Sweet Home Alabama.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to go back to Birmingham, the city that houses so many fond memories of personal friendship, growth, and learning. Yes, I went to college in Birmingham, but I also grew up there. My education become my own. My faith became my own. I began to understand who I was and what I was created for in those 4 years living in the Magic City.
Since I left a year ago after graduation, Birmingham has grown tremendously. Not only is their food scene flourishing, their music scene (Sloss Fest), revitalization efforts, and population are exploding. Because of this, Birmingham is becoming an up-and-coming city for singles, young couples and families across the South. Pretty much it’s a great time to visit!
I only got to spend two full days there, however I made sure I got to visit all my old haunts. Here is my list of sights and bites that you need to add your #bhambucketlist:
Photo credit (right): @pepperplacemarket Instagram
Jemison Trail (Mtn. Brook)
Pepper Place Market
Photo credit (left to right): @photoography_by_kjg @meelkin Instagram
Civil Rights Museum
Regions Field (Birmingham Baron’s Stadium)
Holler & Dash
Cracker Barrel’s newest experiment has arrived to Homewood, AL! In an effort to get millennials hyped about country cooking, in comes Holler & Dash. With a menu boasting a number of upscale biscuit combinations, grits, and tater tots, there are plenty of options for everyone. I ordered the Kickback Chicken Biscuit, which was comprised of fried chicken, goat cheese, green onion, sweet pepper jelly, and a splash of hot sauce sandwiched between a buttery, flaky, cooked-to-perfection biscuit. I fully support this restaurant coming to Charleston PRONTO!
Photo credit (left, middle): @anotherlittlepizzamyheart & @urbancookhouse Instagram
If you are looking for a fast, fresh lunch/dinner option, Urban Cookhouse is the way to go. Everything they serve is fresh and supporting local farms in the Birmingham area. They are known for their sandwiches, wraps, salads, Strawberry Lemonade, and the infamous Half-Baked Cookie. The secret to Urban Cookhouse’s success: they’re reasonably priced and terrifically tasty.
Mugshots / Steel City Pops / The Collins
Photo credit (left, middle): @mugshotsgrillandbar & @steelcitypops Instagram
Mugshots // Burgers. Burgers. BURGERS. If you are hankering for a juicy hamburger, visit Mugshots. Award-winning all across Alabama and Mississippi, these burgers are just about as tasty as they get. Their most popular burgers include the McDonald (hickory smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, ranch, BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, and red onion) and Reagan’s Peanut Butter Burger (smooth or crunchy peanut butter with optional toppings of grape jelly or bacon). I’m partial to the peanut butter burger myself, but their beer battered fries are to die for. Be prepared to wait a while on the weekends though, locals and visitors alike will flock here any given Friday or Saturday night.
Steel City Pops // Creamy or Fruity, that is the question! Founded in 2012, Steel City Pops is steadily sweeping the southeastern US with their fresh, flavorful popsicles. Infused with local ingredients inspired by what’s in season, these popsicles are bar none. Their flavors include exotic ones, like Avocado, Pineapple Jalapeño, Satsuma Cream and Hibiscus, and classic ones, like Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, Sweet Tea, and Coffee. Steel City Pops was a crowd favorite during my college years at Samford and will quickly become your’s too upon your first visit.
The Collins // It’s 5 o’clock somewhere. Look no further than The Collins for quality cocktails catered specifically to your personal preferences. Yes, each and every cocktail is unique and made according to your order. No menu, no problem! Looking for a bourbon drink with an orange twist? Or a red wine cocktail similar to a sangria? Or maybe you just want a mystery drink? No worries, they will make it for you! It’s like cocktail hour meets chemistry class. An absolute must for capping off your night in delicious, sophisticated style!
Big Spoon Creamery
Photo credit: @bigspoonbham Instagram
New to the Birmingham food scene is Big Spoon Creamery. What started as a small food cart at Pepper Place Farmers Market has expanded into a mobile food truck with a brand new storefront opening in Fall 2016. Their artisanal ice cream and ice cream sandwiches have stolen the hearts and stomachs of Birmingham. If you happen to come across their food truck in town, stop what you’re doing and run to Big Spoon. You won’t be disappointed.
Feast & Forest
Choose-your-own-adventure breakfast toasts, quiches, pasta Fridays, sammiches, and salads are just a few of the items you will find at Feast & Forest Downtown Birmingham. Their unassuming storefront leads into a spacious cafe with tons of natural light and a neat second story. Great for a work lunch with a co-worker or a pleasurable breakfast with a friend, this place attracts young and old alike. The baker behind the local business Baking Bandits creates all of the restaurant’s baked goods and breads, so be sure to try a sweet treat or sammich during your visit. Whether you’re coming for a quick breakfast or a long lunch, this place will have you feeling like a total hipster before you leave.
Real & Rosemary
Real Food, Good Company. Founded on the premise of creating fresh, home-cooked meals that can be shared with friends and family, Real & Rosemary is the perfect spot for sharing a healthful lunch or dinner with those you love most. Their menu features various plates, sandwiches, snacks, and salads that taste homemade without the hassle. For dinner, I ordered the Flounder Cakes plate with Zucchini Salad and a Corn Polenta Cake. Rich in flavor, spices, and freshness, yet filling without being overly heavy. This place has all the makings of being a Birmingham favorite. Keep doing you, Real & Rosemary.
Taco Mama / Church Street Coffee / O’Carr’s
Photo credit (middle): @hannah_the_weenie Instagram
Taco Mama // Located in Crestline Village and a new location in Edgewood, Taco Mama is the tastiest Mexican in Birmingham HANDS DOWN. I’ve never met a dish I didn’t like, and I’ve tried a lot. I can honestly say their burrito bowls, burritos, quesadillas, and tacos are mucho gusto, as well as their long list of cocktails!
Church Street Coffee & Books // Coffee, tea, espresso beverages, baked goods, cookies, oh yeah and books. Nestled in the corner of Crestline Village, Church Street is not only quaint and comforting upon walking in, but the baristas and staff are friendly and treat you like one of their own. Unlike chain coffee shops that often make you feel slighted, Church Street’s cozy atmosphere welcomes you to their “home” with fresh from the oven Breakup Cookies (THE best cookie you will ever eat) and robust coffee. One visit and you’ll be hooked!
O’Carr’s // A Birmingham classic since 1975. If you are a first-timer, you have to try the Chicken Salad and Fruit Plate. Their chicken salad is what made them famous, made fresh daily using their top secret recipe. And the fruit assortment they pair with their salad is out of this world. Literally. All continents are represented on this plate. Oranges, apples, pears, raisins, dates, grapes, kiwi, banana chips, plantains, pineapple, melon and whatever else is in season. Don’t even get me started on their milkshakes. Absolutely incredible and perfect for sharing. Trust me, this place is a hidden gem in Downtown Homewood that you need to try.
Post Office Pies
Photo credit: @postofficepies Instagram
P-I-Z-Z-A, Gimme pizza! Whether you’re carb loading for a big race or simply craving a slice of heaven, check out Post Office Pies in Avondale. All their pizzas are hand-tossed and cooked in a wood-fired brick oven. With 8 signature pizzas to choose from or a build-your-own option, they have it all. And if you’re not in the pizza mood, try one of their seasonal salads made with whatever local produce is available at that time. A great place for families and friends to gather and eat, make Post Office Pies a destination on your next trip into Birmingham.
Wherever your next trip takes you, be sure to add Birmingham to your #bucketlist! It’s rich history and even richer food make it the perfect destination for your next weekend getaway. I may be partial to it, because of all the memories I’ve made there. But it truly is a Magic(AL) City.