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Jan 16, 2010 11:01 AM

Birmingham - new, or new to you?

I'm getting in a rut from going to all of the same old places. Have you heard of any new places opening or even found a place new to you that you love? Any types of food. Help a brother out.

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  1. Sorry, dude. I only go to places you tell me to.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bovinekid

      Amen to Nabeel's, which in my limited experience has had excellent fresh fish among the daily specials.

      Have you tried Cafe de Paris (on the Southside)? We had a lovely meal there, adn they were practically giving away the wine.

    2. Been to Saigon Noodle House yet? Decent Vietnamese food on U.S. 280 in the Target plaza. For Mexican, check out Taqueria Mexico on Lorna Road. Limited taco/torta menu, but all very good fillings in house-made tortillas. But they also do a very good cabrito and quail.
      We've enjoyed the Mediterranean food at Nabeel's in Homewood. They've expanded the menu recently, although I've yet to try some of those items. Haven't had a bad meal there yet, though.
      Some of the food at Rogue Tavern downtown intrigues me; again yet to try it, though.

      16 Replies
      1. re: Big Daddy

        I've been to all of those places multiple times, except for Taqueria Mexico.

        Saigon let me down last time.

        Haven't been to Nabeel's in ages.

        Rogue's food is fine, nothing amazing but those bleu sliders are good,

        1. re: Dax

          I think we've discussed this one in the past, but don't recall if you've been: Chez Lu Lu in English Village? Good Sunday brunch; funky nighttime place, too.
          I don't see this place discussed much, but on the higher end, have you tried Cafe Dupont downtown?
          Tried Sol y Luna?
          I know none of these are new. But with this economy, little new that's not safe and tried and true is opening these days.

          1. re: Big Daddy

            Coincidentally I went to dinner at Chez Lulu last night. The warm goat cheese with tomato sauce was perfect with toasted baguette spears on a rainy night. The italian sausage and mushroom pizza was good, with a mostly perfect crust, but the sauce was a little bland.

            I like Sol y Luna and need to get back there soon. Basically, I don't tend to think it's worth the price tag of all of the smaller dishes but find it interesting. Their chicken tortilla soup is delicious (and greasy).

            Still have not been to Dupont yet.

            1. re: Dax

              Went to Sol Y Luna Friday.

              The food is fine but nothing special and their "tapas" prices are starting to border on the ridiculous - $14 for 3 empanadas? Yes I realize they are quality ingredients but still ...

              The starter with chips and good guac is good for $6 and the mussels are good and almost a deal for $12 but better values can be found at many other places in the city.

              Sol Y Luna
              2811 7th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35233

        2. re: Big Daddy

          Been to Saigon Noodle House and it was good but prefer Pho Que Huong. Been there several times now and the food's very consistent. Not blow your socks off Vietnamese but solid. Still looking for someplace that serves Beef 7 ways.

          Saigon Noodle House
          4606 Highway 280, Birmingham, AL 35242

          1. re: mahalan

            Interesting, what exactly do you prefer at PQH over SNH? The pho and banh mi?

            1. re: Dax

              I prefer both the pho and banh mi @ SNH. PQH has the best bo kho and bun bo hue though.

              1. re: johnnystiletto

                This is exactly what I needed to hear

              2. re: Dax

                I've had the pho at both. Both had a clear broth but it was more flavorful at Pho Que Huong. I also prefer the summer rolls and noodle dishes there. I'm not much of a sandwich person so I haven't tried the banh mi at either.

                1. re: mahalan

                  Wow I like the summer (labeled spring) rolls more at SNH but admit not having tried them at PQH lately. Maybe I will investigate over some bo kho. Viet is not my strong suit.

                  1. re: Dax

                    I'm a big fan of what generally is the pho labeled No. 1, with well-done beef brisket, raw round steak, tripe and tendon. I prefer the version served by SNH. I like the broth better (although there's less of an star anise touch than at PQH), but they also add these funky sausage meatballs to the above ingredients. They also don't wimp on the portions of tripe and tendon (one of my favorite funky cuts).
                    As for the fresh rolls, both make good versions. But SNH has a better variety (I like both the shrimp and pork and the version with the charbroiled pork). SNH also has two vegetarian options, which is important in my family (although I noticed that PQH recently added a tofu roll).
                    I give PQH the nod on the cha gio, which are nice and meaty. SNH has made considerable improvements in that area since it opened.
                    SNH also gets the edge in my book on banh mi, especially for the variety of its offerings. And it's finally expanded its menu to rival the variety of dishes offered at PQH.
                    But with the recent price increases at SNH, PQH has the best prices by far.

                    1. re: Big Daddy

                      I was out on Greensprings today and grabbed two banh mi combos (not dac biet and they don't have pate) and two orders of the fresh summer rolls and SNH blows them both away. The rolls at PQH come two to an order for $4, which I believe is the same price as at SNH where you get 3 giant flavorful rolls. As I note on the banh mi, the meat is fine but no pate and the sandwiches seem smaller. That might be the last time I order either at PQH.

