Steeped in rich cultural traditions and vibrant flavors, the state of Alabama has much to offer the culinary-minded diner. We take a look at 10 of the best restaurants to experience great food in the heart of Dixie.
Visitors will find more than just a football-obsessed college town in Auburn. Located in historic downtown, Acre is a restaurant dedicated to bringing the community upscale takes on traditional dishes. Its dining room is bright and open, with simple decor, neutral colors, and large windows that let sunlight pour in. The menu at Acre is full of reinvented Southern classics, like deep fried gouda grits, Mississippi catfish tacos, and bourbon chocolate pecan pie. Sit back with one of their signature cocktails, like the chilton co. peach julep, and bask.
Deep in the American South lies a delightful slice of France. Chez Fonfon is a cafe, open for lunch and dinner. The dining room includes design elements and decor pieces imported from overseas, to create a spot-on French bistro atmosphere. The restaurant even offers an outdoor courtyard with French lawn games. Chez Fonfon’s menu offers bistro classics like moules e frites, croque madame, and trout amandine. Customers especially like the restaurant’s hamburger and steak frites. With friendly staff, and an impressive wine list to complement any meal, this is the place in Birmingham for comfortable French fare.
Highlands Bar and Grill is a long-standing staple in Birmingham. Open since 1982, this restaurant has won numerous awards, including nods from the James Beard Foundation. The atmosphere at Highlands is upscale and sophisticated, with white starched tablecloths and well-dressed wait staff. The menu garners its inspiration from Southern classics and French traditions; an odd combination, but it works. Customers can’t get enough of the stone-ground baked grits appetizer, or the lamb porterhouse chops. Highlands Bar and Grill is a wonderful place to celebrate a special occasion, or to just enjoy beautiful food.
Dishes at Hot and Hot Fish Club are both a feast for the stomach and for the eyes. Plating and presentation are taken seriously, and food comes out of the kitchen looking artful. The cuisine is heavily inspired by produce available seasonally, and ingredients are sourced from local food purveyors. The menu changes frequently, but guests often come for dishes like cauliflower soup with truffle oil, and rabbit roulade with farro risotto and mustard greens. It is easy to see why Hot and Hot Fish Club has received so many awards and accolades. The atmosphere and the food are both elegant and perfectly executed.
Fisher’s is actually two restaurants in one; both serving fresh seafood, but in slightly different atmospheres. Fisher’s Upstairs is upscale and elegant, while still reflecting the oceanic location with light, breezy decor. The Upstairs menu offers fine dishes like seared scallops and grilled swordfish. Fisher’s Dockside is decidedly more relaxed; styled with whimsical fish artwork, and giving guests dreamy patio seating. The Dockside menu offers several sandwich, taco, and salad options. Don’t fret too much over deciding between the two. From either of the restaurants, guests enjoy stunning views of the Orange Beach Marina, and unparalleled fresh seafood.
Ollie Irene was created to sweetly pay homage to the owner’s grandmother, and the tradition of farming and fresh, home-style cooking in the South. Guests are treated like family members, stopping by to join in a warm and straightforward meal. The dining room is cozy and unpretentious, giving customers a feeling of entering a homestead dining room. The menu utilizes seasonal produce and locally raised meats. Favorite dishes include: homemade pickle assortment, house pork sausage, and fried catfish. Ollie Irene is open for an early cocktail hour, and for dinner.
Cotton Row is housed in a historic building that is nearly 200 years old. The restaurant embraces the heritage of its location and Southern roots. Inside, the dining room is romantically lit, and simply decorated. Outdoor seating looks out over Huntsville’s historic downtown. The chef at Cotton Row has been called a culinary genius, earning multiple awards and considerable attention from restaurant royalty. The restaurant’s menu offers a variety of vegetable, seafood, and meat options, all prepared skillfully and with the utmost attention to quality and taste experience.
Grille 29 serves contemporary American fare, with consistent quality and service. This restaurant may be classified, above all else, as a steakhouse. The menu proudly features hand-cut steaks, grilled to precise temperature and perfection. But there are plenty of options for other preferences as well. Dishes like potato-crusted halibut, grouper oscar, and blue crab gazpacho are popular, as are the gorgonzola fondue and the hummus crudité platter. With its large selection and reasonable prices, Grille 29 has many delectable options.
Set on the picturesque shores of Lake Martin, SpringHouse is intimate, while also welcoming and classy. The interior is warm and rustic, with large roaring fireplaces, extensive stonework, and exposed wooden beams. The staff is friendly and hospitable, doing anything they can to give guests a memorable experience. The restaurant’s menu changes often, reflecting the bounteous fresh ingredients available during every season. With Southern flavors and home-style charm, SpringHouse is a pleasing place to eat.
This restaurant has a colorful history; named after a raucous river boat captain on the Tennessee River. With that same spirit of rebellion and adventure, Simp McGhee’s offers a kick of Cajun spice to the Alabama restaurant scene. Inspired heavily by the flavors of New Orleans, the menu includes dishes like seafood gumbo, crawfish eggrolls, and shrimp and andouille ravioli. Simp McGhee’s also offers a tapas menu, with small plates designed to be shared with friends. This is a perfect place for an honest, flavorful meal, without a shred of pretentiousness.