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Jun 4, 2009 08:36 PM

Birmingham AL - help from hounds?

I've posted previously, but now I have a different question. Could the hounds help recommend restaurants within a reasonable distance from downtown? I've already inquired about downtown fine dining, but I'd like recommendations for surrounding areas - fine dining, and mid-level as well. Thanks for your help!

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  1. There is tons of recent information about birmingham in the archive. You can access that by searching for "birmingham" here on the SOUTH message board.

    1. A few suggestions, our favorites, hopefully these fit the bill...I believe that all have menus available for review online:

      Standard Bistro in Mt. Laurel....definitely worth the drive
      GianMarco in Homewood...Great Italian with a fun vibe
      Satterfield's in Cahaba Heights....find it, it's worth it, too.
      More iffy but we really like it: Fox Valley in Helena
      La Dolce Vita (nice Italian in Hoover)
      Silver Coin (Indian) in Hoover
      Mr. Chen's (Chinese) in Hoover
      John's Diner (Trussville location is the only one we've been to)

      Wish I could recommend Prairie Fire or Joe's Original, but alas...they're both gone (and we miss them!!!)

      We're not too familiar with north of town areas....

      1. What is a "reasonable" distance? Almost any restaurant in the greater Birmingham area can be reached in roughly 20-30 min from downtown because you're so close to all of the interstates. So, as araess notes, almost any of the recent comments apply. Since your posts seem to concentrate on the LA and NYC boards, I would skip most Latin and Asian (yes, I know, very broad and not too PC) options and concentrate on meat and 3 and barbecue, plus perhaps some bistro type places like Chez FonFon. There are not a lot of good places right around the convention center (BJCC), but Southside is about 5 minutes away and packed with mid to high level places.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Dax

          Well, we're going to have anywhere from 30 - 60 people per night so transportation costs are definitely an issue. Does that help? 5 points is a 10$ cab ride from the conv. center area, so at 3 per cab it's not so bad. Cab rides of $10 - $15 are about as far as we want to go. I know that airport for example is a $15 cab ride, so that would be the maximum radius for travel. does that help clear things up? thanks for your help!

          1. re: OC Mutt

            The more important part is the 30-60 people eating per night. You would be taking over entire restaurants and most local restaurants cannot accomdate that many people at once.

            With that many, have you discussed organizing shuttles with the hotel(s)? Sheraton?

            Too bad there are not many good places to eat in Lakeview, they would likely transport you in their shuttles. Well, I guess you could do Sol Y Luna but not sure it's worth it coming from LA but you could maybe take over the porch.

            Fish Market could probably handle that many.

            1. re: Dax

              Dax is right: 30-60 people will present some major logistical issues. Fish Market could definitely handle that sort of crowd, but not many other places can; particularly if you don't call the restaurant of your choice well in advance and ask about reservations for a group that large.

              I hate to suggest this, but with a group that large you are going to have much better luck splitting that group up into a more manageable size (say no more than 10 people at any one restaurant) and rotating where you go each one night. For example, you could have groups of 10 or so go to Highlands, Chez Fonfon, Ocean/26 and Bettola (casual but fantastic Italian) one night, and the next night rotate so that someone who ate at Highlands the previous night is going to Bettola the second night.

              Even with groups of 10, you will need to call to check on reservations. For example, you will definitely need reservations at Highlands, whereas Fonfon and Bettola don't take them. I hope that helps.

        2. There is a great Thai place on 7th ave. south - Thai House, it is next to Burly Earl, in the UAB area - Green Curry Chicken, Pad Thai, Thai BBQ Chicken are among my favorites.

          1. If you're not trying to get 30 to 60 all in one restaurant, I'd definitely recommend Bettola (authentic Neopolitan style pizza), which is in the Pepper Place complex near Sloss Furnace. For some down-home meat-and-three and old-fashioned seafood dishes, try Niki's West near the farmer's market just north of downtown.

            Lots of good restaurants in the Southside area just south of downtown. I'm sure you've had Highlands Bar and Grill recommended to you, also Chez FonFon next door, and Ocean and 26 around the corner, all in Five Points South. Little Savannah in the Forest Park area of Southside is small but great. Bottega, Veranda on Highland are near each other on Highland Avenue. A couple of pretty good barbecue joints in the area, including Jim 'N Nick's in Five Points and Golden Rule and Moe's Original both in Lakeview.

            Homewood might not be too far afield; Jinsei has fantastic sushi but again is small. GianMarco's is great but fills up two weeks ahead of time.

            You can read more about all these restaurants at

            2 Replies
            1. re: bhamdining

              Thanks Southern hounds! I appreciate your help.

              1. re: OC Mutt

                After reading this I must agree w/ most of what has been said...if you are planning on eating out as a group one night though then the Veranda on Highland is a place that could handle you. It is def. the largest of the restaurants listed here and has private rooms that hold up to 70-80? people. I only know this b/c I've been to a couple of rehearsal dinners there and they were in very large private rooms. Anyway, just wanted to let you know that. I love the food there too, a nice mix of Southern/Creole food, steaks, seafood, etc...I hope you all have a great time here. Birmingham has some wonderful local restaurants. Enjoy!