The Southern Foodways Alliance brings its Winter Symposium to Birmingham, AL, February 8-9, 2019. This year’s theme, “Food is Work,” explores the labor of food through lectures and meals and experiences. Speakers include chef Ashley Christensen of AC Restaurant Group, restaurateur Steve Palmer of Indigo Road Hospitality, and Pulitzer prize winner John Archibald of Birmingham. Writer, author, and Southern Foodways Alliance Director John T. Edge asked SFA friend and supporter Roscoe Hall to share his favorite Birmingham spots. Born in Chicago to a family with deep roots in Alabama, Roscoe Hall is an artist, chef, and provocateur. A grandson of Dreamland Bar-B-Que founder John “Big Daddy” Bishop, he will serve as a manager at Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ when it opens in the Avondale neighborhood later this year.
Green Acres, 1705 5th Avenue N.
Founded in 1958 by Charles Gratton. Get a catfish plate, slathered with mustard and battered with cornmeal “Order it with the works and that gets you top slathers of ketchup, mustard and hot sauce on top.”
El Barrio, 2211 2nd Ave. N.
Try the green posole. “They also make the best salads in town.”
Post Office Pies, 208 41st St. S.
“John Hall, my man, started making meatballs. You can get them on pies. Or as an appetizer. They’re great. Oh, and garlic knots. Don’t forget the garlic knots.”
Hero Doughnuts, 3027 Central Ave.
“I like Wil Drake. And he makes a crazy great apple fritter.” And a chicken sandwich that’s as crispy as the fritter.
The Standard, 1821 Second Ave. N.
In the Pizitz Food Hall, Matt Ralph makes an ideal burger. “It’s one of those burgers with crispy edges, served on a potato bun. It’s perfect.” Hot dogs and fried bologna sandwiches, too.
T-Bones Cheesesteaks, 1017 20th St. S.
Anthony T-Bone Crawford griddles cheese steaks and fries Cajun fries. He serves his sandwiches on Amoroso rolls from Philly. “The music spans Soundgarden and Lil Wayne.”
Taco Morro Loco, 4607 5th Ave. S.
They have a taco truck and a “brick and mortar. Get their chorizo burrito or a carnitas taco with buttermilk tomatillo salsa.”
Great Wall, 706 Valley Ave.
30-plus-year old restaurant. The secret menu is the passkey to “braised pork belly with smoked mushrooms. Or the stir-fried cheese thing with fermented black beans and chili peppers.”
Ollie Irene, 75 Church St.
“It’s loud and comfortable and cozy.” Plus the catfish with tasso ham, lemon, and a scallion butter sauce. And the fries.
Shu Shop Izakaya, 1830 3rd Ave. N.
“A late night industry place where chefs go for whiskey. I dig the smoked hamachi collar with yuzu salt.”
Exotic Wings and Things, 208 Green Springs Ave. S.
Get the lemon-pepper wings, for late night or lunch. They’re MSG magic. Fried okra and Cajun ranch fries, too.