Restaurant Listings: Casual
Hint: To see restaurants in this section in a particular area of town, click on the category name indicating "Hoover," "Downtown," "South," etc., below each listing.
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125 Inverness Plaza (off Hwy. 280 at Valleydale intersection)
Lunch and dinner. Beer and wine available, outside dining. Casual, no-frills, intimate atmosphere serving Cajun food such as fresh crawfish, crab cakes, and pork Boudan. City Scene 2006 review gave good marks to crawfish and shrimp po'boys, Creole meatloaf; bread pudding was a disappointment.
1500 First Ave. North (downtown)
An August 2008 City Scene review said Culinard Cafe serves "highly imaginative food. Standbys such as grilled cheese and tuna salad become standouts in this teaching kitchen." Part bakery, part lunch spot, the cafe got high marks from reviewer Susan Swagler for a classic Reuben, a BLT with smoked salmon bacon and Cajun remoulade, a pesto grilled cheese made with fresh mozzarella and Alabama goat cheese, red potato salad, salmon and Brie salad, tuna salad made with smoked ahi, French Quarter shrimp salad, Southern-fried chicken salad, chili and broccoli-cheese soup. Cupcakes were only so-so, but white chocolate cookie with blueberries and pecan-studded min carrot cake were good.
5511 Hwy 280 E Suite 109 (Greystone Park)
Open for breakfast and lunch weekdays. Cafe, catering and to-go meals for home operates with a mission of offering natural and organic foods at affordable prices. Local produce is used where possible. Menu changes weekly; includes soups, salads, pastas, sandwiches, and burgers (include Kobe beef and buffalo versions). A May 2008 review in City Scene praised the food but noted that the atmosphere left something to be desired for eat-in dining.
1919 29th Ave. S., Homewood
Casual, eat in or carry out. No smoking; outdoor dining. Catering and delivery available. Chef Franklin Biggs serves up a variety of salads, pastas, seafood, poultry and meats daily. Sandwiches served on breads baked on the premises. Signature dishes include baby blue salad, sour cream cheesecake, fried green tomato sandwiches, crawfish cake sandwich.
1901 11th Avenue South (Southside/Five Points South)
The city's first vegetarian restaurant and a good lunch spot even if you're not a vegetarian. Our favorites include the GT Stack, with brown rice, black beans, cheese and other toppings, and the GT sandwich, lightly grilled with cheese, sprouts, tomato, and your choice of guacamole or garlicky hummus and mushrooms or black olives.
507 Cahaba Park Circle, Inverness (off Hwy. 280)
Kitchen open late night. It's not real pretty (you might call it a dive), and about the only thing Irish are the green walls, but they've got good cheap bar food, like burgers, wings, philly cheese steak, taco salads and the like, with some good beer to wash it down.
5288 Helena Road
Restaurant and sports bar overlooking the waterspill on Buck Creek in old downtown Helena. Seafood, steak, appetizers, finger foods, burgers, soups & salads, sandwiches, burgers, daily lunch specials.
112 21st St. North (Richard Arrington Blvd. North), downtown
Family friendly, casual and comfortable, with menu items such as roasted garlic hummus, crab cakes, seafood specials, burgers, Soon-to-Be-Famous Home-Style Meatloaf and Not-Your-Mama's Macaroni and Cheese. Unusual items such as fire-roasted corn grits and sauteed corn share the menu with more traditional sides such as greens, fried okra, and fried green tomatoes. Charlie Murphy chocolate cake got raves from City Scene. We went once for lunch, and it was pretty good -- not destination dining, perhaps, but good. The cornsticks are not nearly as good as the original John's Restaurant, but in some ways I like their slaw dressing better -- it's not quite as sweet, with a kick of garlic.
515 University Blvd., Southside (in old Ollie's building)
Emphasis on chicken, plus salads, burgers, Italian entrees, lunch specials. City Scene's "Lunch Bunch" in July 2007 praised the Horst's Hot and Spicy Grilled Chicken sandwich with buffalo sauce, and vegetable trio of potato salad, slaw and green beans, tasty banana pudding. Open for lunch weekdays, Friday dinner, Saturday brunch.
3144 Green Valley Road, Vestavia/Cahaba Heights
Lunch and dinner. Fun, informal, attractive small restaurant with good quick-order food with a twist. Dishes such as fried dill pickle chips, grilled wings with unusual sauces, Caribe chicken, baby back ribs, grilled tuna, fried grouper, burgers, and sandwiches from classic (grilled Reuben) to unusual (Jamaican smoke-house press with sweet tomato aioli.) Outdoor dining in good weather. Parking's at a premium.