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Best Restaurants in Alabama: A Definitive Guide for Food Lovers

Alabama, steeped in a rich cultural tradition, is a treasure trove of culinary delights waiting to be explored. With a vast array of delectable Southern dishes on offer, the state is known for its vibrant flavors, family-owned establishments, and authentic dining experiences. From city hotspots to hidden gems, Alabama’s restaurants are leaving their mark on the food landscape, gaining recognition both locally and nationally.

restaurant foods

As you embark on a journey through Alabama’s most exceptional culinary destinations, you’ll be met with an array of regional cuisines and unique flavors that reflect the state’s deep-rooted cultural history. The melding of traditional recipes with contemporary flair ensures that every diner is treated to a mouthwatering experience. Additionally, the warm and inviting atmosphere of these restaurants makes each visit an unforgettably memorable occasion.

Key Takeaways

  • Alabama offers a diverse array of culinary experiences, boasting traditional Southern flavors and innovative cuisine
  • The state is home to numerous notable restaurants, making it an ideal dining destination for food enthusiasts
  • Reservations and partnerships with sites like OpenTable make it easy to discover and book the perfect dining experience in Alabama.

Top Cities for Dining


Birmingham boasts a diverse culinary scene, offering a rich array of dining options for foodies. For an exceptional Italian experience, Bocca Ristorante and Amore are two highly-rated establishments worth visiting. Additionally, seafood lovers should head to Hot and Hot Fish Club for a taste of the freshest catch.


In Huntsville, you’ll find an array of delicious restaurants catering to various tastes. Cotton Row Restaurant is a prime spot for those craving Southern classics, while Commerce Kitchen offers a mix of traditional and modern American dishes. The steak lovers can head to the popular steakhouse in the city.

Orange Beach

With breathtaking seaside views, Orange Beach is a great destination for dining on fresh seafood. Enticing local favorites include Fisher’s at Orange Beach Marina and Cobalt, the Restaurant. Both establishments serve a range of delectable seafood dishes, often featuring locally-sourced ingredients.


Located along the beautiful Coosa River, Gadsden presents a charming backdrop for a memorable dining experience. Be sure to check out the local favorite, Tre Ragazzi’s Italian Cafe, where you can indulge in classic Italian favorites, or visit The Rail Public House to experience a more casual yet exceptional dining setting.

Keep in mind that these are just a few examples of the top places to dine in Alabama. There are countless other hidden gems scattered across the state, so be sure to explore Alabama’s culinary landscape and discover your own favorites.

Best Regional Cuisines

Southern Comfort Food

Alabama is known for its rich and flavorful Southern comfort food, which offers a variety of hearty dishes that will satisfy your taste buds. One such place to indulge in authentic Southern cuisine is Dot’s Soul Food Restaurant in Hillsboro where you can escape the cold and warm up with a plate of delicious country cuisine.


Barbecue enthusiasts will be delighted with the abundant BBQ offerings in Alabama. With traditions originating from all over the American South, Alabama’s BBQ scene boasts a unique blend of flavors and techniques. Don’t miss the chance to experience smoked meats and delicious sauces at BBQ spots throughout the state.

  • [Ribs]: Classic Alabama BBQ dishes include tender and juicy ribs, often smoked with hickory or pecan wood.
  • [Pulled Pork]: For a taste of the South, try pulled pork served with Alabama’s famous white sauce.
  • [Sides]: Barbecue meals wouldn’t be complete without classic Southern sides, such as collard greens, mac and cheese, and cornbread.


In addition to its traditional Southern fare, Alabama is also home to some excellent Italian cuisine. Be sure to visit Bright Star Restaurant in Bessemer, which has been serving delicious Italian dishes since 1907, making it the oldest continuously-operating restaurant in the state. Their homemade lasagna, manicotti, and Greek-style snapper are just a few of the must-try dishes that showcase their flavorful Mediterranean influences.


As a state nestled along the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama boasts an impressive selection of fresh, locally sourced seafood. From roadside shacks to upscale dining establishments, the variety of seafood experiences available provide a taste of the ocean’s bounty.

  • [Oysters]: Gulf oysters are a regional specialty and can be enjoyed raw or prepared in various ways, such as char-grilled, Rockefeller, or Bienville.
  • [Shrimp]: Peeled, boiled, or fried, Alabama’s shrimp dishes are a must-try, especially when paired with a tangy cocktail sauce.
  • [Fish]: Enjoy fresh catches of the day, like grouper, snapper, or flounder, prepared in a variety of cooking styles, including pan-seared, blackened, or broiled.

