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No visit to Birmingham would be complete without a tour of the important civil rights sites. But there’s plenty more to do around Alabama’s biggest city. Here are some recommendations from in-the-know locals.

LUNCH WITH THE LOCALS
THE GARAGE CAFE [5] is attached to these old garages, where they have a lot of old, antique doors from all over the world. It’s a neat, hidden little place … a real local spot. It seems like the beer is a little colder there, but I may be wrong. Another is O’CARR’S [6]. It’s tiny; you can pretty much hear three conversations at the same time. And you seem to see a lot of the who’s who of Birmingham.”
-- Jeff Pierce, co-owner of the Big Sky Bread Company

GET YOUR FILL OF SOUTHERN STAPLES
HIGHLANDS BAR AND GRILL [7] is the flagship restaurant of Frank Stitt, a chef who is known for doing seasonal local cuisine. One of his signature dishes is stone-ground baked grits. It’s been on the menu for 25 years. It’s grits done gourmet. NIKI’S WEST [8] is [also] a true Southern experience. As you’re standing in line, pay attention: Look over the shoulders of people and see [what’s being served ]. When it’s your turn, they’ll say, ‘May I help you, ma’am?,’ and they will wait approximately 1.5 seconds for you to respond. Then they will say, ‘May I help you?’ And the third time, it’s just, ‘Ma’am?’ [It’s] a lot of pressure, so decide in advance.”
-- Kim Cross, editor of CookingLight.com and former associate travel editor for Southern Living

LISTEN TO LOCAL (AND NATIONAL) LEGENDS JAZZ IT UP
“At ONA’S MUSIC ROOM [9], you feel as if they’re playing in your living room. It’s a nice, mellow, happy atmosphere. It’s always good, but I’m sure the weekend is a little bit better. There’s also STEEL URBAN LOUNGE [10]. They always have a jazz combo playing. It’s a little high-tech [inside], but it’s a nice vibe.”
-- Leah Tucker, executive director of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame

WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN
“I love exploring downtown and its revitalization. My favorite coffeehouse, URBAN STANDARD [1], [is in that area]. It’s known for its strawberry cupcakes. And a couple of doors down is WHAT’S ON SECOND [2], a pop-culture antiques shop [that has] vintage postcards from everywhere in the world.”
-- Charles Buchanan, a block-print artist who focuses on images of Birmingham

RAISE A GLASS OF HOLIDAY CHEER
“There’s a sushi restaurant called JINSEI [4], which is a good place to just go and hang and have cocktails. It has a cool atmosphere and a nice Champagne selection by the glass, as well as lots of seasonal cocktails. And THE BARKING KUDU [3] has a great music scene with lots of live music.”
-- Chris Hastings, chef and co-owner of Hot and Hot Fish Club


     WEB EXCLUSIVE     

 


COOL YOUR JETS AMIDST THE FLURRY OF HOLIDAY SHOPPING …
“The SOUTHERN HISTORY DEPARTMENT has murals by Ezra Winters around the walls. They depict all kinds of scenes of fables. If you’re even slightly interested [in genealogy], you can find something in there that will peak your interest, and you’ll want to stay forever.”
-- Barbara Sirmans, library director, Birmingham Public Library

LIGHT UP THE SEASON …
ZOOLIGHT SAFARI [at the BIRMINGHAM ZOO] is an unbelievable light show. … Everything in the zoo is lit up. And little neighborhoods have their own [lighting] deals. In COLONIAL HILLS, everybody gets a fir tree and puts those big, old lightbulbs on them, not those little teeny decorative lights. The neighborhoods really take ownership in the lighting.”
-- Brian Mackin, athletic director, University of Alabama, Birmingham

CORNER THE ART SCENE …
“[On basically one corner] there’s William Christenberry’s, Southern Monument No. 1, a piece by German artist Stephen Balkenhol, and a wonderful painting by Valerie Jaudon. The three pieces are right by REED BOOKS and SAFARI CUP. It’s a great corner. [Within the museum,] everybody should see the Albert Bierstadt, Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California, 1865. It’s one of the most revered Bierstadts in the world.”
-- Gail Andrews, director, Birmingham Museum of Art


IF YOU GO...

Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and Carver Theatre
1631 Fourth Avenue North
(205) 254-2731
www.jazzhall.com

The Barking Kudu
2929 Seventh Avenue South
(205) 328-1748
www.barkingkudu.com

Big Sky Bread Company
2812 Cahaba Road, Mountain Brook
(205) 870-1935
www.bigskybreadcompany.com

Birmingham Museum of Art
2000 Eighth Avenue North
(205) 254-2565
www.artsbma.org

Birmingham Public Library Central Library
2100 Park Place
(205) 226-3600
www.bham.lib.al.us

Birmingham Zoo
2630 Cahaba Road
(205) 879-0409
www.birminghamzoo.com

East Lake Park
116 84th Street North
(205) 836-5312

Garage Cafe
2304 Tenth Terrace South
(205) 322-3220
www.garagecafe.us

Highlands Bar and Grill
2011 11th Avenue South
(205) 939-1400
www.highlandsbarandgrill.com

Jinsei
1830 29th Avenue South
(205) 802-1440
www.jinseisushi.com

Niki’s West
233 Finley Avenue West
(205) 252-5751

O’Carr’s
2909 18th Street South
(205) 879-2196
www.birminghammenus.com/ocarrs

Ona’s Music Room
423 20th Street South
(205) 322-4662
www.onasmusicroom.com

Reed Books and the Museum of Fond Memories
2021 Third Avenue North
(205) 326-4460
www.jimreedbooks.com

Safari Cup
300 Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard North
(205) 326-0019
www.safaricup.com

Steel Urban Lounge
2300 First Avenue North
(205) 324-0666
www.steelurbanlounge.com

Urban Standard
2320 Second Avenue North
(205) 250-8200
www.urbanstandard.net

What’s On Second
2306 Second Avenue North
(205) 322-2688