Mr. Chen’s, Cayo Coco, Tortugas received 95 and above food service scores in December

Mr. Chen's Homewood
Mr. Chen’s Authentic Chinese Restaurant. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Several Birmingham area restaurants including Tortugas in the Parkside District, Mr. Chen’s Authentic Chinese on Green Spring Avenue, and Cayo Coco Rum Bar & Restaurant in downtown Birmingham received 95 and above on their health inspection scores in December 2020.

As a public service, since 2018, Bham Now has reported monthly Jefferson County Department of Health restaurant scores. In December, over 200 local establishments that handle and serve food were inspected by the health department. These places include: restaurants, schools, nursing homes, daycare centers, hospitals, grocery stores and concession stands.

In this story we feature local restaurants that scored 95 and above.

Where Did We Get the Scores?

Birmingham, Jefferson County Department of Health
Jefferson County Department of Health. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Food service inspection scores are updated regularly on the Jefferson County Department of Health website. The database is easy to access and it goes back several years.We estimate approximately 10-15% of the restaurant inspections score 95 or above, while most local school cafeterias, for example tend to score 95 or above. 

Who made the local restaurant honor roll this month? Here are some notable local establishments:

Tortugas Pizza  – Regions Field- 100

Tortugas
A streamline shot of several delicious deep dishes; I’m getting lost in the sauce. Photo via Tortugas Pizza, Facebook

My older brother has lived in Chicago for over 35 years. He introduced me to Chicago-style pizza. It is one of those “bucket list” items to do while visiting the Windy City. Well, as a Chicago-style pizza connoisseur, let me assure you, Tortugas meets and exceeds the versions I’ve tasted in and around Chi-Town. 

Cayo Coco Rum Bar & Restaurant – 99

Birmingham, Cayo Coco Rum, Valentine's Day, Valentine's dinner, Valentine's menu, food
Photo by Ginnard Archibald via Cayo Coco Rum on Facebook

I love how Bham Now’s Hannah Chambley Williams described Cayo Coco in a story previewing the hot new bar/restaurant:

“Cayo Coco, named after the popular island off the coast of central Cuba, will transport patrons to a new era: 1930s-40s Cuba. The inside is transformative with teal walls, rustic mirrors and brass accents—guaranteed to wow any visitor who wanders in.”

The food, drinks and atmosphere. Cayo Coco has it all. An incredible experience. 

Mr. Chen’s Authentic Chinese– 98

Mr. Chen's
These dumplings from Mr. Chen’s are what dreams are made of. Photo via Mr. Chen’s on their website

Mr. Chen’s is one of my favorite places for a meal in the  Birmingham/Green Springs corridor. The food is fantastic, but I’ve got to say I love exploring the Hometown Supermarket afterwards. It is eye-opening and fun. 

Additional 95 and above scores:

Birmingham, Alabama, Back Forty Birmingham friends and family soft opening July 7 2018
Local artist Sean Gilder (@seanMgilder) created the murals at Back Forty Birmingham . Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now – taken before 2020.

Another Broken Egg – 95

Back 40 Brewery – 98

Bell Peppers in Hueytown – 96

Carrigan’s Public House – 98

Masaman Thai Kitchen – 97

Mom’s Basement – 100

On Tap Cafe in Liberty Park – 95

Rusty’s BBQ – 98

Slice Italian Brothers – 98

Village Tavern at The Summit – 95

Troup’s Pizza – 95

Jon Eastwood
On Tap Cafe at Liberty Park. Photo by Jon Eastwood for Bham Now

Right to Know

Visit Jefferson County Department of Health’s Food Service website for the latest scores. These food service inspections are invaluable and help keep us all safe. It is our right to know.


  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.