12 Best Restaurants in Gadsden, Alabama

Last Updated on March 3, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Gadsden is a charming city located in northeast Alabama, situated along the beautiful Coosa River. With its rich history and southern hospitality, Gadsden has plenty to offer visitors and residents alike. The city boasts a lively downtown area filled with local shops, galleries, and restaurants. Foodies will be delighted with the diverse dining options available in Gadsden, ranging from downhome Southern cooking to contemporary American cuisine.

Restaurant NameCuisine/ExperienceNotable Features
The Fish MarketSeafoodFresh, locally sourced seafood; Greek specialties
Top O’ The RiverSouthern/SeafoodCatfish, hushpuppies, waterfront views
Mater’s Pizza & PastaItalian/AmericanGourmet pizzas, casual family-friendly atmosphere
Tre Ragazzi’sItalianAuthentic Italian dishes, cozy setting
Kati Thai CuisineThaiAuthentic Thai flavors, fresh ingredients
Jefferson’sAmericanBurgers, wings, sports bar vibe
Old MexicoMexicanTraditional Mexican dishes, festive atmosphere
Pruett’s Bar-B-QueBarbecueSouthern-style barbecue, family recipes
Courtyard CafeAmerican/CafeHomestyle dishes, downtown location
BLU Chop HouseSteakhouseUpscale dining, steaks, seafood
The GridironSports Bar/AmericanClassic American pub fare, sports-themed
Blackstone Pub & EateryPub & EateryDiverse menu, live music, craft beers

This article explores the 12 best restaurants that Gadsden has to offer. From longtime institutions serving up heaping plates of comfort food, to swanky bistros crafting creative farm-to-table fare, there is something to suit every palate and preference. Each entry includes key information about the restaurant’s ambiance, signature dishes, and what makes it stand out. Food lovers touring Gadsden or those lucky enough to call it home should be sure to frequent these fantastic local eateries.

Back Forty Beer Company

Name and Location: Back Forty Beer Company is located at 2011 1st Ave North, Birmingham, AL 35203 in the Parkside District.

History and Significance: Founded in Gadsden, Alabama in 2009, Back Forty Beer Company brought their craft brewery to Birmingham in 2021, taking over an old mechanics shop. Their taproom features Back Forty classics like Truck Stop Honey brown ale and Freckle Belly IPA on draft.

What to Expect: Industrial modern taproom with exposed ductwork and signature barn doors. Outdoor beer garden filled with picnic tables and yard games. Back Forty’s full beer lineup on tap plus select wines and cocktails using their beer as ingredients. Light snacks available or bring your own food.

Visitor Information: Open Wednesday & Thursday 4–9pm, Friday 4–10pm, Saturday 12–10pm, Sunday 12–7pm. Minors allowed with adult supervision. Street parking available.

With its lively brewpub setting and outstanding beer and pub grub menu, Back Forty Beer Company is a top choice for a delicious casual meal in Gadsden. This local hot spot serves up contemporary American dishes like burgers, wings, and salads, plus house specialty pizzas.

Be sure to pair your meal with one of Back Forty’s signature craft beers like the Bama Bud American Blonde Ale or Freckle Belly IPA. Standout menu items include the humongous Big Boy Burger stacked sky-high with toppings and the hearty Chicken Pot Pie.

Atmosphere: Casual brewpub setting with a welcoming, friendly vibe
Signature Dishes: Big Boy Burger, Chicken Pot Pie, specialty pizzas
What Makes It Stand Out: Great selection of craft beers, mouthwatering pub fare menu

Saigon Bistro

Name and Location: Saigon Bistro is located at 2900 Highland Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35205 in the Highland Park neighborhood.

History and Significance: Family-owned since 2015, Saigon Bistro brings authentic Vietnamese cuisine to Birmingham including hard-to-find dishes from Hanoi and Saigon. Their cozy eatery features recipes handed down from owner Trinh Tran’s relatives.

What to Expect: Signature Vietnamese offerings like pho noodle soup, banh mi sandwiches, rice plates and stir fried entrees made using family recipes. Full bar includes Asian beer, wine and Sake cocktails. Counter service place your order and take a seat.

