In an interview with the Birmingham News, concert promoter Brian Teasley explained the vision behind Bottletree Café: "We wanted to open a place that would serve food we wanted to eat, show films we liked to see, and play music we wanted to hear." It turns out Teasley, along with co-owners Merrilee and Brad Challiss, has pretty good taste: according to Esquire, which ranked the café as one of the country's best bars, "This place is already stealing thunder from every small music venue in the region." FlavorWire backed up this endorsement by ranking Bottletree Café as one of The 10 Greatest New Music Venues of the 21st Century. Since opening in 2006, the venue has hosted Rogue Wave, Band of Horses, and other indie-leaning rock groups.
But the accolades don't stop there. The venue also has attracted praise for its vegetarian-centric menu. Birmingham Weekly rated the café's brunch among the city's best and devoted a full-out love letter to the lunch menu, which was reintroduced in August 2012. The award-winning vegetarian chili ranks among house favorites and makes a repeat appearance in cheese-smothered nachos. Tofu plays a centric role in entrees and desserts, and black-bean patties made a fiber-rich substitute for beef in burgers, or a biodegradable substitute for frisbees in games of disc golf.
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.