"I think if you’re not eating in Birmingham these days, you’re missing out on something really unique and special.”
The food personality has sung the praises of one town, in particular, that he calls the "hottest small food city" in America: Birmingham, Alabama. Zimmern recently ate at Highland Bar & Grill, which took home the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant this year after ten years of nominations.
“I think if you’re not eating in Birmingham these days, you’re missing out on something really unique and special,” Zimmern told Alabama NewsCenter. “I think Birmingham has solidified itself as the hottest small food city in America right now.”
He cites Highland Bar & Grill, in particular, as helping to pave the way for the city's food scene.
"I think when you look at the history of restaurants in America, 50 years from now, Highlands is going to be written about," he added. "It’s 35 years old, and it’s better now than it’s ever been. I mean, how many restaurants can say that?”
According to Alabama Newscaster, this is Zimmern's third time filming in Birmingham, with this current trip for "The Zimmern List" and "a yet-to-be-named show coming this fall to the Food Network." Other Birmingham establishments he's reportedly visited include Chubbfathers, Granny's Fish 'N Grits, and Highway Kabobery. AL.com reports that he will also visit Eagle's Restaurant, Miss Myra's Pit Bar-B-Q, OvenBird, Saw's Juke Joint, and The Market at Pepper Place.
"I’m on the road, 230 days a year at minimum, 40/50 cities in USA," Zimmen tweeted. "I never get as nice a welcome as I do in Birmingham. People stop their cars, pause on the street or use social and actually say ‘nice to have you back.’ It’s amazing. Love the B’ham people! Thank you for the love.”
In May, the Bizarre Foods host announced that he will be opening a 200-seat Chinese-American restaurant and tiki bar, Lucky Cricket, in St. Louis Park this fall.
"I had a plan to do this five years ago with the team that owned Smashburger—we were going to open two or three at the same time," Zimmern told the Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine. When the plan fell through, he says he was "heartbroken." Now, Lucky Cricket is on track to open in Octboer at the Shops at West End.