Tuscaloosa and the surrounding area feature a strongly diverse set of culinary traditions. Traditional ethnic choices such as Thai, Indian, Japanese, Italian and Mediterranean are all available. There are also a number of very friendly cafes featuring homestyle cooking and the famous "meat-and-three" combo. Fine dining options include Epiphany in downtown Tuscaloosa, Kozy's tucked away on Loop Road, Opus in quaint downtown Northport, and the Cypress Inn, nestled on the north bank of the Black Warrior River. Fig on McFarland uses high quality ingredients for both eat-in or take-out meals. For excellent catfish, you can also visit Catfish Heaven. And then there's the grand Southern tradition of barbeque. Who's got the best in town? Any Tuscaloosan who knows his or her stuff will argue the merits of Dreamland, Archibald's, or Woodrow's, depending on individual taste. Of course, the only way to be sure which you prefer is to sample them all yourself.
For recent reviews of several places around town, check out Druid City Eats, a blog created by PhD candidate Natalie Hopper.
City Café: Really cheap, really good down home breakfast. (Historic downtown Northport)
Waysider: Exactly what you think of when you think of Southern-style breakfast. (Greensboro Ave, just past 15th St)
Rama Jama’s: As greasy and good as it gets. (At the southwest corner of the stadium)
Edelweiss: German-style bakery and coffee shop. The pretzel rolls are to die for. (On 4th St, one block behind University Ave, downtown)
Crimson Cafe: Located on the Strip, this is the only off-campus coffee shop within walking distance of UA. Independently owned and operated, Crimson Cafe has recently re-opened after having been forced to close briefly in response to pressure from a large corporation. The reinvented Crimson Cafe has a slightly different business model but still offers great coffee, free wifi, and a good atmosphere for getting work done between classes.
Heritage House: Great variety and quality of brews and specialty drinks. (In the Winn-Dixie Strip, just over the Northport line, on McFarland)
Chloe’s Cup: Fair Trade coffee, sandwiches, and desserts. (Downtown, in the same strip as Moe's BBQ)
Panera Bread: Fresh breaked bread, good coffee, and free wifi make this a great place to work. (Midtown Village)
Dreamland: "Ain't nothing like 'em nowhere!" The slogan really does say it all. Arguably (and BBQ is definitely an arguable topic) the best ribs in the state. The original location is hidden away at 5535 15th Avenue East, off Jug Factory Road, south of Skyland Blvd. There's also a newer location just north of the river under the Lurleen Wallace bridge; it lacks the authentic atmosphere of the original but the food tastes just as good.
Archibald's: Established in 1962, Archibald's makes quite possibly the best pulled pork sandwich in the state. The barbecue is made the old-school way, in a wood-burning stove, and there isn't much but a counter top and a rickety picnic table outside. The smokehouse is a bit tricky to find atop a small hill at 1211 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Northport, but it's well worth the trip.
Archibald's and Woodrow's: Another location on Greensboro Avenue, a stone's throw from Skyland Blvd.
Mike and Ed's BBQ: If you want a barbecue sandwich and sides (and sweet tea!), you want Mike and Ed's. The original location on 15th Street on the north edge of the Forest Lake neighborhood was destroyed by the April 27th tornado, but they have opened a store at 2910 5th St in Northport (the old Bottomfeeder's) while they rebuild. Check them out and help support our local businesses in the rebuilding effort!
Full Moon BBQ: Another Tuscaloosa landmark destroyed by the tornado, Full Moon has reopened at 2231 Veterans Memorial Parkway.
Lunch / Casual Dinner
Rama Jama’s: Burgers, shakes, and a BL(fried green)T that changes lives. (At the southwest corner of the stadium)
Fig: Mediterranean-influenced. Soups, salads, sandwiches, and entrees. (Frontage road between Rice Mine Rd exit on McFarland and Ruby Tuesday)
Zoe’s Kitchen: Quasi-Mediterranean deli. Sandwiches, wraps, and salads. (Behind Ruby Tuesday, on McFarland, just across the bridge)
Little Italy Pizzeria: Neapolitan and Sicilian pizza by the slice. (In the strip mall across from Publix on The Strip)
Lopez: Formerly known as Lupe's, the tastiest Mexican restaurant in town has, unfortunately, left its cute little abode and moved next to a Texaco near the intersection of highways 43 and 171. The atmosphere is no longer the same, but the staff are, and the food is just as delicious as before.
