Stars Fell on Birmingham: A Love Letter to The Magic City

I’ve had the pleasure of living in this great southern town for over four years now, and even though I have explored a lot and can now call several places my favorites, I am still learning about all the interesting, inspiring & fun spots I’ve yet to discover.

I have come to love this city so much and would recommend it to anyone as a place to visit – come for the food, stay for the charm, hospitality, history, shopping and football! Here are just a few shopping, dining & cultural suggestions in my adopted hometown of Birmingham, Alabama.

And, if you really need another reason to visit, mark your calendar for the Birmingham Botanical Gardens annual ANTIQUES AT THE GARDENS event scheduled on Thursday, September 28- Sunday, October 1, 2023. It is one of the best events of the year with incredible speakers, panels and vendors. Follow them on Instagram for announcements on the exciting line-up they have planned for this year.

My heart is beating like a hammer with excitement. 😉


The Grand Bohemian: I love this chic boutique hotel in the heart of the Mountain Brook. I stayed here when I used to travel for work to Birmingham from D.C. and the worst thing about living here is not getting to stay there any longer. It is a Marriott property for all the Marriott points lovers out there and is in their boutique collection of hotels, the “Autograph Collection”. The rooms are nicely decorated, there is a great rooftop bar, and I don’t know what they use for the scent, but the whole place smells amazing. Even if you don’t stay there, it is worth a visit to the hotel bar in nice weather. They also have a nice brunch. You can walk to all the great shops in Mountain Brook Village during your stay.
The best spot for a cocktail
Golden Age Wine: If I had to pick my favorite spot in Birmingham, I think it would be here. This beautifully designed, curated wine bar is very close to my house (lucky me), and there’s nothing better than stopping by to meet a friend here on my way home from work. Every glass of wine you order is guaranteed to be delicious, their bar snacks (cheese, charcuterie, olives, almonds, and other delicious seasonal treats) are amazing, and it just feels great to be in the space. During Covid, they moved a few tables outdoors into parking spaces, and they have retained that set up to date. It is part shop, part restaurant/bar and it all just works for me. The owners and employees there are really warm and friendly and knowledgeable. And how can you not love a place called Golden Age. When you visit Birmingham, add this to your list.
I have ordered every variety of beef carpaccio that exists and Bottega’s is far and away the best I’ve ever tasted.
Chez Fon Fon complete with a bocce ball court in the back.


Fine Dining (or close to it):

  • Dyron’s Low Country – this is an incredible restaurant (and my husband’s #1 – so much so that he had his 50th birthday here), and it is our version of Cheers. We love this place so much in every season, but the Fall and Winter seasons are our favorite times to go. They have a fireplace on the side porch and it is the best place to be, especially with an SEC football game on. Don’t miss the West Indies Salad, Red Snapper, Gumbo, and baskets of corn bread to start.
  • Automatic Seafood – Delicious, stylish, James Beard Best Chef in the South-award winning restaurant in downtown Birmingham. The oysters are to die for.
  • Chez Lulu and Continental Bakery – another of my all time favorite spots in Birmingham in the charming English Village neighborhood. In fact it might be tied for first place with Golden Age. These two spots have the same owner and are located next door to each other. One (Chez Lulu) is a little French bistro and the other (Continental Bakery) is a coffee and pastry shop.
  • Bettola – charming Italian restaurant in Pepper Place; my favorite thing to do is to sit outside here on the patio in the summer under the twinkling white lights
  • Highlands Bar and Grill (currently closed), Bottega, and Chez Fon Fon – these are James Beard winning chef Frank Stitt (yes, another award winner here in Birmingham!) and his wife Pardis’ trio of incredible restaurants. While Highland’s has closed temporarily (?) since Covid, Bottega and Chez Fonfon are both 11’s – you will not have a better dining experience than these restaurants. Described as “The American South Meets the Italian Countryside”, Bottega has a fine dining side and a café side; Chez FonFon is French elegant casual…”a casual, bustling bistro in the heart of Five Points South transporting you to Paris, Lyon or Nice.” Do not leave without ordering one of their specialty cocktails.
  • Hot and Hot Fish Club and Ovenbird – two stand out restaurants from local celebrity Chef Chris Hastings – “Since 1994, Chris and Idie Hastings and their team have developed an extensive network of purveyors, foragers, and artisans. The Hot and Hot Fish Club James Beard award-winning restaurant is a neighborhood favorite offering the best ingredients and gracious service.”
  • Helen – “A contemporary Southern grill led by Chef Rob McDaniel and Emily McDaniel, Helen is a refreshed take on classic dining that pays homage to Rob’s memories cooking over the hardwood coals and smoke of his grandmother’s indoor grill. Located in a two-story 1920s-era shotgun-style building in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, Helen balances timeless elegance with a convivial, welcoming atmosphere.”
  • Vino – I love this neighborhood cafe that is part art gallery, part wine bar and restaurant. They have the very best patio around.
Eugene’s Hot Chicken and the man behind it, Zebbie Carney

