Eat the Ham – Birmingham Restaurant Guide

Birmingham Restaurants Recommendations 

Here is an (incomplete) list of restaurants I recommend for those visiting from out of town. Let me know what you think if you visit one of these places!


Any bar-b-q place you go to around here will be good.

Top Favorite

Saw’s Juke Joint – BBQ and Soul-food – Get the pork-n-greens (I substitute chicken). Everything is great, the potatoes, the burger, the wings. Just all around good.

Rodney Scott’s Bar-B-Que – Homewood.

Saw’s BBQ – Homewood location of Saw’s. Much smaller hole in the wall feel. I like their brisket when it’s available.

Martin’s BBQ – In Cahaba Heights. Our go to BBQ place these days. Large seating area for groups inside and out. Get the Brisket Burger.

Chicken plate at Martin’s.

Jim-n-Nicks BBQ – Locations around town. Good for groups. Made from scratch ingredients. Cheddar biscuits are a must. Piggie in the garden healthy option. Potatoes are good. Great pies. Is now a large chain.


Troup’s – In Cahaba Heights. Our most frequented pizza place. Brick oven pizza. Great original flavors. Get the Blazer. Lots of drink options with a fridge full of unique choices (including Barq’s root beer in the bottle) and regular fountain drinks. Delicious salads. Great for groups. After dinner walk next door for Starbucks or Cookie Fix.

Blazer and Pepperoni Pizza at Troup’s.

Davenport’s – Legendary local pizza place in Mountain Brook. Generous topping on thin (but not crunchy) crust cut in squares. It’s a throwback to the 70’s and 80’s with old arcade games and carpet just as old. Not the best for large groups, but small groups may enjoy the nostalgia and delicious pizza and a fair price. We like to go here and then walk to Mountain Brook Creamery. They have another location in Vestavia.

Slice – Pizza with a twist created with local ingredients. We like the Vestavia location near Grandview. Great for groups. Their tater tots are on of the best apps in Birmingham. This place is #1 or #2 on most lists for area pizza places.

Post Office Pies – Wood fired brick oven pizza. Avondale location is in an old post office. Rated the 30 best pizza’s in Alabama. Also have a location in Mountain Brook near Jeni’s ice cream.

Slim’s – Fancy pizza place. Think date night pizza. Get the Hot Honey. You’re welcome.

Pizza GM – This could also qualify as a date night pizza place but more casual than Slim’s. Pizza place by what I think is one of the best Italian restaurants, Gianmarcos. Great apps and main courses.

Vecchia Pizza – In beautiful Moss Rock Preserve. You feel transported to Italy eating these old world style pizzas. Great for large groups.

I really can’t believe I have so many pizza places on this list. I guess I like pizza, but surprisingly, there have been many pizza places that are highly rated that I have yet to try!

Healthy / Fresh Options

Season’s 52 – Sit down restaurant with a menu that changes with the seasons. A nice date night place. The Summit.

Real and Rosemary – Locations in Homewood, the Summit, and Mountain Brook. I used to love it, but don’t go as much anymore. Vegan and Vegetarian Options.

Ashley Mac’s – Local chain that seems like it is for the ladies but has great options for guys as well. I like the poppyseed chicken and the BLT salad. Everything is great on the menu including the desserts. Locations throughout the city.

Ono Poke – We go to the summit location. So good! Surprisingly amazing French fries.

Chicken Bowl at Ono Poke.

Chop N Fresh – In Mountain Brook. Where we like to go for chopped salad. Not great for large groups, but in an area with lots of food options.

Urban Cookhouse – Great healthy meals made with local ingredients. Salads, sandwiches, but also fork and knife plates that will fill you up. The cookie dessert is amazing. Comes half cook in a tiny frying pan with ice cream and should be shared. The Summit and Homewood.

Quick and Easy

Shake Shack – legendary burger chain from NYC. The Summit.

Taco Mama – affordable and fresh ingredients. Very popular around here, but a little on the bland side for me. The Summit and just about everywhere else.


Gianmarco’s- Best Pricy Italian –

North Italia (chain) but amazing. At the Summit.


Chuck’s Seafood on 280.

