Category: Ethnic

First Ethiopian restaurant in the state of Alabama is OPEN in The Pizitz Food Hall! (Ghion Cultural Hall)

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We have dreamt for years about writing this post. And it’s even better than we had imagined.   When we were first hired by Bayer Properties to consult on The Pizitz Food Hall, we promised each other that we would use this opportunity to bring Ethiopian food to Birmingham. Having lived in Philly, a city with a large Ethiopian community and several well-loved Ethiopian restaurants, we were used to having Ethiopian food whenever we pleased. When we moved down here nearly 6 years ago, Ethiopian food was one of the first things we looked for (along with good sushi, dim...

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Chinese Hot Pot @ Black Pearl in Homewood

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Ms. Foodie is still getting over her jet lag from our trip to Japan, and this post wasn’t going to write itself. Even after the last two weeks of non-stop Japanese foodie goodness, this meal still stands out as one of the best we’ve enjoyed lately. So, I took it upon myself to write this post. We recently heard that the new location of Black Pearl in Homewood had Chinese hot pot. We have had this dish in Vietnam and as of this past week Japan (shabu-shabu) but so far had not found it available in the ‘Ham. We coordinated...

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Taboon Noon o Kebab

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Last week, in response to our post about Falafel Cafe, loyal blog fan Janica sent us this question: “Have you been to Taboon Noon o Kabab in Hoover yet? It’s next to Mandarin House, where Purple Onion and Chick’n’Out once were.” We chatted back and forth about the place. She had only positive things to say and recommended the kubideh, a Persian dish of minced beef (80% meat and 20% fat according to this article) shaped into a kebab and grilled. We’ve had this before, at the Persian restaurant we used to love in NYC, but never in Bham. We...

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Paradise Biryani Point

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This post is very long overdue. Last year, we noticed that a new Indian place popped up on Yelp. We waited for a few good reviews to come in and verified with Indian-Anerican friends before venturing 20 minutes (ok, we know that’s not so far) down I-65. If you’re coming from I-65, it’s on Montgomery Highway one strip mall past Steak and Shake, in the same strip mall as Hobby Lobby and India Heritage. Don’t go based on the address in Google maps; just use these directions. Here’s the exterior: We had an incredible meal, much better than the other...

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Pho 280

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As you may know from some of our prior posts, we love Vietnamese food.  Mr Foodie and I spent several weeks in Vietnam right before we moved to Alabama in 2011.  In Philly, we lived in Passyunk Square, a neighborhood home to the two most famous (but not the best) cheesesteak places in town, a vibrant Hispanic community that gives rise to some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had, and,  Little Saigon.  Within 5 blocks of our house, we had access to some of the most delicious (and inexpensive) Vietnamese food I’ve had in the U.S. or in Vietnam....

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Akbar Mashti and Kulfi pops @ Urban Pops

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Yesterday, we got a hot tip about a restaurant waaaaaaaaaay out in the Burbs.  So Mr. Foodie and I were able convince our friend Michelle of Eugene’s Hot Chicken and Miss Dots post fame to come along (OK, it didn’t take much convincing).  As often happens in this world of anonymous food blogging, the restaurant was just ok, in our opinions.  Don’t ask me what it was…. and you’ll never guess it…. we only blog positively so we just consider meals like that sunk costs.  It was still a lot of fun. As we were heading past the Galleria on the way...

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Bamboo has nigiri and sashimi!

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Folks, yet another reason to eat at Bamboo on Second: they’ve expanded their sushi menu to include nigiri and sashimi. We just happened to eat there tonite, the first night they offered it. We ordered the salmon, yellowtail, and tuna:       All three were outstanding. Melt-in-your-mouth, slightly citrusy from the lemon keeping it company, like butter. We also found out they’re open on Valentine’s Day-that’s where Mr Foodie and I will be, enjoying some nigiri!

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Matzoh ball soup at Eli’s Jerusalem Grill

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Y’all, this is an urgent, emergency post.  As you may know from prior posts, I’m Jewish.  My religious background gives me (and every other Jewish person in the world) the right to talk with complete authority about Jewish food. One of the only, only things that I dislike about Birmingham is its lack of acceptable Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish food.  Like the kind of food you would find at a real New York kosher-style deli.  And the most important of all of the beloved deli foods is chicken soup, and more specifically, matzoh ball soup.   If you’ve never had...

