Summertime represents many things to many different people. For many, it’s a season full of lake days, going to summer camp, or working on projects in the home. For me, it means taking advantage of the lighter daytime traffic and enjoying multiple lunch dates with my husband and my gal pals at all the restaurants that are usually packed during the fall and spring semesters.
Perhaps I’m biased, but Tuscaloosa has it going on when it comes to the food scene. Outside of the boom with traditional brick and mortar establishments, it’s hard to ignore how Tuscaloosa and Northport have embraced the food truck movement. New to the gastronomic action-on-wheels is Say Cheese, a grilled cheese based food truck which launched just last month.
For grilled cheese masters Chris Bostick and Collin Spradley, owners of Say Cheese, their business is all about the food and paying it forward.
Pizza, hot wings, barbecue, and maybe even fried catfish top the list of delectable eats that most folks think of when it comes to Tuscaloosa. However, examine our eateries and food preferences closely, and you’ll find an interesting foodie revelation … Tuscaloosa loves sushi. I’m in the majority, too, but I wondered: What is it about sushi that is so special?
“I love the fact that sushi isn’t just about raw fish anymore, but has more variety that appeals to everyone,” said Tuscaloosa resident Lauren Winters. “Sushi always makes a fun girls night!”
Whether it’s from a hibachi steakhouse, fine dining establishment, or the convenience of a local grocery store, any sushi lover can easily find some tasty rolls to satisfy that Asian craving. Check out a few of my favorite sushi locations quite worthy of a sushi soiree anytime this month.
As a John Cassimus founded establishment, you already know this place must be good. What makes it even better is the fresh take on sushi. As a fast-casual establishment, folks can avoid long waits at traditional sit down restaurants while still enjoying made-to-order sushi. If that isn’t enough, you can quench your sushi flavors craving in the form of a sumptuous rice bowl.
Chuck’s Fish are where sushi dreams are made of. Whether it’s a romantic dinner out with a loved one, or a fun and sassy girls’ night out, Chuck’s is a premiere sushi location. With specialty rolls that can be found nowhere else in Tuscaloosa, you haven’t had sushi until you’ve had Chuck’s sushi. Watch sushi chefs Brandon Hicks and Cory Johnson put on a show as they meticulously create your sushi masterpiece. And hey, if your dinner date isn’t into seafood, Chuck’s has steak and bacon lovers accounted for in their sushi creations.
If you thought that there was no convenient way to get delicious sushi home ASAP to enjoy in your sweat pants, you were wrong. It almost seems too good to be true to walk down the aisles of the grocery store finding an impressive wine, ice cream, and sushi selection all in one place! Hello Friday night! Sure, they’ve got other things, but sushi quality is high on the priority list for the staff at Fresh Market. From Cajun crawfish rolls to spicy tuna rice bowls, Fresh Market offers options that allow you to nosh while watching Netflix from the comfort of your very own couch.
We are fortunate beyond measure in this great area of ours to have so many wonderful restaurants and bars – special places we love. Some have sentimental value; others are new and exciting, and still others we love…just because. The word I’m searching for here is “ambience,” I think. I wanted, this month, to focus on some places around Tuscaloosa and Northport that offer up not only great food, but also great views *as* you enjoy a meal and/or cocktails. It’s hard to narrow this town, but after much deliberation, these are the favorites.
Few things are as thrilling as being in BDS on an Alabama game day. But let’s face it, a lot of us don’t get season tickets, and we’re super lucky if we score tickets to one or two Bama games all season long. And these days, many of us who are lucky enough to live and work in this wonderful Druid City host friends who love coming to visit on big game weekends – whether they have tickets or not. Sure, you can host your own home tailgating party (or crash someone else’s, preferably on or around The Quad) – but what if you want to get out and watch the game?
There are a lot of great places to watch Alabama games in Tuscaloosa and have a great experience among like-minded fans. With football season in full swing now (can we get a “Roll Tide”?!), I thought this might be the perfect time to put together this handy dandy list, so we all can have plans in place.
