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Culinary Wonders in The Magic City: What to Eat in Birmingham

By: Clair McLafferty
August 11, 2022

Fill up on crisp fried chicken, fluffy biscuits, superb small plates, phenomenal fusion dishes and more at these stellar spots turning out the best bites and brews in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Photo: Kenwyn Alexander for Iron City

Birmingham's Best Bites

Birmingham, Alabama’s nickname of The Magic City may have been inspired by its rapid industrial growth more than a century ago, but the moniker can just as easily apply to the culinary wizardry taking place in its professional kitchens today. This city is home to a bevy of talented chefs who spend their days transforming the diverse bounty of ingredients plucked from the nearby Gulf of Mexico, Appalachian foothills and fertile farmlands into impeccable dishes. In addition to Southern staples such as barbecue and biscuits, Birmingham’s dining scene encompasses French fine dining, global fusion, craft cocktails, local brews and more. Here are some restaurants, bars and hybrid spaces where you can bite into the best this city has to offer.

Editor’s note: This guide was originally published in January 2017 and has been updated with the latest information on these restaurants.

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Hot Chicken: Eugene’s Hot Chicken

Eugene’s Hot Chicken food truck turns out some of the spiciest birds in Birmingham, thanks to owner and Nashville native Zebbie Carney. He grew up eating the original hot chicken at the legendary Prince’s in Nashville and wanted to bring the dish to The Magic City. After winning a local business-pitch competition, Carney got his truck on the road. The chicken comes in four levels of heat that vary from the spiceless Southern to the self-explanatory Stupid Hot, all of which deliver when it comes to depth of flavor. Even the most-incendiary blend balances the sweat-inducing spice with a sweet-and-savory breading that gives way to the juicy meat inside.

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Photo: A Still Breath Photography

Breakfast: Feast & Forest

Owners Victor King and Kristen Farmer Hall are old pros at taking an ordinary, familiar dish and crafting it into something phenomenal. Each had separately gained recognition for their pop-up shops and dinners before combining their culinary talents to open Feast & Forest in 2015. Like many other beloved spots in Birmingham, this space is a hybrid concept; it combines a bakery, restaurant and coffee shop under one roof. It’s an ideal spot to start off the day, with such breakfast favorites as the fried chicken and grits bowl And don’t sleep on the butter croissant or brioche french toast, either. The carefully curated selection of baked goods means you can even stock up on cookies and other sweet snacks for later.

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Photo: Alexandra Smith

Fried Chicken: Café Dupont

In Birmingham, Café Dupont is an old-school fine dining institution. For more than two decades and in two different locations, Chef Chris Dupont has crafted dishes driven by local ingredients. That longtime dedication to quality is particularly evident in the fried chicken, a menu staple that has garnered praise from the press and locals alike. Served with a lemon butter sauce over a mound of creamy mashed potatoes with grilled asparagus, it’s easy to see why the dish has remained a city favorite.

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