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SAW'S JUKE JOINT previously ORE Drink and Dine

Joined: February 8th, 2008, 2:52 am

October 30th, 2012, 6:11 pm #1

Saw's Juke Joint

Taylor Hicks partners with Saw's BBQ founder to open Saw's Juke Joint in former Ore location

By Bob Carlton |

October 30, 2012 at 7:30 AM,

Taylor Hicks plans to reopen his Ore Drink and Dine as Saw's Juke Joint.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Taylor Hicks’ Ore Drink and Dine restaurant and bar has a new name, a new menu and some new ownership, the 2006 “American Idol” winner said Monday night.

By this afternoon, Ore should reopen as Saw’s Juke Joint, a barbecue and blues bar that will be the third restaurant under the Saw’s brand started by Mike Wilson.

"The opportunity came up to partner with a great restaurant group, and we thought it fit the space perfectly," Hicks said Monday.

Wilson, who, along with Hicks, will be one of the co-owners of the new restaurant, opened his original Saw’s BBQ in Homewood’s Edgewood neighborhood in 2009, and he opened Saw’s Soul Kitchen with chef and co-owner Brandon Cain in Avondale earlier this year.

Hicks and some of his business partners opened Ore in former Open Door Café location in Birmingham's Crestline Park in April 2011. Ore's final day in business was Sunday, Hicks said.

He declined to say why Ore closed, except to say that Saw’s Juke Joint will be a better fit for the space.

“I think the concept fits the area perfectly,” Hicks said. “We all know Saw’s has the best barbecue in town, and the juke joint concept is a home run."

The menu will feature the Carolina-style barbecue that Saw’s is famous for, along with smoked wings, fried oyster sandwiches, fried green tomato BLTs and other Southern dishes that have become popular at Saw’s Soul Kitchen, Wilson said.
At night, the new Saw’s will double as a blues club, and the owners plan to bring in regional musicians who pass through town, Wilson added.

“Taylor’s deal is music and my deal is food, and his music goes hand-in-hand with my food,” Wilson said.

Partnering with Hicks and Wilson as a co-owner of Saw’s Juke Joint is Doug Smith, who formerly owned Smith’s Oysters & Steaks in the same Crestline Park shopping center.

Steve Luther, a former chef at Fire in Crestline Village, and John Hall, who has worked at Gramercy Tavern in New York, will be in the kitchen, Wilson said.

Ore featured an industrial-themed decor that celebrated Birmingham's history as a steel city, but Wilson said he is in the process of making it look more like a dive.

“That’s in the works,” he said. “It’s going to have a more relaxed, casual, juke joint, hole-in-the-wall feel," he said.

The restaurant, which will open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, should be ready to open by 4 p.m. today, Wilson said.


Saw’s Juke Joint opens tonight in Crestline

by Emily Lowrey • October 30, 2012 @ 3:30pm ... -crestline

Residents of Mountain Brook won’t have to drive far for a Saw’s burger with onion rings starting tonight. The popular local chain is expanding to its third location, taking over operations at Ore in Crestline.

“It’ll be everything you love from the Avondale location and the Homewood location, but we’ll also have a bar,” says Co-Owner Brandon Cain. Saw’s Juke Joint plans to offer the same selection of alcohol as Ore, including local craft brews. Cain says that live music will be added in the coming months.

It’s certainly been an interesting year for Cain, who back in early March was the chef de cuisine at Ocean before leaving to open Saw’s Soul Kitchen in Avondale with partner Mike Wilson in the same month. Wilson is the Founder and Owner of Saw’s in Homewood’s Edgewood neighborhood.

Cain’s involvement in the Saw’s enterprise has added affordable, upscale options to an already stellar menu. Items like soft shell crab BLT and a regular rotation of bread pudding desserts with seasonal fruits make a daily appearance on the Saw’s Soul Kitchen menu.

Photo: Fried porch sandwich with avocado cream and fried leeks, one of many limited specials on Saw’s menu.

“We felt like we needed to strike while the iron is hot, and this came up and we just couldn’t pass it up,” says Cain. “We’re really pleased that we could all work this out.”

“Avondale is not going anywhere. Avondale is still going to be the great thing it is. This will just us a chance to have more space and maybe give the big boys a run for their money at some point,” says Cain.

Taylor Hicks, Ore’s current owner, already invested in extensive renovations for the restaurant’s space. Ore has concrete floors and a downhome, upscale feel that will fit well with the Saw’s Juke Joint concept. Cain says he and Wilson aren’t expecting to make changes to the interior of restaurant. “We’ll change out the sign and that’s about it,” he says.

Details of the partnership have not been disclosed.

Saw’s Juke Joint will have a soft opening on Wednesday at 5:00pm. The restaurant will be open for dinner Monday - Saturday, and Cain says plans are in the works to serve lunch Monday - Saturday and also to offer a Sunday brunch.

Saw’s Juke Joint is located at 1115 Dunston Avenue in Mountain Brook.

Taylor , dropping in to Saw's to sing for his supper on November 15, 2012

credit to Lanaesgift

credit to Saws tweet

credit to Saw's tweet

Joined: February 8th, 2008, 2:52 am

November 27th, 2012, 12:19 pm #2

Saw's Juke Joint review: New Crestline restaurant a nice addition to neighborhood

November 26, 2012

(Photo by Fletcher Harvey)
By Susan Swagler

Clearly Crestline Park is ready for a juke joint. Ever since Ore suddenly closed one day and Saw’s Juke Joint opened in the same space a day or so later, the new place has been hopping.

