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Hit the Road: a foodie foray to Birmingham, AL


Vulcan Park and Museum features panoramic views of Birmingham. | Photo by Art Meripol via the Alabama Tourism Department

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We hope you’ve packed your appetite. This month, we’re finishing our Hit the Road series with a foodie foray into Birmingham, AL. Whether you’re interested in sampling local fare at a downtown food hall, putting your cooking skills to the test at a multi-course class, or trying the award-winning coconut pecan cake at Chez Fonfon or Bottega, this driving-distance destination is every foodie’s dream.

Before you start packing your bags, here’s everything you need to know about the Magic City + our insider recommendations.

  • Drive time: ~3 hours from downtown
  • Est. population: 210,928
  • Avg. high in September: 85°

🎟️ Things to do

Pizitz Food Hall

From New Orleans-inspired eats to Indian street food, Pizitz Food Hall has something for everyone with 10+ restaurants. Bonus: You’ll be dining in one of downtown Birmingham’s most iconic spaces — the ~100-year-old building formerly home to department store Pizitz.

Pepper Place

Pepper Place, a former Dr. Pepper syrup plant, hosts acclaimed eateries like Hot & Hot Fish Club (fine dining) + OvenBird (live-fire restaurant). See the full list. Pro tip: On Saturdays, shop local produce at The Market at Pepperplace.

Brewery hop in Avondale

Sip on local brews + snack on taproom bites at Cahaba Brewing Co., Avondale Brewing Co., and Back Forty Beer Co. Pro tip: Avondale Brewing Co.’s 10,000-sqft taproom doubles as an outdoor music venue.

Picnic at Railroad Park

Pick up Asian fusion street fare from Hotbox (located at Good People Brewing Co.) or some baked treats + sandwiches from Hero Doughnuts & Buns before heading to the park to enjoy views of downtown.

Stroll through downtown Homewood

One of Homewood’s busiest streets offers options like meat-and-three Johnny’s Restaurant, longstanding hot dog joint Sam’s Super Samwiches, and Dave’s Pizza. If you want a caffeine boost, have a cup of joe at O.Henry’s.

🍲 Memorable eats

Automatic Seafood and Oysters

Enjoy seafood cuisine crafted by chef Adam Evans, who won the award for Best Chef: South at the 2022 James Beard Awards.

Chez Fonfon

James Beard Award-winning chef Frank Stitts oversees this French bistro. Save room for the coconut pecan cake, also available at the chef’s nearby restaurant, Bottega.

Irondale Cafe

Did you know? This cafe was the inspiration for Fannie Flagg’s “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe.” Southern eats like fried chicken, turnip greens, and chess pie also appear on the menu.

SAW’s Juke Joint

This self-proclaimed “upscale dive bar” features barbecue, sandwiches, hot dogs, and stuffed baked potatoes. The restaurant is known for its barbecue, but don’t sleep on the shrimp n’ greens dish (collard greens over McEwen & Sons cheese grits and topped with fried, grilled, or blackened shrimp).


This neighborhood restaurant, a fixture on Birmingham’s Southside, celebrated its 20th anniversary this summer. The menu is divided into two cuisines — Latin + American — with paella, fajitas, and weekend brunch (plus, Bob Dylan is a fan).

Niki’s West

Hop into the cafeteria line on weekdays to enjoy this steak + seafood restaurantwhich has been open since 1957. You’ll also find 20+ veggies and desserts on the line.

The Fish Market

Raw and baked oysters, crab claws, and red snapper are just a few of the many seafood dishes available. The restaurant is also known for its greek and classic coleslaw.

Davenport’s Pizza Palace

Family-owned since 1964, this cozy pizzeria serves up square slices + salads topped with scratch-made dressings.

Al’s Deli & Grill

Al’s will satisfy late-night cravings (open until 11 p.m.) with kabobs, gyros, pita roll-ups, and seasoned fries.

🏨 Accommodations with notable cuisine

Grand Bohemian, 2655 Lane Park Rd.

Tucked away in Mountain Brook, this hotel offers farm-to-table eats at its rooftop restaurant and bar, Habitat Feed & Social. Plan your trip around one of the upcoming cooking classes offered at the restaurant (classes like “The Southern Table” + “The Trick to Tapas”). After a day of cooking, walk over to Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Elyton Hotel, 1928 1st Ave. N.

The hotel, rated Four Diamonds by AAA, offers two food and beverage concepts: The Yard (Southern-inspired breakfast, brunch, and dinner menus) and Moon Shine (craft cocktails on the rooftop).

Redmont Hotel Birmingham, 2101 5th Ave. N.

Located within walking distance of the Alabama and Lyric theaters, enjoy cocktails and drinks at The Roof after a day of exploring. Pro tip: Edgar’s Bakery is a ~3 minute walk for breakfast + baked goods.

The Kelly Birmingham, 2027 1st Ave. N.

This luxury hotel overlooking downtown offers restaurant Calico, located inside the hotel’s lobby, near other local favorites like John’s City Diner + Café Dupont.

Hungry for more? Catch up on the last two months’ Hit the Road features: an outdoor adventure to Lake Oconee, GA and a 60-mile getaway to Clarksville.

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