One can never have too many pizza options, right? In a college town like Tuscaloosa, the answer is a sure fire, “No way!” Making a late December debut, Post Office Pies, located in downtown Tuscaloosa right behind Innisfree Irish Pub, is just shy of being two months old. Despite being here only a short time, word has traveled fast through T-Town that this is the next pizza hot spot.
I had a chance to interview Post Office Pies’ Social Media Manager Rachel Wallace, who was kind enough to share the eatery’s history with me. “John Hall, our chef and one of our three owners, made his culinary mark in Manhattan,” Wallace said. “There, he developed a passion and love for New York-style pizza. He even ran a bike pizza delivery service out of his Brooklyn apartment.”
Several area elementary school students recently got some first-hand cooking experience, learning to whip up delicious recipes from fresh produce. And the results were quite tasty, and others experienced the fun this week.
The Druid City Garden Project recently teamed up with The Levee Bar & Grill to host a cooking event at Flatwoods Elementary and Faucett-Vestavia Elementary Schools, allowing kids to get hands-on experience cooking with fresh produce.
“The food lessons give kids in DCGP’s two newest schools, who have been working hard this semester in their new school gardens, an opportunity taste these vegetables,” said Lindsay Turner, Druid City Garden Project’s executive director.
By Sheena Gregg
Savvy area historians may know that Tuscaloosa’s L&N Train Station served as the passenger Louisville-to-Nashville train station for over five decades. The stunning building, located at 301 Greensboro Avenue, has since been rented out as a private events facility, hosting everything from “house” parties to wedding receptions. Now, the space will house downtown Tuscaloosa’s newest restaurant: 301 Bistro, Bar and Beer Garden, which is expected to open this month, offering nightly dinner and Sunday brunch.
The owners of 301 Bistro are spiritedly calling the featured cuisine “Tuscaloosa fusion.” Owner Bill Lloyd said the restaurant will be an homage to all the things that make Tuscaloosa great.
“It will honor the German community that is such an integral part of the area, as well as Tuscaloosa’s ‘southernness,’ with a bit of Creole and Gulf Coast,” Lloyd said. “We will, as much as possible, use fresh, locally grown seasonal vegetables, and the menu will include several vegetarian options.”
By Sheena Gregg
Tuscaloosa’s Shoppes at Legacy Park has been booming with new business lately, including the deliciously famous Chuy’s Tex-Mex Restaurant, which opened last month. The Austin, Texas-based eatery promises to give its customers a unique experience, one that includes delivering the full, fresh flavors that their food and drinks are known for.
“We want people coming in to expect exceptional service, a great, family-friendly atmosphere, and amazing fresh food,” said Nick Gordzelik, owner and operator of Chuy’s in Tuscaloosa. “We want to keep our folks happy and we try our best to fulfill any dietary modification requests.”
On that note, patrons can expect bold flavors in a variety of sizes – something not always offered in other restaurants. Chuy’s offers menu items in half or mini orders, allowing diners to adjust their portion size without sacrificing taste. Made from scratch sauces such as the tomatillo, ranchero, and creamy jalapeno are just a few from the bunch of Chuy’s unique sauce repertoire.
Eating out at restaurants is often seen as an obstacle when trying to maintain a healthy diet for weight or chronic disease management, and in coming days, many of us will eat out as we’re running about town to and from shopping trips and travel.
However, many restaurants are willing to work with their customers to modify entrees in order to meet any special dietary restrictions. Don’t be afraid to ask your server if modifications can be made to a dish, or consider calling the restaurant ahead of time to speak with the kitchen staff.
The University of Alabama’s Sheena Gregg, also a DCL writer (we’re so proud!) offers a few strategies for ordering healthier options to accommodate your dietary restrictions.
- Be mindful of sauces and dressings. Many restaurants are notoriously liberal with the amount of sauce or salad dressing that is used on entrees. Ask for dressings to be put on the side or if there are lighter calorie options of sauces or dips that are not exclusively listed on the menu.