12 Best Restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama

Last Updated on February 24, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Birmingham is home to a vibrant and diverse food scene, offering cuisine from around the world. From down-home Southern cooking to high-end contemporary fare, Birmingham’s top restaurants showcase the city’s culinary talents and traditions.

RestaurantCuisineHighlight
Hot and Hot Fish ClubSouthernFarm-to-table movement pioneer
Highlands Bar and GrillSouthern/FrenchAcclaimed for Southern cuisine with French influences
Blueprint on 3rdAmericanCreative and bold flavors in downtown Birmingham
BettolaItalianAuthentic handcrafted pasta and wood-fired pizza
Automatic Seafood and OystersSeafoodCoastal seafood and Southern hospitality
Roots & RevelryNew AmericanModern twist on Southern cooking
Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQBarbecueAuthentic wood-smoked whole hog barbecue
Café DupontFrench-SouthernContemporary French-Southern fusion in a 1920s setting
Tortugas Pizza and CaféItalianKnown for homemade pasta and pizzas
Little Savannah Restaurant & BarSouthern/CoastalLowcountry dining with a focus on seafood
CheekyburgerBurgersGourmet burgers with creative toppings
Shu ShopSoutheast AsianVibrant flavors with a focus on bao buns and dumplings

With more and more new hotspots opening, Birmingham has rightly earned its place among the South’s best food cities. Here we detail the 12 best restaurants that capture the flavor, innovation and hospitality of dining in Birmingham.

Hot and Hot Fish Club

Name and Location: Hot and Hot Fish Club is an upscale seafood restaurant located in Birmingham, Alabama.

History and Significance: Opened in 1995, Hot and Hot Fish Club puts its own spin on coastal cuisine using European technique and Alabama ingredients. Chef Chris Hastings has earned national acclaim for the restaurant’s inventive southern dishes.

What to Expect: The seasonally inspired menu may offer appetizers like grilled octopus or entrees such as pan roasted snapper with spring vegetables. An extensive wine list matches the sophisticated fare.

Visitor Information: Hot and Hot Fish Club serves a multicourse chef’s tasting menu for dinner Tuesday – Saturday evenings. Reservations essential.

As a pioneer of Birmingham’s farm-to-table movement, Hot and Hot Fish Club has long been renowned for its sustainable seafood and produce from local purveyors. Husband and wife Chris and Idie Hastings opened the elegant restaurant in 1995 with a focus on daily changing menus. Situated in a restored historic home in Birmingham’s Southside neighborhood, the intimate dining rooms create a laidback yet romantic setting for creative Southern fare.

Chef Chris Hastings has earned great acclaim, including a nomination for Best Chef:South by the James Beard Foundation. Notable dishes include the grilled whole Gulf fish with hot bacon vinaigrette and sides like cornmeal dusted okra with sweet peppers. With a vast wine cellar and impressive cocktail menu, it’s no wonder Hot and Hot Fish Club remains a Birmingham dining treasure.

Highlands Bar and Grill

Name and Location: Highlands Bar and Grill is an upscale American restaurant located in Five Points South near downtown Birmingham, Alabama.

History and Significance: Since 1982, Highlands Bar and Grill has been an iconic destination for elevated Southern cuisine from award-winning chef Frank Stitt. Deservedly renowned, Highlands focuses on fresh regional ingredients prepared with finesse.

What to Expect: The menu features artfully plated starters, seafood, pasta and meat entrees that merge classic European and Southern flavors. Expect an extensive wine list and noteworthy desserts like the coconut cake.

Visitor Information: Highlands Bar and Grill serves dinner nightly. Reservations recommended, especially on weekends. Valet parking available.

Repeatedly honored as one of the finest restaurants in the South, Highlands Bar and Grill represents the pinnacle of Birmingham dining. Since 1982, Chef Frank Stitt has pioneered his visionary take on Southern cuisine with French influences. An array of pastries, breads, ice creams and sorbets are created daily. The seasonally inspired dinner menu highlights regional ingredients in dishes like the signature “Wood Grilled Alabama Beef Ribeye with Red Wine Butter Sauce.”

