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