I joined a Birmingham dinner club with complete strangers – here’s what we ate

IMG 6355 1 I joined a Birmingham dinner club with complete strangers - here's what we ate
Look at those smiles. Don’t we look like people you want to Come Eat With? Photo by a nice teenage girl outside the Avondale restaurant. Hope she sees this.

So, I’m new here. If you missed our recent introductions article– Bham Now has been adding to our team! I moved to Birmingham in early June, fresh out of undergrad and knowing very few people (read: 1 married couple). Through the friend of a friend, I received an invitation to join a dinner club that meets every Tuesday night- and, as any extroverted transplant would, I traipsed off to dinner with a group of complete strangers.

How it Started

This past spring, they were a book club- collectively working their way through Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher. For the summer, they decided to morph into a dinner club. The group, now most aptly named, “Come Eat Here,” has a goal of trying a new Birmingham restaurant every week. Since I’ve lived here less than a month, every one of the places we visit is making its first impression on me.

Week 1: Poutine & More at Mile End Deli


Where it is:

1701 1st Avenue South Birmingham, AL 35233

What it is:

Y’all. This place is good. Their menu is super unique, but also offers basics like burgers and fries (however, my good friend Lindsay would argue that Mile End’s “The Big Juicy” burger is anything BUT basic).

Mile End Deli, originally founded in New York, describes themselves as, “a combination of a Jewish delicatessen and a Canadian-style restaurant, modeled after delis found in Montreal’s famous Mile End neighborhood. This specific style of deli inspired us to offer signature smoked meats and sandwiches, homemade hotdogs with tangy kraut, poutine, fresh whitefish salad and more.”

What not to miss:

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Drooling yet? Photo via Mile End Deli on Instagram.

The smoked meat poutine (pictured above). Now, I may be from Florida, but I’m a big fan of poutine. Any time I see it on a menu, I have to order it. This dish originated in Canada (Quebec, to be specific), and is traditionally french fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. Mile End put their own spin on it by adding one of the things they are most known for- their smoked meat, which they dub, “pastrami’s Canadian cousin.”

Hint: It’s amazing.

I was very disappointed I didn’t get to try the Eli Platter- guess I’ll just have to go back!

What we thought:

As any true aspiring #foodies know, eateries MUST be judged in categories. Each week, we give the following categories a score out of 10:

  • Atmosphere – general vibe of the place
  • Aesthetic – everything from decor to menu design
  • Service – regardless of the score, I promise we tip well
  • Presentation – the instagram factor
  • Food/flavor – arguably the most important

Mile End scored highest for us in aesthetic and food/flavor, earning a 9 out of 10 in both categories. It’s super well-designed both inside and out, and I was a big fan of their logo and graphic design. Plus, the food was deeeelicious!

Check out Mile End Deli on Instagram and Facebook!

Week 2: Mac & Cheese Roll aka All You Need to Know about MELT

Where it is:

4105 4th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35222

What it is:

You know a place is good when a group of 7 could-be-described-as-chatty 20 somethings immediately fall silent when their food arrives. Our table went from having about 4 different conversations in progress to having 0.

Now with a storefront located in trendy Avondale, MELT originated as a food truck! As the name might suggest, MELT probably isn’t designed for your resident lactose-intolerant (although they do have vegan + vegetarian options!).

IMG 6356 I joined a Birmingham dinner club with complete strangers - here's what we ate
MELT serving up some deliciousness in Avondale. Photo by Lindsay Miller.

MELT describes themselves as a modern twist on classic comfort food- grilled cheese! Their website claims, “There is something about going back to basics that just makes sense. Grilled cheese sandwiches put smiles on faces. Whether it’s a plain grilled cheese, a Burger with Matilda sauce or a spicy Buffalo Chicken sandwich, the MELT menu has something for everyone.”

What not to miss:

MELT 1 I joined a Birmingham dinner club with complete strangers - here's what we ate
Not your average tomato sandwich. Photo via MELT on Facebook.

Ok, so pretty much everything at MELT is good. There was not one single unsatisfied member of our group, and we all ordered something different. I got the Cuban sandwich and it was a perfectly balanced mix of smoky meat and yellow mustard.

Picking one dish to highlight was difficult, but I wanted to include this heirloom tomato sandwich because (a) I mean, just look at it (b) it’s seasonal! It’ll only be here for a limited time, so head to MELT and get it before it’s gone!

What we thought:

MELT scored highest for us in atmosphere and food/flavor. I felt the food truck roots coming through in the casual feel of the place. Whether you’re enjoying buffalo chicken tenders on cheesy texas toast, a patty melt with perfectly grilled onions, or a classic grilled cheese dunked in tomato basil soup – this place is sure to satisfy that comfort food craving.

Check out MELT on Instagram and Facebook!

Your Dinner Club Challenge

In keeping with this group’s generous invitation to a newcomer to “Come Eat Here,” I invite you, Birmingham, to do the same! Find a group of friends, family, coworkers, or strangers (hey, it worked for me) and make a list of local restaurants to try!

You can check out these Bham Now articles to get your dinner club list kick-started.

  • Alfresco dining for those who like their meals with a side of fresh air
  • 10 great spots to find ethnic food in Hoover
  • For all my wine and cheese lovers, you could spend your whole summer trying charcuterie boards all across town
  • Weeknights hard for your group? Check out these restaurants that are open on Sunday nights

Check this map to see where we’ve been!

Tag us on social media @BhamNow with your summer eats list and your group’s own restaurant reviews!

Beth Cunningham
Beth Cunningham

A Birmingham transplant who can usually be found hitting a new hiking trail or restaurant opening when she's not writing stories and snapping photos for Bham Now.

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