Elegant yet relaxed, the sophisticated atmosphere includes three intimate dining areas filled with fresh flowers and romantic candlelight. Highlands Bar and Grill has racked up many accolades from the esteemed James Beard Foundation, including Outstanding Restaurant, Best Chef: South and Most Outstanding Pastry Chef. With exquisite contemporary Southern cooking in an upscale setting, Highlands Bar and Grill remains a bucket list restaurant for any culinary traveler.

Blueprint on 3rd

Name and Location: Blueprint on 3rd is a contemporary New American restaurant located along 3rd Avenue North in downtown Birmingham.

History and Significance: Open since 2018, Blueprint on 3rd mixes creative cocktails with an ever-changing menu driven by seasonal ingredients and international inspiration. The industrial chic interior matches its modern menu.

What to Expect: Dinner showcases chef-driven dishes like lamb sugo pappardelle or miso glazed salmon alongside Blueprint original cocktails. Expect an eclectic, globe-trotting menu ranging from dim sum to Indian samosas.

Visitor Information: Blueprint on 3rd serves dinner Tuesday – Saturday. Reservations recommended, especially weekends. Valet parking available.

Located in downtown Birmingham, Blueprint on 3rd brings creativity and bold flavors to the city’s culinary scene. Chef Jake Holmes serves craft cocktails and an eclectic menu showcasing the blend of global cuisines found in Birmingham. With an ever-changing chalkboard menu, Blueprint keeps diners excited with its daily features. Standouts include the Korean fried chicken wings with kimchi, the chicken tikka masala bowl and the pork belly banh mi sandwich.

With contemporary industrial decor, creative fusion cuisine and unique cocktails, Blueprint on 3rd is perfect for a fun city dining experience. Join in Thursday Trivia Nights or weekend brunch featuring dishes like blackened shrimp and mascarpone Stone-ground grits. The friendly staff and cozy yet lively ambiance reflect Birmingham’s diverse culture.

Bettola

Name and Location: Bettola is an Italian restaurant and wine bar located along Birmingham’s 3rd Avenue North.

History and Significance: Opened in 2012, Bettola brings authentic regional Italian dining to Birmingham through family recipes tracing to Bologna and Sicily. Its dedication to homemade pastas, quality ingredients and wines helped build its reputation.

What to Expect: The seasonally inspired menu offers handmade pastas, wood-fired pizzas, focaccia sandwiches plus hearty entrees like osso buco or grilled branzino. An Italian-focused wine list pairs nicely.

Visitor Information: Bettola serves dinner nightly as well as a Sunday brunch. Reservations recommended, especially for patio seating.

Bringing the flavors of Italy to Birmingham’s Lakeview District, Bettola offers authentic handcrafted pasta, wood-fired Neapolitan pizza and Italian small plates since 2018. Helmed by chef James Lewis, Bettola sources regional organic ingredients for housemade pastas like squid ink chitarra with clams, garlic and Calabrian chile. For pizza, try topping combos like fennel sausage with roasted peppers or the classic Margherita.

Start the meal with antipasti plates or lunch paninis. Save room for desserts like Nutella calzones, tiramisu and orange olive oil cake. With an intimate interior of linen drapes and romantic lighting, Bettola means “tavern” in Italian and evokes a welcoming Old-World atmosphere. Named one of Birmingham’s best new restaurants in 2019 by B-Metro Magazine, Bettola brings true Italian flair and flavors to the Magic City.

Automatic Seafood and Oysters

Name and Location: Automatic Seafood and Oysters is a New England-inspired seafood restaurant located along Birmingham’s downtown Morris Avenue.

History and Significance: Opened in 2019, Automatic Seafood imports coastal New England fare to inland Alabama focusing on fresh sustainable catches and shellfish alongside craft cocktails. Its industrial-chic ambiance suits the innovative menu.

What to Expect: Starters range from tuna tartare and oysters on the half shell to lobster rolls and clam chowder. Mains feature composed seafood plates and buttery baked dishes liked baked crab imperial. Desserts are decadent.

Visitor Information: Automatic serves dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations are strongly recommended at this small yet popular eatery. Valet parking available.

