10 Spots: My Favorite Places


My favorite places

by Jen Barnett

Jen Barnett is the CEO of Freshfully, a business that sells food directly from local farmers at a small market in Avondale and online at freshfully.com.

The hardest thing about owning a start-up is running low on money and time. I’m lucky to always have the freshest local ingredients at my disposal, but I don’t always have the time or energy to cook them. These are my favorite things to eat when I’ve run out of ideas for grass-fed beef and kale:

Shindigs Catering Truck, Around

What to get: Vegan balls. I don’t know what they do to beets and mushrooms to make them taste like savory, juicy beef, but when they’re this good, who cares? Small lament: I’ve never made it to the truck in time to get a steamed bun.

www.shindigscateringtrucks.com

1427 14th Avenue, South, Birmingham

Mr. Chen’s

What to do: Take ten friends, share 20 dishes. I hate myself every time I recommend this Chinese restaurant in the Hoover Court shopping center. It means one more convert who’ll keep me from getting a seat in the tiny dining room on a Friday night.

205-824-8283

www.mrchenschinesecooking.com

Hoover

Highlands Bar & Grill

When to go: Birmingham Restaurant Week. During this annual August event, you’ll pay just $30 for a three-course meal at the super-famed eatery, plus score deals at dozens of other restaurants. Still, your best meal will definitely be at Highlands.
205-939-1400

www.highlandsbarandgrill.com

Five Points South

La Libertad

What to get: Banana milkshake and puposas (filled corn tortillas). Go hungry to this authentic Salvadoran place with huge portions and perpetual fútbol on the televisions.
205-620-1909

2834 Pelham Pkwy

Pelham, AL 35124

Rojo

When to go: Wednesday at 7 p.m. for trivia in the side room. Rojo has served consistently tasty, affordable Latin/American fare in a colorful, affable atmosphere for 10 years now. I especially love the veggie tacos, grilled shrimp salad, and sangría by the pitcher.

205-328-4733

www.rojo.birminghammens.com

Birmingham

Saw’s Soul Kitchen

When to go: 11:30 a.m. or 2 p.m. Okay, I eat here a lot. Fortunately, this is no hardship. Chefs Brandon and Randy make the best burgers in town, not to mention their smoked chicken in white BBQ sauce, tender greens, and pulled pork. Pro-tip: Call ahead with your order to cut your wait time in half.

205-591-1409 •www.facebook.com/sawskitchen

Avondale

Trattoria Centrale

What to get: Two slices with mixed greens for a weekday lunch. Taunt yourself with their twitter feed of daily specials at twitter.com/BhamCentrale

205-202-5612

www.trattoriacentrale.com

Downtown Birmingham

Taj India

When to go: During Diwali, the Hindu festival of colors that celebrates the beginning of spring. Pretty colors, happy people, lamb korma—I’m there.

205-939-3805

www.tajindia.net

Birmingham

Bottega Café

When to go: Wednesdays in summer for the veggie plate special. It is just like your mom’s veggie plate, with 10 to12 vegetables duking it out around a slab of buttery jalapeño cornbread. I’d rather have a veggie plate than a dessert bar.

205-939-1000

www.bottegarestaurant.com

Birmingham

Brick & Tin

What to do: People-watch the legal clientele and try to guess what type of law each practices. Otherwise, just enjoy the hearty rustic sandwiches full of fresh, local ingredients, like roasted butternut squash and country ham.

205-297-8636

www.brickandtin.com

Birmingham

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