Fabulous Al Fresco Spots
With spring officially in full swing, you may find yourself vying for the perfect porch to bask in 70-degree
weather (get it in while you can—you know it won’t last long) while dining. Al Fresco fans, look no
further. Here is a list of five amazing places to get a healthy dose of sun and grub all at once. Believe me,
I didn’t mind doing the research.
1) Bottega Café
With the crunch of gravel under your feet and the spring sunshine beaming down on you, this
Birmingham must-try restaurant offers up a perfect place to people watch, savor Frank Stitt’s
genius culinary creations, and imbibe in some of this town’s tastiest libations. My go-to is the
melt-in-your-mouth beef carpaccio or the super-decadent oyster piadine (essentially a massive
artisanal calzone overflowing with fried oysters) with a refreshing Orange Thing or a simple,
elegant class of Prosecco. This foodie paradise easily reaches heavenly status on a 70-and-sunny
Trattoria Centrale is the ultimate in downtown vibe noshing. With menu items including
square pizzas that look like the public school lunchroom staple but taste totally gourmet (think
nostalgia without having to choke it down in eight minutes) and simple salads drizzled in olive
oil or red wine vinaigrette punctuated with vibrant yellow yoked farm eggs, this place delivers
inexpensive, quality food with a laid back atmosphere that could easily be in NYC. Whether
you’re suit-and-tied up on your lunch break or rolling out of bed post-party to settle that
growling stomach, a sunny sidewalk table at Trattoria should absolutely be a dining destination.
Tucked away in a residential neighborhood, The Garage Café is home to a myriad of regulars, a
cash-only bar, and a backyard that you’d swear was the inspiration behind The Secret Garden.
This giant backyard includes cement statues, fountains, and trees decked out in colorful old-
school Christmas lights. Unparalleled ambiance happens with this local wonderland’s eclectic
crowd and fascinating nooks and crannies. Order a build-your-own sandwich with one of their
awesome seasonal soups and prepare to have your mind blown by the backyard.
Take a weird trip back through your childhood on The Bottletree’s side porch. With so many old
television sets and tin lunchboxes and posters advertising things you forgot you knew about, the
dining experience out here in like a sensory explosion. The best kind. Order some sweet potato
biscuits for Sunday brunch and a PBR (because it’s just what you do!), then take it the porch to
behold some of the coolest, strangest décor imaginable. Good vibes, friendly bartenders with
clothes cooler than anything I’ll ever own, and good-for-you food. *Bottletree gets mega bonus
points for hosting some seriously legit shows and for having the spiciest, tastiest Bloody Mary in
The front patio at this SOHO staple provides the perfect view of people milling about
Homewood on a lovely afternoon. You can put money on the fact that on the Jackson’s porch
there will be at least two adorable babies to oh and ah over and at least two equally adorable
dogs panting at the foot of a table. The cute factor there is always ridiculous, the drink menu is
extensive, and you can’t beat French fries covered in gooey cheese and sausage gravy. Quench
your thirst with Gentleman Jackson, throw on your shades, and soak up that spring weather
while you can.