Visitor Information: Open Tuesday–Thursday 11am–9pm, Friday & Saturday 11am-10pm. Closed Sundays & Mondays. Casual counter service and pricing from $10–18 per entree.

For exotic Vietnamese flavors in a stylish upscale setting, look no further than Saigon Bistro. This contemporary restaurant crafts authentic Vietnamese specialties like pho soup, banh mi sandwiches, and wok-seared entrees.

Popular dishes include the Saigon Noodles, stir-fried rice noodles with chicken or shrimp, and the Viet Steak, a grilled marinated hanger steak. With a full bar and swanky red-and-black decor, Saigon Bistro offers a fine dining experience with internationally inspired cuisine made from scratch.

Atmosphere: Stylish, upscale ambiance perfect for a special night out
Signature Dishes: Saigon Noodles, Viet Steak, pho soups
What Makes It Stand Out: Elevated Vietnamese cuisine in an elegant setting

City Cafe is a beloved local institution known as much for its huge portions as its charming downhome atmosphere. This friendly diner serves up hearty comfort classics perfect to start your day, like fluffy biscuits and sausage gravy, pancake platters, and loaded three-egg omelets.

Lunch and dinner brings plate-lunch specials, chargrilled burgers and patty melts, chicken tenders, and country cooking entrees like fried catfish, chicken and dumplings, and old-fashioned meatloaf. With its cozy diner vibe and scrumptious stick-to-your-ribs fare, City Cafe offers some of Gadsden’s best homestyle cooking.

Atmosphere: Casual Southern diner setting with counter seating
Signature Dishes: Biscuits and gravy, patty melts, chicken and dumplings, catfish
What Makes It Stand Out: Comfortable welcoming atmosphere, huge portions of downhome cooking

Panoply Arts Festival Concession Stands

Name and Location: Panoply Arts Festival takes places annually in April with food vendors set up in outdoor concession stands surrounding Cathedral Square in downtown Birmingham.

History and Significance: Hosted by local arts organization Red Mountain Theatre Company since 1982, Panoply fills Birmingham’s inner-city park with live music and performing arts plus local cuisine. Their food vendors highlight city’s diversity.

What to Expect: Mobile concession stands line the walkways with Birmingham staples like sausages, Greek dishes, and fun festival foods from fried oreos to giant turkey legs. Pay at various booths for authentic city specialities. Seating scattered amid festival.

Visitor Information: Panoply’s roaming food vendors only open during the 3-day festival in late April. Prices range $5-$12 per item. Cash only at independent booths. Festival schedule has dining details.

Each May, food lovers flock to downtown Gadsden’s Riverfront Park for a feast at the Panoply Arts Festival food stands. This weekend-long arts event transforms the park into an open-air food court with vendors serving everything from funnel cakes to Philly cheesesteaks.

Festivalgoers praise standouts like Eugene’s Chicago Dogs for its plump all-beef Vienna dogs piled with crisp toppings. Little Italy’s arancini rice balls and chicken parmesan sandwiches also earn rave reviews. With family-friendly entertainment and scenic views of the Coosa River to boot, Panoply offers some of the best casual, on-the-go bites in town.

Atmosphere: Lively outdoor festival setting in Riverfront Park
Signature Dishes: Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian rice balls and sandwiches
What Makes It Stand Out: Fun weekend atmosphere with diverse food stall options

Irondale Cafe

Name and Location: The Irondale Cafe restaurant resides at 1906 1st Ave N Irondale, AL 35210 inside the old Irondale city hall building.

History and Significance: Made famous by Disney’s Real Steel and the novel Fried Green Tomatoes, this 100-year-old cafe provides visitors a step back in time with Southern homestyle meals served in a Victorian room filled with regional history displays. Landmark eatery.

What to Expect: House specialities like fried green tomatoes, chicken and dumplings, roast beef carved on premise. Vegetarian friendly menu plus BLTs, cinnamon rolls, corn fritters and daily specials served on antique china amid quaint decor.

Visitor Information: Open Tuesday-Saturday 11am-3pm. Closed Sundays & Mondays. Reservations recommended weekends via phone 205-956-5258. $12-16 entrees.