Bamboo on 2nd  – downtown

Abhi – Mountain Brook Village

Blue Sushi Saki Grill – The Summit


Eugene’s Hot Chicken – My favorite hot chicken place. Wings are the size of chicken thighs. Very hole-in-the-wall and be prepared to wait. Uptown area.

Hattie B’s – legendary Nashville hot chicken.

Guthrie’s – on 280. Identical to Raising Cane’s (just about). Some say this is where Cane’s got their concept from!

Chicken Basket at Guthrie’s.


Big Bad Breakfast – Overall one of the best restaurants in Birmingham. Best breakfast. In Homewood and on 280.

Biscuit Love – Cahaba Heights. A Nashville spot now in Birmingham.

Crestline Bagel – location in Crestline Village and Cahaba Heights.

Fine Dining

Our favorite fine dining is Hot and Hot Fish Club. Lots of Louisiana flavors and despite the name is not a seafood restaurant.

Most people in Bham would send you to Highlands Bar and Grill and it is the same level as Hot and Hot.

Bottega is also super fancy (where Micheal Jordan would go out to eat when he played for the Birmingham Barons). There are all in the same area and will let you see a cool part of the city.

A great Italian fine dining restaurant is Gianmarco’s. It is one of my all-time favorite places.  

Helen is a newer place a lot of people recommend for fine dining, but I’ve never been!

Flemings is always good!


Brick Tops – also has great sushi

Local Greek and Mediterranean Chains

Fast Casual: Tazikis, 

Sit down Greek: Tasty Town

Eli’s Jerusalem grill: Slightly different take on Mediterranean. Gyro, Sharma, humus and delicious rice.

Sweet Treats

Cookie Fix in Homewood  also in Cahaba Heights now (closer to Grandview) – the best cookie in the world. They always have a couple healthy options. Imagine a cookie that is about two inches thick in the middle that’s slides down to edge about four inches out to make an okey gooey mound of sweet deliciousness.

Jeni’s ice cream is downtown and in Mountain Brook, Lane Parke.

Bendy’s Ice Cream (next door to Martin’s Bbq). 

Sons donuts – little donuts made right in front of you. Avondale and Lane Parke.

Son’s donuts.

Hero Donuts – Homewood 

Hero Donuts.

Heavenly Donuts in Vestavia near Grandview campus.


O’Henry’s is my favorite. Lots of flavors. Revelator is going to be for the purest who wants their pour over beans to be  ground right before serving with no syrup.

Frothy Monkey is now here downtown.

June is good. Downtown.

Caramel Latte at June.

Cala is probably the most popular place right now in Cahaba Heights.


Taco Mama is good cheap quick Mexican,

Urban Cookhouse

Ashley Mac’s – chicken salad, etc

Near the ARC Office

Little Donkey – good Mexican with a southern twist. Everything is made from scratch. Famous for the fried chicken. Get their potatoes as a side and street corn (i always like it off the cob). I also like their brisket tamales.

Big Bad Breakfast – just the best breakfast. Known for their skillets and biscuits, but i like the regular breakfast.

Eli’s Jerusalem Grill – gyro, shawarma, amazing rice, and amazing hummus.

Areas with Good Food

Avondale (Saw’s Soulfood Kitchen, Post Office Pies, Melt, Etc.) If you go to Avondale make sure to go to Big Spoon Creamery, locally source gourmet ice cream.

Mountain Brook has different villages with local spots.

Lane Parke – Newest area with several good places and shopping near the Grand Bohemian, Botanical Gardens, and the Zoo. Melt, Chop N Fresh, Lady Bird Taco, Sons Donuts, Starbucks, Jeni’s Ice Cream, Post Office Pies, and more.

Crestline Village – Great area to walk around and shop. Some local candy stores, boutiques, shops, and restaurants.

Homewood SOHO (South Homewood) – Lots new places added recently. Rodney Scott BBQ, Ashley mac’s, Little Donkey, Big Bad Breakfast, O’Henry’s Coffee, Urban Cookhouse and more that are all great. Also local shops and boutiques. Might be the best area as one stop area to park and shop and eat local.

