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Recommendations for good food in Birmingham?

teejaymoore Mar 3, 2010 06:36 PM

Hello. I have one night in Birmingham and interested in great food. Up for casual or pricey, but primary focus is good food. Don't mind casual, but would prefer "decent" atmosphere meaning not picnic tables in a barn (not opposed to that sometimes, just not this trip). Appreciate any thoughts.

  1. b
    Big Daddy Mar 4, 2010 07:00 AM

    How much do you want to spend, where are you coming from and where will you be staying? We've got some James Beard-quality restaurants, decent Mexican fare, Italian, Southern cooking from haute to just hot.
    Relatively few barns with picnic tables.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Big Daddy
      teejaymoore Mar 4, 2010 07:29 AM

      Staying at Aloft Hotel in Soho I think. Price doesn't matter just not up for fancy (meaning fussy, not price). Looking for casual to nice good food (contemporary, southern, mex - anything but italian as overdosed on it). James Beard probably a good start.

      PS - barn comment wasn't a slam on BHM but more just a preference statement for this trip. My favorite burger in Napa is at a gas station.

      1. re: teejaymoore
        Dax Mar 4, 2010 08:46 AM

        Beard nominees/winnders or perhaps upscale Southern (and maybe a downscale meat and 3) might be the way to go since your home board seems to be the Bay area/Northern Cal. Our mex is mostly good tacos but nothing you would not find in CA.

        1. re: Dax
          teejaymoore Mar 4, 2010 08:50 AM

          Any thoughts on upscale Southern?

          1. re: teejaymoore
            sheilal Mar 4, 2010 09:42 AM

            I really enjoy Cafe Dupont which is located downtown. "Fancy" southern food at it's best. http://www.cafedupont.net/

            For great seafood, I recommend Ocean - definitely try the lobster pot pie if you go. Fabulous!!

    2. j
      JBurnsPatersonIV Mar 4, 2010 09:00 AM

      Highland's Bar & Grill - Frank Stitt has been nominated for a James Beard for as long as I can remember. He's paved the way for fine dining with southern cuisine. This is his flagship restaurant. The service is top notch, the atmosphere is comfortable, and the food is amazing. I've never been let down. Definitely the upscale place to go in bham, in my opinion

      Chef FonFon - Located next door to Highlands, and also owned by Frank Stitt. The atmosphere is casual, a great feel, and the prices are reasonable. The food is very French countryside. The charcuterie is awesome, as is just about everything else on the menu. If you love French cuisine this is a great option.

      Bottega - Also owned by Stitt, this place is split into two parts, the restaurant and the cafe. The cafe is much more casual whereas the dining room is fine dining. I personally have never dined in the restaurant as the cafe works best for me. I generally go for lunch - the pizzas are great.

      Hot & Hot Fish Club - Haven't been here in a while but when I went I really enjoyed it. Owned by Chris Hastings (who worked for Stitt prior to going off on his own). I can't speak too much for it because I don't go there often but the food is always good and I remember the service being nice. A great meal and a very cool atmosphere.

      These are my favorites in Bham. Some often say they're touristy (Why I'm not sure..) and overdone but i've never had a negative experience at any of the restaurants. Frank Stitt is a wonderful chef and restaurant owner. If you're visiting for a short time i'd say visiting one of his establishments is a must!

      5 Replies
      1. re: JBurnsPatersonIV
        teejaymoore Mar 4, 2010 09:29 AM

        Thanks. Great recs. Funny that he kind of owns the town. I live in Yountville and we call it Kellerville because Thomas Keller has three restaurants and a bakery there.

        1. re: teejaymoore
          Big Daddy Mar 4, 2010 09:45 AM

          You understand very well, then, about the Stitt influence in town.
          All of those suggestions are good. Within your complex is a pretty good sushi/Japanese place called Jinsei http://www.birminghamrestaurants.com/menus.asp?action=form&recordID=335499
          and a well-regarded tapas/Mediterranean place called Do-di-yos. http://www.dodiyos.com/
          For breakfast near your hotel, I've heard raves about the morning fare at a barbecue joint a block away, Demetri's http://www.demetrisbbq.com/BREAKFASTM...
          But I'd go with the high-end places mentioned above, especially Highlands or Hot and Hot (whose chef, Chris Hastings, also is a James Beard nominee). Both specialize in haute Southern food. They'll give you a unique sense of place.

          1. re: Big Daddy
            Dax Mar 4, 2010 10:31 AM

            While the wait for a reservation is no French Laundry, I would make a reservation for Highlands as far in advance as possible should you desire to go. Otherwise plan on dining at majorly off hours.

            Avoid the barbecue at Demetri's like the plague.

            1. re: Dax
              sheilal Mar 5, 2010 05:13 AM

              I agree with Dax on Demetri's. Mediocre at best.

        2. re: JBurnsPatersonIV
          jjensen1 Mar 7, 2010 05:16 AM

          I got to say that Highlands is one of my favs in the WORLD. Honestly, it is an amazing menu, amazing atmosphere (especially if you eat in the bar). Being from NYC, its amazing to me how great the good scene is in Bham. Great recommendations.

        3. t
          teejaymoore Mar 6, 2010 07:12 AM

          OK so we ended up at Hot & Hot Fish Club. Great atmosphere and great food. Kind of funny that each of us went with the pork trio since it's known for seafood but the waiter recommended and it was amazing.

          Great winelist, although the mark up WOW. I guess we're used to Napa where they can't mark them up much or people just bring their own. Thanks for the recommendations.

          1 Reply
          1. re: teejaymoore
            curej Mar 6, 2010 07:58 AM

            Agree...wine markups are criminally high. A convention whose time is past...or should be

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