And it’s just the kind of juke joint this neighborhood needs. A little funky, but not too much. At least, not scarily so. Upscale dive, it turns out, is not an oxymoron. In roughing up the place (you know, to make it look different in the timeframe of a mere day and a half), they took down the Ore signs and the wallpaper in the bar and handed out chalk so people could deface the dark walls.

Yes, chalk.

Saw’s is a family-friendly kind of juke joint. Sometimes mischievous children use that chalk to mismark the restrooms. Of course, these new designations are about knee high, so if you notice them, you probably also should notice the cab phone number written above the front door.


What: : Saw’s Juke Joint, 1115 Dunston Ave., Crestline Park; 205-745-3920

Prices: Sandwiches about $6, entrees around $10, burgers about $7, sides around $3

Hours: Kitchen open from 11 a.m. to around 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday; bar open until …; Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. .

Info: Full bar; credit cards accepted; reservations not accepted; not yet rated by Health Department

Bottom line: Review gets four stars out of five
Saw’s Juke Joint is a partnership between singer Taylor Hicks, Mike Wilson and Doug Smith. American Idol winner Hicks was a co-owner of Ore. Wilson has two other popular Saw’s-branded restaurants in town: the original Saw’s BBQ in Homewood’s close-knit Edgewood neighborhood and Saw’s Soul Kitchen down the street from Avondale Brewing Co. in the hip and historic Avondale area of south Birmingham. Doug Smith is no stranger to this part of town; he owned Otey’s in nearby Crestline Village at one point, and he owned Smith’s Oysters & Steaks, which used to be at the very opposite end of this same Crestline Park shopping center. (A place, by the way, that also is home to a small but well and thoughtfully stocked wine and beer store and a great bike shop that caters to cyclists of all ages and abilities.)

Saw’s Juke Joint is casual and comfortable. In addition to a full bar, you’ll find burgers, sandwiches, a couple entrees, stuffed baked potatoes, and some starters and sides on the chalkboard menus. There’s the vinegar-based Carolina-style barbecue that has made Saw’s locally famous, and you’ll also enjoy the grits and greens that keep customers coming back to the Soul Kitchen. The background music at Saw’s Juke Joint is blues, and there’s live music from regional bands on Thursdays and Fridays.

With all these complementary ingredients, this joint effort—part blues club, part restaurant—makes a whole lot of fun and delicious sense.

On our first visit for lunch the day before Thanksgiving, the place was packed, so we sat at the bar. And we immediately noticed that real cutlery and nearly all serving pieces that need washing went the way of the old Ore signs. Forks and knives are plastic. Plates and cups are Styrofoam. Napkins are paper towels.

A no-frills Bloody Mary came in a Styrofoam cup, which led me to believe that there were no glasses available at all. “Who serves a Bloody Mary in a Styrofoam cup?” I asked my husband. “Who orders a Bloody Mary in a juke joint?” he replied. Turns out there are glasses available, but you have to ask for one. Now you know.

Lunch got off to a great start with a couple of deviled eggs ($2.25) that featured just a touch of crunchy, sweet relish in the creamy yoke filling. But really, we had come in especially for the knife-and-fork burgers I had already heard so much about in the mere three weeks that Saw’s Juke Joint has been around.

The Carolina burger ($7.25), a mustardy play on the Carolina-style barbecue that Saw’s is known for, is piled high and overflowing with chili and slaw. The bartender handed this plate to me and then passed me a roll of paper towels, saying, “You’re gonna need this.”

This burger is a fabulous thing. (And judging from reviews, it is the main reason for the 93 percent “like it” rating on Urbanspoon.) The thick patty is juicy inside with a nice char on the outside and, together with the savory toppings, offers a delicious combination of flavors and textures.

The Saw’s Burger ($6.99), traditionally dressed with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, cheese and onions, is not nearly as complex but no less impressive. Both burgers came with plastic knives sticking out of them—necessary to keep it all together during the short trip from kitchen to table. The flimsy buns simply do not hold up to all that burger.

We loved both of the sides we ordered. They cost extra, but you get your money’s worth. The sweet potato fries ($2.75) and the onion rings ($3.25) are substantial— cut thick and cooked crisp. The batter on the rings is nice and light.

During a subsequent Saturday night dinner, we sat in the dining room where the wonderful reclaimed-wood paneling and bare bulbs from the previous industrial look of Ore apparently were suitably rough enough for juke joint décor.

We quickly realized that the wings ($6.99), a little sweet and not so spicy hot, are a must-have. They are smoked, and you’ll taste that; the flavor permeates the tender, moist meat. But they also are flash-fried before coming to the table, so they have a nice, almost-caramelized crust. A drizzle of Saw’s creamy white sauce looks good and tastes great. Our table also enjoyed a shared order of the sweet potato fries, which were just as firm and crunchy as before but needed a tad more salt this time.

A stuffed baked potato ($5.75) was notable for its enormous size. Ours was filled with still-crisp steamed broccoli, green onions and lots of finely shredded cheddar cheese.

