2018 was a fantastic year for the Birmingham food-and-drink scene. We attended many new restaurant and bar openings this year and they were all amazing. From burgers to pizza to new breweries, we ate it all. And now, it’s time for us to pick the top 18 of 2018.
*These selections are listed in no particular order.*
1. Shake Shack
Birmingham finally got a taste of Shake Shack, the famous burger chain hailing from NYC. We’ve gotta say, that burger is pretty dang good. Oh, and have you had the fried chicken sandwich? The cheese fries?? So good.
2. Blueprint on 3rd
Self-described as a “polished-casual American brasserie,” Blueprint on 3rd is a great place to grab a bite to eat. The atmosphere is upscale but informal and the food is fantastic. They have a wide variety of choices on their American-focused menu, like ‘Duck and Dumplings’ and Vidalia Petals. They are located in the heart of Pepper Place.
3. Ono Poke (Homewood Location)
Although this is not technically a new restaurant, when Ono Poke expanded from their first location in The Pizitz food hall to their second location in Homewood, some things changed. Like their menu. The addition of sushi burritos and those amazing poke fries really changed the game.
4. The Woolworth
Duckpin bowling meets air hockey tables meets cool bar meets amazing food. That is the only way to describe Birmingham’s coolest bowling alley / fantastic restaurant concept called The Woolworth. Oh, did we mention there is a rooftop bar?
More on The Woolworth here.
5. Cookie Dough Magic
Three words: edible cookie dough. (That is totally safe to eat, thank you very much!) Head over to this sweets shop that looks like an ice cream shop, but instead you get a scoop of cookie dough. Yep, it’s pretty sweet.
6. Brat Brot
Despite Brat Brot’s suspicious and surprising closing earlier this month,(re-opening? TBD.) we couldn’t leave them off this list. The cozy greenhouse-style restaurant brought original German food and beer to the people of Birmingham, and it was incredible. We’re staying on top of the story and will continue to update with anything we know about their possible re-opening.
7. Paper Doll Bar
This swanky new bar is located in the old Tavern on 1st spot. Complete with velvet couches, chandeliers and fine art, Paper Doll Bar is bringing sophisticated drinking to Birmingham. Their extensive list of spirits and finely-crafted cocktail menu matches the interior.
8. Mark’s Joint BBQ
Mark’s Joint recently opened up in the former location of Urban Cookhouse in Homewood. As far as the menu goes, it’s your typical barbecue joint, but that mac n cheese was really something else. The pork sandwich is solid as well.
9. Slag Heap Brewing
One of Birmingham’s newest breweries opened up in Trussville this year! This little spot on Main Street downtown has beer flights, very cool restrooms and a great selections of brews to choose from. Oh, and did we mention they make their own root beer too? It’s delicious.
Momotaro is the newest poke spot in town — but that’s not all they do. This restaurant, which has locations in a few other college towns across the country, opened up in Five Points so it was close to UAB. Their menu features poke, bubble tea and Japanese crepes. Pick from sweet or savory — you can’t go wrong. Another fave? Their hand-rolled ice cream! We don’t know how they do it, we’re just glad they do.
11. Pilcrow Bar
Pilcrow Bar feels like a speakeasy. The neon sign bearing only the pilcrow symbol is located down an alley in Founder’s Station, but you’ll be happy once you find it. This cool cocktail bar is aiming to bring more mezcal to the Birmingham drink scene, and they are doing it well.
12. Great Harvest Bread Co.
Great Harvest Bread Co. opened in Trussville this year. The bakery has treats of all kinds, from bread to pastries. However, one of their coolest products has to be their beer bread, which they make with the spent grain from Slag Heap Brewery across the street!
13. El ZunZun
Latin American food came to Cahaba Heights in a fun and funky restaurant that is located in the garden area of the new Leaf ‘N’ Petal. Sit out in nature while you enjoy authentic dishes like grilled cactus and adobo marinated pork tacos.
14. The Essential
The Essential is the restaurant brainchild of the team behind the popular Feast & Forest bakery/lunch spot. When they closed Feast & Forest to open The Essential, people had a lot of questions. “Will they still have the pop-tarts?” “What about the amazing pasta Fridays?” Turns out it’s even better than that — you can now have pasta Friday any day of the week at The Essential. And yes, they still have those amazing pop-tarts. Check it out for brunch, lunch, or dinner in Founder’s Station.
Wood-fired Neapolitan pizza always gets a yes from us. Especially when you pair it with great cheese boards, hearty salads and a cool location in Lane Parke. Pop inside for a pizza and a peek at the straight-from-Italy olive tree that is planted right in the middle of the restaurant. Oh, and don’t sleep on that nutella calzone. It is straight-up magical.
16. Dave and Buster’s
Dave and Buster’s is technically a chain, but their new location in the Riverchase Galleria is the first-ever Alabama location, so it’s kind of a big deal! They’ve got drinks, sports and ginormous burgers. You’ve gotta check it out.
17. Birmingham District Brews
Birmingham District Brew’s opened in November at The Battery, Birmingham’s newest entertainment block. The interior is reclaimed wood and they have garage doors that open onto a cool patio with cornhole and other games for the warmer months. Seems like they’ve really got a handle on the brewing thing, too. We suggest getting a flight, but the stout is pretty great too.
18. Libertine’s Pizza
Libertine’s is the hole-in-the-wall pizza joint project of Ben Vaughan, chef at Root to Tail. Located in the old Cosmo’s Pizza spot, Libertine’s has room for stools and standing, but they deliver to anyone in an 8 mile radius. The pizza is cheesy and the crust is kind of perfect. You’ll want a slice of this pie.