Updated: May 4
Tailgating and stadium food might be some people's ideas of the Tuscaloosa culinary experience, but let me encourage you to venture out further. Come early, stay late, or visit when no football is being played. There's some great food to be enjoyed. Here are 5 restaurants that I had a chance to sample recently.
Juicy, sauce-laden ribs (requiring MANY napkins) and sliced white bread are the original signature items representing Dreamland BBQ, but now you can find much more. Going strong since John "Big Daddy" Bishop followed his dream and opened a restaurant in Tuscaloosa in 1958, Dreamland now has 11 locations, up and down the state of Alabama and crossing into Georgia and Florida.
Chicken, chopped pork, link sausage, and Brunswick stew are now on the menu, along with sides potato salad, slaw, baked beans, homemade potato chips, mac and cheese, French fries, and my personal fave -- fried okra. By all means, save room for the banana pudding. It has the perfect ratio of vanilla wafers to bananas. :)
Jalapenos Mexican Grill
All of your expected Mexican favorites appear on the extensive menu at Jalapenos Mexican Grill, but one item will catch your eye as unique -- FAJITA GUMBO! Mercy, it's good. Plenty of meat and spices that pair perfectly with rice.
Service is friendly and attentive -- no doubt due to the leadership and influence of owner Jheovanny Gomez. Gomez worked as a busboy to pay his way through school and was undoubtedly an astute learner. He moved up the ladder, was named Alabama Retailer of the Year in 2016, and now has 3 Tuscaloosa-area locations. This is an exceptional Mexican restaurant.
Charles Morgan III is the owner and visionary behind the restaurant that he named in honor of his father Chuck who was an attorney who became very involved in civil rights and racial equality cases following the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham in 1963. Charles III owned Harbor Docks in Destin, Florida, and knew a lot about seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.
The menu at Chuck's Fish is heavily skewed toward seafood, naturally, but also offers steaks, sushi, pizzas, salads, and incredible desserts. Must-try items are the Blondie Sundae and the White Chocolate Bread Pudding.
Urban Bar & Kitchen
Located in a vintage building in the heart of downtown on University Boulevard, Urban Bar & Kitchen is well-suited for the business community, as well as students, their parents, and faculty from the University of Alabama.
The menu has lots of sandwiches, taco varieties, salads, and appetizers along with entrees ranging from shrimp & grits or Southern fried pork chops to pasta or crab cakes and beyond. This is another place where you might want to save room for dessert.
Heritage House Coffee & Tea
In two of the Heritage House Coffee & Tea locations, you'll find pastries and a wide selection of coffees and teas along with the attractive decor and a come-stay-awhile vibe. Light breakfast and lunch options are also available. A third location has recently opened that offers a dinner service several nights a week. I particularly liked the prayer wall where visitors can place their prayer requests.
If you're looking for breakfast choices, I mentioned Rama Jama's and Historic Waysider Restaurant in this post a couple of weeks ago.
Also, here's my article in TravelAwaits.com about Tuscaloosa eateries --https://www.travelawaits.com/2746401/best-tuscaloosa-restaurants/
So now let me hear from my readers who are Crimson Tide fans. What are some of your favorite eateries when you roll into T-Town?