Oasis: Dark, loud, and full of locals and great burgers. (University Blvd East in Cottondale)
Maggie's Diner: You cannot find a more authentic "meat-and-three" than this place. Maggie is always behind the counter ready to serve locals who know good cooking when they taste it.
Nick's in the Sticks: "A Tuscaloosa gem. A true diamond in the rough." "It's a small cinder block building with no sign. And you know what? That's fine because it doesn't need one." (4018 Culver Road)
Catfish Heaven: Another hidden treasure, Catfish Heaven is located at 2502 21st St in an inconspicuous beige building in Tuscaloosa’s West End neighborhood, nearly underneath I-359. The menu is pretty straightforward: catfish filets and pan trout (aka whiting) filets. You can order whole catfish as well. Each batch is fried up to order.
Hooligans: American & Mediterranean food. Great burgers and fries. Even better gyros. Don't forget to try the mint sweet tea! (On University, between downtown and the strip, next to Innisfree)
Big Daddy's Cafe: "The Little Place with the Big Taste". Tuscaloosa's only hookah bar is also famous for its delicious gyros & kebab. If hookah isn't your thing, no worries: lunch is hookah-free and there is also a separate dining-only area. Open late on weekends. Delivery also available.
Five Guys Burgers: Stellar burgers and tons of fries. (Midtown Village)
Tut's Place: Another Tuscaloosa staple on the Strip. Famous for their pizza, but the sandwiches are also delicious enough to make you feel kind of bad for Subway next door. This is one of those places you hear alumni say they have to visit every time they're in town. Delivery available.
Mugshots Grill & Bar: "From appetizers to desserts, from burgers to beer...and everything in between". Located downtown, Mugshots is one of those places that always seems to be busy, but don't let that deter you. This classic bar & grill menu is as a big hit with visiting parents as it is with the student clientele.
Yakamoz Turkish Restaurant: Tuscaloosa's only Turkish restaurant opened in July 2011. (501 Hargrove Rd East, Suite A)
Baumhower's Wings: Sports Bar with one of the largest menus in town. (Take the Campus Dr. exit off McFarland)
Epiphany Cafe: "The cuisine is Progressive New American with a strong emphasis on local and regional ingredients." Epiphany Cafe's menu features ingredients selected based upon "where they came from, how they were raised, and of course taste." Fine dining for those concerned about sustainability!
Kozy's: Tucked away on Loop Road, Kozy's is one of the finest restaurants in Tuscaloosa. The classy, old-style Hollywood décor alone makes this place worth checking out. It has the most complete wine list in town, featuring pages and pages of grape-derived goodness.
Opus: Brought to you by the owners of Kozy's, Opus features a slightly less expensive but just as delicious menu. Located in quaint downtown Northport, this place is not to be missed. Like Kozy's, they even have live piano music played on a baby grand!
Five: Tuscaloosa's newest restaurant for a nice evening out. Five is a concept, and it works. The menu features 5 main choices, 5 snacks, 5 white wines, 5 red wines, 5 signature cocktails, and 5 Sunday brunch options, plus 1 nightly special. Great décor, but sometimes the music tends to get too loud for dinner conversation.
Depalma's Italian Cafe: Located downtown, Depalmas offers authentic & delicious Italian cuisine made fresh daily. Salads, pizzas, pastas, and calzones are all stellar. Great atmosphere--perfect for a date night. To-go options also available.
Chuck's Fish: Also downtown, Chuck's is definitely one of the more upscale restaurants in T-town, but it specializes in Gulf Coast seafood and also offers sushi. Wednesday is Ladies Night.
Cypress Inn: Great drinks (any kind of –tini), appetizers (shrimp dip), and desserts (bread pudding!). The entrées aren't bad, and the view over the Black Warrior River is beautiful. Located on Rice Mine Road.
Evangeline’s: Located on McFarland north of the river, Evangeline's is another of Tuscaloosa's fine dining establishments. "With an artistic and luxurious interior, the ambiance is warm, welcoming and sure to delight all your senses."
Surin of Thailand: Surin offers a full menu of delicious Thai food for both lunch & dinner. They also offer their famous Midnight Sushi starting at 11pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with $1 sushi & appetizer, $2 off Martinis & $1 Sake bombs. Great way to kickoff your weekend!
Ruan Thai: Delicious large portions of Thai food for a reasonable price in a quaint setting right on The Strip. Also has a great lunch menu.
Carmelo Café: Another newly opened restaurant that describes itself as "a southern kitchen with a twist". Service can be slow, but the food tends to be good.
Iguana Grill: Upscale Mexican. Good food and great ambiance. (Midtown Village)