Casual Dining

  • Eugene’s Hot Chicken – I can’t even describe how good this place is. You just have to go to understand. And the owner Zebbie Carney is a local legend – read all about him and his inspiration for Eugene’s here.
  • Otey’s – favorite sports bar on the planet. I’ve been frequenting this establishment for 30 years. Live music on the weekends, trivia night on Wednesdays, tvs in every corner – it is the best.
  • Davenport’s Pizza Palace – a Birmingham legend, complete with red and white checked plastic tablecloths. The only items on the menu are pizza and old school iceberg lettuce salads. Add a pitcher of beer and you’re all set.
  • Slim’s Pizzeria – another huge pizza favorite; this one is a bit more upscale with fancy salads and interesting toppings and combinations. Love everything about this place including the hunter green front doors welcoming you inside. They do not take reservations so get there early.
  • Paramount Birmingham – this is one of my family’s favorite spots. It is a burger joint with a cool arcade/game room in the back – skeet ball, basketball, etc. – it is so much fun.
  • Gilchrist – an old school drug store/restaurant with all the milkshakes, chicken salad, egg salad, pimento cheese, cream cheese and olive, BLT sandwiches, and ice tea your heart desires
  • The Essential – I could eat here every day for the 5 grain salad: freekeh, wheat berries, rice, barley, quinoa, greens, walnuts, whipped feta, avocado.
  • Jack Brown’s – all burgers, all amazing.
  • East West Kitchen Bar – “A new Asian fusion restaurant with a menu featuring such dishes as Chinese duck nachos and Korean fried cauliflower has opened in the bustling Second Avenue North entertainment district in downtown Birmingham.”
  • Surin West and Abhi – our go-to for sushi and Asian fusion.
  • Farm Bowl & Juice Co – The best smoothies, oatmeal, juice, avocado toast and açai bowls
  • Brick & Tin – such a fabulous restaurant with the best salads, soups, cocktails, entrees + a delicious bakery in the back where you can get cookies, pastries and homemade bread.
  • BBQ – so many to choose from: Demetri’s BBQ, Saw’s BBQ, Jim ‘N Nicks, Full Moon BBQ

Slim’s Pizzeria

Brick & Tin

Paramount Birmingham is so much fun and the food is great too.

The Essential

Cocktails & Coffee

  • Golden Age Wine
  • The Grand Bohemian
  • Aviné – heavy on the wine, light on the food – I love this downtown wine bar.
  • Key Circle Commons – cozy, stylish bar in English Village. Love going here in the winter – I am such a sucker for a fireplace.
  • Juniper – “A cozy and elegant cocktail bar and restaurant nestled in the heart of the beautiful Forest Park historic district.”


Fun Things

  • Mountain Brook Creamery – my boys live for this ice cream store (and truth be told I do too. Order the Special Praline ice cream.)
  • Sugar – a kid’s dream; adorable candy store in the Crestline neighborhood
  • Jeni’s Ice Cream
  • Beehive Bakery – I saw a delivery truck for this baking company when I was driving around town a few years ago and have been a loyal customer ever since. They deliver the best bagels, breads, cakes, pastries, and other delicious treats such as King Cakes during Mardi Gras, local honey, homemade granola, etc. The selections change weekly but they are all terrific, and better yet – they deliver right to your door.
  • Hop City Beer and Wine – 66 constantly rotating beer taps, 20 wine taps, full bar with craft cocktails and a patio
  • Back Forty Beer Company – I wouldn’t necessarily go here for the food but the beer is cold and it is a fun place to take the kids to run around.
  • Teenie’s Take-Home Market – adorable market featuring “scratch-made take and bake meals”. They also carry a variety of items from local women-owned vendors.


