Man, the food post was really, really popular. In this installment of "Why going to the Birmingham Bowl sucks, but Birmingham is still awesome and here is why," we'll explore Birmingham's best bars and breweries.
1. Paramount. 200 20th Street N., Birmingham. Paramount is one of the newer bars in Birmingham, and it's Chuck E. Cheese for adults aged 30-45. Great TV's, an open layout and pretty good drink prices. But two things make Paramount great:
A. Food. With a kitchen that stays open pretty late, Paramount serves its' take on Nashville hot chicken, and it also makes great hot dogs, but not really the classic Birmingham dog I mentioned in the food post.
B. The arcade. Paramount has skeeball. It also has pop-a-shot, sit down racing games, Mortal Kombat, first person shooters - basically, everything that you could find in Chuck E. Cheese in 1993. But no ball pit. We can't all be perfect.
2. The J. Clyde. 1312 Cobb Lane, Birmingham. The J. Clyde is the award-winner - one of the 100 best beer bars in America. The J. Clyde only serves beer, by the way, and don't go to The J. Clyde and order a Bud Light because A. You're a newb and B. They don't have it anyway.
Ask the bartender for a recommendation if you can't choose from the menu of hundreds of beers; he or she will be happy to help. The J. Clyde has a really great patio that will be heated if it's cold out, and it has an incredibly underrated food menu, which I grazed in the food post.
3. The Garage. 2304 10th Terrace S., Birmingham. The Garage is an award-winner in its own right - Esquire once called it one of the best bars in America to travel for. Ownership has changed following original owner Jimmy Watson's recent passing, but unlike Marty's, minimal change was made to the bar's original aesthetic.
The Garage has a courtyard that has multiple storage units filled with antiques and other various knickknacks. The bar is cash only, there aren't fancy glasses and I don't even think there's a television. There are good sandwiches, cold beer, and good folks in a comfortable atmosphere with a huge outdoor seating space.
4. Dave's Pub. 1128 20th St. S., Birmingham. Dave's is one of the older bars in Southside, and maybe all of Birmingham, which is to say, they just celebrated their 20th anniversary.
Its patio overlooks the center of Five Points, which offers plenty of interesting things to see. Its interior is simple: just a big, dark Irish pub with sports on TV. Since the closing of Courtyard Oyster Bar, this has probably been the bar in my neighborhood that I frequent the most.
5. Blue Monkey Lounge. 1318 Cobb Lane, Birmingham. Next door to The J. Clyde, Blue Monkey is in a basement. It has a million nooks and crannies with big leather couches and I think Steve still plays piano in the back room and takes requests. Blue Monkey is typically great for large, mixed-gender company and its seating arrangements invite a lot of great conversation. Try the martinis.
6. Jack Brown's Beer and Burger Joint. 2811 7th Ave. S., Birmingham. Again, a chain, but again, a small one with great, perfectly portioned burgers and the Notcher's Club. And that last part is key because the encouragement to return - a lot - means that you'll start knowing the other regulars in no time. A sign on Jack Brown's wall declares, "No, we don't have wifi. Talk to each other."
7 Starz. 730 Valley Ave., Birmingham. I have no idea how Starz manages to stay open at this point, but it's my favorite karaoke bar on earth, even though they haven't updated their song selection in five years. Some of my favorite nights in Birmingham have been spent at Starz, a karaoke bar more inclusive and diverse than anything that you could imagine existing in Birmingham; a pretty perfect representation of what this city actually is, to be honest.
8. 41st Street Pub and Aircraft Sales. 130 41st St. S. #105, Birmingham. 41st is a relative newcomer, too. They have a legendary Moscow Mule, and a table top shuffleboard game. They'll also likely have an upside down Christmas tree hanging from their ceiling while you're in town. It's another bar that opts for a lot of seating that puts folks in a circle, inviting more conversation.
9. Parkside. 4036 5th Ave. S., Birmingham. Parkside should probably be higher, but here's why it isn't: it's essentially new Garage. In an old house around the corner from 41st Street Pub and Aircraft Sales, Parkside has a big outdoor seating space with a food truck called Hot Box that has been so successful it is opening a brick and mortar location of its own across the street. Parkside will also host an occasional rock and roll show. With the closure of BottleTree in March, Parkside is now Avondale's oldest resident, a booming community in Birmingham that owes its growth to those two spaces as much as it owes its growth to the Lake brothers of Avondale Brewing.
10. Lou's Pub and Package Store. 726 29th St. S., Birmingham. Lou's is in Lakeview and it has become famous for its "church nights" each Sunday and Wednesday. One of Birmingham's most talented mixologists, Angel Negrin, crafts delicious cocktails on these nights, and typically they are no more than $5-$7. Every other night, it's still a great bar, one of a handful of Birmingham spots with a steady clientele of regulars. It's also actually, as the name suggests, a package store, too.
11. Carrigan's Public House. 2430 Morris Ave., Birmingham. Carrigan's is also a new kid on the block, but they have a really great rooftop patio. They also have a great "small plate" type of menu, and for those two things, I'll make this list eleven just to include them.
1. Good People Brewing Company. 114 14th St. S., Birmingham. Good People started slinging hops the moment that the hops were freed. It's Birmingham's oldest beer still in operation (since 2008!), and it is the best. The tap room typically offers things that can't be found in stores, and the "courtyard" offers giant Jenga. Girls love giant Jenga. Good People was founded by a Barner, and it's one of the most charitable businesses you'll find in Birmingham. It's also across the street from our newest gem - Regions Field. Get a peak at why we love the hell out of AA baseball now.
Not much can beat the Brown or the Coffee Oatmeal Stout.
2. Trim Tab Brewing Company. 2721 5th Ave. S., Birmingham. Trim Tab is currently making my favorite Birmingham beer - the Raspberry Berliner Weisse. I could drink a million and a half of them. I also saw a bicycle jousting event there this year, which is the wackiest thing I've seen since BottleTree closed. I like what these guys are about.
3. Avondale Brewing Company. 201 41st St. S., Birmingham. The backbone of Avondale, ABC has a massive backyard with a stage that has been large enough to host George Clinton and Warren Haynes. The folks at Avondale not only helped revitalize a community that is home to Saw's Soul Kitchen, Post Office Pies, Saturn and Satellite, 41st Street Pub and Aircraft Sales, Melt, Rowe's, and more, it's also an incredibly charitable business that frequently hosts fundraisers for non-profits in the community. Try the Vanillaphant Porter.
Until next time, when we explore hotels and attractions...