Historic Montgomery, Alabama has an impressive dining scene showcasing some of the best American and Southern cuisine alongside more international-flavored fare. Here’s our guide to Montgomery’s best restaurants.
A perfect location if you like to combine eating with cultural pursuits, Café M is located within the grounds of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts and is ideal for post-museum snacks and refreshments, its terrace location offering guests stunning views over the nearby lake and surrounding park. Since 2004, Café M has been operated by Montgomery-based caterer Jennie Weller who creates a range of American dishes with international flavours with options that include the bruleed salmon served on a bed of rice pilaf with sweet peas, golden raisins and pistachios, while the café’s Saturday brunch menu features fare such as crab cake benedict with lemon wilted spinach, tomato, hollandaise sauce and Oakview Farms cheese grits.
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Nestled in the heart of Montgomery’s downtown district, Central is one of the most exciting restaurants in the city, and is situated within a beautifully renovated former warehouse built in the 1890s. Boasting an interior full of exposed brick, gently flickering gas lanterns, a central bar made from reclaimed wood and a busy open kitchen the restaurant is all about class, while head chef Leonardo Maurelli, a native of Panama and winner of the Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Alliance’s 2011 Chef of the Year Award, creates seasonal menus based around traditional and contemporary American cuisine with a distinct Southern twist. Menu highlights include dishes such as the wood-roasted oyster appetiser and hickory-crisped duck quarters entrée.
Derk’s Filet and Vine is an award-winning restaurant, deli and bottle shop located in central Montgomery that has won various titles including Alabama Magazine’s Best Butcher Shop of 2012 and the Montgomery Advertiser’s Readers Choice 2010 award for Best Place to get Home-Style Cooking. While Derk’s deli serves a range of prime cuts of beef including porterhouse and chateaubriand, the restaurant offers reasonably priced dishes such as meatloaf, fried pork chop and chicken casserole available with two sides including options like tomatoes and okra, black eye peas and wild rice. After eating stop by Derk’s bottle shops which stocks over 12,000 varieties of wine as well as a number of beers.
A fixture on Alabama’s dining scene for over 50 years, Dreamland BBQ first opened its doors in 1958 in the neighboring city of Tuscaloosa and has since grown to two locations in Georgia and six branches in Alabama, including its Montgomery branch on Tallapoosa Street. Located in a picturesque brick building in downtown Montgomery, the restaurant features a casual and welcoming interior and a lovely sidewalk patio perfect for dining out on during the summer months. A must-try when visiting Dreamland BBQ are its legendary much-loved ribs, though a number of other barbecued items are also available including BBQ chicken and the smoked sausage.
A fine dining experience from owner and head chef Gary Garner, who has over 20 years of culinary experience under his belt, Garrett’s is a restaurant that firmly believes in the art of food and offers its guests a three-fold experience based around the taste, smells and exquisite presentation of its dishes. With a menu founded upon seasonal produce and the best ingredients the region has to offer, Garner serves Southern fare such as the flash-fried sesame-crusted oysters and the bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with decadent desserts that include the New Orleans-style white chocolate bread pudding. Garrett’s interior is equally as splendid as it menu with Art Deco-influenced elements that give the restaurant a metropolitan, sophisticated ambience.
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For guests who like their food fiery and exotic, India Palace is a perfect restaurant to try when dining out in Montgomery. A relatively new addition to the city’s restaurant community, India Palace only opened its doors in January of 2014 but has already become a firm favourite with locals who love its spicy, tasty fare and voted it as the city’s Best Indian Restaurant in the 2014 Montgomery Advertiser’s Readers’ Choice Awards. Featuring a stylish and simple interior, the restaurant serves authentic Indian dishes that include the chicken tandoori appetiser cooked in a clay oven and the Goan shrimp curry entrée in a mild coconut and curry leaf-based sauce.
Located in the heart of Montgomery’s Midtown at the hip Zelda Place, Michael’s Table is a cosy and inviting eatery serving contemporary American and international soul food cooked up by head chef and owner Michael Hochhalter, who has perfected his eclectic range of recipes over the past 20 years. Widely regarded as one of Alabama’s best dining experiences, the Michael’s Table menu is updated regularly though guests can expect to devour delicious dishes such as the nicoise salad with swordfish and the rabbit stew. The restaurant’s Sunday brunch menu is also very popular with locals and features dishes like Lebanese empanadas with feta cheese, tomatoes, olives and parsley.
SaZa serves up authentic Italian cuisine in hip and contemporary surroundings full of warm, bold colours complemented by exposed brick walls, sleek hardwood floors, striking modern artworks and an open kitchen that allows guests to see the restaurant’s talented chefs at work. Fusing traditional Italian dishes with a contemporary twist, chef Joe DiMaggio’s menu features dishes inspired by recipes from his Italian grandmother with options such as Prince Edward Island mussels with garlic, flat leaf parsley, lemon and crusty ciabatta or the pasta fagioli with Tuscan beans, prosciutto, garlic, escarole and extra virgin olive oil – all complemented by an extensive martini and cocktail list.
Based within Montgomery’s classy Renaissance Hotel, The House is an elegant and stylish restaurant serving contemporary Southern cuisine cooked up by executive chef John Melton – an Alabama native with several years of culinary experience whose love of Southern food infused with Cajun and Creole flavours came about during a childhood trip to New Orleans. While The House’s menu changes regularly, guests can choose from appetisers like tender barbecued baby back ribs with a creamy coleslaw and entrees such as pan seared salmon fillet with caramelised fennel, asparagus and a balsamic glaze. The restaurant also includes an adjoining bar lounge, The Exchange, perfect for relaxing in with a post-dinner drink.
True was established in 2012 by husband-and-wife team Wesley True and Bobbi Heirtoff at the trendy Atlantic and Pacific development in Montgomery’s picturesque and historic Cloverdale neighbourhood. Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Wesley is also True’s executive chef and a two-time James Beard finalist for the title of Best Chef in the South who brings years of classical training in French cuisine to True, mixed with a contemporary twist and focus seasonal locally sourced ingredients. Guests can expect to relax in stylish, understated surroundings while feasting on dishes that include fried chicken skins with a buttermilk herb dressing and house-made hot sauce and the Alabama grilled pork chop with grilled peach salad and chipotle sweet potato mash.