Written by Madoline Markham
There’s a reason the New York Times predicted the new Pizitz Food Hall will become “an ethnically diverse…foodie’s heaven” when it opens in December. And now we know more about why. Concepts from New York to South Florida will make their new home in the food hall, along with some of our Birmingham favorites and brand new eateries.
The fancy sort of food court with a market feel was also listed on Eater’s “Nine Food Halls to Get Excited About in 2016,” which noted the concepts are driven by chefs and local artisans and feature communal eating and drinking areas.
The long-awaited slate of eateries for the hall has now been released after a collaboration of Bayer Properties with local bloggers from What to Eat in Birmingham. Here’s what you can look forward to tasting in the 1923 department store building at 19th Street and Second Avenue North in just a few months, complete with some of our hopes and predictions based on our chef and restaurant Google stalking.
- Ethiopian Cuisine. Atlanta’s Ghion Cultural Hall is known for its authentic Ethiopian dining, concentrated Ethiopian coffee, and modern interpretation of classic dishes, and now it will be known for its place at The Pizitz too. Get your menu preview here.
- Modern Take on Rustic Italian. New York chef Akhtar Nawab and Matt Wagman of Park South Hospitality will offer a modern take on rustic Italian cuisine at Fero. You’ll find the classics like a pork chop and pastas and more innovative dishes like a buckwheat crepe with pork belly. Akhtar has appeared on Iron Chef America and was named one of the top ten emerging chef talents in the U.S. by Mario Batali. Plus, he’s a Louisville, Kentucky, native, so we might see some Southern influence in the menu too. And he’s backed by the restaurant business acumen of Wagman.
- Fresh Mex from NYC. Choza Taqueria channels a beachside hut in northern Mexico for its menu in Gotham West Market in New York City, and now will bring its fare to Birmingham. You can pick your form (taco, burrito, bowl) Chipotle-style, and its pollo comes with toppings like charred pineapple, buttermilk-tomatillo salsa, and queso fresco—not to mention carnitas, steak barbacoa, chorizo, and garbonzo y hangos (vegetarian shout out!) options.
- Latin-Inspired Ramen. You’ll get a taste of South Florida where noodles meet Latin flavors at mod-casual ramen house Ichicoro Ramen, a restaurant out of Tampa. Wondering what that flavor combo looks like? You can menu stalk the Tampa location like we did.
- India’s Version of Crepes. Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of this new market is its ethnic diversity. Because where else in Birmingham can you get a dosa, a kind of pancake made of rice and lentils with authentic spices? At the aptly named Dosa stall, the cakes will be served with coconut chutney, vegetable stews, and a variety of toppings.
- Mexican Frozen Treats. Make your way to southern Mexico via ice cream and paletas, a popsicle made with fresh fruit juice and sometimes fruit pieces. At Lichita’s, they’ll all be made with locally sourced ingredients and arrive farmer’s market fresh.
Asian Dumplings and Banh Mi. The chef who brought you Bamboo on 2nd is now experimenting with flavors for traditional Asian dumplings and banh mi (a Vietnamese-style sandwich) at new concept MO:MO. Chef Abhi Sainju is sure to delight and surprise us there like he did on further down 2nd Avenue.
- Japenese+Hawaiian Hybrid. Try out poké, an intersection of Japanese and Hawaiian cuisine in the form of raw fish and imported seaweed served on a bed of rice or greens. Drawing inspiration from his childhood in Hawaii, Vinh Tran will deliver it at Ono Poké.
Fresh on the Scene
Burgers from James Beard Nominee. Bettola chef James Lewis knows meat. And now he’s teaming up with his brother Brian Lewis of BOCADO, BOCADO Burger, and AMER cocktail bar in Atlanta to deliver artisan burgers and fries. The concept’s name has yet to be announced, but we’re hoping it has homemade buns and a selection of artisan cheeses (Mt. Chevre goat cheese, pimiento cheese, Tilamook cheddar, maple smoked gouda—yes please!) like BOCADO Burger.
- Artisanal Grilled Cheeses. Speaking of artisanal cheese, Busy Corner Cheese & Provisions will bring us not just farmstead and artisanal cheese but also creative takes on the classic grilled cheese brought to you by Brian McMillan. McMillan, a longtime local distributor with The Cheese Advocate, has dealt in artisan cured meats, estate bottled olive oil, and traditional vinegars, so surely they will make their way in between slices of house-made bread (and maybe they’ll source it from the likes of Contintental Bakery or Big Sky?).
- Soul Food+Waffles. Soul food meets the Belgian waffle in a variety of sweet and savory flavors and toppings from Waffle Works. Who ever said waffles were only for breakfast?
- Milkshakes+Handmade Sodas. The hall wouldn’t be complete without an homage to the building’s original owner, Louis Pizitz. At The Louis bar, you can order from a milkshake bar or handmade sodas list—or from a craft cocktails and local beer menu—day or night.
- Something New. Nothing will be stagnant at the food hall, especially with Reveal Kitchen serving as an incubator for Birmingham’s up-and-coming culinary talent and rotating quarterly. The stall is supported by REV Birmingham and its CO.STARTERS platform.
- Biscuits, Alabama Style. If you already love getting your biscuit smothered in local honey and goat cheese or topped with Thompson Farms pork and grass-fed cheddar, now you won’t have to drive to Cahaba Heights for Alabama Biscuit Co.
- Revelator Coffee. This coffee company will travel a few streets over from its storefront downtown to feature both its roasts and food and goods from local purveyors.
- Shawarma & Falafel. Eli’s Jerusalem Grill introduced Highway 280 to Eli Markshtien’s grandmother’s Israeli recipes, and now you can drizzle Tahini sauce and S’rug, an Israeli hot sauce, on your salads and kebabs downtown too. Plus, all of their beef is grass-fed and their chicken is organic.
- Indie Films. Well, technically you can’t eat them, but you can consume them at Sidewalk’s two art house theatres that will be located below the food hall. And the theatres will have their own bar. Dinner and a movie, anyone?
As if the food weren’t enough to get you excited, the design of the restaurant “stalls” is sure to be innovative as well with Appleseed Workshop—the architecture firm that brought you the interiors of Brick & Tin and El Barrio—on tap, and Yellowhammer Creative (which makes tees that scream of our pride in The Ham) is working on the logo and interior signage.
The only thing that could possibly beat a visit (or 17) to the new food hall is getting to be one of the Pizitz’s 143 apartment tenants or the staff who will spend their 8-to-5 in the 11,000 square feet of office space above the ground floor food hall.
We’re watching out for updates on an opening date, so stay tuned.