The two sandwiches we tried, like the burgers, are piled full of ingredients and require a knife-and-fork approach. The fried green tomato BLT ($5.75) looked like a bacon explosion. We’re not complaining! It just took a few bites to get to the thick slices of tangy green, lightly fried tomato. The smoked chicken sandwich ($5.75) is slathered with Saw’s popular white sauce, and you have about a minute and a half from the time the server sets this sandwich down before the sauce soaks the soft bun and it becomes impossible to eat with your hands. We enjoyed a side of crunchy, vinegar-based slaw with this dish.

The highlight of our meal was a dish I’d heard about from Saw’s Soul Kitchen—greens over grits topped with pulled pork ($9.99). (You can get fried oysters or chicken here instead of the pork, if you’d like.) This Southern soul food mash-up is just incredible. The grits are slightly cheesy, the greens are sharply piquant, and the pork is smoky and tender. All together, the mix of flavors—earthy, tangy and slightly sweet—makes for one delicious dish.

Also on this visit, we discovered that there are indeed glasses available—this after drinking our Westbrook IPA from a can. If you ask for one, you’ll get your beer in a freshly frosted glass each time; we envied the more in-the-know patron sitting next to us. But you do have to ask; in our experience, the server will not ask you.

I know that’s all part of the juke-joint vibe. Beer in cans and bottles. Plastic forks. Sandwich buns with the consistency of sponge cake. Appetizer plates created out of little take-out boxes torn in half. (We actually liked that last inventive touch from our accommodating and quick-thinking server.) But Saw’s Juke Joint is, at the end of the day or even at midday, only sort of a dive.

Unwind that Burberry scarf and order yourself a chardonnay; no one will even blink. There are kids running around the dining room here for goodness’ sake! You’ll also find brunch on Sunday. Then again, you can come in wearing your team-themed sweat suit and pound down an ice-cold PBR, and that’s quite all right, too. Walk right in and sit right down; someone will likely know your name.

And judging from the consistent, all-age crowds, this comfortably delicious somewhat highbrow version of pseudo lowdown is working out just fine. ... w_cre.html

Joined: February 8th, 2008, 2:52 am

November 29th, 2012, 11:52 pm #3

Taylor at Saw's during the Thanksgiving Holiday pictures by sandgpie


Joined: February 8th, 2008, 2:52 am

December 23rd, 2012, 1:19 pm #4

Taylor playing with Gip Gipson and Earl Williams at Saw's during the Christmas Holidays 2012 Dec 20, 2012 ... ram><param name=credit to Cindy McGee

Joined: February 8th, 2008, 2:52 am

January 30th, 2013, 1:12 pm #5

Birmingham Magazine

A Neighborhood Joint

By Carla Jean Whitley

It’s Tuesday, normally one of the restaurant business’ quieter nights, but the lot in front of the Crestline Park shopping center is packed with cars, with spillover lining Dunston Avenue. Signs on the doors of Saw’s Juke Joint remind its patrons not to block the neighborhood’s driveways. In other words, the crowd has found its way to the Crestline Park neighborhood’s new hot spot.
Saw’s opened its third location in late October, and the former home of Ore and Open Door Café has been packed nearly every night since. The spot drew crowds in the past, and since Saw’s opening, co-owner Doug Smith says many patrons have thanked the staff for bringing a laid-back hangout. “It has a lot of fond memories for folks,” says Smith, who opened the restaurant with fellow owners Mike Wilson of Saw’s and American Idol winner and former Ore co-owner Taylor Hicks.
Though the restaurant’s opening was announced days in advance, work began five weeks earlier.
“It was the easiest transition of all the locations that we were looking at,” Doug Smith says. “Our most important thing was it allowed us to get open while football season was in full swing,” which includes the busiest months in Birmingham’s restaurant business, Smith says.
Before opening the doors, the owners covered the walls of the former fine-dining restaurant in blackboard paint to create a more casual atmosphere. Menus and drink lists are written on the walls in chalk, and a hand-written message encourages patrons to bring college and other paraphernalia to hang among the license plates, university flags and beer signs that already adorn the walls.

“You want people to feel comfortable and unpretentious, and you want them to be able to come in here in T-shirts and tennis shoes, but at the same time, the place has to be clean,” Smith says.
The food is equally accessible, with a menu that highlights the barbecue that the Homewood Saw’s location made famous, as well as the down-home dishes that Avondale’s Saw’s Soul Kitchen popularized. Thursday and Friday nights pair that menu with a soundtrack of live, blues-influenced music. Sundays take a different turn as the restaurant serves up Saw’s spin on brunch. Dishes such as shrimp and grits using redeye gravy or chicken and waffles ensure diners leave with full bellies, and a bloody Mary bar offers up one of brunch’s best-known beverages.
Saw’s Juke Joint is also the first of the restaurant’s locations to feature a full bar, as well as beer and wine lists. The restaurant is evidence of the continued growth of Saw’s brands, from a simple barbecue restaurant to a soul-food destination to a neighborhood restaurant and bar. “The place dictates the style of food or what the restaurant’s going to be, as much as anything else,” Smith says. “I think everyone feels comfortable here, no matter what the occasion is.”

Saw’s Juke Joint
1115 Dunston Ave., Crestline Park
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-
10 p.m.; Sun., 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Photos by Cary Norton


Joined: February 8th, 2008, 2:52 am

April 6th, 2013, 3:04 pm #6

Taylor Hicks to Perform at Saw's Juke Joint on March 29, 2013

Fans in Birmingham, Taylor will join the fabulously talented Earl Williams and Gip Gipson for a performance at Saw's Juke Joint on Friday, March 29, 2013! Saw's Juke Joint is located at 1115 Dunston Avenue.

