Moving to Bham: Food and living area recs.
The transition here is pretty easy. People are very welcoming. Strongly recommend buying a GPS if you don't already own one. The hills, trees, and curvy roads make navigating around for the first time impossible. If kids are in your future, I'd recommend Mountain Brook. Real estate is a lot more there but the schools make up for it. You'll also recapture whatever extra you spend when you sell.
As for food, the upper end goto places are Highlands, Bottega, Chez Fon Fon, Hot & Hot, Ocean, 26, Bettola, Gianmarco's, Avo/Dram (mainly a bar but very good food), Dyron's, Ollie Irene, and Cafe Dupont. For a town of its size, Birmingham has an abundance of dining options.
Unfortunately, the grocery store situation isn't as good. Outside of Whole Foods (there's one), you'll be hard pressed to find good produce. Whole Foods has excellent meat and seafood and there's a couple of butcher shops and fishmongers in town too.
There are several very good wine stores but prices will be at least 30% higher than what you're used to in Houston.
V Richards has great produce and there are plenty of other options for wonderful local produce and proteins. Farmers markets are available year round now and there are a couple of options to Pickup a box of fresh produce weekly. Check out http://freshfully.com/ you can select your items for the week and pick up from several different locations. http://freshfully.com/AL/moore-farms/.... Welcome to Birmingham, the food scene is great!
Unfortunately, there is not an abundance of great authentic taco/Mexican places here to make you feel at home. The Taco Truck in Greensprings/Homewood area is the most authentic around, but certainly not fine dining. I'm on a search for fabulous tamales in Bham, but haven't found one yet. And an oaxacan mole can't be found either. The Hispanic friendly grocery stores are located (mostly) in the Hoover area if you tend to cook with those familiar ingredients. And you can't find a bowl of "red" here to save your life. You'll have to make that for yourself.
Here are some of my favs:
Seafood - fine dining - Ocean
Seafood - casual dining - The Fish Market
Haute Southern - Highland's Bar & Grill or Cafe Dupont
Old Southern meat & three - Niki's
Italian - fine dining - Gianmarco's or Bottega
Italian - casual - Guiseppe's
Thai (not a lot of choices) - Surin West for lunch/Surin 280 for dinner
Authentic chinese - Red Pearl or Mr. Chen's
Americanized chinese - Shanghai
French bistro - Cafe de Paris or Chez Fonfon
Fancy hamburgers - FLIP burgers
Local hamburger legend - Milo's
Middle Eastern/Medi casual - Purple Onion or Al's
Barbeque - Saw's
Indian - Mughal or Silver Coin
There are a lot of great food options in Homewood. Forest Park & Mountain Brook have a few, but are a very quick drive to many, many great options.
I suggest using Yelp or Urbanspoon for reviews and menus and such. We don't have a MenuPages for Bham if you're used to using that.
I hope y'all enjoy living here. It's a great food city! The politics can be a bit offputting at times, but all in all, there's no place I'd rather be.
I like Mi Pueblo on Greensprings and the mercado at the top of the hill at the intersection of west valley and greensprings for hispanic grocery stores. And I would rank Gordo's up there with some of the better taquerias I have found, I just wish they made their own tortillas.
Dax, I re-read my post from your topic and alas, some of the restaurants are now closed or my opinion has changed on their deliciousness. I no longer consider Nabeel's worthy of my time or money. Locale and Los Angeles are now extinct. But on the plus side, we've acquired a couple of cuban places (Kool Korner & Miami Cafe) and at least one Korean place (Ginza). It's actually pretty interesting to see how 2 or 3 years later, some places remain on top while others fall by the way-side.