I’m a northerner who has spent a lot of time in Tuscaloosa over the past six months. Here are my impressions of the restaurants I have gone to. Disclosure – I am not a barbecue fanatic and I don’t like catfish. This may limit the range of my opinions. Also, I never got a good raw oyster in Tuscaloosa. Was that just bad luck or are warm water oysters not as good as cold water?
5 – I really like this place. Very well prepared food. Great ribeye and pork chop. Problem – they only have five entrees plus a dish that rotates daily. Not much variety in the sides and appetizers, although they are very good. After a few visits, it gets tiresome. Noisy. Not cheap. A chain.
Jim N’Nicks – Went here three times. Good brisket, good baby back ribs, bad spare ribs. Gristle and fat. Good pie. A chain.
Sitar Indian Restaurant – My favorite restaurant in Tuscaloosa. Very good Indian food. I recommended it to everyone and took all my guests there. Gosht Palak – lamb and spinach. Shrimp Chettinad – shrimp in a savory sauce. Chicken 65. I went there once for the lunch buffet and was not impressed. I was surprised to find this was a chain. Felt like a friendly family restaurant.
Front Porch (Northport) – Meat and three. Powdered mashed potatoes. What more do I need to say?
Mr. Bills (Northport) – Meat and three. Powdered mashed potatoes. What more do I need to say?
15th St. Diner - Only went there once. Liked the atmosphere. Southern/comfort food. Chicken pot pie with lots of corn starch. Gumbo with lots of corn starch.
Longhorn Steak house – I swore I would never go there because I hate the ads, but it was the best chain steak house I found. Good prime rib. I went there a lot. Close to my hotel after an 11 hour day.
Nicks in the Sticks – I went there with friends. I had a good ribeye and the atmosphere was nice, but it was a lot longer drive than Longhorn. Sorry.
De Palmas – The only Italian Restaurant in Tuscaloosa I know of other than Olive Garden. Not bad. Not expensive. A pleasant place. But not like Yonkers or the North End. How can you call yourself Italian if customers aren’t stuffed when they leave. Never tried the pizza.
Steamers – Fish. Used to be the Bayou, which I loved. Great gumbo. Steamers is pleasant, but not as good. I like the Shrimp Basket better.
Shrimp Basket – Fish. All you can eat very good steamed shrimp on Tuesdays. What more do I need to say? Busy. $4.99 for six oysters on the half shell! I’ve never tried them because I didn’t want to take up room that I could use for shrimp. A chain.
Wintzel’s – Fish. Went here once. Didn’t like the steamed shrimp or the atmosphere. Others have told me they really like it. A chain.
Mexican restaurants. I tried Iguana Grill, Los Tarascos, and Pepito’s. I only gave them one try each because they had bad chicken enchiladas with salsa verde. Stringy chicken. Pasty green sauce. I got takeout burritos from Chipotle and Moe’s. Ok. There are a lot of Hispanic people in Tuscaloosa. There must be some good restaurants.
Epiphany – A friend took me here. Hoity toity. An interesting focus on local food. Very pleasant. Not impressed. My wife might like it.
Evangeline’s – A client took me here. Fancy schmancy. Very pleasant. Not impressed. My wife would probably like it.
Taziki’s – Got takeout. Good cheap mall Greek food. Lamb. Gyros.
Dreamland – I went to the original funky one with a friend. Ribs, white bread, beer. And that’s it. Enjoyed it.
Swen Chinese Restaurant – Got takeout. Ok.
I hope this is helpful. I'm going back in the spring, so I am interested in other ideas.