  • The Travel Studio – One of my favorite discoveries about Birmingham is that it is a travel city – the people that I’ve met here are some of the most well traveled and travel curious people I have ever come across. One shining example of that is The Travel Studio – part travel agency, part travel shop, part gathering place for people who love to travel and learn about interesting places to go. I love following them on Instagram and am always inspired by their travel ideas and recommendations.
  • Table Matters – the best selections of tabletop items; I can shop in this store for hours. They also have incredible window displays.
  • FOUND Birmingham – A fabulous yet accessible antique furniture + gift store. They are so much fun to follow and shop on their Instagram account (@Foundbhm)
  • A’mano – my favorite shop for birthday gifts, home decor, and so many things that you didn’t know that you needed but in fact do.
  • Bennie & Coco – Tons of fun clothing and jewelry finds at this Charleston based shop in Mountain Brook Village
  • Maison – Chic home furnishings shop
  • Circa Interiors – interior design firm with a beautiful storefront
  • Tom Beckbe – our very own flagship store – if you like to hunt, fish, or just look like you do, this is the best place for you.
    • “Tom Beckbe’s flagship store in Mountain Brook carries our full assortment of premium sporting apparel and accessories. If a product exists in the Tom Beckbe catalog, it can be found in our Mountain Brook, Alabama store, including traditional waxed cotton jackets like our acclaimed Tensaw Jacket for men and Blakeley Jacket for women, layering vests and pullovers in fleece, performance waterproof fabrics, and insulated quilted jackets and vests for men and women, fine leather and canvas bags, accessories, and premium shirting for fall, winter, spring, and summer.” 
  • Patina – beautiful home furnishings shop
  • Billy Reid – Alabama native Billy Reid has two shops in AL; one in his hometown of Florence and one in Birmingham
  • Honeybee Collection jewelry – wonderful selection of unique jewelry sourced from NY and LA
  • Etc… – This store also has two locations, one in Aspen and the other in Birmingham (yes you read that right!) Incredible & chic jewelry + clothes and accessories.
  • Tulipano Boutique – Great clothing and accessory boutique.
  • Alkmy – so many great things to choose from in this beautiful home decor shop
  • Stella Blu Boutique – love the edit in this Mountain Brook village shop
  • The Cook Store – for the home cook and foodie
  • Leaf and Petal – loveliest garden shop
  • M Lavender – great clothing and accessories selection
  • Susan Gordon Pottery – beautiful handmade pottery store
  • Details, by Liz Hand Woods – chic design shop in Mountain Brook Village
  • Paige Albright Orientals – “gorgeous shop located in Mountain Brook Village has one of the largest selections of oriental Rugs in the Southeast United States.” – I can vouch for it being a gorgeous, adorable shop (& right next to Speed Spa!)
  • Canary Gallery – downtown art gallery…”a space where artists can display their works, and garner recognition among veteran patrons, and casual observers alike.”
  • Harrison – Beautiful Men’s Clothing Store in Mountain Brook Village


Table Matters

Susan Gordon Pottery

Exercise and Spa

  • M Power Pilates + Cycle – great spot for Pilates and cycling classes
  • Speed Spa – this is another spot close to my house (are you sensing a theme here?). It is such a cute space and perfect for a luxurious mani/pedi, as well as blow outs and facials, etc. Download their app to make appointments and pay for your treatments – you never have to pick up the phone.
  • Trifusion


Birmingham Botanical Gardens – site of the aforementioned ANTIQUES AT THE GARDENS but a great place to visit any time of year.

Birmingham Museum of Art – “one of the finest regional museums in the United States, houses a diverse collection of more than 27,000 paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, and decorative arts dating from ancient to modern times. The collection presents a rich panorama of cultures, featuring the Museum’s extensive holdings of Asian, European, American, African, Pre-Columbian, and Native American art.” Also host to the best party in town, The Museum Ball.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute – “The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, part of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is a cultural and educational research center that promotes a comprehensive understanding for the significance of civil rights developments in Birmingham.” An important place to visit.

Red Mountain Theatre & Virginia Samford Theatre – If I am being honest, I was so worried about the theatre options that would be available in Birmingham when I left Washington, D.C. but I need not have worried – I see a show about every month at these amazing local theatre companies. (And truth be told I go more often here because it is much more convenient!)

Legacy Arena – Home of the Birmingham Squadron and a great place to watch basketball

Birmingham Zoo – one of the best zoos around. The grounds are beautiful and there is lots to do including a carousel, a train running through the zoo, and of course lots of cool animals to see.

Sloss Furnaces – This may sound like an odd suggestion but my kids went here on a field trip two years ago and they still talk about how much they loved it so including it here for that reason if you are visiting with kids.

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