Birmingham News :

By Mary Calurso Mar. 26, 2013

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- If you run into a certain gray-haired singer on the streets of Birmingham this weekend, it's perfectly fine to do a double-take.

Yes, that's Taylor Hicks, coming back to his hometown for a few days of R&R. The Hoover native and former "American Idol" winner plans to take a short break from his residency on the Las Vegas Strip.

After tonight's show, Hicks will be off until April 15 at Napoleon's, his concert venue at the Paris hotel. But that doesn't mean he'll stop performing.


Who: Taylor Hicks in Birmingham.

When : March 29: Concert at Saw’s Juke Joint, 1115 Dunston Ave., with Earl Williams and Henry “Gip” Gipson, 9 p.m. show, free admission.
On March 28, for example, Hicks will make a guest appearance at Croonin' for Critters, an "Idol" style vocal contest at the WorkPlay theater. It's a benefit for the Do Dah Day parade and festival. (That May 18 event, in turn, raises money for Birmingham animal shelters.)

Then, on March 29, Hicks will perform at Saw's Juke Joint with bluesmen Earl Williams and Henry "Gip" Gipson. Hicks, you may recall, is one of the owners of the popular restaurant in Crestline.

"It'll be nice to be in Birmingham for a couple of days," Hicks says during a phone interview. "I'll take a pause for a great cause, play some blues and eat some barbecue. I'll visit friends and family, take some time off to recharge the batteries."

We can't tell you everything that Hicks, 36, has in mind for his vacation -- "I'll probably disappear," he says -- but we do know that he's not an official contestant at Croonin' for Critters.

Local notables, including attorneys such as Tommy Spina, will sing for a panel of judges and collect votes, in the form of $1 donations, from audience members. Hicks is set to perform, but he won't be competing for votes.

"I think the people in Birmingham might have voted enough already for me, unless I go on 'Dancing With the Stars' or run for office," Hicks says, laughing. (He had strong support from Birmingham during his "Idol" run in 2006.)

If you're planning to catch his set at Saw's Juke Joint, Hicks estimates a 9 p.m. start time. He'll perform for about 90 minutes and sign autographs. (Attention, Soul Patrol: Hicks says merchandise from his Las Vegas stash will be available at the show.)

Hicks' recent projects include an appearance in the harmonica documentary "Pocket Full of Soul." He's filming a spot for a documentary about Nashville, and will be involved in a cookbook project this summer. (Details TBA, Hicks says.)

Hicks' April agenda includes two concerts at ThistleDown Racino, a horse track with video lottery terminals in Cleveland, Ohio. Then he heads back to Las Vegas, playing at the Paris until the end of November.

Wondering about Hicks' own celebrity encounters on the Strip? He agreed to share a few of his personal photos from Vegas, with entertainers that range from Wayne Newton to Carrot Top. (See the slideshow at the top of the story.) ... ingha.html


Brian Less - keyboard
Clay Connor - guitar
Gip Gibson -
Earl Williams -


The Thrill is Gone
One Way Out
How Sweet it Is
The Breeze


1. ATF
@Saws standing room only

How Sweet It Is to be Loved By You : ... y=0&loop=0

The Breeze ... y=0&loop=0

One Way Out / Allman Brother ... y=0&loop=0

credit to Thomas B Diasio

The Thrill is Gone ... y=0&loop=0

Turn on Your Love Light ... y=0&loop=0

All Videos credit to Allison

credit to ATF

credit to Matt Rockvold

From Gip Gibson's Facebook


Joined: February 8th, 2008, 2:52 am

April 19th, 2013, 11:42 am #7

Birmingham 's Best Lunch

Juke Joint

Hit the almost new Saw’s Juke Joint in the old Open Door spot off Euclid today. It’s Soul Kitchen menu with lots of room and wait staff. Don’t forget your wallet and feel free to come around happy hour- full bar. The food is just like the Kitchen which means it is made with love. It will be a challenge to see if they can maintain the quality with this much volume. I will be happy to visit regularly to check.


Joined: February 8th, 2008, 2:52 am

August 16th, 2013, 8:57 pm #8

Tony Hale on Craig Ferguson August 6, 2013
credit to ChannelShowFan

Saw's mention @ 1:55 ... ram><param name=


Joined: February 8th, 2008, 2:52 am

December 27th, 2013, 7:23 pm #9

AND THE WINNERS ARE: ... m_res.html

Birmingham's Best 2013

By Alec Harvey
December 27, 2013 at 2:59 AM

More than 3,100 of you voted for Birmingham’s Best 2013, and the results are in.

From Highlands Bar and Grill to the Magic City Art Connection, Vino to UAB, your favorites (and runners-up) are listed below.

Take a look at the list, and let us know what you think!