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An authentic Thai dining experience in a modest Highland Park apartment (Alloy Thai)

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Last week, I received an email through the blog from a man named Josh Haynes.  He wanted to let me know that he would be organizing a Thai pop-up dinner as a prelude to a Thai restaurant he hopes to open.  As you know from our recent posts about Masaman Thai and Blue Pacific, we love Thai food, so this would have been hard to pass up.  Mr Foodie was tied up with Design Week Birmingham activities, but I decided to buy myself a ticket and bring two friends with me to help assess the situation. As is the usual...

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Bamboo on 2nd

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This post documents the long-awaited arrival of the most unique and certainly one of the best additions to Birmingham’s food scene in recent memory. This place is a game-changer. Its existence acknowledges that in 2015, Birmingham is “ready” for a restaurant that offers top notch pan-Asian cuisine, most of which cannot be found on the menus of even my favorite Chinese, Thai, or Indonesian restaurants in town. I could not be more excited to tell you about Bamboo on 2nd. Mr. Foodie and I first met Abhi in October, 2014, when we accidentally discovered him making the best sushi we...

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Brito’s

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At Red Bowl’s Dim Sum a few weekends ago, we struck up a conversation with two very nice ladies across from us who were clearly foodies.  As we bonded over the amazing dumplings and fried eggplant, we shared restaurant recommendations.  Even though we’ve been at this blogging thing for almost two years, we still get recommendations for places we haven’t heard of all the time.  So as we sat there talking about Birmingham’s amazing restaurant scene, we kept our ears open for the next “blogworthy” find.   “Have you tried Brito’s?”  one of our new friends asked, her voice brimming with excitement....

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Masaman Thai

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As y’all know, we don’t blog negatively.  There’s enough negativity in this world.  Plus, we aren’t professional food critics or experts-we are just two average foodies trying to eat a great meal. However, you may have noticed some food genres are notably absent or nearly absent from our blog.  Take, for instance, Thai food.  Without saying anything negative about any place in particular, I will just say that in our humble opinions, Birmingham hasn’t had a really great Thai restaurant in the time we’ve lived here.  The only really great Thai place around here that we know of is Kati...

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Bay Leaf Indian Restaurant

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Mr. Foodie and I are constantly trolling Yelp, Urbanspoon, and Facebook for ethnic restaurants that have traditionally been underrepresented in the Ham.  A few months ago, we noticed a new Indian restaurant that was quickly gaining popularity.  We’ve already blogged about two Indian restaurants in town – Taj and Silver Coin – that we really like.  But for a town of this size, it’s always been surprising to me that there aren’t more truly outstanding Indian places.  So when we saw the reviews of Bay Leaf, we wondered if it might fill that void. Bay Leaf is located down 280...

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Dim sum (yes, you read that right) at Red Bowl

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Please note:   Dim sum is only on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30-3!!   Now for the post: If you’ve  ever read this blog before, you know that Mr Foodie and I are huge fans of Birmingham.  As one of my native Alabamian friends likes to say, “you aren’t from here, but you got here as fast as you could.”  That pretty much sums it up.  This is our adopted home. But it’s not surprising that people often ask us if we miss living in Philly or Manhattan.  Our usual response is that of course, there are things we miss...

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Nori’s Secret Indonesian Menu-Part 2

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In February, we told you about an incredible foodie find.  Birmingham actually has some of the best Indonesian food you’ll find anywhere, and it’s at the unlikeliest of places-a Thai restaurant in a strip mall in Vestavia.  And it’s all because of Marty, their chef who happens to be from Bali.   The first time we went, Marty asked us if he could just cook for us-and we said, um, yes please.  What resulted was an impromptu and unexpected Indonesian feast.  No way to top that.  Except for one thing:  one of my foodie friends knows a lot about Indonesian food....

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Seoul Restaurant-new owners, authentic Korean food

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Lately, we’ve become fairly obsessed with Korean food. When Mr Foodie and I traveled to Vietnam for my work a few years ago, we had an 18 hour layover in Seoul. Of course, we took a food tour and had our first experience with kimchi jjigae, or kimchi and tofu stew, a dish that that blew our sinuses and our minds. After that, we actively sought Korean food in the US and had some experiences that only reinforced our newfound foodie interest at Woo nam Jeong Stone Bowl House in Atlanta and at the Dolsot house near my family’s home in Cherry Hill, NJ. We’ve...

