50 Favorites

More than 600 dishes in 12 delicious Years!

By Jan Walsh, Photography by Beau Gustafson and Jan Walsh 

It is difficult to believe that this is the 12th year I have shared my 50 favorite dishes in Birmingham. Back when print was king in November 2006, I published the first list “50 Great Food Finds” as a cover story in a local magazine. The following March I launched Birmingham Restaurants website, which began publishing “50 Favorites” as annual awards. And 600 delectable dishes later, here we are! View 50 Favorites 2017-2018

bottega cafe potato chips onion dipToday some people say that Birmingham has too many new restaurants opening. That may be true. Yet looking back at the 2006 list, I find restaurants and food markets that I wish we still had: Café Ciao, Grey House Grille, La Dama, Local, Open Door Café, Sol Y Luna, Standard Bistro, The Irish Deli, The Tavern on the Summit, Tria Market, and V. Richard’s, among others. 

Yet as they say, “Only the strong survive.” And not only have many restaurants on the original list survived but they have also thrived. The original list included Billy’s Bar and Grill (now Billy’s Sports Grill), BottegaCafé, Bottega Restaurant, Brock’s, Chez Fonfon, GianMarco’s Restaurant, Highlands Bar and Grill, Hot and Hot Fish Club, Jinsei Sushi Bar and Lounge, Nabeel’s Café and Market, and Ocean Restaurant.  

GianMarco's cheese torta

And a few of the original 50 Favorites are still served today. Bottega Café’s house made potato chips with charred onion dip, Jinsei’s Kobe burgers, Nabeel’s moussaka, and Ocean’s lobster pie remain on their menus. We honor these dishes as it shows popularity over time and staying power. 

50 Favorites include the following categories: Appetizers and Cocktails; Soups, Salads, and Sandwiches; Entrees; Desserts, which all change each year honoring the best new Food Finds for the year. And our All Time Favorites are dishes that are tried and true from past finds and new ones. 

Jinsei kobe beef sliders

In 2017 Birmingham Restaurants celebrated its 10th Anniversary. Also in 2017, I continue to evolve myself as a food and beverage writer in the digital space with the debut of “Weekly Food Finds.” Now readers do not have to wait until the end of the year to get a taste of my favorite finds, or even a month or more for a review to be published for print publications. Too hot and fresh for print, Weekly Food Finds are announced and published in the Reviews and News section of the website each Saturday and on social media. 

Nabeel's Moussaka