Best Must-See Spot for Visitors

Winner: Vulcan Park and Museum

Runners-up: Regions Field, Barber Motorsports Park, Railroad Park

Best Hotel

Winner: Renaissance Ross Bridge

Runners-up: The Tutwiler, The Westin, Aloft

Best Local Boy Made Good

Winner: Jameis Winston

Runners-up: Ruben Studdard, Paul Finebaum, Taylor Hicks

Best Local Girl Made Good

Winner: Courteney Cox

Runners-up: Condoleezza Rice, Fannie Flagg, Rebecca Luker

Best Local Politician

Winner: William Bell

Runners-up: Paul DeMarco, no one, Johnathan Austin

Best Department Store

Winner: Belk

Runners-up: Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Kohl’s

Best Women’s Clothing Store

Winner: Gus Mayer

Runners-up: Belk, Renaissance Consignment & Marketplace, SOCA

Best Men’s Clothing Store

Winner: Shaia’s

Runners-up: Jos. A. Bank, Harrison Limited, Belk

Best Shopping Mall

Winner: Colonial Brookwood Village

Runners-up: The Summit, The Shops at Grand River, The Galleria

Best Grocery Store

Winner: Publix

Runners-up: Whole Foods, Piggly Wiggly, Freshfully Market

Best College or University

Winner: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Runners-up: Birmingham-Southern College, University of Alabama, Auburn University

Best Place to People-Watch

Winner: Railroad Park

Runners-up: Five Points South, Colonial Brookwood Village, The Galleria

Best Garden Shop

Winner: Hanna’s Garden Shop

Runners-up: Leaf and Petal, Andy’s Creekside Nursery, Oak Street Garden Shop

Best Furniture Store

Winner: At Home

Runners-up: Birmingham Wholesale, Haverty’s, Renaissance Consignment & Marketplace

Best Hardware Store

Winner: Little Hardware

Runners-up: Lowe’s, Bluff Park Hardware, Huffstutler’s

Best Golf Course

Winner: Renaissance Ross Bridge

Runners-up: Birmingham Country Club, Shoal Creek, Highland Park

Best Antique Store

Winner: What’s on 2nd?

Runners-up: Fifth Avenue Antiques, Urban Suburban, Hanna Antiques

Best Health Club

Winner: YMCA

Runners-up: Fitness 4U 24/7, Iron Tribe Fitness, Levite Jewish Community Center

Best Athlete

Winner: Jameis Winston

Runners-up: AJ McCarron, Trey Hardee, Bo Jackson

Best Public Park

Winner: Railroad Park

Runners-up: Moss Rock Preserve, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Oak Mountain State Park

Best Walking Trail

Winner: Railroad Park

Runners-up: Jemison Trail, Oak Mountain State Park, Red Mountain Park

Best Weekend Getaway

Winner: Atlanta

Runners-up: Destin, Gulf Shores, Chattanooga

Best Radio Personality

Winner: Scott Register

Runners-up: Paul Finebaum, Rick & Bubba, Dollar Bill Lawson

Best Radio Station

Winner: Birmingham Mountain Radio

Runners-up: 102.5 (The Bull), 104.7 (WZZK), 90.3 (WBHM)

Best TV Station

Winner: ABC 33/40

Runners-up: NBC 13, Fox 6, CBS 42

Best TV Personality

Winner: James Spann

Runners-up: Patrick Claybon, Mickey Ferguson, Mike Royer

Best Outdoor Festival

Winner: Magic City Art Connection

Runners-up: Gumbo Gala, Moss Rock Festival, Cask and Drum

Best Kids’ Attraction

Winner: McWane Science Center

Runners-up: Birmingham Zoo, Vulcan Park and Museum, Birmingham Children’s Theatre

Best Live Music Club

Winner: Iron City

Runners-up: WorkPlay, Bottletree, Moonlight on the Mountain

Best Dance Club

Winner: Nana Funk’s

Runners-up: The Quest, Aqua, Bacchus

Best Live Music Club

Winner: Iron City

Runners-up: WorkPlay, Bottletree, Moonlight on the Mountain

Best Local Musician or Group (pop)

Winner: St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Runners-up: Black Jacket Symphony, Gentleman Zero, Marc Gunn

Best Local Musician or Group (classical)

Winner: Alabama Symphony Orchestra

Runners-up: Sursum Corda, Magic City Choral Society, Yakov Kasman

Best Movie Theater

Winner: Alabama Theatre

Runners-up: Carmike, Rave, The Edge

Best Live Theater

Winner: City Equity Theatre

Runners-up: Terrific New Theatre, Red Mountain Theatre Company, Dane Peterson Theatre Series

Best Museum

Winner: Birmingham Museum of Art

Runners-up: Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, McWane Science Center

Best Art Gallery

Winner: Naked Art

Runners-up: Art Alley, Artists Incorporated, Space One Eleven

Best Local Artist

Winner: Bethanne Hill

Runners-up: Gary Chapman, Mary Liz Ingram, Michael Swann

Best Local Website



Best Bookstore

Winner: Barnes & Noble

Runners-up: 2nd & Charles, Little Professor, Books-A-Million

Best Church Choir

Winner: Cathedral Church of the Advent

Runners-up: Sixth Avenue Baptist, Canterbury United Methodist, Independent Presbyterian Church

Best Local Actor

Winner: Lucas Pepke

Runners-up: Hal Word, Jonathan Fuller, Nick Crawford

Best Local Actress

Winner: Holly Dikeman

Runners-up: Jan D. Hunter, Kristi Tingle Higginbotham, Sandra Taylor

Best Delicatessen

Winner: Diplomat Deli

Runners-up: Max’s Delicatessen, Momma Goldberg’s, Mr. P’s

Best Restaurant

Winner: Highlands Bar and Grill

Runners-up: Hot and Hot Fish Club, Bottega, Bellinis Ristorante

Best Chef

Winner: Frank Stitt

Runners-up: Chris Hastings, Matthew Lagace, George McMillan III

Best Bar

Winner: Rogue Tavern

Runners-up: Avondale Brewing Company, Collins Bar, Nana Funk’s

Best Sports Bar

Winner: Bob Baumhower’s Wings

Runners-up: On Tap Sports Café, Buffalo Wild Wings, Billy’s

Best Bartender

Winner: William Batson, the Bar Hops

Runners-up: Steva Casey, Veranda on Highland; Jason Brunson, Stillwater Pub; Chris Conner, Highlands Bar and Grill