Uptown – great options in one central location downtown near top golf and the  

Pizitz Food Hall – Downtown. Please everyone by going to the pizitz which has been planned to include food genre’s from around the world from New Orleans to Pho.

Things to do in Birmingham

If you are in Homewood you can go to Vulcan Park (Free) and overlook the entire city.

 If you are in Mountain Brook you can go to the Birmingham Botanical Garden (free). See the Japanese gardens. 

If you are downtown visit railroad park (Free). 

Visit boutiques in Homewood, Mountain Brook, or Cahaba Heights. 

Shop at the Summit.

Pizitz Food Hall

Downtown. Please everyone by going to the pizitz which has been planned to include food genre’s from around the world from New Orleans to Pho.

37 Things I Have Learned Over The Years

Today is my birthday. It is also the day I started my blog 5 years ago. So I wanted to write a post on some valuable and also silly lessons I have learned over the years. Topics will range from leadership to bathroom etiquette, from driving to family life, and wisdom on forgiveness to restaurant advice.

Be warned: I am still testing some of these things to see if they are beneficial long term… Read ahead at your own risk!

37 Life Hacks

  1. 75% of vacuuming out your car is shaking the floor mats out.
  2. Never stop in a merge lane of traffic.
  3. Never use your horn when you’re angry. You could end up parking next to the person you honked at in the church parking lot. It has happened to me.
  4. Only use your horn when something dangerous is about to happen (like someone who is stopped in the merge lane of traffic. haha)
  5. Never follow someone into the traffic of life who likes to toot their own horn. They don’t really know where they’re going. They just can’t feel good about themselves without other people telling them how great they are.
  6. 90% of being liked by others is keeping your mouth shut. I guess that’s why blogger don’t have many friends. lol (I am LOL-ing on the outside by crying on the inside. lol, but seriously…)
  7. You can be silent, and people think you are an idiot or you can open your mouth and remove all doubt. – Wayne Austin (I believe)
  8. Giving a compliment is never a bad idea.
  9. Giving a backhanded compliment is never ever a good idea. For example: “You look great for someone who just had a birthday!” Just stop at, “You look pretty great!”
  10. A good rule of thumb is to be generous with what you say and with what you don’t say.
  11. The toilet paper roll should always land over the front. If it is under then it rests against the wall. This means there’s a chance a contaminated hand will touch the wall trying to grab it. Over not under people!
  12. Always wait for someone in front of you to open the bathroom door, so you don’t have to touch it. UNLESS there are paper towels available and a trashcan by the door. Then you can use the paper towel to open the door and toss it in the can.
  13. When changing a baby’s diaper, always have the second diaper already under the old diaper. You never know what can come out of those little things at any moment.
  14. When you take your kids to the park push them on the swing every time they ask. They will only ask for so long and then that time is gone forever.
  15. Treat your spouse how you want your kids’ future spouse to treat them. They’ll most likely marry someone similar to you.
  16. Give everyone in your house a nickname and positive sayings specific to each person. Too many homes have negative labels and negative traits (given sarcastically even) associated with each person. Multiple times a week I tell each of the girls in our house these things: Amy: You are bold, beautiful, and brilliant. Sophie: You are sweet, smart, sensitive, and strong, Gracie: You are gorgeous, genius, gentle, and full of grit.
  17. Always let your kids interrupt you when you are at home to listen to their ideas or to be part of their plans or when they get older they may not allow you to interrupt them to be part of your ideas and plans.
  18. Affirm, hug, and kiss your daughters so much that they will never want to look for those things in the wrong place.
  19. If you are not greeted in the first 10 seconds of a sit-down restaurant, you are better off leaving. They don’t have to sit you, but if they don’t at least acknowledge you, then you are in for an awful dinner.
  20. The restaurant bathroom tells you what the restaurant kitchen looks like. Don’t expect what they know you can’t see to be clean if what they know you can see is dirty.
  21. Never put lemon or lime in your water. Always squeeze it and then discard. You don’t know what was on the surface where they sliced it. It was also most likely not cleaned before or after being cut.
  22. Always tip more generously than you think you should. People are not serving you because you are so special. They are doing it because they have to. If they are having a bad night, you don’t know what is happening at home, what kind of manager they have, or who in the kitchen is giving them a hard time.