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Nori’s Secret Indonesian Menu

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A few months ago, a friend told me that she has a friend who had eaten off of a secret Indonesian menu at a place called Nori Thai and Sushi. All of my foodie radar signals went off. If true, this discovery would cover two holy grails-the secret menu and the foodie urban legend. This could be a big discovery. So I called. I said “Hi. I hear you have a secret Indonesian menu. Is that true?” “Yes, that’s true,” the voice on the other end of the phone replied matter-of-factly. “If I come in, can I eat from that...

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NOW BAMBOO ON 2ND: Everest Sushi at the Blue Monkey

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NOTE: Everest Sushi is now the sushi bar at Bamboo on 2nd. Blog friends, I am happy to report that Everest Sushi, including owner/ chef Abhi and sushi chef Kyle, are safe and sound at the Blue Monkey. Originally, they were at the Blue Monkey just for late nights on the weekend-now they are there Tuesday-Thursday 6pm-10pm, Friday-Saturday 9pm-2am. Mr Foodie and I were there on Tuesday night, and again last night. I had never been to the Blue Monkey before – the place is great! It’s a dark little lounge with good music and attentive bartenders. As we sat...

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NOW BAMBOO ON 2ND: Save Everest Sushi!!

NOTE: Everest Sushi is now the sushi bar at Bamboo on 2nd. Now for the original post: Loyal blog fans, This is a plea for your help. We have a foodie emergency on our hands. Everest Sushi, which I blogged about here and here, has lost its space at the Red Zone. I know y’all love Everest because it’s #1 on Urbanapoon’s talk of the town, and my two posts had the most shares of any place I’ve blogged about. Everest is a true Birmingham foodie gem, and even moreso, it’s owner Abhi is a foodie treasure. He is self...

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Eli’s Jerusalem Grill

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Mr Foodie and I were running some errands at the Summit (read: guiltily returning some online shopping purchases) and looking for a place to have lunch afterwards. Whenever we visit an area of town, even one we’ve been to a million times, we try to find a new and interesting place to eat. A few Google, Yelp, and Urbanspoon searches revealed a brand new Isreali place on 280 that had been open for less than a week and already seemed to have a dedicated following. Israeli food is something I grew up with as a kid in Pittsburgh. There used...

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Wilson’s Hot and Sweet Cafe

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Mr Foodie here. When Ms Foodie and I moved to Southside last year, we asked around for tips on great places to eat. One of the things we noticed right away is that our neighborhood has a great international vibe. My guess is this has to do with UAB drawing students and faculty from all over the world. So when we found a hidden ethnic food gem right around the corner we were not surprised. We started hearing about a place called Wilson’s Market, which we were told sells homemade samosas by the dozen. We then realized we live just...

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NOW BAMBOO ON 2ND: Everest Sushi, Part 2

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NOTE: Everest Sushi is now the sushi bar at Bamboo on 2nd. Now for the original post: Since our original post only a week ago, Mr Foodie and I have returned not once but twice to Everest Sushi. The first time, it was just us. The second time, our two wonderful, highly discerning foodie friends joined us. We also ran into the president of our local neighborhood association who had decided to stop by based on our first blog post. He joined us too. With 5 people, we were able to order our old favorites (the Wham Bam Birmingham, Beer...

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NOW BAMBOO ON 2nd: Everest Sushi

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NOTE: Everest Sushi is now the sushi bar at Bamboo on 2nd. Now for the original post: What I love about this town is that JUST when you think you’ve found every last [fill in the blank], you find one that has been right under your nose, that you’ve never heard of before, and that is as good or better than all of your favorite places. To find these hidden gems, I occasionally obsessively peruse Yelp and Urbanspoon. Sushi being one of my favorite things in the world, as I have done many times before, last week I did a...