Best Bakery

Winner: Dreamcakes

Runners-up: Continental Bakery, Publix, Edgar’s

Best Barbecue

Winner: Saw’s

Runners-up: Full Moon, Jim ‘N Nick’s, Golden Rule

Best French Fries

Winner: Chez FonFon

Runners-up: Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Milo’s, Hamburger Heaven

Best Hamburger

Winner: Chez FonFon

Runners-up: Five Guys Burger and Fries, Flip Burger Boutique, Hamburger Heaven

Best Hot Dog

Winner: Lyric

Runners-up: Gus’s, Sneaky Pete’s, Tip Top Grill

Best Pizza (chain)

Winner: Mellow Mushroom

Runners-up: Domino’s, California Pizza Kitchen, Papa John’s

Best Pizza (non-chain)

Winner: Slice Pizza and Brew

Runners-up: Davenport’s, Dave’s, Tortuga’s

Best Asian Restaurant

Winner: P.F. Chang’s

Runners-up: Mr. Chen’s, Yuki, Jensei

Best Ice Cream Parlor

Winner: Edgewood Creamery

Runners-up: Bruster’s, Mountain Brook Creamery, Steel City Pops

Best Desserts

Winner: Dreamcakes

Runners-up: Steel City Pops, Cheesecake Factory, Highlands Bar and Grill

Best Pie

Winner: Jim ‘n Nick’s

Runners-up: Full Moon BBQ, Miss Myra’s, Johnny Ray’s

Best Italian Restaurant

Winner: GianMarco’s

Runners-up: Bottega, Bettola, Vino

Best Inexpensive Restaurant

Winner: Taziki’s

Runners-up: Rojo, Fish Market, Nabeel’s

Best Restaurant if Someone Else is Paying

Winner: Highlands Bar and Grill

Runners-up: Hot and Hot Fish Club, Fleming’s Steakhouse, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

Best Mexican Restaurant

Winner: El Cazador

Runners-up: Little Donkey, El Barrio, La Paz

Best Fast Food

Winner: Chick-fil-A

Runners-up: Milo’s, Hamburger Heaven, Zaxby’s

Best New Restaurant

Winner: FoodBar

Runners-up: Todd English P.U.B., Vittoria, Iron City Grill

Best Outdoor Dining

Winner: Vino

Runners-up: Bottega Café, Chuy’s, Rojo

Best Late-Night Dining

Winner: Formaggio’s

Runners-up: Al’s, Purple Onion, Rojo

Best Romantic Dining

Winner: Café Dupont

Runners-up: Vino, Highlands Bar and Grill, Ocean

Best Seafood Restaurant

Winner: Fish Market

Runners-up: Ocean, Hot and Hot Fish Club, Highlands Bar and Grill

Best Steak Restaurant

Winner: Fleming’s Steakhouse

Runners-up: Ruth’s Chris, MetroPrime Steakhouse, Outback Steakhouse

Best Meat-and-Three

Winner: Niki’s West

Runners-up: Ted’s, Irondale Café, Homewood Diner

Best Food Truck

Winner: Melt

Runners-up: Cantina, Shindigs, Dreamcakes

Best Take-Out

Winner: Taziki’s

Runners-up: Rojo, Zoe’s Kitchen, Purple Onion

Best Lunch Spot

Winner: Zoe’s Kitchen

Runners-up: Brio Tuscan Grille, Trattoria Centrale, Saw’s

Best Brunch Spot

Winner: Trattoria Centrale

Runners-up: Another Broken Egg, Rojo, The Egg & I

Best Chicken Wings

Winner: Bob Baumhower’s Wings

Runners-up: Buffalo Wild Wings, Green Acres, On Tap Sports Cafe

Best Fried Chicken

Winner: Publix

Runners-up: KFC, Irondale Café, Little Donkey

Best Fried Green Tomatoes

Winner: Irondale Cafe

Runners-up: Niki’s West, John’s City Diner, Dale’s Southern Grill

Best Coffeehouse

Winner: O’Henry’s

Runners-up: Crestwood Coffee, Urban Standard, Starbucks

Best Local Brewery

Winner: Avondale Brewing Company

Runners-up: Good People, Cahaba Brewing, Beer Engineers

Best Martini

Winner: Blue Monkey

Runners-up: Avo & Dram, Highlands Bar and Grill, 26

Best Margarita

Winner: La Paz

Runners-up: Chuy’s, Cantina, Cocina Superior

Best Beer Selection

Winner: Hop City

Runners-up: World of Beer, J. Clyde, On Tap Sports Cafe

Best Wine Selection

Winner: Fleming’s Steakhouse

Runners-up: Highlands Bar and Grill, Ocean, Hot and Hot Fish Club


Joined: February 8th, 2008, 2:52 am

February 5th, 2014, 5:09 pm #10

13 Restaurant Recommendations from Top Food ExpertsFebruary 3, 2014 · Written by Taylor Goldblatt ... staurants/

2014-02-05 at 12.50.35 AM

What are some of the best restaurants in the US? Let’s see what the expert chefs, restaurateurs and celebrities have to say. After seeing such helpful advice from our last two round-up posts on travel savings tips and inspirational travel advice, we could hardly wait to see the words of wisdom that we would hear from a new batch of travelers. So, in an effort to learn from some of the world’s most experienced industry professionals, we reached out to them to hear their response to this one simple question:

What’s your favorite restaurant in America and why?

