Coffee Cultures

Wakey up or wind down at The Red Cat’s three locations.

By Jan Walsh

Need a morning caffeine fix, a bite of breakfast, or a leisurely lunch paired with cocktails? Head over to The Red Cat. The Red Cat has three locations: Pepper Place, Railroad Park, and UAB Highlands.

This morning Kev and I stop in the original Pepper Place location for a quick breakfast. This place is an institution. Unlike your typical small, cozy coffeehouses, the high- ceilinged interior, exposed brick, and towering windows provide space for solitude.

From the list of Baked Goods, he chooses the Bham Breadworks Sticky Bun with Latte. And I order Avocado Toast with Matcha Latte. If you love cinnamon rolls and pecans, order this marriage of carb and protein. The soft, sweet bun synthesizes with the buttery, nutty flavors and crunchy textures of the pecan, bite after bite. Hot, milky, espresso flavors of his smooth, creamy latte pairs well with the pastry. My Birmingham Breadworks toast boasts thick, meaty slices of fresh avocado, accented with juicy cherry tomatoes, topped with a touch of tart, pickled red onion. Finishing the toast is Everything Bagel Seasoning and The Red Cat’s divine, house-made balsamic vinaigrette. Hearty, healthy, and highly recommended! My toast even matches my matcha latte made with green tea, with its fab, frothy, vegetal flavors. We leave with bags of coffee and plans for a leisurely brunch of their breakfast bowl and burrito paired with mimosas.

In the meantime, we pop in again, this time for lunch a couple of weeks later at The Red Cat, Pepper Place. No matter when you come this place is always packed, inside and on the sidewalk. Students with books and laptops, businesspeople meeting over coffee or a meal, and couples, such as us.

We arrive at 11:00 today and settle in at one of two open tables. If there is ham on a menu, Kev will order it. For lunch he has the Ham and Swiss Panini, chips, and a Strawberry Bellini. And I opt for the Veggie Wrap with Peach Bellini. Kev’s sandwich is a stack of sliced ham, Swiss cheese, pickled red onions, pickles, mayo, and deli mustard on toasted Birmingham Breadworks sourdough bread. I should not have teased about the ham because this sandwich is amazing. These pickles taste like my grandmother’s. And the pickled onions add extra zing to the melted cheesy ham.


For my lunch, two fresh, soft, pieces of spinach wrap are slathered inside with roasted red pepper hummus, which adds smoke, color, and creaminess. Fresh avocado, crisp cucumber, summer tomato, leafy spinach, and pickled red onions intertwine, accented with house-made balsamic vinaigrette. The fulfilling wrap is bursting with freshness. As my side I enjoy a lovely Seasonal Side Salad. Juicy strawberries, candied pecans, and rich feta are tossed with lettuce and the same balsamic.


Every time I taste The Red Cat’s balsamic vinaigrette, its intensity unexpectedly captures me. Deep tang, balanced with a slight sweetness brightens and enhances everything it touches. They should bottle and sell this stuff! Both the strawberry and peach bellinis are fruity, yet balanced with slushy sweetness, and generous in portion. We would come just for these tasty thirst quenchers!

Whether you need quick rocket fuel or a slow sipping frosty cocktail, a speedy breakfast, leisurely lunch, or afternoon snack, a Red Cat location is near and welcomes all.




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