It’s a rare state that can boast two of the top-ranking teams in college football, and Birmingham, Ala., residents root for the ’Bama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers with equal zeal in autumn. The cause they unite for? The Magic City’s mouthwatering breakfast spots.
By Jenny Adams
Serving what heart attacks are made of since 1957, Niki’s West has been family-run for generations. Inside, settle down to a heaping breakfast of pork chops drowning in the yolks of over-easy eggs, or biscuits swimming similarly in milk gravy. However, many people prefer lunchtime, when the tradition of Southern supper comes to life. From Stuffed Devil Crabs to Red Snapper to Speckled Trout Almondine, each fish (and most of the menu) comes deep-fried upon request. Admire the locally loved, hilarious wall sign while you wait. It reads: “No Tank Tops, No Bare Feet, No Rollers on Head.” Apparently, if you’re inclined to dine barefoot with curlers in your hair, this is not your spot. 233 Finley Ave. W., nikiswest.com
Overlooking Rushton Park, Rojo’s outdoor patio is open year-round (thanks to heaters and faux walls in winter) and always dripping with people-watching potential. The vibe’s cantina casual, with a walk-up counter and laminated, two-sided menus. The front offers American classics; go for the messy, spicy Buffalo chicken sandwich or a delightfully cold scoop of basil chicken salad on a bun. The back has Latin fare, including chorizo tacos smothered in pico de gallo and jack cheese and the uberpopular red chili pork burrito, which comes with shredded slow-smoked pork and a signature sauce that’s honestly worth the pain of putting it atop last night’s tequila shots. 2921 Highland Ave. S., rojobirmingham.com
In 2009, Trattoria Centrale entered the Birmingham food scene with guns blazing. Opened by Geoff Lockert and Brian Somershield (both chefs previously worked under James Beard Award-winning chef Frank Stitt), the restaurant garners deserved press for its dinner options and an equal amount for its morning menus. The guys focus on locally sourced products from sustainable purveyors and farms across Alabama. Weekdays, fill up on lattes brewed with local milk and fresh-baked cherry-rosemary scones; on Sundays, the brunch menu’s crowning glory is the breakfast pizza topped with a fried farm egg. 207A 20th St. North, trattoriacentrale.com
LATE-NIGHT NOSH: Marty’s (1813 10th Ct. S., martysbar.com) is open from 4 p.m. until 6 a.m., 365 days a year, and it’s the spot for your past-midnight fourth meal. Order the Patty Melt. It comes with a greasy, mouthwatering 8-ounce Angus beef patty, slathered in sautéed onions and a double dose of American and Swiss cheese, all sandwiched between crisp, charred white toast. The small two-room venue also hosts amazing live music by regional and local rock bands.