We got loads of great advice, as these travelers reflected back on their many years of dining and really gave us some tips from the heart. So without further ado, here are their responses, which are shared in the order that they were received:

1. “It’s impossible for me to have one favorite restaurant. I have a special place in my heart for my Emeril’s restaurant in New Orleans because that’s where it all started. Nearly 25 years later many of my classic dishes are still favorites, like barbecued shrimp and banana cream pie, but at the same time our menu continues to creatively evolve under my chef de cuisine David Slater.”

Chef Emeril Lagasse, Chef-proprietor of 13 restaurants, Named “Chef of the Year” by GQ magazine, @Emeril

2. “One of the best meals I’ve had in the last year came from a sort of secret sushi restaurant in West LA called Yamakase. To secure a reservation you need to fill out a form on the restaurant’s website, and you’ll notice that that website doesn’t list an address or phone number. Once you actually show up at Yamakase, there’s a sign outside that always says ‘Closed’ and the window curtains are drawn. Inside, the tiny unadorned eatery is littered with empty bottles of expensive wine, Champagne, and booze — this is a special occasion place. For the next four and a half hours you will dine on kaiseki and pristine sushi — some of the best I’ve had in the seven years I’ve lived in Los Angeles.”

Kat Odell, Bravo’s Eat, Drink, Love, Eater LA, @Kat_odell

3. ”Mari Vanna… It’s the Russian version of The Ivy..I’m addicted to it and sit there for hours when I’m in LA.. I love the Blini with black caviar!!”

Jonathan Cheban, Kim Kardashian’s BFF, AMA Host, Sushi MiKasa Owner, @JonathanCheban

4. “When asked your question, Pastis came instantly to mind. I mean, without hesitation. And there are a few reasons why. First, I’ve enjoyed many cocktails and “bites at the bar” after long days of shooting Quick Fix Meals in Food Network’s studios just 2 blocks away. The trendy, uber-friendly bar is the perfect place to unwind after a day on set. Next, the location: New York’s meat-packing district is about as fashionable as it gets. Funny thing is, I don’t care about that – I just love the cobblestone streets and Old New York feel of the neighborhood. The place is always bustling and as you nibble on items from their simple, yet expertly crafted menu, you hear laughter and chatter from every corner of the lively room. On a recent trip, I brought my two boys (ages 10 and 11) and experienced the place in a completely different way. That sealed the deal for me; no matter what my day has been like , I adore cozying up to the vibe, food and company of Pastis.”

Robin Miller, Author of “Robin Takes 5” and host of Food Network’s Quick Fix Meals, @RobinVMiller

5. “Saw’s Juke-Joint in Birmingham, AL is a quintessential Southern barbecue and soul food restaurant. From the sweet tea fried chicken sandwich to the best smoked wings in the country, I love coming back to my old stomping grounds and sitting in with some fabulous Southern blues artists. The Heart of Dixie has the best food in the world – hands down.”

Taylor Hicks, American Idol 5th Season Winner, Headliner at Paris Las Vegas, People magazine’s “Hottest Bachelor of the Year,” Restauranteur, @TaylorHicks

6. “My favorite restaurant in America would be Husk in Charleston South Carolina. The food is amazing and they are doing America a service by remembering the cuisine of our earliest roots as a nation. The line Cooks and chefs drop the food off at your table and can explain all of the dishes. Chef Brock is truly cooking American Cuisine. Every restaurant in America should take a page from Brock’s book.

When it comes to New York we are dealing with a much harder question to answer. With that being said If I stripped away all the chef talk and personal relationships, it would be Blue Ribbon Sullivan Street. Being a chef and working late hours, you miss out on dining at the new hot spots. The fact that the Blue Ribbon serves a full menu till about 4 am is super clutch. You can stroll in with a a few buddies after a night of partying and have a dozen oysters, a foie gras terrine, fried chicken, tofu ravioli’, hummus, or just about anything. The fact that it’s all pretty darn good is a huge plus. The cocktails and wine selection are tailored made or restaurant professionals and full on foodies. Order the fried oysters and the salt and pepper shrimp, trust me. This place never disappoints and is a must visit if you love good food and love it late night.”

Chaz Brown, Bravo’s Top Chef, Mid-Atlantic Chef of The Year, @Dacheezyjuan

7. “To pick one favorite restaurant in all of the US is a bit overwhelming! If I had to pick just one I think I would pick Gramercy Tavern in NYC. I know - it has been around for a while. But Gramercy Tavern has been spot on in service and food every time I have ever been which at this point is several dozen times. Whether I’m there to me a friend for a drink, a casual solo dinner in the Tavern or a fancier affair in the dining room Gramercy Tavern always feels just right. More importantly the staff always makes you feel welcome and appropriate no matter the occasion. Seasonal, creative, delicious food, truly warm and welcoming ambiance and service – true excellence in hospitality in every way. On second thought, it wasn’t hard at all – Gramercy Tavern is my favorite restaurant by far.”

