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Dec 15, 2008 05:45 AM


Coming in a couple of weeks with some of the WolfPack nation for the Bowl game. Show a southern brother some love and tell me where I can raise my cholesterol a few points.

Saw you had an Original Pancake House, been to others and enjoyed. Is that location up to par?
Dreamland BBQ or others worth a visit?
Any good Draft Houses or Microbreweries?

Any and all recs appreciated -



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  1. The Original Pancake House is located in the 5 Points South district. It's a good entertainment district with restaurants and bars with other little shops sprinkled in. Dave's Pub is located in 5PS and has a good selection of beers. I don't think they brew their own, however. That trend left Birmingham in the 90's. Dreamland BBQ, IMHO, is worth a visit if you're in the area, but is not a destination in and of itself. For me, their sauce is the draw, vinegary and peppery. The meat itself is as good as other places around town. There are other places that have better que, but not in the general 5PS area which is where you seem to be centering on.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sheilal

      Not originally from Bham but have been here 10 years. My fav BBQ is Full Moon . Their baby back ribs do it for me better than Dreamland. My two cents....

      1. re: sheilal

        If you're looking for pulled pork, I'd say go to Jim and Nicks which has a location in 5 Pts. While the taste is pretty good, Full Moon chops their meat to much for me. I think Dreamland is pretty good I guess for their ribs and the sausage (made from rib meat in house).

      2. If you like beer, Dave's probably runs at the middle of the pack for me. They have draft, but the place always has struck me more as a meat -- I mean meet -- market than serious beer joint.
        In that area, try J Clyde's, which is in the Cobb Lane alley in 5 Points South, off 13th Street South. Another good beer bar is On Tap in the Lakeview District, 29th South and University Drive (8th Ave South). Actually On Tap is the better beer bar of the two: More taps, more TVs for sports fans, great wings and it's open 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
        A funky beer joint to visit is The Garage, 2304 10th Terrace South. They commit the same sin as Dave's (bottles on ice) and The Garage has no taps. But it's a funky joint, especially in the courtyard filled with statuary and other stone decorations, the largest wisteria vine you've ever seen and other things not normally seen at a bar.
        The only beer brewed in Birmingham is Good People, which makes pretty decent beer (brown, coffee stout, pale ale, IPA). They don't have a pub, but they sell their beers around town, including at J Clyde's and On Tap.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Big Daddy

          Wanted to put in my two cents about the Big Daddy's post, since beer is my thing. First, remember that in Alabama, any beer over 6% ABV is illegal, so there's a lot of good stuff that just ain't here. Brewpub and brewery laws are also archaic and difficult to comply with, so we don't have much that's brewed in-state.

          Other than the local brewery Big Daddy mentioned (the coffee stout is amazing, btw), I'm not sure if we'd have too much here you can't get in NC. Lazy Magnolia's (MS) Southern Pecan is really good and available at the better beer places. I don't know if Abita (LA) distributes that far north, but there is a lot of their stuff all over town. And Sweetwater (Atlanta) and Terrapin (Athens, GA) have some good offerings here if you can't get those in NC.

          While I can see where he's coming from, I wouldn't describe Dave's as a "meat market." Still, on weekends especially it can be pretty crowded with mostly 20-30somethings (you'll almost certainly run into my roommate's grad student friends). They have a few taps, and a great bottle selection, although they have no idea how to serve beer properly.

          The J. Clyde is generally more laid-back, although it can get pretty crowded later at night on weekends or on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when they do half-price pints. I know the owners personally, and they take beer very seriously. Your beer will be served in the appropriate glass at the appropriate temperature. I think they have the best draft selection in town (On-Tap is a close second) and a ton of bottled stuff is available as well. There is also some decent food to be had there, ranging from the usual "pub grub" (which is very good for stuff in that category) to more pricey European and Southern inspired entrees. As much as I hate to say it, though, the service there can be downright awful at times, depending on your server and how busy they are.

          I don't like On-Tap quite as much because I feel like it's really more of a sports bar that happens to have a good beer selection whereas J. Clyde is an establishment devoted to good beer and food that happens to have a couple of TVs. The bars nearby On-Tap also tend to draw a younger crowd most of the time, although I've rarely been in On-Tap during busier times, so I'm not sure what it would be like then.

