2 days in Birmingham
My husband and two children (2 and 4 years old) will be spending two days in Birmingham at the Hotel Highland. I'd love recommendations for places in that general area that are relatively child friendly. Walking distance is a plus. We eat all kinds of food - we are originally from NYC but live in Mobile AL now and really miss the diverse food we used to eat.
Since you have a 4 year old and a 2 year old with you, I assume you are not looking for haute cuisine. So, within walking distance you have:
Jim 'N Nicks BBQ--It is not the greatest 'cue in the world, but it is pretty good. About one block away. http://www.jimnnicks.com/
Surin West (Thai)--Next door to Jim 'N Nick's. It is good, but I don't know if anything there would appeal to the kids. http://www.surinwest.com/
Original Pancake House--Half a block from the hotel. I have not been there in ages, so I can't vouch for the food. http://www.originalpancakehouse.com/
Mellow Mushroom Pizza--Nothing to write home about, but it will do in a pinch. About two blocks up the street. http://www.mellowmushroom.com/#/store...
Five Points Grill--It is right next to the hotel. It has been years since I have been, and I have heard less than stellar things about it. http://www.5pointsgrill.com/
There is also a Ruby Tuesday just up the street and a Starbuck's next to the Pancake House. Chez Fonfon, which is owned by Frank Stitt of Highlands fame, is just around the corner and serves outstanding French bistro fare. I have seen people with kids in there before, but I am not sure that I would call it "child friendly."
You say you miss the diveristy of NYC cusiine and that you eat all kinds of foods but also that you have two little kids with you. I'm not sure as pinotboy points out whether you are looking for high end, family dining, or somewhere in between. I think some of the better restaurants in town are located in the Five Points general area if you expand to include Highland Ave which is walkable but further from your hotel, especially with two little ones in tow. These include Chez Fon Fon, Ocean/26, Highlands, Bottega, Hot and Hot and Veranda I guess. But I don't necessarily think of any of them as child friendly per se. While not child unfriendly, I just haven't seen lots of younger kids eating at these places (note: I tend to eat later unless for business then at 6 or before). Unlike lots of other restaurants, most of these places have sizable crowds as soon as they open for dinner (and you're better off with reservations even at those times) so you can't necessarily do the dine early option to avoid crowds.
Then you are pretty limited in that area. Most of the good ethnic places in town are not anywhere near walking distance of Five Points South. Surin is fine with some decent dishes (I like the beef salad and some of the noodle dishes), but it's the standard (Birmingham) Pan-Asian with a Thai leaning that also serves sushi. Yeah, odd and nothing compared to the 2 better than average Thai places I tried in NYC a few years back (Holy Basil is one I think, but I cannot recall the other one - not the one in Queens).
Hope it's not too late for this! Pinotboy covered the waterfront, but for a parent's perspective: Surin West is quite child-friendly (our 3-year-old loves it) especially earlier in the evening; late on weekends there can be a bit of a squeeze for tables. Pancake House is a kid favorite for breakfast. We also love Chez Fon-Fon, the bistro-style sibling to Highland Bar and Grill -- the key is to go by early and ask for a table on the back patio. There are only a few tables out there, and the kids can entertain themselves on the boules court if they get squirmy.
It's a short drive or longish walk up Highland Ave., but we also like Rojo, which is a pubby restaurant that's very kid friendly. There's an American menu and a Mexican-style one; you seat yourself and order at the counter so you can get your food pretty fast (always helps with toddlers!); and there's a playground in the park across the street. It's good for lunch/brunch on weekends, which I think starts at 11 a.m.
You don't give dates - but I was looking for somewhere to put up something about how delicious my Becky's burger just was - so, since there is a Becky's just down the street from Hotel Highland I'm going to put it here. Becky's first opened in Avondale, in a gas station. That's where this particular burger came from - but they also have a place right by Lucy's coffee (which you should also go to).
The burgers are marvelous hand-made, freshly cooked to your order (although my recommendation is to let them make it all-the-way). I going out on a limb and saying "best burgers in the world!"
2009 University Blvd, Birmingham, AL 35233
I just realized that the Beckys in Avondale is the one inside the Chevron at 3rd Ave S and 40th. I've actually had a hotdog (deep fried sort of like what I understand NJ "rippers" are) there, a grilled cheese there, and a patty melt there, usually on the way out of town. I thought all 3 were ok, but nothing special. Maybe if I eat in the burger there. I had no idea they were related to the Becky's at 20th and 8th. I've had their griddled burger and it's not bad but was not cooked to order. Their burgers and the large Fon Fon burgers are different beasts all together.