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Best of Birmingham

Two local publications this month have released the results of their reader polls designating Birmingham's best in restaurants and other categories.

city-scene-cover.jpgThe Birmingham News Friday published results of its Readers' Choice Awards, which lists restaurant-related categories along with other categories such as stores and entertainment options. Thank goodness Birmingham readers for the most part voted for local places, even though some of the finalists were chains -- although "Home" winning "Best Place for a Romantic Dinner" seemed to miss the point (kind of like the year the "Best Pie" was "lemon" or something like that). The fact that Jason's Deli, a chain, won "Best Deli" is a sign that we don't have a lot of really good local delis in town -- best sandwich shop might be a better category, because we have a lot of great sandwich places that aren't traditional delis. And next year, folks, let's see if we can get Bhamdining.com in there as a finalist!

A few places I thought should have been at least finalists were:

  • Iguana Grill in either the Best Mexican or Best New Restaurant category (had their carnitas last week, wow!)
  • Tria Market in either Best Bakery or Best Desserts category. We got a selection of individual desserts from there this weekend when we were having company for dinner, and folks, we're talking restaurant-quality here. (They also make an awesome cappucino.)
  • Bettola, either in the Best Pizza or the Best Italian Restaurant category. This is the authentic thing, not the Americanized version you get at most other places. 
  • On Tap Sports Grill for Best Chicken Wings. They beat the pants off of Baumhower's, which has never been as good since it turned into a Disney-esque chain as it was when it was a little local place in Tuscaloosa's Five Points.

bhamweeklyMOM.jpgBirmingham Weekly also recently released its annual Menu of Menus, which has the results of its reader poll plus other great local, restaurant-related stuff, including menus from many local restaurants. Looking at the winners, I have to believe that the readers of Birmingham Weekly are a more restaurant-savvy bunch than the readers of the News. The best restaurants in town, according to Weekly readers, are Little Savannah, (local) restaurant and cocktail bar, 26 and Satterfield’s. All excellent choices. The "hall of fame" restaurants were Highlands Bar & Grill, Bottega Café and Restaurant, Hot and Hot Fish Club and Ocean. "Best Kept Secrets" were Tamburro’s Bella Notte (Trussville), Martini’s Fine Food & Ultra Lounge in Hoover, and City Hall Diner in Vestavia.

We haven't had a chance to pick up this year's "MOM" yet, but based on previous years, we highly recommend it. You can see the list of winners here, but it's no substitute for picking up the special issue and keeping it around for next time you're trying to figure out where you want to go out to eat.

Posted on Monday, October 15, 2007 at 10:36AM by Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge in | Comments5 Comments

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Reader Comments (5)


I love your blog! We need more folks talking good food in Birmingham on the web. Thank you for mentioning Jason's Deli as voted "Best Deli" in Birmingham in the recent Readers Choice Awards. We are honored by the award.

Respectfully, I would like to challenge your "real deli" comment about Jason's Deli. While we blend a variety of flavors from many areas of the country, we have our roots in the deli world. Our corned beef, pastrami, and other deli meats are as high quality as you will find anywhere including NYC. Our Rueben the Great, New Yorker, Pastrami Melt, Beefeater, among others, get rave reviews from die hard deli connoisseurs.

While we aren't a traditional Jewish-style deli with locks, matzoh balls, and tongue, we try to bring the authentic, real flavors of classic deli fare to our customers everyday, plus a little bit more. I hope you will try many of our deli favorites and find us something more than a "sandwich shop".

Thanks for your time and energy making the blogosphere a little more food focused!

Very Sincerely,

Lee Greer
National Marketing Director
Jason's Deli

October 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLee Greer

A response to Lee Greer with Jason's Deli:

Thanks for writing! Actually, I didn't mean to imply that Jason's wasn't a "real deli." For a chain, it's pretty good. I haven't been there in a while, but when we went right after the first one in town opened at Brookwood, we found the Pastrami and Reuben sandwiches were some of the best we'd had outside of New York City. We just don't have many locally owned places that offer that kind of deli-style sandwiches. (Another chain/franchise I like is Jersey Mike's over on 280 in the Inverness area.)

October 15, 2007 | Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge

Agree that Tria makes an excellent cappucino. However, I like V. Richard's pastries better than Tria's.

I'm surely going to try Bettola's. Thanks for the tip.

October 31, 2007 | Unregistered Commentertnm

I must agree that we are sorely lacking in a good traditional Jewish deli in the Ham. Jason's is actually quite good for a soup/salad/sandwich chain and at least a healthy alternative to so many fast-food options. I love their organic offerings and high fructose-free kids menu items. The tidy, highly packed salad bar and free frozen yogurt are always winners. Soups and chili's are consistantly hearty and flavorful.

Although we live near Jason's Deli in Inverness, we drive right past it to go to the Riverchase location. If you have been to the Inverness Jason's, please do yourself a favor and try a different location before giving up on the chain. The Inverness store is TERRIBLE with poor management, dirty tables always in the dining room, and lackadaisical-at-best staff attitudes. They are really a very poor representation of an otherwise very fine healthy eating franchise.

In the meantime, I guess I'll continue making my matzoh ball soup for friends and family.

August 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKO

I've really been disappointed in Jason's. As much as they stress organics, healthy eating, and high fructose-free diets they make it almost impossible for a vegetarian to order anything for delivery.

Even the salads are loaded with meat and it isn't like you can order the salad bar for delivery. Every single vegetarian item on their menu has portobello mushrooms on it which might be nice if you like portobello mushrooms. If you don't you're out of luck. Try ordering a sandwich with just cheese and toppings on standard bread (instead of the "wrap" Jason's seems to think is the only flour-based food vegetarians eat) and you find you have to order a meat sandwich as the base upon which to build. This doesn't seem like the most flexible move on Jason's part-it would be so easy to just allow people to choose the sandwich size they want and add items like meat, cheese, and various toppings as they please.

As far as pasta goes, it's the ever-present portobello mushrooms again or paying for chicken pasta and asking to have the chicken removed. Since I don't care to pay for meat I'm not going to eat this isn't an acceptable option-and that's even if I believed the person packing my order would always remember to leave the chicken off of it before it ended up at my door.

Since I would never eat at a place like Jason's under ordinary circumstances delivery is about the only use I have for them. Since I can't order from their menu easily I just don't order anything from them at all.

It would be nice to see Lee Greer stop in and read this so that maybe Jason't could step into the 21st century with a more flexible menu for those who don't crave meat and/or portobello mushrooms. Jason's would be a nice delivery alternative to pizza for homes with a vegetarian since the non-meat ingredients on the menu sound great. It's just the way the menu is set up that makes it a no-go.

October 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVegetarian in Bham

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