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Olive Branch

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Last week was our 7 year wedding anniversary. Adorable, I know. Since we’ve been kinda obsessed with this blogging thing lately (have you noticed?), we decided to try a place we had never been to before with the hopes of writing an adorable, romantic blog post about our new find. Well-epic fail. This is not that post, because the place we went was just … meh. We were both so disappointed that we decided to have an anniversary do-over – adorable, yes, I know. At a tried and true local gem that we have been to at least a dozen...

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Tropical Grill

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Mr. Foodie here. As regular readers may know, I am Ms. Foodie’s fulltime tasting assistant. I also occasionally help out with photos, but this is my first full post here at What to Eat in Birmingham. In order to keep pace with all the yummy tips coming in from our readers, I am going to help out by writing a post here and there from now on. Ms. Foodie and I were jonesin’ for some Jerk chicken as tends to happen from time to time. We decided to check out a tip about a restaurant that sounded like it might...

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No Secret Menu – the story of Great Wall

This is the story of Great Wall, and also the story of Sunny. Sunny is Great Wall’s owner, and she has been the face of the restaurant for decades. If you have ever been to Great Wall, you have probably been greeted by her always-cheerful personality and warm smile as she takes you to your table. Last week, in between calls for take-out orders and teaching her American customers Chinese one word at a time, Mr Foodie and I had the opportunity to talk to Sunny about her passion for bringing “high-class,” “authentic” Chinese food to Birmingham. History of Great...

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Great Wall (alert-includes homemade Dim Sum!)

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I have a theory that Birmingham is full of amazing, authentic ethnic restaurants flying under the radar. For authentic Chinese food, most people know about Red Pearl and Mr Chen’s (I think). Earlier this week we blogged about Black Pearl, a Chinese place that’s been around for awhile, but now has a new chef who has introduced more authentic Cantonese dishes. This got me to thinking… Maybe there are other places around with similar stories. All it takes is one chef… And so I started poking around Yelp and Urbanspoon. Great Wall, a Chinese restaurant in Homewood, seemed like exactly...

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Black Pearl

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Wait wait wait. I know you are about to correct me here. Yes, I know there is a much loved authentic Chinese restaurant and supermarket on Valley Avenue called Red Pearl. This is not that. Read on. Authentic Thai, Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese food are my absolute favorite types of food. I think this comes from living in the Vietnamese neighborhood in Philly, which was only a mile from Philly’s Chinatown. (If you are ever going to Philly, let me know and I can make some recommendations.) Then, a few years ago, right before moving here, Mr Foodie and I...

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Kati Thai

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Ok, I know, I tricked you. There are so few (if any?) truly authentic Thai options in Bham that when you saw a place you didn’t recognize, your heart skipped a beat. You felt butterflies in your stomach. Well – made you look. This place is actually in Gadsden. So sue me. I would drive an hour for amazing authentic Thai food any day. A few weeks ago, Mr Foodie and I took a road trip north of the Mason-Dixon Line to attend a family reunion in Pennsylvania. We left Birmingham just before 5pm, so predictably, we began to feel...

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The Backstory: Rafiki’s Grill – a “taste of Africa in Dixie”

It’s not every day that an African restaurant opens in Birmingham.  Given the excitement that Rafiki’s Grill has generated in the Birmingham foodie community, I wanted to find out the backstory. The inspiration behind Rafiki’s When Charles Gakumo opened Rafiki’s Grill, he was inspired by his wife Ann.  Gakumo is from Nairobi, Kenya, and came to Birmingham to study finance at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) at the age of 21.  Ann is from Florida but grew up mainly in Birmingham.  Gakumo explains, “Taking [Ann] to Africa, and seeing how thrilled she was enjoying the cultures and enjoying...

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La Libertad

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La Libertad is a coastal town in El Salvador. It’s also a restaurant in Pelham. Tonite, Mr Foodie and I visited the latter. This place was quite a find. I don’t believe we have ever had El Salvadorian food before so I must admit, I’m not an expert and I have no basis for comparison. But what we had, we loved. And it was served by a waitress who had a genuine interest in making sure we enjoyed the food, which made for a fantastic foodie experience. La Libertad can be found-where else-in a strip mall in Pelham. I continue...

