The start of your freshman year is full of excitement and anxiety, and nothing can calm nerves like a good meal. After a full day of unpacking boxes or exploring campus, you’re probably pretty hungry. Luckily, Birmingham has a food scene like no other. With so many choices, it might be hard to decide where to eat first. Thankfully, we’ve made a list of Birmingham restaurants that every college freshman should try. And if you can’t get to all of them or find a few more along your way, it’s a good thing you’ve got the next four years to sample them.

Al’s Deli and Grill

If you’ve already taken a tour of UAB’s campus, chances are your Orientation Leader or TrailBlazer mentioned the most sacred place to grab a bite: Al’s. With its late night hours, affordable food and proximity to the dorms, it’s a no-brainer why Al’s is a favorite with students. Grab a BBQ chicken baker and you’ll have meals for at least 2 days.


Another close-to-campus option, Dreamland serves bar-b-que so good it’s a dream. You don’t want to sleep on this one! So just head over to Southside to enjoy delicious food sure to please any palate. Grab a bowl of Brunswick stew or share a plate of ribs with friends (and don’t forget the banana pudding).

Surin WestFreshman_Guide_to_Bham_Restaurants_ONE

Five Points South is a historic Birmingham neighborhood that’s within walking distance from campus. There are plenty of restaurants in the area, but Surin West is a staple for Thai food enthusiasts. Their lunch specials are affordable for students on a budget, and there are great vegetarian options.

El Barrio

A great Birmingham restaurant to celebrate special occasions (aka: surviving finals week), El Barrio is an upscale trendy Mexican eatery. Dine at community tables and enjoy locally sourced ingredients in delicious dishes. The Gulf shrimp quesadilla is amazing, and the goat cheese queso is hard to beat.

Freshman_Guide_to_Bham_Restaurants_ThreePizitz Food Hall

If you like variety with your meals, look no further than the Pizitz Food Hall in downtown Birmingham. With many different restaurants inside, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on a night out. Grab dessert or enjoy a film at their independent theater coming soon.

Post Office Pies

Every college student loves pizza, and Avondale has one of the best pizza places in Birmingham. Here you’ll find classics like Margherita and pepperoni pizza alongside exciting new pies such as The Swine, a pizza topped with house-made sausage, bacon and other meats.

Steel City PopsPaletas

Cool off after hauling moving boxes into your dorm with a popsicle from Steel City Pops. They have plenty of refreshing flavors, from fruity to creamy. They have locations at The Summit and in Homewood, so no matter where you end up eating dinner, there will be desert close by.