If there’s one special thing tourists find in Birmingham, it’s good food. Good beautiful food. The kind you’d write home about—if people still wrote home. So if you’re here for our hot cuisine scene, here are some suggestions.
Start the day at The Satellite Coffee Bar in the Avondale neighborhood, right near downtown. Camille the coffee manager will take good care of you and will be happy to serve you Brown Butter Old-Fashioned Doughnuts, which recently made a Food Network Top Ten list.
While the caffeine’s pumping, make your way downtown to the Birmingham Museum of Art. You’ll find astounding collections of Asian, African, and European art, both classic and contemporary, that span more than 4,000 years. If you stay long enough—and you will—you can have an impressive lunch at Oscar’s at the Museum. Where else are you going to find the Georgia O’Keeffe Chicken Salad Melt?
Then it’s time to introduce yourself to Vulcan, Birmingham’s unofficial city symbol and the largest cast iron statue in the world. The Vulcan Park & Museum sits high atop Red Mountain and has an observation balcony for a panoramic view of the city and suburbs.
If your interests run toward flora and fauna, head to the nearby Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Here you’ll find more than 67 acres laid out in 30 thematic gardens, such as the Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden. And remember, it’s loveliest in the spring and summer.
*Highlands Bar & Grill should be on any foodie’s list of must-do places. You’ve likely heard or read about it, and it’s everything you imagined and more. It’s James Beard material, and it’s where Chef Frank Stitt ignited Birmingham fabulous food Renaissance. Just make sure you make a reservation!
If Highlands is packed, try its next-door neighbor and another of Frank’s places, Chez Fonfon. This French bistro is not at all fussy and consistently wins national awards for its “Hamburger Fonfon.” And in the spirit of fraternité and égalité, they don’t take reservations, so going early or late is the best idea.
Your Foodie Weekend might also include El Barrio Restaurante Y Bar for their grilled chorizo meatloaf and Café Dupont, where they’re big on the popular “slow food” movement. It should definitely and without a doubt include Ovenbird, one of Birmingham’s newest and hottest spots. You’ll have to hunt a little to find this gem, but you’ll be glad you did.
* Requires reservation well in advance of your visit.