What it’s like to dine out around Birmingham right now

You know that feeling when you see your food coming? Yea, we sure did miss that during quarantine. Photo by Matthew Niblett for Bham Now.

We’re all fans of dining out in the Birmingham area. But what is it really like to go to local restaurants right now? We’re here to clear the air and give you a peek inside eight restaurants so you’ll know what to expect.

Alabama’s new safer at home order allows dining out

On May 11, Alabama amended the safer at home order to allow customers to eat and drink at their favorite restaurants, bars and breweries—while practicing social distancing, of course.

The new order still allows restaurants to continue takeout and curbside pickup. As a matter of fact, some businesses have chosen to only offer these until they are comfortable with allowing inside dining.

Some places have even moved their operation outside. Sidewalk and patio seating is the reality of dining for many. We’ll make sure to keep an eye on that. Now let’s take a look at what some Birmingham restaurants are up to.

So many restaurants, how do I choose?

Choosing your first dine out experience after months of quarantine can seem like a daunting task. Maybe you’re in the mood for an all-time favorite. If you’re wanting to try something new, check out our growing database featuring over 530 local restaurants, bars and businesses.

We wanted to make sure to give you a look into multiple local spots that range from casual to upscale and anything in between.

Let’s take a look at what restaurants look like during a pandemic

Green Acres

You know you’re coming close to a Green Acres when your mouth starts watering at the smell of fresh fried chicken. We visited the Green Acres in the Historic 4th Avenue Business District and here’s what it’s like:

  • Entrance: There’s a sign on the door explaining their new regulations due to COVID-19.
  • Masks: Employees and customers must wear masks inside.
  • Dining Room: Green Acres doesn’t allow on-premise dining. Customers are asked to stand on designated spots to encourage social distancing when waiting for food.
  • Menu: Menu is posted on the window as well as a digital menu board.
  • Average Wait Time: Wait time depends on the day. Even when I went at 11:30AM on a Monday, there was a line. We waited around 10 minutes to be allowed inside to order. The food doesn’t take too long to make.

Ashley Mac’s

Ashley Mac’s is one of my favorite places in Birmingham to grab lunch. I’ve gotten more curbside pickup Baby Bleu salads over the past few months than I’d like to admit. With 5 locations spread out across the Birmingham metro, it’s a go-to for many locals. Here’s what it was like:

  • Entrance: They had a sign on the door outlining their precautions, including spacing + sanitation and more.
  • Masks: All employees were wearing masks and gloves.
  • Dining Room: Ashley Mac’s has several locations, and I visited the Homewood one. They had seating available indoors and outdoors, with all tables spaced 6ft. apart.
  • Menu: They’re using disposable menus, or you can access it on your phone here.
  • Average Wait Time: They’ve always had an order-at-the-counter setup, and that hasn’t changed. The line had 6ft markers making sure everyone was spaced appropriately. Once you order, you can grab a table or wait off to the side if you’re getting it to go.
  • Curbside: They’re still offering their full menu via online ordering + curbside pickup. This is the lowest-contact option (and still just as delicious).

Chez Fonfon

While the Chez Fonfon dining room isn’t yet open, they are open for curbside pickup. Here’s what it was like:

  • Entrance: There are big signs outside along with a table for pickup.
  • Masks: All employees were wearing masks and gloves.
  • Dining Room: Not yet open.
  • Menu: Available online – Pickup between 11:30PM- 8:00PM, Tuesday – Saturday. Phones open 11AM.
  • Average Wait Time: When we called – 205-939-3221, we were given an option to pick up anytime about 30 minutes from the call-in time. They take payment at the time of order and add an 18% gratuity.
  • Curbside: Much of the normal menu is available for curbside. Our order was ready when we arrived in eco-friendly paper containers. The food was delicious as you’d expect from a Frank Stitt establishment.

Rodney Scott’s BBQ

This peek into local restaurants wouldn’t be complete without some BBQ. This award-winning restaurant is taking the precautions necessary to make sure the customer feels comfortable and remains safe. Here’s what it was like:

  • Entrance: The first thing you see when you arrive is their sign highlighting their patio dining option.
  • Masks: Employees wear masks—some even with Rodney Scott’s logo. Customers who wish to dine on-site do not have to wear a mask.
  • Dining Room: Rodney Scott’s already had a well-spaced dining room before the pandemic. Now they make sure to sanitize the entire place every 2 hours.
  • Menu: Menu is online as well as on a board near the register to order.
  • Average Wait Time: If you’d like to dine-in, wait time to order, sit and receive food is around 10 minutes.

T-Bones

T-Bones is one of the OG restaurants in Five Points South district. Besides making a mean Philly style cheesesteak, their concept is simple—good food at even better prices. My stomach is growling just thinking about it. Here’s what it was like:

  • Entrance: Before you enter, a sign reminds you that you must wear your face mask…and yes, that includes your nose.
  • Masks: Masks are worn by everyone inside.
  • Dining Room: The dining room is closed, but you’re allowed to enter for takeout.
  • Menu: Menu is online and posted on the digital menu board inside.
  • Average Wait Time: 10 minutes or less unless you come with the lunch rush.
  • Curbside: T-Bones is open for takeout. If you’d like to order ahead, you can place an order online for pick-up or get it delivered.

Sol Y Luna

  • Entrance: Upon walking up to the front entrance of Sol Y Luna, you’ll see a tent where an employee will be waiting to seat customers, as well as signs with instructions and signage on the ground showing customers where to stand to maintain their distance.
  • Masks: All employees wear masks, but customers who wish to dine on-site are not required to wear a mask.
  • Dining Room: Their dining room and patio are both open at 50% capacity with seating spaced 6ft apart currently with a limit to parties of 4.
  • Menu: They offer their usual plastic menus, or you can use your phone and view their menu online here.
  • Average Wait Time: We experienced no wait time, but the dining room quickly filled due to it being open to 50% capacity only. We recommend calling ahead at 205.407.4797. They are also still offering curbside pick up which you can order online here.

Carrigan’s Mtn. Brook

Who else misses Carrigan’s on Morris as much as I do? Luckily, their new Mountain Brook location is up, running and ready to seat you. Here’s what it was like:

  • Entrance: There’s a sign letting customers know that the inside and patio are open, but limited to help with social distancing.
  • Masks: Employees wear masks. Customers are not required to wear a mask if dining in.
  • Dining Room: Customers have the option to dine inside or on their two-tier patio which I would 10/10 recommend.
  • Menu: They use the same menus. You can also view it online.
  • Average Wait Time: None, but it can fill up easily due to the limited capacity seating.

Half Shell Oyster House

Say hello to Lakeview’s newest addition. Half Shell Oyster House did the unthinkable and opened during a pandemic. Here’s what it was like:

  • Entrance: Nothing new here. It’s the same as always, but you’re greeted by someone with a mask.
  • Masks: Employees wear masks. Customers are not required to wear a mask if dining in.
  • Dining Room: There are tons of seating options available. This location just opened so make sure to check out their spacious patio with a TV when you get the chance.
  • Menu: If you’re curious about the menu, you can scan a QR code to take a look at what they offer on your phone. It’s posted next to the front door. You can also view it online.
  • Average Wait Time: No-wait time to be seated. This will probably change once more people discover it’s open.

We want to know what your experiences have been since restaurants reopened. Let us know on Instagram @BhamNow + Twitter @now_bham.

  • Chaise is a brunch-loving Content Producer and helps manage the Bham Now Instagram account.

  • Most likely Instagrammin’ the Birmingham skyline, behind the camera shooting photos or writing stories (with too many puns) for Bham Now.