Since 2015, Automatic Seafood and Oysters has brought coastal seafood and Southern hospitality together in downtown Birmingham. With Alabama and Gulf-influenced cuisine, the airy industrial-chic space features cream walls, blond woods and marble counters. Start off with their famous bacon bloody mary. Focused on regional and seasonal sourcing, the seafood-centric menu offers starters like the crab and corn “Alabama succotash” with tomato butter sauce.

Mains include grilled whole Royal Red shrimp, seared scallops and hearty fisherman’s stews brimming with mussels, shrimp, grouper and more. Don’t miss their extensive raw bar with a rotating selection of oysters from both coasts. With excellent service and high-quality seafood at an upscale yet casual venue, it’s easy to see why Automatic has earned awards like Birmingham’s Best Seafood Restaurant in 2019.

Roots & Revelry

Name and Location: Roots & Revelry is a contemporary restaurant and cocktail bar located in the Lakeview entertainment district of Birmingham, Alabama.

History and Significance: Opened in 2016, Roots & Revelry celebrates Alabama produce through its seasonally inspired New Southern small plates and handcrafted plant-based cocktails. Its dedication to local sourcing helps set trends.

What to Expect: Weekly changing menus let local availability dictate inventive vegetable dishes like fried okra, heirloom tomatoes with watermelon or Alabama shrimp crudo to pair with herbaceous cocktails.

Visitor Information: Roots & Revelry serves dinner Tuesday – Saturday. Reservations recommended for dining on weekends and small plates parties.

Opened by chef Brandon Cain in 2017, Roots & Revelry brings a modern twist on Southern cooking to the Avondale neighborhood. The ingredient-driven New American menu focuses on elevated comfort food often infused with international flavors. Scratch-made regional cuisine stars on the dinner menu with dishes like buttermilk fried quail with bourbon gravy, cast iron scallops in Parmesan cream and barbecue Korean pork belly.

Their weekend brunch also shines with specialties like chicken and waffles and shrimp po’ boys. The rustic chic interior features exposed brick walls, vintage accents and an open kitchen centered around a large hearth. With craft cocktails like bourbon smashes and its signature Revelry old fashioned, the convivial restaurant encapsulates Birmingham’s welcoming, close-knit spirit.

Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ

Name and Location: Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ brings authentic South Carolina-style barbecue to Birmingham, Alabama with two locations now open.

History and Significance: Pitmaster Rodney Scott won renown cooking whole hog barbecue. After opening an acclaimed restaurant in Charleston, Rodney Scott expanded his chopped pork, ribs, sides and signature sauce to the Birmingham market for Alabama diners.

What to Expect: Expect smoked pulled pork, pork ribs, chicken and sides like collard greens, baked beans or mac & cheese sold by the pound alongside regional drinks like Cheerwine. The spare interior suits take-away meals.

Visitor Information: Rodney Scott’s Alabama locations are open 11am to 9pm for counter-service barbecue fare. Catering also available.

Pitmaster Rodney Scott has earned worldwide fame for his authentic wood-smoked whole hog barbecue. Scott grew up in the business, cooking entire hogs over hardwood coals in his family’s restaurant in Hemingway, South Carolina since 1972. He later opened his original Birmingham outpost in 2018, bringing national acclaim plus a 2018 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southeast.

The weekday lunch buffet lines stretch out the door as locals feast on Scott’s paper plate specials. From pork ribs to fried catfish, Rodney Scott’s offers all the classic barbecue fixings. The juicy pulled pork, crispy pig skin, succulent ribs and hearty sides like collard greens and hushpuppies showcase generations-honed smoking skills. Don’t skip dessert – the banana pudding is legendary. For authentic Southern barbecue done right, Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog is a cherished Birmingham gem.

Café Dupont

Name and Location: Café Dupont is a contemporary New Southern style restaurant located in downtown Birmingham, a few blocks from the culinary hub of 5 Points.

History and Significance: Opened in 2010, Café Dupont merges European technique with regional southern cooking traditions under a James Beard Award nominated chef. Seasonally inspired dishes match the upscale yet laidback ambiance.

