Okra—you either LOVE it or you hate it. This Southern staple comes in many forms and local restaurants are using the veggie to jazz up their dishes. Check out these seven spots using okra in unique ways and making it to perfection.
Okra—a Southern staple, but how did it become one?
Okra is on the same level as collard greens and cornbread when it comes to the South’s staple foods. But how did the little green veggie get so popular?
Okra originated around North Africa and later spread through the Middle East. It made its way to the U.S. in the 1700s when African slaves were brought to the U.S.
It’s largely associated with Creole culture and became an essential in gumbo to help thicken it up. As it made its way through the southern region, Creole, Cajun and Southern cuisines made it a staple and we sure are glad it did!
1. Saw’s BBQ
No shocker here. When I asked what restaurants have the best okra, there was a resounding cry for Saw’s fried okra. You can get your okra fix at one of Saw’s many locations, including their food truck.
2. John’s City Diner
John’s City Diner puts modern, upgraded twists on Southern classics. They only use locally grown, organic produce so you can bet your bottom dollar, the okra’s fresh.
Unfortunately, John’s City Diner is temporarily closed due to the pandemic but as soon as they feel safe to open back up or do curbside, I’m going to be the first to get their meatloaf topped with okra.
Five keeps things simple—five dinners, five wines and five signature cocktails. Similar to John’s City Diner, they source their produce locally and everything is made from scratch.
If you haven’t been to Five’s Jazz Brunch, you’re doing something wrong. For all the Bloody Mary lovers out there, you can build your own and top it all off with fresh okra—a nice little bite or just for aesthetic purposes.
4. Hot and Hot Fish Club
We were ecstatic for the Hot and Hot Fish Club opening in Pepper Place…then a global pandemic happened. Unfortunately, one of Birmingham’s most beloved restaurants is temporarily closed due to COVID-19. It’s a sure bet that as soon as they reopen when it’s safe, we’ll be the first at the door.
Hot and Hot blends Southern, French and California-styles of cooking so when you find okra used in a unique way, don’t be surprised. Just take a bite and prepare to be amazed.
5. Blueprint on 3rd
Blueprint on 3rd is a polished-casual American brasserie that pays homage to regional cuisines. They offer seasonal, local dishes that’ll blow your mind. Grab a seat in their socially distant restaurant or outside on their patio.
To start things off, order their locally sourced, fried okra and pickle basket with creole dill yogurt. Say no more! It’s southern goodness in a basket.
6. Niki’s West Steak and Seafood Restaurant
Niki’s West is a legend when it comes to Birmingham’s food scene. They’ve been serving up an extensive menu of classic Southern comfort food since 1957. It’s a one-stop-shop for a home-cooked meal.
Niki’s West is open with limited dining as well as call-ins and curbside pickup available. You can keep up with their evolving, daily menus on their Facebook page. One item you can always count is the okra. Whether it’s fried or boiled with tomatoes, they’ve got their okra recipes down pat.
7. Cafe Dupont
Cafe Dupont is in close contact with local farmers and growers. The menu changes with the seasons to ensure freshness of food and uses classic cooking styles paired with locally grown ingredients to create contemporary flavors.
One of their signature dishes is the fried oysters and okra. With okra freshly picked from spots like Belle Meadow Farm, you’re in store for a delicious appetizer.
Still hungry for more? Make sure to check out our growing database featuring over 590 local restaurants, bars and businesses offering deals, curbside delivery and more.