. I went with the Hot Chicken Sandwich, featuring a hot fried chicken breast, coleslaw, Nashville comeback sauce, and a kosher pickle with a side of pimento mac n cheese.
2312 2nd Ave N, Birmingham, AL 35203
Bocca Ristorante is a traditional Italian bistro and wine bar in the heart of downtown Birmingham. Its intimate and quaint space opens out into an even cuter patio space. Bocca Ristorante is the perfect place to enjoy a fine-dining authentic Italian meal in a romantic setting with the friendliest, most attentive staff.
The food and drink at Bocca Ristorante are excellent and have received unanimously rave reviews from customers on Yelp.
Their menu has a wonderful selection of antipasti, primi pasta plates, and heartier entrees. I loved the Fisherman’s Cioppino with halibut, shrimp, scallop, and calamari.
They also make colossal veal meatballs in marinara sauce with fresh basil that are fantastic to share.
817 39th St S, Birmingham, AL 35222
The Rougaroux is a family-friendly, whimsical, and wacky Creole and Cajun food restaurant and bar in a cool old 20s era house in the Forest parks neighborhood.
Restaurateur Ed Stacy and Executive Chef Ryan Champion share a deep love for New Orleans and decades of experience in the restaurant business, resulting in the most authentic NOLA food and experience outside of the Big Easy.
The menu has all the best New Orleans specialties from po’boys to gumbo, red beans and rice to bread pudding.
They specialize in po’boys and there’s a long list of traditional and specialty items. I wanted to be as traditional as I could, so I opted for the fried gulf shrimp po’boy with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, shaved pickles, and remoulade sauce. Their red beans and rice were the perfect side.
728 29th St S, Birmingham, AL 35233
Located in a beautiful space in the Lakeview neighborhood, The Refinery is the newest, most elegant addition to the late-night bar scene in Birmingham.
Co-owners John D. Conner and Heath Bostick whose experience as long-standing bar owners in the Lakeview neighborhood made for an epic collaboration to produce The Refinery, which has quickly become Birmingham’s most stylish and sophisticated cocktail bar and restaurant.
The craft cocktails are incredible feats of mixology, and the full lunch and dinner menu feature the finest takes on traditional bar fare you’ll encounter.
I enjoyed their signature Key Lime Martini with a round of Lobster and Conecuh Corn Dogs made with tempura breaded lobsters and cornmeal battered Conecuh smoked sausages.
Birmingham restaurants have an eclectic array of cuisines and a mix of newcomers and long-standing neighborhood institutions.
Whether you’re looking for the best pancakes, fried chicken, or lofty Italian cuisine, you’ll find the best food, atmosphere, and service on my list of restaurants in Birmingham.
Did we miss out on your favorite place to eat in Birmingham? Leave us a comment down below and we’ll take a look!