What to Expect: Lunch and dinner menus range from crispy catfish on Saints Grits to fire roasted rack of lamb pairing southern staples with continental influence. Noteworthy bar program and pastry selection.

Visitor Information: Cafe Dupont serves daily lunch and dinner plus Sunday Brunch. Reservations recommended for dinner. Free valet parking available.

Regarded as one of Birmingham’s finest restaurants since opening downtown in 2010, Café Dupont brings contemporary French-Southern fusion to 1920s luxury. James Beard award-winning chef Chris Dupont crafts European cuisine blended with Deep South inspiration. The historic building dazzles with its soaring Corinthian columns, marble floors and iron embellishments.

The ever-changing dinner menu celebrates regional ingredients in dishes like seared scallops with country ham cream, chicken schnitzel “Zurich style,” and the dry aged Red Hills Farm pork chop with bourbon au jus. Extensive vegan and vegetarian options are also available. Both the wine list and signature cocktails incorporate Old World liqueurs and fresh ingredients. With white-tablecloth service, Classic Continental cuisine and opulent Jazz Age decor, Café Dupont encapsulates Birmingham fine dining at its best.

Tortugas Pizza and Café

Name and Location: Tortugas Pizza & Café brings Neapolitan-style pies fired in an Italian oven to Birmingham’s Lakeview neighborhood.

History and Significance: Opened in 2008, Tortugas specializes in authentic thin crust pizza alongside homemade pastas and Italian classics for a casual neighborhood spot reflective of old country traditions adapted to modern tastes.

What to Expect: Tortugas plates wide-ranging pizzas plus favorites like lasagna Bolognese, eggplant parmesan heroes or chicken piccata over homemade fettuccine. Gluten-free crusts available. Take-out friendly.

Visitor Information: Tortugas Pizza and Café is open daily for lunch and dinner. Carry-out and delivery options available. Reservations accepted for groups.

Serving some of Birmingham’s best pizza and Italian cuisine, Tortugas Pizza & Café has delighted diners since 1977. After immigrating from Sicily, owner Nino Zulli brought his family recipes to Birmingham’s eclectic Southside neighborhood. Today Nino’s son Tommy continues the legacy at this casual eatery known for its homemade pasta, sauces, soups and pizzas.

Tortugas makes their own pasta daily, with favorites like baked lasagna, linguine with red or white clam sauce, and rigatoni fungilli with sweet Italian sausage. Their pizzas fire up exciting topping combos like the Cuban with ham, pulled pork, pickles and mustard sauce or the Thai pie with chicken and shrimp in peanut sauce. From lasagna to chicken Parmigiana, Tortuga’s does Italian comfort food right, feeding Birmingham locals and visitors the best pizza in town since 1977.

Little Savannah Restaurant & Bar

Name and Location: Little Savannah Restaurant & Bar is a contemporary American restaurant located downtown near Birmingham’s culinary hub of 5 Points South.

History and Significance: Open since 2006 in a Victorian-style home, Little Savannah merges creative continental cuisine with southern flair for a neighborhood favorite spot. Its garden patio cultivates a leisurely dining vibe.

What to Expect: The dinner menu ranges from crab beignets and pimento cheese boulettes through entrees like pan seared grouper or pork osso buco for a taste of updated regional cooking. Noteworthy wine list and cocktails.

Visitor Information: Little Savannah serves nightly dinner plus Sunday Brunch. Reservations recommended, especially for patio seating. Valet parking available.

With Southern hospitality and coastal cuisine, Chef Clifton Holmes brings Lowcountry dining to Birmingham diners since 2006. Crowned Birmingham’s “King of Brunch,” Little Savannah prides itself on regional favorites all day. Their morning menu has become locally legendary with options like fried green tomatoes Benedict, Charleston shrimp & grits and chicken biscuits smothered in sausage gravy – one of Southern Living’s “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die.”

For lunch, try regional staples like fried catfish po’boys, shrimp tacos and their famous tomato pie. Dinner highlights Savannah’s signature seafood, frying up platters of fried shrimp Creole, seared catfish and their signature low country boil overflowing with head-on shrimp, smoked sausage, corn and potatoes. Embody the welcoming spirit of historic Savannah with the stellar Southern cooking and hospitality of Little Savannah right in Birmingham.

