Open for dinner and lunch five days a week, 122 Tree Lane serves a smattering of spicy, authentic eats. Start with a chunky bowl of chicken and sausage gumbo ($7.95), or crunch into a tomato- and onion-studded house salad ($5.95). Entrees, served with salad and choice of side, include bourbon-glazed 8-ounce filet ($20.95), blackened mahi served with pineapple-mango chutney ($16.95), and creole pasta with an andouille sausage-, crawfish-, and shrimp-topped chicken breast over penne pasta with a tomato-cream sauce ($16.95). Pair bites with veggie (broccoli, squash casserole, sautéed haricots verts) or carb-y sides (mac 'n' cheese, baked potato, sweet-potato brûlée). View the complete menu here.
Owners Michael and Cynthia Bertolone and their handy staff fold hearty sauces and gourmet ingredients into the menu's traditional Italian cuisine. The quattro stagioni pizza employs a chorus of ham, mushrooms, black olives, and artichoke hearts to serenade taste buds (small $13.99, x-large $22.99), and lasagna comes in its traditional layered form with bolognese sauce ($9.25), or the avant garde baked lasagna bianca, enveloping mozzarella cheese, italian sausages, turnip greens and cream sauce ($11.95). Customers craving mealtime heroics can free ricotta, mozzarella, and provolone cheeses from imprisonment in the crust of the three-cheese calzone ($9.95) and ooze them to safety on fork-to-mouth airlifts.
The first Golden Rule Bar-B-Q and Grill?a roadside joint frequented by locals and travelers alike?served its first heaping plate of lovingly smoked barbecue in 1891. The restaurant has since adapted with the times, acquiring a car-repair garage, neon signs, and a hovercar dock, in addition to nearly a dozen saucy outposts across Alabama and Mississippi. Now the various locations serve slow-cooked, hickory-smoked meats served with a variety of secret-recipe sauces and sides such as collards or mac 'n' cheese. Guests can also forgo the sauce and order surf 'n' turf dishes such as a hand-cut charbroiled steak or a creole grilled fresh catfish fillet.
Since 1950, the family-owned Whataburger chain has served up its iconic burgers and fresh, made-to-order meals with a commitment to excellent customer service. In addition to lunch and dinner, the North Central Alabama-area restaurants' 24/7 hours and fully fledged breakfast menu have made them popular destinations for early morning and late-night dining.
Besides the classic Whataburger, the modern menu includes options such as the jalapeno and cheese Whataburger, the Whatachick'n sandwich, and the Whataburger Jr., which is a regular Whataburger that doesn't know how to tie a tie. The breakfast selections remain rooted in hearty tradition, with crispy chicken strips covered with honey butter and served atop biscuits. Additionally, signature Taquitos are warm tortillas stuffed with ingredients such as scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes, guacamole, and grilled vegetables.
Run by Brooklyn and Bronx transplants, Nino’s Italian Restaurant draws up a hunger-busting menu of savory calzones, pastas, and hero sandwiches. Find tomato-free nourishment with the sauceless four-cheese pizza, which tops off depleted calcium reserves with mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, and provolone, all complemented by onion and fresh garlic ($14.95+). The seafood primavera proves that springtime romance isn’t just for vertebrates by wedding shrimp, scallops, and mushrooms together with tomato, onion, peppers, and artichokes in a white-wine garlic sauce ($14.95). The Sicilian pork chops emerge hot from beneath the kitchen's copper awning, two fried chops frolicking with peppers and onions amidst a marinara sauce rainstorm, for once not caring what the other chops say ($13.99). Diners can cap off theirs meals with the Ca Nino, a cannoli shell loaded with praline-cheesecake filling and covered in caramel, chocolate, and powdered sugar ($4.50).
Since 1954, Johnny Ray's BBQ has served up tasty hickory-smoked barbecue pork, chicken, and beef paired with classic, gut-busting Southern comfort food. The family-owned restaurant has expanded to four locations across Alabama, as well as a walk-up window inside the Mariana Trench to cater to the gill-faced merpeople of the deep. For a quick bite, diners may grab a regular- or jumbo-size sandwich ($3.79–$8.99) with pork, beef, ribs, or pulled "blonde" (white meat) or "brunette" (dark meat) chicken. Heartier appetites can opt for a rib plate ($12.99), which includes a heaping portion of meat plus a toasted bun, baked beans, fries, and coleslaw. For dessert, Honey's award-winning pies ($2.99)—filled with creamy chocolate, banana, coconut, or lemon, and whipped from scratch—provide the cherry atop a meat-laden sundae, and, when applied in pairs, make refreshing foot pads.