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CHANGED HANDS: Los Pedros

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UPDATE 4/30/2015:  I just heard from a very reliable source that ownership has changed and this is not the old Los Pedros we know and love.  I am holding off on moving this post to the graveyard for now but…. It seems like a strong possibility.  Brief moment of silence for the old Los Pedros. Now for the original post: Recently, a friend told me about a taqueria that is his new favorite place to get authentic tacos. When he told me it was on Valley Avenue, in a strip mall in the parking lot behind the Salvation Army, I...

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Rafiki’s Grill

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As you know, or can tell by the types of places I blog about, I like all kinds of food, so long as its good. But I gravitate towards places that seem unusual for the area. In a state like Alabama, known for its soul food and BBQ, that typically means food from other countries and cultures. Take that a step further-food served in an atmosphere that transports you to a different continent, and introduces you to new people. I’ve spent some time in Botswana and in Vietnam. Being away from home as an American “ex-pat” and walking into an...

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The Backstory: Sushi Village 2

A passion for sushi Owen Ou’s passion for sushi began 20 years ago in the kitchen of famed Iron Chef Morimoto‘s restaurant in Manhattan. Originally  from China, Ou moved to the US as a teenager with his parents.  At age 17, he had just finished school, and recalls searching the internet for a job just “to make some money.”  With no prior interest in the restaurant industry – he didn’t even know who Morimoto was – he landed a job as one of his dishwashers. This early experience helped shape the direction of his career. Morimoto recognized Ou’s hardworking spirit and soon began to...

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Kool Korner Sandwiches

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There is a full service Cuban restaurant in Birmingham. I repeat, there is a full service Cuban restaurant in Birmingham. How did I miss this??! For the past 2 years, people have been telling me I should check out Kool Korner Sandwiches. There was just one problem-I hate sandwiches. For about 5 years, when I was a teenager, my doctors thought I had a gluten allergy. This was before the days of relatively good gluten-free products at regular grocery stores. As a result, I didn’t eat sandwiches for many years, and never really cared about them once I began eating...

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Silvercoin Indian Grill

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First off, this post is dedicated to my wonderful foodie friend who has much more experience with Indian food than I do. Her knowledge of Indian food is nearly encyclopedic. She deserves credit for helping me figure out the names of some of the foods shown here, and for introducing us to Silvercoin when we moved to Birmingham! Often, when I mention that I have a restaurant blog, an early question that arises is, what is your favorite Indian food in town? Although I do really love Taj and have blogged about it, and also love Mughal and the Sitar...

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El Taco Loco

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A lot has happened these past few months. Most notably, we moved to Southside. Moving has caused us to get a little distracted-all those pesky boxes, lots of urgent home improvement projects…. Excuses, excuses. But let me tell you, my foodie friends, this move will be great for our blog. It has introduced us to some hidden food havens in this part of town that we can’t wait to share with you. Tonite, I present you the first of these: the Green Springs/Valley Avenue corridor. This area of Homewood is filled with, well, frankly awful looking strip malls. But in...

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Taj India

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For me, Indian food has been an acquired taste. Until the past 5 years, I’ve avoided anything spicy. I’m not entirely sure why. Until a friend of mine, whose mom is Indian and dad is Pakistani, gave me a life changing piece of advice. We were in Botswana, which has a significant Indian community. Botswana was probably the first place I tried authentic Indian food. My friend told me, if the food is spicy and you can’t handle it, eat it with a little bit of raita to tone it down but preserve the flavors. That advice allowed me to...

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NOW CLOSED-Miami Cafe Xpress

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In Memoriam: Miami Cafe Express, we loved your chicken stew and sweet plantains, and the sound of the carwash announcer in the background as we ate your food. Alas, according to your Facebook page, a landlord dispute caused you to close. However, you are in some sort of state suspended halfway between being a restaurant and being a fond memory, as your Facebook page also indicates that you still exist in the form of a catering company. Miami Cafe Express the Restaurant, we bid you aideu. RIP. The original post: If you’ve been following my blog posts, you probably realize...

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Gordos Market and Taqueria

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As you may know, I’m on a quest to find all the great taquerias of Birmingham – see also my post on Taqueria La Herrudura. Tonight: Gordos. Gordos was the first taqueria I visited after moving to Birmingham. It’s on Valley Avenue in Homewood, in a strip mall. It has 3 parts-a grocery store, a bakery, and of course, the restaurant. The restaurant serves tacos, tamales, gorditas, burritos, and quesadillas. Vegetarians beware-there is meat EVERYWHERE you look – a giant piece of meat hangs next to the register, which we are told is what carnitas looks like before it gets...

