Welcome back to Pepper Place

One of our favorite signs of Spring is the return of the Pepper Place Saturday Market. It’s downtown’s friendliest meeting place and it’s filled with the freshest produce, the prettiest flowers  and the most colorful people you’ll ever want to run into.
Join us for a lemonade and a little music.

Written by Sarah O’Donnell

Photography by Virginia Jones

The Saturday Market at Pepper Place

This is The Year of Alabama Food as promoted by the Alabama Tourism Department, and Pepper Place is a big part of the state-wide celebration of Alabama’s rich food heritage and future. That is only natural. Pepper Place has been at the forefront of the revival of local-centric, sustainable and green food culture for years now.

The Saturday Market at Pepper Place is a Birmingham tradition, a part of the social fabric of the city, and a call to arms for sustainable, green living and the local foods movement.

From the Baked Grits at Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham to a Cheeseburger in Paradise at Lulu’s in Gulf Shores to ribs and white bread at Dreamland in Tuscaloosa, Alabama is full of great places to eat. Our rural land is cared for by family farmers engaged in a new, sustainable agriculture that appeals to the blossoming segment of the population that has come to care deeply about where their food comes from and how healthy it really is.

The Year of Alabama Food web site (www.yearofalabamafood.com) is a great resource for Alabama residents and visitors alike to discover all that Alabama has to offer. “The new website is top-notch and we are sure it will be a great experience for those seeking the great culinary dishes our state has to offer,” said Lee Sentell, tourism director. “We think it offers something for every taste whether it’s fine dining, a meat and three buffet, or BBQ. It’s also a great way for folks to search the 300 plus food events happening in 2012.”

Alabama’s top restaurants can be explored from its small towns to its biggest cities. The site also introduces some of Alabama’s top chefs. The bios and stories include Wesley True in Mobile, Frank Stitt and Chris Hastings of Birmingham, and James Boyce of Huntsville.

For fresh produce a search feature on the site allows visitors to search for Farmers Markets across the state from Pepper Place in Birmingham, to Mobile’s Market on the Square and Madison’s City Farmers Market. A click on the map will help locate more than 130 markets across 67 counties.

For travelers wanting to take in the sites and great food the website offers five culinary trails from each region of the state. The Coastal Cuisine trail offers fresh Gulf Coast seafood while the Heartland Trail takes travelers from historic restaurants to college towns with down home cooking and BBQ. The Lower Alabama trail offers a variety of eats in the Mobile area, the Magic City Trail offers everything from meat and threes to fine dining in Birmingham, and the North Alabama trail takes diners through Huntsville and the Shoals with offerings from a Harvey Milkshake to BBQ and steak.

Perhaps one of the state’s finest food treasures is right here in Birmingham. Pepper Place is one of the best examples of a common ground where the city and the country comes together in an exciting new way. Stroll through the Pepper Place market on a Saturday and you will see people from the affluent suburbs rub elbows with young people living and working in the city. The farmers from rural Alabama come into the state’s largest city and interact with city residents who share with them a love of growing things.

People love Pepper Place. They love to come down early on a Saturday morning, beating the crowds to the best parking spot, the best tomato, the most comfortable resting place near the musicians. Here you can spend an hour or two just wandering around watching the human drama of people meandering, kids grabbing for a mother’s hand, dogs panting in search of a friendly water bowl. You can easily become infatuated with the whole experience of Pepper Place.

People Love Pepper Place

The region’s farming families come to the Pepper Place Saturday Market to help them earn a living from their land. They grow vegetables and flowers, bake breads and cookies, cakes and pies, tend the bees, and drive into the Lakeview District of Birmingham to sell the fruits of their labors in a tradition as old as history.  It is the intersection of farm and city, a place made holy by the respect we should have for our food and the people who nurture it.

In addition to farmers, bakers and beekeepers, you can enjoy local musicians on two stages while sipping a fresh cup of coffee or enjoying a light breakfast. There is a cooking demonstration at 9 a.m. every Saturday morning by Birmingham’s finest chefs. And that’s just the market… While you’re here, don’t forget to check out the shops that have made Pepper Place famous as the city’s premier design center.

The Pepper Place Complex includes Pepper Place, the Martin Biscuit Building, and the Ferguson showroom and warehouse. Many other independent businesses have located in the area to enjoy the synergy of an emerging, vibrant design and entertainment district.

Formerly the Dr. Pepper Syrup Plant and Bottling Company, the Pepper Place Complex is a group of seven buildings totaling more than 227,000 square feet. After undergoing extensive renovation, the complex currently houses Birmingham’s premier design center as well as the Farmers’ Market, the Terrific New Theater, restaurants, and numerous shops, galleries, and businesses. Sloss Real Estate Company’s Cathy Sloss Crenshaw spearheaded this redevelopment and is responsible for leasing and managing the complex.

The focal point of Birmingham’s Lakeview Design District, the Pepper Place Complex is among Birmingham’s 24 commercial revitalization districts that are subject to design review protection. This highly visible renovation project has been celebrated in numerous newspaper and magazine articles and a CNN television feature.

Lakeview is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods and it has come alive in the last few years in exciting new ways. The restaurants and bars down 29th Street help keep the city hopping all night long. With a new apartment complex, 29/7 at the corner of 29th Street and 7th Avenue South becoming available this summer, the prospects for the continued revitalization and growth of Lakeview continue to grow nicely.

When the sun goes down, the music takes center stage at Pepper Place’s collection of dining and nightlife locations. Pepper Place is a terrific place to hear live local music. Ona’s Music Room relocated to Pepper Place last year and it continues to be a tremendous draw for musicians and fans alike. The new space is beautifully designed to showcase the music in a very special way. A block away, The Red Cat coffeehouse is a great venue for listening to live acoustic music. With its high ceilings and banks of broad windows, the coffeehouse is the perfect place to relax and let the sounds of local and national artists make your night at Pepper Place complete.

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3 Responses to “Welcome back to Pepper Place”

  1. What gorgeous photos! This makes me all the more excited for Pepper Place. And Alabama food? There’s nothing like it! Thanks, B-Metro!!

  2. Mark Anthony says:

    Good article. But, for an out of towner, not much in the way of useable directions other than a vague reference to 29th street and 7th ave.

    • admin says:

      If you put pepper place into your GPS it should come right up, it’s fairly expansive and hard to miss. The corner of 29th and 7th is a good place to start looking 😉 email me where you’re coming from and I can be more specific and get you there.

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