Made famous by bestselling novel Fried Green Tomatoes, Irondale Cafe embraces its roots as an authentic 1930s Southern supper club. Today diners still flock to this historic eatery for the secret recipe fried green tomatoes along with other regional specialties like turnip greens, fried okra, country fried steak, and scrumptious homemade pies.

Thanks to its vintage decor, friendly servers in period costumes, and tableside preparation, enjoying Irondale Cafe’s cooking lets you step back in time and experience true Southern hospitality.

Atmosphere: Charming historic Southern supper club setting
Signature Dishes: Fried green tomatoes, fried okra, country fried steak, pies
What Makes It Stand Out: Landmark from the novel/movie Fried Green Tomatoes

Top O’ the River

Name and Location: Top O’ the River is located at 1 Clubhouse Ln Gadsden, AL 35904 atop Lookout Mountain at Riverview Country Club.

History and Significance: This renowned fine dining restaurant has served Gadsden’s special occasion needs for over 50 years. Floor-to-ceiling views surround diners while executive chef Dion Guy’s seasonal American cuisine impresses as much as the panoramic mountain vistas.

What to Expect: Upscale classic dining room with views of the Coosa River valley. Elegant menu changes monthly based on seasonal ingredients but always outstanding. Award-winning wine list and service. Nightclub with live music on premise.

Visitor Information: Dinner only Tuesday–Saturday 5-10pm, Sunday brunch 10am-2pm. Reservations recommended via website or phone 256-456-3393. Formal dress code with men’s jacket required in main dining room. Valet parking.

For fine dining with an elegant riverfront view, Top O’ the River is Gadsden’s premier special occasion restaurant. This refined New American bistro looks out over the Coosa River and crafts artful contemporary cuisine with standout presentations.

Popular dishes include the pecan crusted rainbow trout, seared scallops with pumpkin risotto, and bacon-wrapped filet mignon. Extensive wine list, attentive service in an upscale riverfront setting. Perfect for date nights out, business dinners or celebrating special events.

Atmosphere: Ultra elegant riverfront setting with impressive views
Signature Dishes: Pecan trout, seared scallops, bacon-wrapped filet
What Makes It Stand Out: Refined ambiance and beautifully plated contemporary American cuisine

MeMa’s Deli & Bakery

Name and Location: MeMa’s Deli & Bakery is located at 2300 Tenth Terrace South, Birmingham, AL 35205 in Birmingham’s Highland Park neighborhood.

History and Significance: Opened in 2019, MeMa’s takes a farm-to-counter approach pairing specialty groceries with made-from-scratch cafe fare at their airy modern market cafe. The woman-owned neighborhood joint celebrates Alabama food makers.

What to Expect: Menu brings creative sandwiches, salads, soups and casseroles utilizing local ingredient partners. Extensive bakery fills cases with from-scratch sweets and breads. Grocery sells many Alabama made goods like cheese, coffee and granola.

Visitor Information: Open Tuesday–Sunday 7:30am–3pm, closed Mondays. Moderate pricing with breakfast under $12 and lunch $10-$15. Call 205-207-4130 for catering.

For freshly made sandwiches, soups, and baked goods, MeMa’s Deli & Bakery is a cherished local go-to. This cute cafe crafts towering deli sandwiches on house-baked breads, with standouts like the Chrome Dome with shaved turkey, swiss and coleslaw.

Hearty rotating soups, chili, and loaded baked potatoes make for perfect pairings. Save room for MeMa’s desserts too, with delicious cakes, fruit pies, and cookie trays. With its cozy seating, charming vintage decor and made-from-scratch comfort classics, MeMa’s feels just like dining in Grandma’s kitchen.

Atmosphere: Adorable old-fashioned cafe setting like Grandma’s kitchen
Signature Dishes: Giant deli sandwiches, hearty soups and chili, freshly baked desserts
What Makes It Stand Out: Homemade baked goods and scratch-made classics

Nina’s Uptown Grill

Name and Location: Nina’s Uptown Grill is located at 2104 1st Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203 in the historic Empire Building of the Parkside District.

History and Significance: Husband and wife owners came to Birmingham from Puerto Rico in the 90’s and opened Nina’s in 2015, naming their restaurant after matriarch Nina Camacho. They introduced authentic island cuisine to the Uptown neighborhood through family recipes.

