A Highly Opinionated Guide to Eating in Birmingham
Food & Wine Photo Editor Dan Bailey is an artist and musician who transplanted to Alabama in 2018 after two decades in New York City. He is still mostly a vegetarian, though life in the South has expanded his culinary curiosity. He has embraced his new home with such fervor, his colleagues consider him Birmingham's unofficial ambassador. Here are his favorite weekend spots to see, shop, and dine in the Magic City. (Just don't call it "B'ham.") —Melanie Hansche
The Three-Stop Breakfast
I drink my coffee straight-up black, so it has to be good quality. Nobody in Birmingham does it better than Domestique Coffee. You can hit up either of its two cafés or the roastery. At home, I grind Domestique Single Origin Haiti beans to jump-start my mornings.
For a relaxed weekend brunch, I head to The Essential in downtown Birmingham, a lovely spot with patio seating and views of the cobblestone street on historic Morris Avenue.
For a pastry-on-the-run, I stop by The Essential's sister bakery, Bandit Patisserie, for a delicious "Cardi B," a riff on a cardamom bun.
Getting Those Steps In
I walk off a big breakfast at Vulcan Park, which has a stunning view ofdowntown Birmingham from high atop Red Mountain.
The park features the world's largest cast-iron sculpture, of the ancient god Vulcan, who watches over our city from atop a 124-foot-high pedestal. (He's sort of like our local Statue of Liberty.) You can stroll through the park for free, and with a $6 ticket, you can ascend to the observation tower for an even more breathtaking view. Another great spot is Ruffner Mountain, which is absolutely beautiful, with glorious overlooks, historic mining sites, and an educational nature center. For more of an urban stroll, I often take in parts of the Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail that winds through downtown and includes historic sites such as Kelly Ingram Park and the 16th Street Baptist Church.
Shop Small, Shop Local
An essential stop is The Market at Pepper Place, a farmers market with the freshest produce and a variety of vendors, every Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon, rain or shine. Unity Market in the Highland Park neighborhood is also excellent for a super diverse and inclusive range of vendors. It reopens this month; details about the weekly schedule can be found on Instagram.
There is nothing more unique than a gift of original artwork, and Studio By The Tracks has the most incredible selection of paintings, drawings, limited-edition prints, T-shirts, and more. The studio supports local artists on the autism spectrum; every artist receives a 60% commission on the sale of their artwork.
For grown-up gifts, I visit Golden Age Wine, an absolute treasure for natural-wine enthusiasts, whether you're a connoisseur or just curious.
Sending You to Sleep
For my close friends, I have a secret list of the best Airbnbs in town, and I also recommend the Elyton Hotel. Be sure to experience at least one sunset from the hotel's rooftop cocktail bar, even if you are not staying there as a guest.