          As mentioned, The Garage is kind of a cool/weird place to see, although it can be pretty hard to find if you're not with someone who's been there before. I'm personally not especially crazy about it and haven't been in a while, but I don't recall them having a very good beer selection. Certainly more than the usual American macro garbage, but vastly inferior to any of the other places discussed. Also, it's cash only, though they're happy to let you use the on-premises ATM.

          Holy crap, that was long. That's what happens when I start talking about beer...

          Also, since no one has addressed it yet, Original Pancake House here is pretty much exactly like any other one.

          1. re: bovinekid

            Has J Clyde improved it's food lately? I was there in early summer and the apps that I tried were either totally bland or downright horrible. I mean, what was I thinking ordering beef carpaccio at a beer bar but it was overly lemon-flavored and very thickly cut (contrary to whatever their website indicates) and very nearly gag-inducing. I wasn't expecting the carpaccio from Botega or even Bettola's (which, sadly is no longer offered there) but come on. Waiter did not question that I ate about 3 bites. The stuffed mushrooms were bland and forgettable. Cheese plate was fine but I think they could have brought some of the cheese to room temp before serving (they might have, it's been a while, but I don't recall being impressed). Now, the beer was excellent as expected while the table service was indifferent at best.

            That is the 2nd time I went there and doubt would ever return for the food unless I heard differently although perhaps to try the Bavarian sausage entree.

            1. re: Dax

              Actually, I mostly only eat there for special events, so I've rarely ordered off the regular menu. I also haven't been there too often lately due to financial constraints.

              To be honest, the fact that I know the owners and greatly appreciate their heavy involvement in Free the Hops probably biases me in favor of the food. I think I can say that I've never had anything that was BAD there, but it's certainly not the best food in town by any measure. As much as I'd like to, I don't think I'd risk my credibility by sending you back there now, Dax. At least not for the food and definitely not for the service.

              However, if you attend one of the monthly beer dinners or beer/food pairings, you might find something more interesting food-wise Also, I can absolutely guarantee a VAST improvement in service for those events.

              I sure hope no one I know reads this, or I might get in trouble. :-)

              1. re: bovinekid

                I hear the beer dinners are great there and have planned on attending, but something has always come up. With that said, their involvement in Free the Hops is a bonus in my book (I didn't buy early to the 'fest this year and arrived to a sold out Sloss).

              2. re: Dax

                They serve FOOD at J Clyde's?
                Yeah, their culinary ambition there is not as great as their reach. Frankly when I go, I go for the beer.
                As for the taps thing: I think the 56 taps in On Tap in Lakeview (60 plus at Inverness) is more than what J Clyde's offers. J Clydes has ambitions for 77 taps -- and has frequently touted that number. But I haven't seen them.

                1. re: Big Daddy

                  Jerry has a lot of taps in the front bar with nothing flowing yet. He's going to put all of the higher grav stuff once the ABV law passes. We are optimistic about its chances this coming session.

                  1. re: bovinekid

                    Bovinekid, I hope you're right. But I'm not so sure.
                    I was pretty involved in the Georgia ABV law change effort (I published a beer newsletter there with a circulation of around 7,000 for some Atlanta bars). As I recall it took 6-8 years, and the Georgia legislature is more reasonable than that bunch down in Montgomery.
                    As soon as anyone mentions underage drinking, it's dead. Some of those "optimistic" years in Georgia, we'd see the bill go down to the final days with good chances of passage. Then someone mentions teen drinkers and you could sound taps on that bill.
                    That Georgia group was better organized and more politically savvy than FTH. Getting Anheuser Busch out of the way in Alabama will help.
                    But that's not the hurdle the bill faces. It's the Legislature and the anti-alcohol lobby. Frankly, I'd be surprised if that ABV bill ever passes here.
                    Compare the Georgia and Alabama brewery laws. One's workable and the other is obstructionist. That's a reflection on the difference between the two states.
                    It's the most reasonable change that could be made to alcohol laws. But since when has reasonable made any difference in Montgomery?

                    1. re: Big Daddy

                      That's how we used to feel as well. Our lobbyist seemed quite certain that the House would be our biggest obstacle. I actually sat in the gallery during the House session last year on the day the ABV bill went to vote. It was close, and it was nerve-wracking, and those who spoke against it made the exact arguments you mentioned, as well as even dumber ones. But we still passed.