What to Expect: Colorful, laid back space serving classic Puerto Rican mofongo, pernil, empanadillas, arroz con pollo. Also sandwiches, wings, tacos and signature tropical cocktails at their full bar. Lunch buffet available along with daily dinner specials.

Visitor Information: Tuesday 11am-3pm. Wednesday & Thursday 11am-9pm. Friday/Saturday 11am-10pm. Closed Sundays & Mondays. Happy hour deals. 205-324-2583.

For a taste of big city flair with Southern hospitality, check out Nina’s Uptown Grill. This contemporary American bistro crafts elevated entrees that fuse regional and international ingredients, like theriberry glazed salmon, blackened shrimp pasta, and fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs.

More upscale choices include chargrilled filet mignon and seared sea scallops in a rich beurre blanc sauce. Crisp white linens, chandeliers and exposed brick walls give Nina’s a swanky but cozy ambiance for a refined night out.

Atmosphere: Sophisticated chic downtown bistro setting
Signature Dishes: Berriberry salmon, blackened shrimp pasta, filet mignon, ribs
What Makes It Stand Out: Creative upscale entrees fusing global flavors

Classic on Noble

Name and Location: Classic on Noble is located at 1030 20th St N, Birmingham, AL 35203 downtown between 1st & 2nd Avenue North.

History and Significance: Since 2015, Classic on Noble has brought creative Southern plates and hospitality to Birmingham’s former red light district. Chef Brandon Cain spotlights local farms, fisheries and makers through market driven cuisine in their chic historic space.

What to Expect: Exposed brick walls with local art. Locally sourced dishes that merge classic technique with Alabama ingredients. Changes often but standouts include pimento cheese fritters, catfish, grit bowls, wedge salads. Full bar has craft cocktails. Sunday brunch served.

Visitor Information: Lunch Monday–Friday 11am–2pm. Dinner nightly at 5pm. Call 205-202-4546 for reservations. Closed Saturdays between lunch and dinner. Valet parking available.

Housed in a restored 1895 Victorian home, Classic on Noble offers fine dining in a uniquely elegant historic setting. The charming dining rooms with working fireplaces and stained glass set the scene for superb contemporary American fare crafted from regional ingredients.

Notable options include the pecan crusted chicken breast served with buttermilk mashed potatoes and haricots verts, and the braised beef short ribs topped with crispy tobacco onions. For a romantic evening out or special gatherings, Classic on Noble’s combination of exquisite cuisine and handsome vintage surrounds creates cherished memories.

Atmosphere: Refined and intimate in a beautiful historic Victorian home
Signature Dishes: Pecan chicken, braised short ribs, buttermilk mashed potatoes
What Makes It Stand Out: Elegant vintage Southern setting

Rosita’s Cantina

Name and Location: Rosita’s Cantina is located at 489 Montgomery Highway, Birmingham, AL 35216 between Oxmoor Road and Lakeshore Drive.

History and Significance: Family-owned fixture of Birmingham’s Hispanic dining scene for over 30 years in the same Valley Avenue shopping plaza location. Their colorful, casual eatery brings taste of Mexico through traditional recipes of sauces, fillings and more prepared fresh daily.

What to Expect: Authentic enchiladas, tacos, burritos, fajitas and combination plates served amid vibrant Mexican murals and decor. Full bar offers domestic beers and signature margaritas including a eye-catching 55-ounce jumbo Rita delivered via an electrified machete.

Visitor Information: Monday–Thursday 11am–9:30pm. Friday & Saturday 11am-10:30pm. Sunday 11am–9pm. Moderate pricing from $1.99 taco specials to $16 fajita platters. 205-836-0200.

Gadsden loves superb Mexican food, and Rosita’s Cantina offers some of the city’s most authentic choices. This lively restaurant serves up all your favorites like sizzling fajitas, mammoth burritos, enchilada plates and stuffed quesadillas, with welcoming service.

Signature combination plates let you mix and match options to please every preference at the table. Chili pepper lights and bright colors give Rosita’s festive Cinco de Mayo energy perfect for gatherings big and small. And their wallet-friendly prices make enjoying top-notch south-of-the-border cuisine easy.

