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.
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.
Stacked mugs scatter light onto the robin's-egg-blue walls. Downturned wineglasses vibrate to the pulse of an Internet jukebox. All of the vessels at Tyler Navarre's Bar and Grill beg to meet in a treble chorus of toasts over the pool table, where patrons two-hand quarter-pound burgers or spicy po boys. Crispy appetizers segue into a menu of deep-fried shrimp or boneless wings washed down with beer, mixed drinks, or the velvet candy of a sweet tea. After head bobbing to occasional live entertainment or performing karaoke numbers to practice for the testy British judges stuck in their showers, patrons are encouraged to bust cork in weekly darts tournaments.