Our 18 favorite new bars and restaurants of 2018

Our 18 favorite bars and restaurants of 2018! Photo by Bham Now

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, Shake Shack, Alabama, food, restaurants, burgers, shakes, fries, restaurants
Photo courtesy of 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.

Read all about it.

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.

More on Blueprint on 3rd.

3. Ono Poke (Homewood Location)

The crunch bowl at Ono Poké — does not come with lei. Photo by Lauren Bedford for Bham Now

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.

Read more about their new location.

4. The Woolworth

Bham Now Woolworth
You can order a specialty cocktail or your local beer which is on tap

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

Cookie Dough Magic opened in Avondale over the Thanksgiving holiday. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

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.

More on Cookie Dough Magic here.

6. Brat Brot

A night in Lakeview is not complete without a stop by Brat Brot for pretzels, beer cheese and brats. (Lauren Bedford/Bham Now)

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.

More on Brat Brot.

7. Paper Doll Bar

Paper Doll Bar has a wide range of options for every palette. Photo by Lauren Bedford for Bham Now

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.

More on Paper Doll here.

8. Mark’s Joint BBQ

Mark’s Joint is an old-school BBQ place. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

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.

More on Mark’s Joint BBQ.

9. Slag Heap Brewing

Birmingham, Trussville, Slag Heap Brewing Co.
Samplers at Slag Heap Brewing Co. in Trussville. Photo by Patience Itson for Bham Now

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.

More on Slag Heap and those awesome bathrooms.

10. Momotaro

Because the ice cream is always the star of the show. Photo by Hilary Meares of Bham Now

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.

More on Momotaro.

11. Pilcrow Bar

Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar is a hidden gem. Photo by Patience Itson for Bham Now

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.

Read more about Pilcrow here.

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!

Learn more about Trussville’s newest bakery.

13. El ZunZun

El Zunzun is Cahaba Heights’ new authentic Latin American restaurant. Photo by Hilary Meares for Bham Now

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.

Check out Hilary’s experience at El ZunZun.

14. The Essential

It’s always pizza Friday at The Essential. Photo via 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.

More on The Essential.

15. Midici

Midici have authentic neapolitan pizza. Photo via Midici

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.

More on our trip to Midici.

16. Dave and Buster’s

The burgers at Dave and Buster’s are out of this world. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

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.

Our coverage of Alabama’s first Dave and Buster’s.

17. Birmingham District Brews

Birmingham, Alabama, Birmingham District Brewing Co., beer flight
Flights of four are $8. That gorgeous tabletop below was crafted by Magic City Woodworks. Photo by Lauren Bedford for Bham Now

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.

The full story on Birmingham District Brews.

18. Libertine’s Pizza

Libertine’s Pepperoni Pizza Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

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.

More on Libertine’s.

2019 is set to be another great year for foodies in Birmingham. Check out the full story on new restaurants and bars opening in 2019.