Keegan Gerhard, Food Network’s Food Network Challenge, Owner of D Bar Restaurant in Denver and San Diego, @KeeganGerhard

8. “Vetri to me it is the perfect restaurant…unreal food, incredibly charming & perfect unpretentious service.”

Michael Symon, Food Network’s Iron Chef, Named by Food & Wine magazine as “Best New Chef,” Co-host of ABC’s The Chew, Restauranteur, @Chefsymon

9. ”Our favorite restaurant in the USA is BEAST in Portland, OR. With its communal style seating and at-home ambience, Beast is a must visit for an affordable fine dining experience without the pretentiousness. They have an amazing prix fixe menu that changes weekly filled with fresh ingredients. It’s worth the trip alone for their charcuterie plate and foie gras bon bon.”

Phil Shen, Behind The Food Carts, @Behindfoodcarts

10. “Right now my favorite restaurant is my own, Jayde Fuzion at the M Resort in Las Vegas. It is my first restaurant and I am very proud of it. I’ve never seen a restaurant like mine. I have spent so much time creating the menu and working with all the chefs to make it a one-of-a-kind Asian dining experience. Right now, I’m in love in the crab salad, which is a popular dish and I made it on Food Network’s Restaurant Express show. I also love the gochujang pork and kimchi fried rice that we offer.”

Seonkyoung Longest, Winner of The Food Network’s Restaurant Express, @Seonkyoung

11. “My top four favorite restaurants are, in no particular order… {Elway’s – Cherry Creek, CO, Elway’s – Ritz Carlton, CO, Elway’s – Vail, CO, and Elway’s – Denver Airport} …What can I say, I wouldn’t put my name on them if they weren’t going to be my favorites. They all have a little bit of a different flair based on their location. It is fascinating how restaurants can take on the personality of their locations, but I believe that to be true with each of them. Rather than brag about the food, just go try them. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

When I leave Denver, I have a couple of choices I prefer… IL Mulino – Manhattan – Claudio, the maître d completely makes the experience. We order nothing and he brings me everything. The chef’s specialties. It is a warm, engaging atmosphere with amazing food.

Frasca – Boulder, CO – It’s a great little escape for me when I decide to venture out from Denver. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere which serves amazing Italian food. The quality and diversity is something you’d find in New York or San Francisco.”

John Elway, Celebrity Restauranteur, Executive VP Of Operations For The Denver Broncos, The Oldest Quarterback To Win A Super Bowl, @JohnElway

12. “Tropical Chinese in Miami. I just celebrated the Chinese New Year there, and have been doing so for over 20 years. Located in a strip mall in South West Miami, it has a beautiful open kitchen and a great wine and beer menu. The daily dim sum for lunch is excellent and the lobster lettuce wrap with pine nuts are my favorite…you can even find Penfolds Grange on the menu.”

Raul de Molina, Iron Chef America, Author of “La Dieta del Gordo,” Multiple Emmy award-winning cohost of Univision’s “El Gordo y La Flaca,” @Rauldemolina

13. “I really love the new restaurant, The Heath, which is in the McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea right by the Highline. It just opened and I have already been there three times, twice with friends and once on a date. It’s fun with live music and the atmosphere is sultry, chic and romantic. The speciality drinks are fun and the food is amazing. It’s definitely one of my new NYC hotspots.”

Countess LuAnn de Lesseps, The Real Housewives of New York City, Singer, Author of “Class with the Countess: How to Live with Elegance and Flair,” @CountessLuAnn

Those craving the taste of chunky chocolate or the chill of an ice cold beer will want to be sure to also check out our post on The Top 10 Chocolate & Beer Tours in America!


Taylor, Emeril and others recommend America's top restaurants; Hicks picks Saw's Juke Joint (link) ... thers.html

Saw's Juke Joint opened in October 2012 in Birmingham's Crestline Park. Taylor Hicks is among the owners of the barbecue and blues joint. (Tamika Moore/
By Bob Carlton |
February 05, 2014

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Taylor Hicks knows good Southern cooking when he tastes it.

And he’s especially fond of the down-home eats at Saw’s Soul Kitchen, the Birmingham barbecue and soul-food joint that Hicks co-owns.

So when the travel-guide website US City Traveler asked the Birmingham native and 2006 “American Idol” winner to choose his favorite restaurant city in the country, not surprisingly, he chose his hometown Saw’s Juke Joint.

Hicks tweeted the news to his nearly 100,000 Twitter followers this morning.

Hicks is among 13 celebrities, chefs and food lovers -- including Food Network star Emeril Lagasse and former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway -- who made their picks for US City Traveler’s “13 Restaurant Recommendations from Top Food Experts.”

“Saw’s Juke Joint in Birmingham, AL is a quintessential Southern barbecue and soul food restaurant,” Hicks says on the website. “From the sweet tea fried chicken sandwich to the best smoked wings in the country, I love coming back to my old stomping grounds and sitting in with some fabulous Southern blues artists. The Heart of Dixie has the best food in the world -- hands down.”

Lagasse, who is the chef-proprietor of 13 restaurants, chose his Emeril’s restaurant in New Orleans as his favorite.

To find out which restaurants Elway and the others chose, click here.

Saw's Juke Joint is at 1115 Dunston Ave. in Crestline Park.