Birmingham loves to feed people. Known as the “Dinner Table of the South,” local restaurants are its specialty, with some led by James Beard Award-winning chefs, others by culinary pioneers and entrepreneurs. Good news for tours: a number of favorites are at or near popular attractions, making it easy to eat and explore in one stop. Here are a few ideas, and the Birmingham CVB has others. Check out its Taste and See itinerary, available on its website.
Food for all at Pizitz Food Hall
Downtown, across from the McWane Science Center and a block from the Alabama and Lyric theaters, Pizitz Food Hall is all about options, with a dozen inventive food stalls offering anything from sushi and pho to Indian street foods and tacos. For mid-day sugar surges, Edolyn’s $5 four-inch pies are the answer. Lemon chess, pecan and sweet potato and other pies are based on recipes passed down three generations. Areas for communal dining are indoors and out at the old department store-turned-food hall.
A feast for the eyes and stomach
It costs nothing to stroll the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which means all the money saved can be invested in lunch at its Gardens Café. Open Tuesday-Friday, the lunch spot is operated by Kathy G. Mezrano, considered the city’s premier caterer by many. Specials like shrimp and grits and tomato stacked salad are accompanied by views of the garden through two-story windows or of roses and hydrangeas that blossom near the covered terrace.
Birmingham didn’t become a city until after the Civil War, so unlike other Southern towns, it doesn’t have many antebellum homes. Its one remaining house museum of that era, Arlington Antebellum House and Gardens, has tours of its collection of 19th-
century furnishings, silver and art. Staff there can also arrange three-course lunches on site for groups.
Sample Alabama-grown on Saturdays
There’s no better place to grasp what Alabama-grown means than The Market at Pepper Place. Up to 100 farmers and vendors set up each Saturday until noon, nearly year round, and sell everything from vegetables and fruits to baked goods and cheeses. Pepper Place, once the campus of a Dr Pepper bottling operation and now home to restaurants, shops and galleries, is a good stop anytime.
Greece, the South and the sea
It’s a rare when seafood pastichio, fried pickles and collard greens meet up on a menu, but that’s exactly what happens at The Fish Market on Southside, where one of Birmingham’s best-known chefs, George Sarris, brings together the sea, the South and his Greek homeland in a tastefully eclectic menu. Sarris and other chefs like Clayton Sherrod, who runs his own catering business and teaches cooking classes, love to entertain groups with cooking demonstrations that are guaranteed to add more local flavor to a stop in the South’s culinary capital.
For more information about planning an itinerary or a cooking demonstration, contact:
Greater Birmingham CVB
CTIS, vice president, tourism