  23. Always be willing to give retail and restaurants a perfect score on the surveys they send you. Those things can really hurt or help someone. My rule of thumb is that if I would give them a 3 out of 5, then I’d go ahead and give them a 5. If that person were already a 5 at my expectations, then they’d probably be doing something else.
  24. Here is a trick I have learned to remember whose cup is whose when refilling my wife’s drink and mine at the same time. I always put my cup in my left hand, and Amy’s in my right hand because my wife is always right!
  25. Whenever you go to a restaurant, and there is a long wait just go to the bar area and look for an open seat at a bistro table. I can’t tell you how many lines I have skipped that way and you usually get the full menu there too.
  26. Speaking of skipping lines…. This is one of my favorite traffic trips of all time but may take a minute to explain and a couple of tries for you to master. If there is particular lane of traffic that always builds up at light before a turn (Acadian and Perkins before I-10 in Baton Rouge or the U-turn at 280 and Valleydale in Birmingham, but really anytime there is one lane that builds up, and there are fewer cars  in the lane next to the one with the build-up) here is what you do. Get in the shorter lane to the left and skip everyone so that you are the first one at the light next to the long line of traffic. Then one of two things will happen once the light turns green (look the other driver in the eye before it turns green, and you can typically predict what is going to happen). Just floor it. If they aren’t paying attention, then you can just pull in front of them and then continue traveling at a safe speed. The second scenario is my favorite though. Sometimes people will know what you are up to and don’t want to let you pass. Here is the solution. Still, just floor it. When they speed up as well allow them to create some distance between themselves and the car behind them. Then slow down and just get behind them. They’ll never expect it. Then laugh because now you and they both know you win no matter what. In case you are wondering this is about winning not about traffic.
  27. Always have the last word in marriage when there is a disagreement. And that word is, “Yes, dear.”
  28. When you are fighting with your spouse (something I have never done, yeah right!), always be the first to ask for forgiveness. In marriage, it doesn’t matter who is right or who is wrong. It really doesn’t. No matter how big of a deal you think it is in the moment, just ask for forgiveness, and you will both be happy in 24 hours. In 48 hours you probably won’t remember the argument (unless you’re a jerk and in that case, I can’t help you).
  29. Anytime you say sorry, and add a but, you are not apologizing. You are just using the guise of an apology to be a butt. For example, “I’m sorry, but you are always so rude to me.” WRONG!
  30. When you apologize, and you add an “if” at the end, you are not really apologizing. You are cheapening the person who perceives you have wronged them with a partial apology. For example, “I apologize “if” I hurt your feelings.” If you are going through the effort to say you are sorry, then you might as well just own it completely and move on, “I am sorry “FOR” hurting your feelings.”
  31. In our home, we don’t say we are sorry, and we don’t say it’s ok in response. Both of those sort of dismiss the bigger issue while only temporarily keeping the peace. We ask for forgiveness, and then we offer forgiveness in return. In my opinion, that is the only way to fully take responsibility for an offense and to truly release someone from it. For example, “Please forgive me for hurting you with what I said.” And then “I forgive you for that.” You will be surprised how hard it is to say, “I forgive you” instead of “It’s no big deal,” when you have been the one wronged, but it truly helps to put things behind you both.
  32. Last one on forgiveness and apologies… Never be the person who needs an apology from someone else. If you are waiting around for someone to make your life better with an apology you will probably find more happiness in general by just moving on then waiting for everyone to make things right with you. I’d always rather be the person who has to say, “Please forgive me,” then be the person who needs to hear it. Be generous and forgive others just as God has generously forgiven you!
  33. Meekness is not weakness and arrogance is not strength. Arrogance is weakness out of control and meekness is true strength under control.
  34. Live by, “others may, I cannot” instead of “others may, why can’t I?”
  35. “I’d rather be a wet water walker than a a dry boat rider.” – Tony Foster
  36. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” – Jim Elliot
  37. Realize you are the hero in your story. Don’t allow yourself to be a victim that needs to be rescued or a sidekick stuck in codependence. Ask yourself, if your life was a novel, what would the hero in the story do next? Would they go back? Probably not. Would they go forward into the unknown? Probably. Would they only look out for themselves or would risk their elevation to elevate someone else. God gets the glory when you point to him as you live successfully.