                      Unfortunately, the Senate spent their entire session filibustering an unrelated issue, and therefore literally failed to pass a single bill. So of course the governor had to call a special session (for which the distinguished Senators receive extra payment in addition to their salaries) in order for them to address the education budget, which was deemed critical. We really felt we had the votes for this, but thanks to the childish and petty bickering of our state legislature, we never even got to find out. Remember, these are the same guys who got into a fistfight in the Senate chamber during the previous session.

                      Who knows if we'll manage to even pass the House again? And if we do, we'll have a different game to play in the Senate this year now that our chief supporter and sponsor of the bill, Parker Griffith, has won a seat in the U.S. House.

          2. Another member of Wolfpack nation chiming in here (makes a "wuffie" at Rod). We're excited about our first visit to Alabama in 2 weeks.

            How about any "local specialty" dining options nearby Legion Field, ideally within walking distance, that are relatively quick? (Cafeteria style, meat & three, take out bbq, or counter service, etc). We'll be picking up our game tickets at noon at Will Call at the stadium and the game starts at 2pm. Presumably we will have parked and will not want to move the car in that tight time window.

            Any recs for dining on the eastern outskirts of Birmingham, as we'll be driving to Atlanta after the game?


            5 Replies
            1. re: bluepig1

              Here's an advanced welcome to town.
              There's not much to recommend in the immediate area of Legion Field. Best bet: Pick up some 'que or chicken from one of the abovementioned places before hitting the stadium and Will Call.
              Before hitting the highway to Atlanta, try one of two places on 3rd Avenue South in what is called the Martin Biscuit Building. One is Bettola, which does wood-oven pizzas and sandwiches. The other is Cantina, which is an upscale taqueria. The former has decent wine, the latter OK beer and good spirits. The restaurants are off the 3rd Ave/4th Ave. exit from Elton Stephens Expressway (US 280/US 31). After eating, you can pop back on US 280/31 toward Birmingham and onto I-20/59 in a few exits. I-20 to Atlanta splits off soon afterward. Once you get on to I-20, you'll see mostly chains.

              1. re: Big Daddy

                Bettola is great, and Cantina is pretty good (although a bit expensive for tacos), but unfortunately the latter will be closed after the game since they're not open Monday nights, and I'm pretty sure this is true of the former as well.

                But, yeah, there is definitely nothing within walking distance of Legion Field, and, um, you don't want to be doing much walking around in that neighborhood anyway.

                1. re: bovinekid

                  Last time I was at Legion Field a cop got shot a couple of blocks away. Sad story, but true. Take your food with you, folks.....

                  And DAX did make a good point, the Q at Full Moon is chopped to a fare the well. For pulled pork I would recommend Original Moe's. Full Moon is my personal choice for ribs.

                  1. re: SkippyLeBeef

                    Thanks for all the input guys. My crew and I will not go hungry, looking forward to your cities hospitality.

              2. re: bluepig1

                Thanks for all the recs! We tried going to Niki's West for lunch prior to the game upon our arrival into Birmingham, only to pull into the parking lot and see a sign on the door indicating they were closed and on vacation until sometime in January. Boo - wish they'd indicated as such on their website!

                We instead enjoyed Jim & Nick's bbq for lunch -- nice stuff. The pulled pork was tender and flavorful, and I appreciated that the tomato-based sauce was poured on top of the meat in moderation (as opposed to all mixed in) so that I could get both the flavor of the meat and the sauce separately. Our service was great too! Enjoyed the cheddar corn muffins as well as my sides.

                Thanks to all for being so welcoming - even though we were only in Birmingham for a very short time.

              3. On New Year's Eve last year, we found ourselves in Birmingham. We found a Greek seafood restaurant in downtown Birmingham.

                Fresh and ample supply of seafood, moderately priced, casual restaurant.. I really cannot wait to get back to Birmingham to eat there again.

                The Fish Market
                612 22nd St. S
                Birmingham, AL
                (205) 322-3330

                3 Replies
                1. re: jlawrence01

                  I like the Fish Market and eat there about once a month or more I guess. It's good, the seafood is fresh, and the prices are very reasonable, but it's not really a destination place.

                  1. re: Dax

                    Dreamland was great. Excellent Ribs and the best Brunswick Stew and Smoked Sausage I've ever had.

                    On Tap was good as well (even full of Rutgers fans). I have to take back half of what I've ever said about NJ. They were honestly a pretty decent bunch of guys, I knew Joe Pesci was in their somewhere I just couldn't find him.

                    1. re: Raised on Q

                      Glad you had a good time. Come on back.