Naji’s Pita Gourmet stocks and cooks Middle Eastern foods of all kinds in their combination bakery, grocery store, and restaurant. The bakery is populated by warm and soft preservative-free pita bread, which bakers ship all across the country or turn into crunchy pita chips. In the restaurant, that same pita cradles tender slices of shawarma and gyro meat, dives into plates of hummus, and wraps up crunchy falafel. Patrons can try to mimic Naji’s fare at home after a stop at the grocery store to pick up olives, grape leaves, spice bends, and cardboard cut-outs of the cooks.
Drawing on two decades of experience and culinary experimentation, the chefs at Petruccelli's Italian Eatery slip pastas and calzones into an oven, from which the aromas of garlic, basil, mozzarella, and tomatoes escape. In Hoover, their compatriots at Café Lazio press flatbread sandwiches and cut thin slices of capicolla, pancetta, and prosciutto. At both locations, sunshine pours down on outdoor patios, causing flowers to bloom and parasol salesmen to crawl from their caves.
One might not expect to find an authentic Cajun seafood restaurant on the outskirts of Birmingham, but it's hard to question Jubilee Joe's credentials. Owner Kash Siddiqui sources much of the restaurant's shellfish, fish, and alligator from Troy Landry and his son Jacob, fishermen extraordinaire and stars of History Channel's "Swamp People". As chronicled on ABC 33/40, the duo sometimes visits the restaurant: an upscale seafood shack with tiled floors, modern hanging lights, and framed illustrations and photographs of seafood.
Though there's a chance the Landrys are just dropping by to say hello, they might also be stopping in to sample the chef's authentic Cajun cuisine. Jubilee Joe's menu features pots of seasoned low-boil shrimp, crawfish, and crabs, as well as Southern staples such as fried green tomatoes, grouper, and bayou oysters. The culinary team stacks po' boy sandwiches with catfish, lump crab, and gator tail, and crafts entrees such as blackened tilapia, New Orleans–style blackened chicken, and crawfish alfredo. Once a year, they bring the food out of the restaurant and into the Oak Mountain Amphitheatre for the Crawfish Boil. The event highlights the chef's signature dish amid live music and family-friendly activities designed to appease the angry Lord Crawfish, sending him back into the ocean depths for one more year.
"This Boot was a lone house of public entertainment," Charles Dickens wrote in his novel Barnaby Rudge, with "several people drinking there, and a great merriment going on." The Boot at Preserve Village works to channel this homey vibe into its spacious dining room, where a pecan-wood fire burns inside a brick hearth. Made with organic chicken, beef, and veggies, their fast-casual American menu includes salads topped with homemade dressings, slow-cooked beef-brisket sandwiches, char-grilled smoky pimento burgers, and homemade brownies. Guests can wash down each flavorful bite with cocktails, wine, or craft beers from local Alabama and southeastern breweries such as Back Forty Beer Company and Terrapin Brewing Company. The Boot at Preserve Village recently won the 2013 Best of Birmingham - Best New Restaurant award.
The flavors of Mexican, Caribbean, and Tex-Mex cuisines mingle on Mexibbean Island Grille's small but mighty menu. The kitchen prepares tacos four ways: Mexican style with onions and cilantro; fajita style with cheese and grilled peppers and onions; Texican style with lettuce, cheese, and tomato; and island style with cabbage, lime, and chipotle cream. Plates of spicy jerk chicken join Texacali chicken-fajita sandwiches smothered in pepper jack cheese and grilled veggies, and drinks such as soda and tea quench thirst or help tamp down cowlicks.
The Heart Stopper, one of the signature sandwiches at Charlie’s Taphouse, is the centerpiece on a menu of pub food. A beef patty, cheese, and bacon nestled between two grilled-cheese sandwiches, the burger romps through bar-cuisine traditions. Shrimp crackle in fryers, waiting to crown po’ boys, and hot sauce cloaks wings. Thirty-three taps spill forth beers during football games on the bar’s televisions, and karaoke nights give patrons a chance to belt out favorite ballads or fix the grammatical mistakes of Hall and Oates.