5 restaurants serving up delicious eats for 90+ years in Birmingham

Birmingham Alabama
Did you know The Bright Star located in Bessemer is the oldest restaurant to operate in its original location in Alabama? Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

We all know that Birmingham is home to some of Alabama’s most iconic eateries—some of which have been operating for nearly a century. Here are five you need to check out, plus details on their updated hours, curbside pickup and dine-in capabilities.

1. Golden Rule Barbecue | Opened in 1891

Staff at Irondale’s Golden Rule BBQ are masked up and ready to serve you safely. Photo via Michele Matsos Calvin on Facebook

In 1891 the first Golden Rule opened for business in Irondale. What started as a roadside BBQ pit stop is now a full-scale restaurant with 11 Golden Rule locations across Alabama, serving everything from BBQ plates and sandwiches to burgers and hamburger steaks.

Despite facing new challenges due to COVID-19, Golden Rule wants Birminghamians to know they are still there and ready to serve the same delicious dishes. 

“As Alabama’s longest operating restaurant, we still strive to take care of the BBQ needs of our customers even in these uncertain times”

Michele Matsos Calvin 
  • Address: 2506 Crestwood Blvd, Irondale, AL 35210
  • Open Status: Open for dine-in and takeout Mon-Sat 10:30AM-7PM and Sun 11AM-7PM
  • 205.956.2678 | Menu | Website | Facebook 

2. Bright Star Restaurant | Opened in 1907

Elbow bumps are the new high-fives. The Bright Star’s Galen and Stacey showing us how it’s done! Photo via The Bright Star on Facebook

The Bright Star Restaurant, located in Bessemer, opened in 1907 and has been there ever since—making it the oldest restaurant in Alabama to operate continuously in its original location. As one of the most recognized establishments in the state, the James Beard Award-Winning Bright Star is known for its Greek-style snapper and steak, signature seafood gumbo and more

Like many Birmingham restaurants, the past few months have been particularly challenging for the Bright Star, but they are finding their new groove and are back to serving Birmingham with new safety protocols in place.

It was a real challenge adapting to the curbside only… Our menu offers a variety of fish, meats and vegetables so learning to produce that volume for hundreds of people for takeout was very hard. Our guests were very understanding of our mistakes!

We are blessed to have many long-time employees who have helped us maintain quality of service and cuisine. The benefit we have is that we have longevity, so we have many long-time guests who are loyal.”

Stacey Craig, Business Manager, niece of current owner Nick Koikos

They also want to thank all who supported not just the Bright Star during this time but all restaurants. 

“We want our guests to be comfortable dining at The Bright Star. We are committed to doing the right things. Also, this too shall pass, and we will be a stronger restaurant for having survived COVID-19.”

  • Address: 304 19th Street, Bessemer AL
  • Open Staus: They are temporarily closed on Monday. And open Tues-Sun for lunch 11AM-3PM, bar service from 3-4:30PM and dinner 4:30-8:30 Sunday, Tues-Thu, 4:30-9:00 Fri + Sat. Call ahead to make reservations or order online for curbside pickup here. 
  • 205.424.9444 | Menu | Website | Facebook 

3. Ousler Sandwiches | Opened in 1915

Technically, Ousler Sandwiches specializes in sandwich catering and doesn’t operate as a restaurant or deli, but we couldn’t not include them. Open for more than 100 years, Ousler has become a favorite for fresh, no-fuss food in Birmingham.

As a small family-owned and operated business, Ousler has stayed true to its roots. Despite a couple of moves over the years—the shop originally opened in Five Points South then moved to Avondale before landing in Mountain Brook—the delicious recipes remain the same. Order their sandwiches by the dozen, boxed lunches and more here.

  • Address: 2814 Cahaba Road, Mountain Brook, AL 35223
  • Open Status: They are open for orders 8AM-2PM Mon-Fri, but always call ahead to make sure they are open or check their Facebook page for updated hours. To guarantee your order, you’ll want to call 72 hours in advance. *NOTE: They only accept cash or check.
  •  205.879.1115 | Menu | Website | Facebook 

4. Gilchrist | Opened in 1928

Another Mountain Brook landmark, Gilchrist, has been serving up some of Birmingham’s most delicious sodas, shakes, salads and sandwiches since 1928. Before becoming a full-time eatery, it was a drug store and soda fountain. The soda fountain portion of the shop did so well that when the drug store closed, the soda fountain expanded.

Today their menu includes made-to-order sandwiches like BLTs and grilled cheese, as well as classic shakes, malts, floats and their specialty Limeade. 

  • Address: 2805 Cahaba Rd, Mountain Brook, AL 35223
  • Open Status: They are currently open for both dine-in and takeout on Monday 8AM-4PM, Tues-Fri 8AM-4:45PM, Saturday 8:30AM-4:30PM and closed Sunday.
  • 205.871.2181 | Menu | Facebook 

5. Irondale Cafe | Opened in 1928

The Irondale Cafe entrance might look a little different these days. They have cones and signs out front showing customers where to stand and enter safely. Photo via Irondale Cafe on Facebook

Originally opened as a hot dog stand in 1928, the Irondale Cafe is an iconic Birmingham eatery. You might have heard it referred to as the Original Whistle Stop, which comes from the Fannie Flagg novel, “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe,” and the beloved movie with the same name.

Despite changing owners throughout the years, the cafe hasn’t lost its original charm. To this day, visitors become patrons for life thanks to their delicious comfort food and the family-like feel.

  • Address: 1906 1st Ave N, Irondale, AL 35210
  • Open Status: Currently, their dining room is open as well as extra patio seating Sun-Fri 11AM-2:30PM. Their curbside service is also still available—order online here.
  • 205.956.5258 | Menu | Website | Facebook 

Have more favorite iconic Birmingham eats? Share them with us on social @BhamNow on Facebook and Instagram, or @Now_Bham on Twitter.

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