Located just a few miles from Birmingham, Vestavia Hills sits atop a section of the southernmost Appalachian Mountains called Shades Mountain. Named after the estate of a former Birmingham mayor, Vestavia Hills now has around 34,000 residents, and the small city is thriving. The residents here understand the importance of local eating, and these 10 restaurants are some of the best examples.
FoodBar is a proud farm-to-table restaurant. Making use of fresh, seasonal ingredients, Chef George McMillan cooks up classic dishes with a unique twist. His experimental dishes push the limits of what a typical Southerner would consider ordering, but McMillan brings an approachable touch with the dishes’ familiar names and ingredients. But food is only half the name of this restaurant. Order a specialty cocktail, a carefully selected bottle of wine, or a local brew from the well-stocked bar.
Located in the Cahaba Heights neighborhood of Vestavia Hills, Satterfield’s is an elegant restaurant with a relaxing atmosphere, and it offers some of the finest food in the area. The menu spans the globe, but every dish has a Southern twist. When Becky Satterfield opened her restaurant in 2005, she wanted to create a place where customers could enjoy fine dining without any pretentiousness from the restaurant. Enjoy the friendly service and Southern hospitality while seated in the dining room, at the chef’s counter, on the outdoor patio, or at the bar. Live music is performed every Wednesday.
Bistro V was created to offer customers ‘downtown food without the downtown fuss,’ and its prime location along the Montgomery Highway just outside of Birmingham makes that goal come true. Although the menu at Bistro V is full of upscale dishes, the mentality is to come as you are and dine in comfort. Chef Jeremy Downey prepares lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch menus that utilize fresh seafood and organic produce. Popular dishes at Bistro V are shrimp and grits, Birmingham oysters, braised short ribs, and a farmer’s market salad.
The Diplomat Deli opened in 1982 and has been serving some of the best sandwiches in the Birmingham area ever since. The deli, which also serves beers and spirits, has a simple menu filled with classic sandwiches like the Reuben, a sandwich of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, and mustard served on rye bread and grilled. The Diplomat also features plenty of specialty sandwiches. Try the sandwich named after the restaurant itself, made of ham, turkey, coleslaw, longhorn Colby cheese, mustard, and mayo sandwiched between two slices of oat bread. If none of the pre-built sandwiches take your fancy, try a soup, salad, platter, or build your own sandwich.
Those with a sweet tooth should head straight over to taste the baked goods at Klinger’s. Klinger’s Café has been crafting cakes, pastries, and cookies since 1982, and ever since the restaurant moved to Vestavia Hills in 1991, it has become a local treasure. The menu has expanded to serve breakfast and lunch, specializing in German cuisine, but there are still plenty of European and American favorites. For breakfast, try the Black Forest pancakes, a fresh take on the classic cake. At lunchtime, sausage platters are a must, served with hot German potato salad, German sauerkraut, spicy brown mustard, and a brotchen (a German roll).
The McDonald burger at Mugshots Grill couldn’t be more different from the burger at the similarly named infamous chain. Named after one of the owners, the McDonald from Mugshots comes with hickory-smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, ranch dressing, and smoky BBQ sauce served alongside a pile of beer-battered fries. The first Mugshots opened in Mississippi in 2004. Since then, the franchise has expanded to 14 restaurants in three states. Owners Ron Savell and Chris McDonald bring a personal touch to the restaurant by naming appetizers, burgers, salads, and desserts after the friends and family that helped them open their first restaurant. Their signature sandwiches and fries have won many local awards. If you’re feeling experimental, try the Reagan’s peanut butter burger.
Taste authentic Mediterranean cuisine at The Olive Branch. Fresh ingredients and high-quality meats and fish are used to prepare classic dishes like a pita-wrapped gyro, a falafel sandwich, or kabobs. The menu also has more Americanized dishes like Frank’s Philly, a rib-eye steak served with sautéed onions, mushrooms, peppers, and Swiss cheese wrapped up as a panini. Try the pistachio or walnut baklava for dessert. The atmosphere is bustling inside at peak hours, so take advantage of a sunny day outside on the restaurant’s patio.
This small restaurant will surprise you. Every generous portion of gumbo is packed with crab and shrimp and the perfect balance of spices. The Cajun Seafood House‘s po’ boys are a popular choice, and they won’t disappoint. Po’ boys are traditional submarine sandwiches originating from Louisiana that are served on Gambino bread, the New Orleans take on French bread. Try one with grilled or blackened shrimp, chicken, fish, or fried oysters. This Alabama restaurant does Cajun food right, and you’ll regret missing out.
Mudtown is all about local. The restaurant, named Mudtown after the Native American nickname for the town’s muddy, swampy terrain, features a mix of local specialties (and definitely no mud). The new menu makes use of local ingredients whenever possible. Southern favorites like fried green tomatoes or Charleston shrimp and grits are interspersed with creative new takes on the classics, like honey Sriracha grilled chicken. Mudtown also takes note of popular dishes from around the world, their poutine appetizer pays homage to the French-Canadians, and the Peruvian-inspired Eduardo Saltado is a favorite.
Founded in Atlanta, Georgia in 1985, Kool Korner was originally a grocery store run by Ildefonso and Lucia Ramirez. Slowly, the two converted the store to a sandwich shop. The Ramirez couple came from Cuba years earlier, and they prospered in their ventures because of the Southern hospitality they encountered. The new location is still a hit, known for its raved-about Cuban sandwich, made with ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard on fresh Cuban bread.