Notable Restaurants in Alabama

Highlands Bar and Grill

Highlands Bar and Grill is a renowned restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama, offering a mix of French-inspired Southern cuisine. The restaurant’s cozy atmosphere, exceptional service, and mouth-watering meals make it perfect for a special occasion or a night out with friends.

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q

For barbecue lovers, Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q is a must-visit destination in Decatur, Alabama. Known for its hickory-smoked meats, homemade sauces, and signature white barbecue sauce, this restaurant has continuously satisfied the palates of their customers.

The Bright Star

The Bright Star, located in Bessemer, has made a name for itself as Alabama’s oldest family-owned restaurant. Since its establishment in 1907, it has been serving up delicious Greek-style steak and seafood dishes, leaving patrons eager to return for more.

Dot’s Soul Food Restaurant

Nestled in Hillsboro, Alabama, Dot’s Soul Food Restaurant provides warm, country cuisine with authentic Southern flavors. Known for their delicious comfort food and friendly ambiance, this restaurant is perfect for a taste of Alabama’s culinary roots.

Rattlesnake Saloon

Rattlesnake Saloon, situated in Tuscumbia, is both a unique dining experience and a fun adventure. With its rustic atmosphere and live music, visitors can indulge in tasty dishes such as burgers, wings, and steaks, making it a popular spot among locals and tourists.

Kowaliga Restaurant

Overlooking beautiful Lake Martin, Kowaliga Restaurant combines fresh seafood, Southern hospitality, and spectacular views. The menu offers delicious options such as fried catfish, shrimp and grits, and hickory-grilled steaks, all in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere.

Dreamland Bar-B-Que

Dreamland Bar-B-Que is another essential Alabama barbecue destination, offering smoky, tender, and savory dishes. With its original location in Tuscaloosa, this restaurant has expanded across Alabama, providing its delicious ribs and famous sauce to many fans.

Bates House of Turkey

Finally, located in Greenville and open since 1969, Bates House of Turkey is a family-run eatery specializing in all things turkey. From smoked turkey sandwiches to their famous Hickory Smoked, this restaurant has been consistently impressing visitors with their delectable dishes.

Unique Dining Experiences

360 Grille

360 Grille is an upscale restaurant offering a luxurious dining experience. It boasts a revolving panoramic view of the Florence area, allowing guests to enjoy a 360-degree scenic vista while sampling delicious cuisine. The menu features a variety of dishes, including seafood, steaks, and an extensive wine list. The elegant atmosphere and attentive service make 360 Grille an unforgettable dining experience in Alabama.

The Landing at Parker Creek

The Landing at Parker Creek is a casual dining destination situated on the shores of Lake Martin. With its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful waterfront views, it’s the perfect spot for a relaxed meal with friends and family. The menu offers a range of options, from burgers and sandwiches to seafood and Southern favorites. The restaurant also hosts various events and live music throughout the year, adding to the unique experience of dining at The Landing at Parker Creek.

Pane e Vino Pizzeria

Located in the heart of downtown Huntsville, Pane e Vino Pizzeria offers authentic Italian cuisine in a cozy and inviting atmosphere. Diners can savor brick-oven pizzas made from scratch and a selection of delicious pasta dishes, all prepared using the freshest ingredients. The restaurant also features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the stunning Huntsville Museum of Art and Big Spring Park, adding a touch of artistic elegance to the dining experience.

Awards and Reviews

Tripadvisor Rankings

According to Tripadvisor, the top ten restaurants in Alabama are as follows:

  1. Birmingham Restaurants
  2. Huntsville Restaurants
  3. Mobile Restaurants
  4. Montgomery Restaurants
  5. Tuscaloosa Restaurants
  6. Dothan Restaurants
  7. Auburn Restaurants
  8. Madison Restaurants
  9. Hoover Restaurants
  10. Decatur Restaurants

Additionally, Opentable has given high ratings to some standout restaurants in Alabama, such as:

  • Tom Brown’s Restaurant in Huntsville
  • Amore in Birmingham
  • Bocca Ristorante in Birmingham
  • Dread River Distilling Company in Birmingham

Local Resident Reviews

Only In Your State lists several award-winning restaurants in Alabama that come highly recommended by locals, including:

  • Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur: Known for its delicious barbecue dishes and two convenient locations.
  • Cotton Row Restaurant in Huntsville: A popular fine dining establishment with a menu that changes seasonally.
  • The Bright Star in Bessemer: Established in 1907, this is Alabama’s oldest family-owned restaurant, serving a variety of classic Southern dishes.