Cheekyburger

Name and Location: Cheeky Burger is a counter-serve eatery focused on gourmet burgers located in Birmingham’s Avondale neighborhood.

History and Significance: Opened in 2021 by an area chef, Cheeky Burger plates premium burgers built from freshly ground brisket/chuck patties served on brioche buns. Creative toppings and sides give classic American comfort food an artisanal twist.

What to Expect: Signature stack burgers come topped with homemade bacon jam, caramelized onions and unique sauces. Hand-cut fries, tater tots, onion rings and hand-spun shakes offer indulgent pairings.

Visitor Information: Cheeky Burger is open for lunch and dinner daily. Order at the counter for take-out or limited dine-in seating. Online ordering also available.

Since 2012, husband and wife team Blake and Heather Cepero have brought elevated fast casual dining to downtown Birmingham with cheekyburger. Their award-winning gourmet burgers, fries and shakes are not your average drive-thru. Locally sourced beef patties come loaded with creative topping combos like the “French Onion” burger with provolone cheese, caramelized onions and onion aioli.

Try other signatures like the “Habanero Jack,” the vegetarian “Mom’s Veggie” or build your own from premium ingredients. Fresh hand-cut fries have their own menu of seasonings and drizzles, with options like feta cheese, rosemary or sweet chili sauce. Thick milkshakes come in cheeky flavors like red velvet cake and chocolate fried pie. With its laidback urban shop serving dressed-up burgers, shakes and fries, cheekyburger brings an inventive twist to B-Ham’s food scene.

Shu Shop

Name and Location: Shu Shop brings Detroit-style pan pizza and modern Asian small plates together under one roof in Birmingham, Alabama.

History and Significance: Opened in 2021, James Beard Award nominee chef Chris Lockhart merges his pizza expertise with wife Starria Lockhart’s Taiwanese heritage and passion for mixing global flavors at this unique eatery.

What to Expect: Square pan pizzas with crispy bottom and edge crust hold creative Asian-inspired toppings alongside starters like potstickers, egg rolls and scallion pancakes with fun fusion sauces for dunking.

Visitor Information: Shu Shop serves dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Online reservations strongly recommended at this petite eatery with just counter seating. Take-out available.

Opened in 2021 in Avondale’s hip 41st Street corridor, Shu Shop adds vibrant Southeast Asian flavors to Birmingham’s culinary melting pot. Helmed by chef and owner Abhi Sainju, Shu Shop merges the chef’s Nepali roots and Birmingham upbringing through playful quick yet quality street food concepts. The concise menu focuses on bao buns, dumplings, and rice bowls featuring colorful clean ingredients. Customer favorites include crispy chicken bao buns slathered in tangy housemade Shu sauce.

Another signature is the pork or Impossible vegetable dumplings dunked in warming broth. Rice bowls allow diners to build their own bowls stuffed with options like tea smoked chicken, Korean style beef bulgogi, or honey chili cauliflower atop jasmine rice or ramen noodles. Round out the meal with chilled Thai milk tea or mango lassi shakes. Both welcoming and progressive, Shu Shop signifies an exciting new wave in Birmingham’s ever-growing food diversity.

Conclusion


From James Beard award winners to friendly neighborhood pizzerias, Birmingham dining captures the South’s culinary heritage while pioneering its global food future. Celebrating both tradition and innovation, the distinctive restaurants on this list represent what’s uniquely exceptional about Birmingham food today. The city continues to foster homegrown talents like chef Abhi Shainju while staying true to historic culinary roots like Rodney Scott’s whole hog barbecue.

Whether grabbing elevated pub fare and craft brews in hip downtown enclaves or fine dining at white-tablecloth institutions, Birmingham delivers on delicious adventures for every taste and budget. Here you’ll find Southern staples colliding with international inspiration, sure to delight both residents and visitors. These 12 restaurants highlight the creative, community spirit of Birmingham and why Alabama’s Magic City warrants a rising spot on America’s food map.

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