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Nov 29, 2010 10:16 AM

Vegetarian-ish grub for road trip through Bham

Hi folks!

I'm moving from New Orleans to New York and will be passing through Birmingham on 59. I'm looking for some recommendations for a good local restaurant that's within 10 or so minutes of the highway. My friend and I are "flex"atarians - we can usually find something we like on your typical restaurant menu, but a BBQ place probably wouldn't have a lot of options for us. We'll be driving through on a Sunday or Monday. Any suggestions?

Thanks oodles!

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  1. Bottle Tree (very veg-friendly) has a Sunday brunch from 11a to 3p, but they're closed on Mondays.

    Here's their menu:

    Bottle Tree
    3719 3rd Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35222

    1 Reply
    1. re: deepfriedkudzu

      I second Bottletree!! They were voted as having the best chili in Birmingham. Their vegetarian chili beat out all the meaty chilis.

    2. Nikki's West on Finley. Long-running meat and three adjacent to the state farmer's market. You can get a veggie plate or meat and vegs. Been around forever and is an important part of our Greek-run restaurant heritage. Right off the interstate, too (which is I 20/59 around there).

      10 Replies
      1. re: Big Daddy

        I'm absolutely seconding (that's a word, right?) Big Daddy's suggestion of Niki's West on Finley. They're closed on Sunday, but open on Monday.

        1. re: Big Daddy

          Assuming "flexitarian" allows for pork in your vegetables, as a large majority there (all greens, plus others) certainly do use pork for flavoring. And if not pork,. at least dairy. I am cool with all of the above as a omnivore. And as much as I love Bottletree and go often, I am not sure it's worth a detour into town off the interstate.

          1. re: Dax

            I used to be a vegetarian (ovo-lacto vegetarian for anybody who keeps up with that kind of thing) so while there are things to pass up at Niki's, like the greens, there is a *world* of options that are still open there:
            steamed rice, fried okra, boiled new potatoes, rutabagas (oooooh the rutabagas!!), zucchini & tomatoes, sweet potatoes, fried green tomatoes, corn, squash, fried mushrooms, fried eggplant, and a nice array of salads. And those gigantic rolls.

            Dax, if you don't think Bottletree is worth the detour, any other places? Bottletree is the most veg-friendly place I can think of. If you have any others, do tell - I'm open to suggestions also.

            1. re: deepfriedkudzu

              I *like* Bottletree a lot and was there yesterday for lunch (boo to being out of their delicious focaccia) . I am just not sure I would detour off of 59 during a long road trip for it.

              For about two years I went through various stages of reduced meat eating and for the longest time was pescatarian at worst, ovo-lacto at best. Creamed corn often has lard in it too. Any of the fried things might be ok, but really depends on the vegetarian - most of those fried items are cooked in the same grease as the pork and chicken products. That said, self-described "flexitarians" may let that slide.

              Some of the stuff at the Golden Temple is pretty good veggie grub, but not sure it's worth a detour to south side from the 59 either.

              1. re: Dax

                Oh yeah, Golden Temple. Never been able to fully appreciate their food. That's just me.

                1. re: deepfriedkudzu

                  Ah, I just thought of Flip Burger. Now juniperfj, Flip is just off I-459 so take a look on Google Map and see if you're interested in jumping onto 459 for this:

                  Flip has a veggie burger and a faux-lafel on their menu ( Ordinarily I wouldn't advise someone to go out of their way just for that but Flip's home is Atlanta and its only outpost is here in B'ham. And if you're a Top Chef fan, Flip was created by Richard Blaise which to be honest with you was all the incentive I needed to walk in the door.

                  I've been back at least a dozen times.

                  If you're okay with dairy, I have a friend who dreams about their nutella & burnt marshmallow milkshake.

                  By and large, everything there is *delicious*.

                  The only time I've been disappointed there was this summer when they advertised that they were putting lobster rolls on the menu, and I (who have had lobster rolls in the lobster-roll-motherland, Maine) got instead a lovely amount of lobster on a regular hamburger bun. That kind of ruins the effect.

                  Juniperfj, hope any of these suggestions above help. Good luck on your move!

                  1. re: deepfriedkudzu

                    I would kill to find a real lobster roll here on a buttered, toasted split-top bun

                    1. re: deepfriedkudzu

                      Flip's sides are fried in duck fat. I hate it too, b/c they are so good, but I haven't been back since I learned that news. Nikki's is great, and as mentioned above, it is the only meat and three that my vegetarian friends consider "safe." I would drive off the interstate to eat Bottletree's, Sunday brunch. The menu changes, but it is great for vegetarians. They also buy local produce whenever possible.

                      1. re: mdt1

                        I have not eaten at their brunch and would love to give it a shot. Didn't even know they offered brunch ...

                    2. re: deepfriedkudzu

                      It's far from haute veggie cuisine, but it's pretty good. What do you like best to Bottle Tree?

                      Bottle Tree
                      3719 3rd Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35222

            2. These recommendations are awesome, guys! I can't wait for our trip, and I'll let you know how it goes! Thanks a bundle :)

              1 Reply
              1. re: juniperfj

                As the vegetarian half of a "mixed marriage", this info is much appreciated. I've been feeling a bit wary about our road trip during the holidays from Nashville to New Orleans. Any more ideas or reports would be welcome!