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Mr. Chen’s

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Recently, I heard something I could hardly believe. Mr. Chen’s-arguably the best Chinese restaurant in Birmingham-serves soup dumplings. Mr. Foodie and I lived in Philadelphia for 10 years, which has one of the best Chinatowns in the US. This experience completely spoiled us. We are used to eating non-greasy Chinese food with fresh ingredients, and have come to love dim sum — a Cantonese style of bite sized dining which typically includes dumplings. A really good dumpling – one that isn’t from the freezer section, that is hand made with perfectly seasoned filling – is hard to find. One specific...

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El Cazador

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Foodie friends, brace yourselves. I’m about to go where no Birmingham food blogger has gone before, and admit a shameful secret. It’s true-occasionally, I eat at one of our city’s dozens of cheap Mexican restaurants. You know the places of which I speak. The places where the decor consists of brightly colored statues of animals; where the servers give you refills on your chips and salsa within seconds of consumption of the last chip, whether you want them to or not; and where the waiters may or may not be wearing sombreros. I am not an expert on Mexican food,...

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Taqueria La Herradura

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The Alabama Farmer’s Market on Finley Avenue is a real Birmingham gem. It’s actually open 24/7 according to their website (and I once called at 10pm-they answered!). But this post isn’t about the farmers market-it is about the Taqueria. This Taqueria is one of several hole in the wall authentic taco places that I’ve found in the Ham that Mr Foodie and I absolutely adore. I was excited to share the experience with a friend who just moved back to the Magic City with her husband. I’ve met several people lately who are rediscovering Birmingham, or like us, discovering it...

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Southern Caribbean

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While eating at Tau Poco, I got a great tip about a Jamaican restaurant in Fairfield/Ensley. There are a few Jamaican places in Birmingham. My Foodie Informant’s wife who is from Jamaica apparently likes this one the best. And when he told me that it is essentially inside of a Shell gas station, I knew I had struck foodie gold. So I rounded up Mr Foodie and a few friends and headed to the North Side. We almost missed it – good thing I knew I was looking for a Shell gas station! The atmosphere is bare bones, in a...

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Little Donkey – version. 2.0

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I’ve been debating about exactly how to approach this post. I think it makes the most sense to be straightforward, so here goes. Little Donkey has been open for about a year and was much anticipated. Owned by the same people who own Jim N Nicks. It is in a really cool space in Homewood, in the small strip mall where Octane and Steel City Pops moved (after Little Donkey). It is very modern on the outside and inside, with a beautiful patio: A lot of people ate here when it first opened, us included. We actually ate here on...

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Tau Poco

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I’m beyond excited about the urban renaissance of downtown Bham. With the recent success of the Rev Birmingham pop up shops and restaurants along 3rd Ave North, downtown just seems all abuzz with a new kind of energy. And, naturally, with new food. I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Chef Chris Dupont’s Tau Poco lunch-only restaurant since I learned about it a few weeks ago. Chef Dupont owns both Cafe Dupont and Mix, both great places. The concept behind Tau Poco is simple and in my mind really appealing-mix and match global street food served in a take-out...

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26 weekday happy hour

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It seemed like an urban legend. I heard from a friend that she had a friend …. who loved to go to this happy hour at 26, one of my favorite restaurants. And it had cheap appetizers. Including sushi. Enough for a meal. Several of which come from their regular menu (which I love-and promise to review soon). Could it be true? Mr Foodie and I, along with two work friends who I love not only for their exceptional conversation skills but also for their ability to eat, were determined to find out. To people who have lived here all...

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Sushi Village 2

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Friends, do not be deterred by its location in a newly revitalized but slightly dingy strip mall. Sushi Village 2 is the real deal. Look for this sign, in the back of Crestwood festival across from the Edge movie theater and behind the ever-classy Bargain Hunt (we once bought a tandem bike there, don’t ask): For the last year since it opened, Sushi Village 2 has been our go to weeknight place. Their sushi and kitchen appetizers and entrees are consistently good, and really cheap. What makes this place really great is the people who run it-when it first got...

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