Fall in Birmingham means food. No, we’re not talking about tailgate parties; we’re talkin’ festivals! From butterbeans to baklava, Birmingham hosts more food festivals during the glorious months of fall than you can shake a fork at. Here are 10 you won’t want to miss:
1. The Saint George Middle-Eastern Food Festival – September 14 -16
Food is one of the many rich benefits we enjoy from Birmingham’s cultural diversity. Our middle-eastern food, for example, is unparalleled. And, is an excellent opportunity for some mideast noshes. From baked kibbee (think exotic meatloaf) to freshly made stuffed grape leaves, you’ll find all of your middle-eastern favorites. Baked chicken, felafel, and hummus are in abundance, along with tabouleh, Arabic salad, and spinach pie. Finish your entree off with any one of their nine traditional pastries. In fact, why limit yourself to one?
2. Trucks By The Tracks – September 17
Every year folks descend upon our beautiful Railroad Park to enjoy the culinary delights served up by our thriving food truck culture at . Enjoy po boys, gourmet grilled cheeses, Nashville-style hot chicken, and street tacos. There’ll be barbecue, Chicago-style pizza, loaded tater tots, and about anything you could want made with bacon. If your sweet tooth is acting up, enjoy homemade ice cream, gourmet popsicles, or warm baked cookies. With delicacies enough for everyone’s tastes and live music, this day in the park is like nothing else you’ve experienced.
3. The Birmingham Greek Food Festival – September 21-23
One of our most anticipated cultural food festivals is the . In its 45th year, this fest offers up many of the same delightful mediterranean dishes you might have enjoyed the week previous at St. George’s. But, here you can also choose from more traditionally greek dishes, such as gyros, souvlakia, and Pastichio. Their own tempting mix of sweets include chocolate baklava, greek wedding cookies (kourambethes), and butter coffee twists (koulourakia).
4. Breakin’ Bread – September 24
brings together more than 30 of our favorite restaurants at the historic Sloss Furnaces in an excellent showcase of food, beer, and wine. Named a “signature experience” by the Alabama Board of Tourism, Breakin’ Bread is counted one of the top 10 attractions in the state. While you’re there, you’ll definitely want to wander through the 135 year old iron mill, its preservation a testament to Birmingham’s genuine care for our history.
5. Fiesta – September 30
Fiesta is Alabama’s largest celebration of Hispanic culture and heritage. Since it began in 2003, has entertained families with authentic latin food and music along with family-friendly activities. From tortas to tacos and jerk chicken to pupusas, this fest puts on the spread. Here, you’ll find Salvadorian, Caribbean, and Brazilian food. Warm plantains, tapiocas, quesadillas, tamales, and corn cups… oh my. You can almost smell the homemade corn tortillas cooking. And, because it’s Fiesta’s fifteenth year – its quinceañera – you can expect the celebration to be extra special.
6. The 26th Annual Whistle Stop Festival – September 30
Nothing makes us think “Alabama” better than fried green tomatoes. And if what you love about fried green tomatoes includes Fannie Flagg’s novel, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, well, then you might want to check out this local favorite held annually in the charming little downtown of Irondale just east of Birmingham. After all, this is the home of the cafe upon which her novel is based. With live music, traditional southern food, arts and crafts, the is about as big a helping of Alabama charm as you could hope for. And it will definitely bring you back for seconds.
7. The Cahaba River Fry Down – October 1
You’ve heard of chili cook-offs and barbecue contests. Well, the is a gourmet cooking competition involving catfish. Here, you could find anything from curried catfish with lime chutney to Thai grilled catfish salad, to crunchy catfish tacos with homemade salsa. And there will definitely be a team or two with traditional fried recipes. Each team serves up their fare in abundance to visitors along with side dishes ranging from salads to fried Snickers bars. A panel of professional judges evaluate the efforts of the visiting chefs (both amateur and professional) and awards are given at the end of the day.
8. The Birmingham Public Library’s Eat Drink Read Write festival – October 1-3
In celebration of Birmingham’s incredible foodscape, the Eat Drink Read Write festival brings together Birmingham’s cuisine from local chefs and learning experiences in a three day celebration of healthy food and interesting interactive experiences. Learn how to garden on your patio, what motivates our local chefs, and how social media affects the food scene. If you like feeding mind and body, you’ll want to put this one on your calendar.
9. The Alabama Butterbean Festival – October 6-7
Down here in the South, we know that butterbeans go with everything. They go great with pork, other vegetables, and, as the Alabama Butterbean Festival will show you – good clean fun. This down-home gathering tempts you with butterbeans prepared in all sorts of ways, and then offers you one heck of a good time. Held each year in Pinson, just north of Birmingham, this fest has the honor of having been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as having the largest pot of baked beans./span>
10. The 34th Annual St. Nicholas Slavic / Russian Food Festival
Traditionally held early in November in the neighboring town of Brookside, Alabama, the offers up delightful dishes from faraway lands. You can stick with the familiar, such as kolbasa and kraut, or you can be adventurous and try shchi (a cabbage and meat soup), holupki (stuffed cabbage with beef and pork), or halushki (potato dumplings with cheese and onions). The dishes are all prepared from recipes handed down from relatives and friends who immigrated to Brookside from Russia, the Ukraine, and from areas now known as Slovakia. After having your borsch and borodinsky, you’ll want to enjoy a kolachie for dessert and take a tour of the beautiful St. Nicholas temple. You’ll find it a beautiful way to top off a fall full of festivals.