I will be moving to Birmingham this weekend from Athens, GA (but was in Boston for 8+ years prior to moving home temporarily to Athens). I was/am a frequent poster on chowhound in these two cities. I do consider myself a chowhound who seeks out the best food wherever it can be found, be it at a hotdog stand, a taqueria, the Ritz, a Frank Stitt place, etc. I do not consider myself a "foodie" that follows trends and popularity more than the grub; the mere term foodie grates me almost as badly as being forced to watch the View.
I’ve done some research on Birmingham, mostly here, but also on Bhamdining.com, zagat and even city search (yes, city search is questionable at best, with Zagat being heavily influenced by advertisers as well). Anyway, on to the quest; I seek the following and/or any other recommendations my trusted hounds have. Specifically, I’d love to hear about your favorite places and/or dishes at these places.
A. Markets/Specialty Stores: I understand the Finley Ave Farmer’s Mkt, Tria and V. Richards are good markets, as may be Pepper Place. However, I do not know their strengths, so if they apply below please point this out.
1. Asian – primarily for Asian produce, meats, condiments, spices, etc.
2. Latin – primarily for Latin produce (primarily peppers), tortillas, meats, condiments, spices, etc.
3. Greek/Armenian – I understand there is a large Greek population here. Excellent, as I love shopping at Greek Markets for related products (fresh olives, cheeses, grape leaves, spinach pies, etc).
4. General Markets for produce, artesian breads, etc.
5. Best Butcher
6. Best Fishmonger
B. Restaurants by Cuisine/Ethnicity: For the most part, I prefer to have entrees top out in the low twenties for average dining but I’m not averse to spending more if the occasion warrants (i.e. I hear the Frank Stott places are delicious but spendy).
1. Latin American – I realize this a broad category, but I am specifically looking for:
a. Mexican – I realize Mexican cuisine varies by state, but I am seeking restaurants or taquerias offering varieties or pork preparation, including carnitas, al pastor, chorizo, plus carne asada and other beef preparations. Fish tacos a bonus. I tend to like tortas, corn tortilla tacos with just the meat, onions, cilantro, lime and maybe salsa verde, plus good plates if the accompanying rice and beans are well flavored.
b. Salvadoran – Primarily for pupusas as I have not (yet) explored Salvadoran cuisine yet.
c. Brazilian including rodizo and beyond
d. Cuban (yes, I am stretching the definition of Latin American further than I should but bear with me). I love a good cubano, as well as some other semi-Cuban treats.
3. Indian (all regions)
4. Italian (mostly prefer Northern). Is this one of the specialties at the Stitt restaurants?
6. Vietnamese (primarily for pho, bahn mi, and perhaps some other dishes)
7. Chinese – I realize “Chinese” is a vague term due to all the regional cuisines. I’m not looking for Chinamerican dishes like general gau, beef and broccoli, nuclear orange colored sweet and sour anything. I lived within a mile of Boston’s Chinatown (not large, but still delicious) for 3+ years and loved heading there weekly for my fix of Cantonese, Sichuan, Shanghai-ese(?), Taiwanese, etc. Forgive me if I get the regions wrong. Any places serve a good Peking Duck or xiao long bao?
8. Seafood – I think I read here that The Fish Market is the real deal and the menu looks nice and varied. Is this the go to spot?
9. “New American” – this can be anything really, just looking for inventive cooking.
10. Meat and three joints.
11. Burgers and maybe hotdogs. Is Milos the place to go?
12. Pizza (not Greek pizza)
13. Barbecue – I’ve had Dreamland in the past and the ribs were ok but I’ve had a backyard offset smoker for 8 or so years smoking my own ‘cue so my expectations can be high. Prefer pulled pork to spare ribs, but love both, as well as brisket and properly smoked sausage. I think I recall reading that the Jim and Nicks’ outposts are pretty good?
C. Print Media/Local Blogs – this might belong on another board but since this request is already the size of a novella, please feel free to point out some good local resources for trusty reviews of local eateries, markets, etc.
Hounds, I really appreciate each and every one of you that is taking the time to read this dissertation. As I’ve said, I’ve been a long time contributor to other local boards and hope to be able to contribute about Birmingham in the near future.
Note: Please forgive the formatting which did not carry over from Word.