If Southerners know one thing well, almost universally that thing will be food. We know how to cook it, and we know how to enjoy it. We understand the value of sharing a meal with friends and family, how transformative and soul-nurturing great cuisine and conversation can be, and we’re proud of our culinary heritage. Alabama, in particular, has a long history of terrific restaurants – from the freshest seafood joints on the coast to fine dining establishments featuring locally sourced produce to unbelievably good barbecue and everything in between. Lucky for you, Birmingham makes a point of celebrating all things tasty in our abundant restaurant scene with our annual Birmingham Restaurant Week each August. And this year, we’re doubling down on the delicious with the first-ever Winter Restaurant Week, January 25-31. Plan a day or weekend trip to come and try some award-winning food from fabulous local chefs, true Birmingham originals, all for less than you’d normally pay.
If you’re not familiar, Winter Restaurant Week (WRW) will work just like its August sister. Visit any participating restaurant for a specially fixed-price menu — $5, $10 and $15 two-course lunches or $10, $20 and $30 three-course dinners. We’ve got 26 restaurants joining us for the inaugural WRW, and this is food you won’t be able to experience anywhere else.
Maybe you’re a fan of barbecue and like to debate the relative merits of your favorite smoky pit. Come try Jim ’N Nick’s Southside location for more than your average plate of pork, or drive out to Rusty’s and experience a true master and the best ribs you’ve ever tasted. If Mexican flavor is your thing, visit Cantina for fresh, authentic taste, or try Rojo for a hip neighborhood vibe and delicious, often locally sourced Mexican and American specialties. Birmingham has more than its fair share of incredible burgers, so you might take a tour of Bottle & Bone, JoJo’s on Broadway, BYOB (Build Your Own Burger), and 5 Point Public House and Oyster Bar for your own personal best-of hit list. Don’t forget the sides and other specialties (house cured bacon, great drinks, tots, fries, and more.) We also have crazy-good pizza, like the wood-fired ones at Vecchia, fresh dough and sauce at Cosmo’s, or the unique pies at Slice, where local ingredients star on the pizzas and behind the bar. Looking for the best and most inventive menus from top-notch chefs? Look no further than Ocean, Vino, The Wine Loft, Primeaux Cheese and Vino, John’s City Diner and Garden & Galley for fine dining, great wine pairings, and more. If you’re looking for something more casual, try Carrigan’s and one of their craft cocktails, Iron City for a delicious menu before a concert at their venue next door, Silvertron for classic food in a friendly neighborhood atmosphere, The Pantry for farm-fresh and seasonal offerings, two different Billy’s Pub locations for great food and drinks, East 59 Vintage and Café for cozy food in a fun atmosphere, or Rowe’s Service Station in the hip Avondale neighborhood.
What makes Birmingham such a foodie destination spot are these chefs and restaurant owners and the care they put into what gets put on your plate. We’re a town that does fresh, seasonal, local food all the way from burgers to fine cuisine because we know it tastes better that way, and the competition for our dining dollars is fierce. Winter Restaurant Week is the perfect time to break out of your cold-weather doldrums and venture into Birmingham to see what all the culinary fuss is about. Come for the food, and stay for the food. You might just want to make a full week of it.
Emily Brown is the author of Birmingham Food: A Magic City Menu and the Program Specialist and Dishing the ‘Ham blogger for Birmingham Restaurant Week. Photo by Arik Sokol.
The views expressed here are those of the author.