What are your top life hacks? I’d like to hear them!

Do What You Hate

You can learn to love what you hate. I believe doing what you don’t like is the key to having what you love. You may not believe me but read along for the next couple of minute to see if this is true. At the very least, you can let me know how I am wrong in the comments.

Oatmeal Is Gross

I hate oatmeal, sweet potatoes, brown rice, skim milk, and black coffee. Can’t stand them! BUT, and this is a big BUT, I have learned that I need to do what I hate if I want to enjoy what I love.

Years ago, I read starting your day with oatmeal is one of the healthiest things you can do for your body. After that, I broke my habit of pop tarts, or waffles and syrup, or sugary cereal, and began eating oatmeal. At first, I disliked it. I was motivated by avoiding health problems. Over time though, I started to enjoy it.

Even though I don’t like these other food items I mentioned, I started eating them as well. Over time I trained my taste buds and mind to look forward to healthy satisfying food instead of the immediate gratification and delayed regret that comes from junk.

Have What You Love

You know what else I don’t like? I don’t like waking up early to work out and missing out on TV, sports, and movies to work on a budget. With these things, just like the healthy food I mentioned, momentum is created when I begin to do what I hate. Doing the right thing is intrinsically satisfying PLUS you get the fantastic results.

“If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to keep getting what we’re getting.”

Steven Covey

If you are going to have what you love in any area, then you are most likely going to have to do what you hate at some point to get there. Making changes is hard. The best kind of results are not immediate. Eventually, you will love the results, and you won’t want to go back. In the meantime, you may need to toughen up, do what you hate. I believe it is the price of admission for achieving your most meaningful goals.

Do what you hate and let me know what you think!

Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

Do More

In my last blog, I wrote about how doing less is the key to doing more. So why write a blog entitled, “Do More,” right after that? Well, I don’t think anyone wants less for their life. We all want to achieve more, have more benefits, and accomplish more in the future. We want to “do more” of the things we love.

Like I said in the last post if we want more than we need to do less. Here are three things we need to do less of if we’re going to do more of the things that mean the most to us.

Stop doing too much

One of the books I read last year that helped me do more was Finish, by Jon Acuff. I highly recommend it. He says one of the best thing you can do is cut your goals in half. The funny thing is right before reading this, I had just set my goals for the year. I shared them with Amy. Her response was, “Your goals are stressing me out, and they aren’t even my goals.” This is important because the people who tend to set goals are the same ones who set too many goals and don’t get to them all. They give up and do less.

I immediately cut my goals in half after reading that chapter in Finish. Amy was relieved. I ended up accomplishing my new reading goals and then tripled them. I built momentum and did more by setting a more attainable goal.

Stop waiting for permission

Sometimes we can put off doing what is in our heart because we are expecting everyone else to be as excited about our passions as we are. If that is the case, then God would have given those passions to others instead of you.

Stop waiting for someone to give you permission to be who God made you to be and to obey what He has put in your heart. When you stand before God, and He asks you what you did with your life and what He put in your heart to do, those other people won’t be there to take the blame. Go for it!

Stop making excuses

Last year I had a goal if getting an article published by a major Christian magazine. I felt discouraged because my writing wasn’t getting more recognition. I felt I had something to say, but no one was listening. Then I asked myself, how many magazines have I submitted articles to? Am I expecting people to chase me down and ask me to write for them? Of course, that’s what I wanted, but that is the easy way out. It wouldn’t require any effort on my part.

As long as I didn’t put myself out there, I didn’t have to deal with the rejection that may come if this didn’t happen. I could still make the excuse that I was good enough, but I just wasn’t being given a chance. Putting myself out there would get rid of my excuses and force me to deal with that fact that I may, or may not be good enough… yet.

I did get an article published last year by Relevant Magazine. They put it on their homepage twice last year, and you can read it here.

Do you need to stop doing any of these three things? Can you think of anything else that is keeping your form doing more?

Let me know in the comments or send me a message!