                      1. re: Dax

                        Once upon a time in the not so distant past, PQH sold its meaty spring rolls for a mere dollar, slightly more for the fresh rolls. I'd make a meal out of them.
                        Prices go up. But even after Saigon Noodle House opened, Pho Que Houng kept an advantage as a less-expensive alternative to SNH. Now I see that is fading as well.
                        Had the banh mi prices gone up at PQH, as well? They always were less than the $4.95 that SNH now charges. Even so, I've always preferred the SNH version; more interesting composition and more variety of choices. Very very nice people there, too.
                        Still, PQH has its charms, so I hope you don't totally abandon them.
                        By the way, Saigon Noodle House now offers vegearian versions of their soups -- faux pho, Hue style and coconut-curry.

                        Saigon Noodle House
                        4606 Highway 280, Birmingham, AL 35242

                        1. re: Big Daddy

                          $4.50 for the banh mi and $3.95 for two tiny summer rolls. I'll stick with SNH.

                          1. re: Dax

                            No, I agree, especially when it comes to the rolls. And the SNH banh mi is more substantial for just pennies more.

                            1. re: Big Daddy

                              Plus the double meat for $2.50 at SNH makes the sandwich enough to split.

          2. You may not want to drive to Helena, but there is a pretty good buzz about Bellyfiller's in the Jet-Pep station. I stopped by today, although I wasn't hungry(it was 3:30). I got a paper menu to bring home and everything looks very good. Kinda long way to drive for a sandwich, but I will definitely give it a try.

            4 Replies
            1. re: scootyb

              Some places that have opened in the past year:

              Do Di Yos
              Dyron's Lowcountry
              Chuck's Fish
              Za Za Trattoria

              1. re: pinotboy

                Thanks, I need to try Chuck's I guess. I have tried the others and like them, although have not been to or heard great things about Avo/Dram. Thoughts?

                I went to Ranelli's Deli in Southside yesterday as they take the Weekly card. That may be my last trip there, nothing special. Does anyone have any suggestions for Ranelli's?

                1. re: Dax

                  Regarding Avo/Dram, I have only been to Avo once and had a not-so-great steak that set me back the better part of $35. So, I am in no hurry to go back there.

                  Dram is not bad; basically, it is a place to get a burger (or other sandwich) and fries. The burger is pretty good, but certainly not on the level of Chez Fonfon. If you find yourself in Mtn. Brook Village and want a burger it is a good option, but I would certainly not call it "destination dining."

                  I have heard good things about Chuck's Fish, but have yet to make it there.

                  1. re: Dax

                    I'm new and reading back posts about Bham - really enjoying seeing other perspectives.

                    I love ranelli's, but tend to get the same thing each time. They have something with roast beef and cheese, roasted peppers and onions, and garlic butter sauce. You don't want to stand too close to people the rest of the day when you talk, but it is so yummy.

              2. I have been told that Carpenetti's in Moody is excellent, but haven't had a chance to try it. Maybe you can go and give us a report. It's supposed to be New York style pizza.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ms. Finiky

                  If you like upscale Mexican food, try Zona Rosa near Liberty Park (on River Run, near the Piggly Wiggly). I thought about you, Dax, when we went there for dinner last night. It's in our family rotation, which is why I was wishing I'd mentioned it before. They have the standards, but their specials are not run-of-the-mill Tex-Mex. I like the various pork dishes (adobo, pibul, etc.). The paella is passable. They do a decent chicken in mole.

                2. Anyone been here yet? I was hoping for a new place serving regionalized Taiwanese but this review suggests that the menu is all over the place (unfortunately?).


                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Dax

                    I've tried TaiPei 101 three times to make sure. Hit and miss each time with the last visit being the deciding one that I'll continue to look elsewhere for my Asian fix. The option of brown rice is a good one, but if you aren't offered the choice they bring a floral and dry jasmine rice that is a strange and off-putting addition in a bento box. People seem to rave about the gyoza, but they are textbook frozen and deep fried while I prefer mine silky on top and crisped on the bottom or simply steamed. The tempura was so oily that it left a pool at the bottom of the dish. We asked for hot Chinese mustard and they brought out the oily manufactured stuff that comes in take out packages. I give up.

                      1. re: Big Daddy

                        Yikes, neither reviews bode well. One of my favorite restaurants in Chinatown in Boston was Taiwanese, I had high(er) hopes for Taipei. I might still give it a shot. The anchovies app sounds good.

                        1. re: Dax

                          It's like the one we ordered at the Chen's Chowdown. It does strike me, though, as good bar food, kind of like pretzels or bar mix, to accompany a beer.