Keep these highly-rated, award-winning restaurants in mind when you visit Alabama for an exceptional dining experience.

Popular Dishes and Ingredients

Alabama offers a distinct dining experience with a rich culinary history. The state is teeming with a variety of popular dishes that showcase their local ingredients and Southern heritage. In this section, we’ll discuss some of the popular dishes and ingredients you can find at the best restaurants in Alabama.

One must-try dish in Alabama is the tomato pie, which is a savory classic that highlights the delicious flavor of fresh, ripe tomatoes. With its buttery crust, layers of tomatoes, and combination of cheese and herbs, this pie is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

If you have a sweet tooth, you can’t pass up the chance to indulge in some of Alabama’s famous desserts. Many bakeries and confectioners serve a selection of pies, cookies, and ice cream made with locally sourced ingredients and traditional recipes. Enjoy a slice of pecan pie, bite into a gooey chocolate chip cookie, or savor a scoop of homemade ice cream on a warm, sunny day.

No visit to Alabama would be complete without indulging in one of their signature dishes: fried chicken. This Southern staple is often accompanied by an array of freshly cooked vegetables, such as collard greens, okra, and cornbread. From farm-to-table restaurants to family-owned diners, you’ll find several places that serve the perfect plate of crispy fried chicken and creamy creamed potatoes.

Goat cheese has also made its mark on the Alabama culinary scene. Locally produced, this soft and creamy cheese adds a rich, tangy flavor to a variety of dishes. Try it sprinkled on fresh salads, paired with charcuterie boards, or even made into a decadent goat cheese ice cream.

Reservations and Partnerships

In Alabama, numerous top-notch restaurants have formed partnerships with reservation platforms to provide a seamless dining experience for customers. By working together, these establishments can efficiently manage bookings, ensuring that customers can reserve tables and enjoy the best meals in the state.

OpenTable is a prominent reservation platform in the United States that partners with many leading restaurants in Alabama. This platform enables diners to secure their seats at their favorite dining spots, while also providing the opportunity to discover new places to try. Each month, OpenTable analyzes over 400,000 diner reviews to determine the best overall restaurants in Alabama, offering a valuable resource for those looking to make reservations.

For restaurant owners, partnering with a reliable reservation service like OpenTable can boost their visibility, draw in more customers, and maintain a positive image in the industry. Restaurants can expect increased foot traffic and improved customer satisfaction, thanks to the ease of booking tables online. Additionally, the availability of diner feedback assists proprietors in fine-tuning their services and ensuring that food, ambiance, and service are up to par.

Showcasing the Best of Alabama’s Restaurants

Alabama offers a diverse culinary landscape, with some of the finest restaurants in the country. These establishments are known for their distinctive flavors, unique atmospheres, and exceptional hospitality. Here, we highlight a few of the best restaurants in Alabama that deserve a visit.

Baldwin County is home to Panini Pete’s, a Fairhope gem that has been featured on Guy Fieri’s popular show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Panini Pete’s serves up outstanding sandwiches and homemade beignets in a quaint ranch-style setting, making it a must-try in the state.

In Anniston, Classic on Noble brings sophistication and fine dining to the area. Known for its Southern-inspired cuisine made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients, the restaurant offers a delightful dining experience in an elegant and cozy atmosphere.

Cotton Row Restaurant, located in Huntsville, is renowned for its innovative food and stylish design. The chef and owner, James Boyce, combines modern American and classic Southern flavors to create an unforgettable dining experience. Cotton Row features a seasonal menu, which changes throughout the year, ensuring that every visit is different and exciting.

Niki’s West in Birmingham is a legendary spot for lovers of Southern comfort food. Established in 1957, it has been serving up mouthwatering dishes like fried chicken, collard greens, and cornbread for generations. With its cafeteria-style setup and extensive menu, Niki’s West offers a taste of authentic Southern cuisine that’s hard to resist.

Lake Martin nestled in the central region of Alabama is home to SpringHouse, a refined restaurant with a focus on farm-to-table fare. Executive Chef Rob McDaniel creates innovative dishes using ingredients sourced from local farms and purveyors. The picturesque surroundings and the rustic ambiance add to the charm of this eatery.

Located in the heart of Montgomery, Central provides a contemporary dining experience with a focus on local ingredients and regional Southern cuisine. Central’s innovative menu, paired with its sleek and modern design, makes it a popular choice among locals and tourists alike.

With so many fantastic options to choose from, there’s no shortage of exceptional dining experiences awaiting you in Alabama. Be sure to add these restaurants to your must-visit list when you’re in the area!