Stories / Interviews

Ask a Chef: Chris Hastings, Where Should We Eat in Birmingham, Alabama?

JBF Editors

JBF Editors

January 28, 2013


Chris Hastings

When Chris Hastings isn't serving up his brand of refined farm-to-table cuisine at the acclaimed Hot and Hot Fish Club, the 2012 JBF Award winner can be found checking out his local dining scene. “Birmingham is a small city bursting at the seams with authentic, locally-owned restaurants,” he says. Here are a few of his favorite spots.

Late Night Dining

Cantina on Wheels

“Birmingham’s first and only authentic Mexican food truck also serves the best garlic cheese fries and rice and beans. They can be caught late night in the Lakeview area.”

Quintessential Alabama Cooking

Saw’s BBQ

“We love this place for quintessential Alabama barbecue. Lots of awesome go-to comfort food. They're known for their signature sauces, and my wife loves their sides and vegetables.”

Special Occasion


“The owners are always warm and accommodating. It’s booked way in advance, but they do their best to fit us in. It has an intimate yet lively setting that feels like my own home. “

Quick Snack

Shindigs Food Truck

“A couple of former sous-chefs of mine are doing some of the most creative, healthy food I've ever seen out of a food truck, and they're using almost 100 percent local products.”

Brick and Tin

"A great local spot. We usually call in our orders for pick up. Great creative sandwiches, soups, and sides.” 

Family Dinner

Hot and Hot Fish Club

“Our boys love coming here from college. They've worked here, they know the staff, everyone is family. It's comfortable. It's home. And of course, the food is great!”

Date Night 


“It has a small intimate setting and they have the best authentic sushi in town. We also love their signature cocktails.”


Tratorria Centrale

“Another locally owned spot. They make a mean French toast with accents that change seasonally. There's nothing better than a down-home, filling brunch.”

Sustainable/Local Cooking

Ollie Irene 

“This new locally-owned community restaurant stands out for fresh, sustainable, local, and organic cooking. We like to stop in our our way home from work. Chris Newsome is doing a great job using ingredients from local farmers and creating innovative dishes that let the produce shine.”

Wild Card Lunch Spot

The Red Pearl Restaurant in the Super Oriental Market

“Fresh, authentic Chinese food with a great market that offers all kinds of exotic Asian ingredients. Plus, I can get a pink Pokemon purse any time I want.”