A city of accolades – that’s Birmingham, Alabama, the state’s cultural capital with an array of museums, music and historical sites.
Even before the James Beard Foundation Awards named the city's Highlands Bar & Grill the most outstanding restaurant in the country in 2018, Birmingham had earned a spot on the New York Times’ international list of 52 Places to Go in 2017. Adding to its acclaimed culinary reputation, the city has made multiple appearances on Zagat’s yearly lists of the Most Exciting Food Cities in America. If you’ve worked up an appetite already, imagine what it will taste like when you visit.
Nationally Recognized Fine Dining
Birmingham restaurants and chefs have been nominated more than 45 times for James Beard Awards since 1996. Most recently, Highlands Bar & Grill won the James Beard Foundation’s Most Outstanding Restaurant in the USA in 2018 after being nominated 10 times. Here, award-winning chef Frank Stitt serves up new Southern fare for a can’t-miss dining experience. Chris Hastings won Best Chef in the South in 2012, and you can sample his specialties at the Hot and Hot Fish Club (try the tomato salad and Elvis Presley doughnuts). Opened in 1907, the Greek-inspired menu at Bright Star in nearby Bessemer was recognized for its timeless appeal with the James Beard American Classics award in 2010. Other great restaurants to try: Café Dupont, Johnny’s Restaurant, Bettola and Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q.
Artisanal beet salad garnished with an apple blossom
Hoisting a Pint at a Craft Brewery
Craft brewing is taking root as breweries get creative with their beer as well as the taprooms. Watch brewers in action while you play games on the outdoor patio at Good People Brewing Company. Voted the best local brewery in 2015, Avondale Brewing Co. has a year-round outdoor patio and a calendar of live music events. Cahaba Brewing’s spacious tap room, arcade games, couches and a huge window overlooking the production floor invite you to hang out awhile. Check out the live music and local artists’ work at Trim Tab Brewing, enjoy your pint indoors or out at Ghost Train Brewing and check out the funky murals at Red Hills Brewing Company, which specializes in session beers that have a lower alcohol content.
A fresh pour at Cahaba Brewing Company
Mixology with Flair
Several Birmingham bars are mixing cocktails into an art form. Carrigan’s Public House offers drinks with a view on its casual rooftop patio. Got your heart set on a mojito or Moscow mule? You won’t find it at The Collins Bar. Instead of ordering from a menu, just tell the bartender what flavors you’re in the mood for and they’ll improvise a drink on the spot. At The Louis bar inside The Pizitz Food Hall, grab a drink and order food from a variety of independent local restaurants. Alongside the signature cocktail menu at the retro-themed Atomic Bar & Lounge is a “menu” of costumes, ranging from panda to Elvis Presley, to wear while you sip your drinks.
Bartender mixing up a craft cocktail
Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM) serves a variety of international destinations and is stocked with amenities, including a children’s play area, meditation room, beloved local restaurants and the Birmingham-based Good People Brewing Company. Rental cars are available on-site.