Atmosphere: Bustling and cheerful family-friendly Mexican setting
Signature Dishes: Fajitas, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, combination plates
What Makes It Stand Out: Inviting cantina ambiance, fantastic authentic dishes

Whistle Stop Cafe

Name and Location: Whistle Stop Cafe resides at 2401 2nd Ave N, Irondale, AL 35210 two blocks north of the Irondale Cafe and Museum District.

History and Significance: Family-owned since opening in a former hardware warehouse in 1998, the Whistle Stop brings casual Southern comfort food to the tables via family recipes. Its rustic atmosphere singles out Irondale. Second location in Oneonta, AL.

What to Expect: Family-friendly space known for hearty plates of fried green tomatoes, chicken salad, chicken pot pie, Monte cristo sandwiches, hot fudge cake and more Southern standbys. Daily specials always attract neighborhood regulars.

Visitor Information: Open Monday–Saturday 10:30am–9pm for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Add wine and beer available. Phone 205-957-7544 for parties over 6 guests or catering.

Fans of Fried Green Tomatoes won’t want to miss dining at the real-life Whistle Stop Cafe featured in the beloved movie. Today this tiny railroad-themed restaurant in Irondale, just outside Gadsden, offers big flavor in a nostalgic setting.

Sink your teeth into giant fried green tomato sandwiches as well as homestyle meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, and their famous Waffle Challenge with four jumbo waffles smothered in toppings. Load up your plates then shop for souvenirs like the famous “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe” T-shirts.

Atmosphere: Adorable railroad-inspired cafe setting straight from the movie
Signature Dishes: Fried green tomato sandwiches, waffles, chicken and dumplings, meatloaf
What Makes It Stand Out: Featured in the novel and film Fried Green Tomatoes

Tre Rivali Ristorante

Name and Location: Tre Rivali Ristorante resides at 323 N.Palm Circle in Prattville, AL 36066 just north of I-65 Exchange 212.

History and Significance: Since 2013, Executive Chef Fabrizio Facciolo creates elevated authentic Italian cuisine for Tre Rivali using fresh Prattville ingredients and artisan goods imported from his Italian home. The intimate restaurant merges classic and modern Italian dining.

What to Expect: Dark woods and amber lighting. Extensive Italian wine list. Fresh pastas, signature risotto of the day, veal marsala, wood-fired pizzas, lobster ravioli, steaks from in-house butcher. Carefully curated “A Taste of Italy” experience. Impeccable polished service.

Visitor Information: Dinner only Tuesday–Saturday 5-9:30pm. Reservations highly recommended by phone 334-361-7954. Affordable entrees $14-$30. Chef’s tasting menu available. Closed Sunday and Monday.

For sleek contemporary Italian cuisine made from scratch, Tre Rivali Ristorante takes Gadsden’s dining scene up another notch. Handmade pastas, wood-fired pizzas with imported ingredients, and superb rustic entrees draw diners into this stylish downtown hot spot.

House specialties garnering acclaim include the Pear and Gorgonzola pizza with sweet pears, gorgonzola and caramelized onions; the Tre Carni pizza with Italian sausage and pancetta; and hearty Tuscan-style short ribs braised in a rich wine sauce. Tre Rivali’s upscale urban interior with exposed brick and intimate booths makes every visit feel like a getaway to Italy.

Atmosphere: Sophisticated contemporary Italian setting downtown
Signature Dishes: Gourmet wood-fired pizzas, homemade pastas, braised short ribs
What Makes It Stand Out: From scratch regional Italian cooking in a swanky urban setting

Conclusion


From humble diners to upscale eateries, Gadsden rewards food lovers with an array of mouthwatering dining establishments to suit any taste or budget. The 12 restaurants explored here consistently earn outstanding reviews for their atmospheric settings and delectable menus highlighting regional and global cuisine.

Whether visiting Gadsden or lucky enough to call it home, be sure to stop by these top local gems for a memorable meal that captures the city’s captivating hospitality and vibrant food scene. Just come hungry and prepare to find new favorite dishes and restaurants to frequent again and again.

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