When Mudtown Eat and Drink owner Dave Horn returned to Birmingham after a stint in Atlanta, he remarked to Bob Carlton of the Birmingham News that there was no place "where you can just get a burger." He decided to build exactly what he sought: The Ridge Eat & Drink, a casual, neighborhood eatery that serves classic pub fare such as 100% Hereford beef burgers and upscale dishes ranging from steaks to seafood. The menu’s Asian and southern influences emanate from starters such as grilled tuna tataki and fried green tomatoes. To make diners comfortable, the pub greets them with drink specials, flat-screen TVs, and daily dares scrawled on a chalkboard above the dark-wood bar.
While on vacation nearly a decade ago, college best friends Ron Savell and Chris McDonald looked across the waves in Waikiki and saw a different kind of paradise: a restaurant of their very own. Back in Montgomery, the duo opened their first Mugshots Grill & Bar in 2004, where they built their signature hamburger: ground beef round grilled medium well and served atop a toasted sourdough bun. Beer-battered fries complement burgers and other menu items such as club sandwiches at Mugshots' nine locations scattered across three states.
If the building's exterior looks as if a pagoda landed atop a house, that might be a good clue that delicious Japanese cuisine is served inside. The fresh sushi rolled inside Fuji San earned it two Nappie Awards in 2011 from the readers of Lagniappe magazine for Most Underrated Restaurant and Best Sushi. Fuji San also won for Best Sushi in 2012 and 2013. Besides the artful rolls, the kitchen crafts Japanese dishes including teriyaki and tempura combination dinners and shabu-shabu hot pot entrees. It also recently introduced a Thai menu full of classic eats, including pad thai and red and green curries.
Huntsville Ballet Company’s classic and contemporary productions are as much about enriching the local arts community as they are about entertaining the audience. Dedicated to outreach and education, the group invites students from Huntsville Ballet School to audition for performances with professional dancers and the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra. When their soloists aren’t pirouetting through The Firebird or anthropomorphizing sugarplums in The Nutcracker, the company welcomes visitors such as Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre and the New York City Ballet.
Northern Alabama’s only professional, regional opera company, Opera Birmingham showcases some of the freshest young talent from all over the world, singing classic operatic pieces. Its Home for the Holidays show ushers eardrums into the season of eggnog and electric reindeer with a sonic slate of holiday favorites, led by four soloists. Those who opt to become subscribers will get side front orchestra seats to four shows bursting forth from surround-sound vocal chords throughout the 2010–2011 season. In addition to Home for the Holidays, other shows are Faust, Lucia di Lammermoor, and The Great Wagner Concert. Season subscribers also receive invitations to exclusive events, such as the annual subscriber brunch. Forgo another year of listening to alley cats perform a Bach oratorio and instead hit up Opera Birmingham for easy-to-digest ear candy.
Red paper lanterns hang above Wasabi Sushi's sushi counter, where patrons can watch expert sushi chefs slice pieces of sashimi or assemble intricate rolls, such as the Spicy Crawfish with asparagus and cream cheese. Across the dining room, whose walls are painted a buttery yellow, waiters ferry cooked entrees such as teriyaki chicken, vegetable tempura, and chicken fried rice. Desserts such as ice-cream balls rolled in mochi rice skin, and tempura-battered cheesecake, end meals on a sweet note.