Ever wondered where the professional foodies visit while they’re in Birmingham? While we’ve proven ourselves a foodie city, let’s see what the experts say about some of Birmingham’s beloved spots.
You’ve heard it here first: Andrew Zimmern loves the ‘Ham
In case you’re not familiar with Andrew Zimmern, he is a chef, writer, traveler and TV host—a wearer of many hats. You might recognize him from his most well-known role as host for Bizarre Foods on The Travel Channel.
Zimmern now travels all over the country looking for good eats, and it’s no surprise he came to Birmingham (we’ve got a fantastic foodie reputation). He even said it himself in his article:
“It’s [Birmingham is] one of the hottest and tastiest small food cities in the country and makes for a fun food vacation. Over a long weekend, you really get a sense of what a place is about. I love The BHAM!-Andrew Zimmern, chef + writer + traveler
You’ve heard it here folks—we’ve got him hook, line and sinker. He listed 15 spots that have made the cut. Let’s dive in.
We all get it—Southern cooking is hard to beat. We’re big fans ourselves. From Alabama barbeque to the traditional meat-and-three plate, Zimmern has a couple on his list that if you haven’t visited, you need to run and try.
- Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q: This sandwich was named “top pick” for Best Sandwich in Alabama by Far and Wide in 2019. Zimmern’s recommendation: The smoked chicken in Alabama white sauce, the ribs and the banana pudding.
- Irondale Café: As the inspiration for Whistle Stop Café, Zimmern was impressed with the fried green tomatoes.
- Bogue’s: This spot opened in 1938 and is known for their famous sweet rolls. Read about the woman behind them here.
Birmingham is home to James Beard winners, finalists and some of the top chefs in the nation. Here are three of his picks that are perfect for a night on the town or when you want to treat yourself to a more upscale meal.
- Automatic Seafood: Known for being a James Beard Finalist, the team at Automatic knows how to do seafood. Among Zimmern’s picks: the fried Florida rock shrimp with ponzu mayo, grilled red snapper and key lime pie.
- Highlands Bar and Grill: While it has remained closed, there’s news on the horizon. Frank Stitt, owner, said that Highlands will reopen their doors in just a few short months. Alongside his mention, he gave a shout out to Stitt’s other restaurants: Bottega, Bottega Café and Café Fonfon.
- Ovenbird (and Hot and Hot Fish Club): Zimmern applauded Chef Hastings, a James Beard Award winner, for these two delicious gifts to Birmingham’s food scene, and rightfully so. He loved the grilled whole fish with lemon and chimichurri. *Chef’s kiss*.
However, life can’t be ALL about award-winning meals. Check out three of his favorites that you’re able to swing by and try in a flash. Hint: some of these might be addicting.
- Pepper Place Market: Although this spot isn’t really a restaurant, it fuels the industry. You can find fresh produce, small businesses and amazing vendors + makers. Plus, you can’t beat the spring weather. Check out what’s in season!
- Bandit Patisserie (and The Essential): The brilliant minds behind these two places have not only been given a pat on the back by Zimmern, but other national publications like Bon Appétit. Check out The Essential for brunch (what Zimmern raves about), lunch and dinner. Bandit will be hosting pop-ups through April.
- Sam’s Super Samwiches: Another one of our favorites—and it’s making a long-awaited return. This fan fave is opening back up in April, and we’re excited to try our favorite combos again along with Zimmern’s recommendation of the “Special”— a hot dog dressed with mustard, sauerkraut, onions, house-made spicy beef and a special sauce. Yum!
Others that made the cut
It’s no secret that Andrew Zimmern eats for a living, so he’s not stopping the list there. Others that were mentioned were:
Let’s give a round of applause to all of these businesses who help put Birmingham on the radar every single day. Now, we’ve got a couple more places for him to try next—we’ll keep a running list.
In case you want to take the tour, addresses of his picks can be found on the map below.