An insider’s foodie guide to Birmingham

27th July 2016

Guest Blogger

Full to the Brum is an award-winning Birmingham-based blog that thinks food and drinks are too much fun to be taken seriously. It charts the gastronomic adventures in and around Birmingham of Laura, who uses it as an excuse to go out for dinner and take plenty of photos..

What to do in Birmingham?

Five Michelin stars (more than any English city outside London), Typhoo Tea, Cadbury’s Chocolate, Bird's Custard, the Balti. Birmingham’s history with food is plentiful and with award-winning street food, those Michelin stars and a thriving bar scene, there’s never been a better time to come to Birmingham for a gastronomic adventure.

Birmingham lady under canal bridge

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and if you like to start yours with a Full English fry-up, then head to Cherry Reds on John Bright St, just round the corner from the newly opened Grand Central Birmingham. Cherry Reds is a charming cafe bar with all day breakfast which caters for almost everyone, from meat-eaters to vegans, plus pancakes, bagels and alternative breakfast foods.

Alternatively, head on over to south Birmingham suburbs. On Stirchley High St you’ll find the marvellous Loaf Bakery & Cookery School, whose croissants are worth waking up early on a Saturday for. Pair it with a cup of strong black coffee from Quarter Horse, sold at the bakery, and it’ll set you up nicely for a visit to every chocoholic’s fantasy, Cadbury World, which is just down the road. Whilst you’re in the area, make sure to visit the multi-award winning bottle shop, confusingly named Cotteridge Wines, for some excellent beers to take home too.

For lunch, if you’re lucky enough to be visiting Birmingham during the week then head over to the Great Western Arcade and visit Anderson & Hill for one of their amazing sandwiches. Alternatively, stroll down to Peel & Stone in the Jewellery Quarter who are open Monday to Saturday. If you’re visiting Birmingham for a weekend away then make your way down to the railway arches on Shaw's Passage, near the Bullring, and get yourself one of the city’s best burgers from Original Patty Men - it’s a no booking system so you might have to wait, but it’s entirely worth it.

Big Verns Kripsy Ring Burger

If you find yourself flagging mid-afternoon, or just want somewhere relaxed to while away a few hours then beer and/or coffee at Tilt in the City Arcade whilst you play on their pinball machines is a great way to pass a few hours. W Cafe in Waterstones is perfect for curling up with a good book and some locally sourced cake, or watching the world go by through the windows that look out onto the busy high street. Alternatively grab a cuppa at the Edwardian Tearooms in the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery or, for afternoon tea with a difference, head out to The Edgbaston where you can try some of the city’s best cocktails too.

Edgbaston afternoon tear

Birmingham is famous for curry and if you’re not completely stuffed then it’s an excellent choice for dinner. There are so many curry houses in Birmingham that an area has been affectionately termed the Balti Triangle, covering parts of Sparkhill, Balsall Heath and Moseley, and you’re unlikely to go wrong there for a curry. For something a bit more upmarket then Lasan, winner of Gordon Ramsay’s F Word for best local restaurant, is well worth checking out - so is its sister venue, the more purse-friendly Raja Monkey in Hall Green, styled on a vibrant road-side cafe. If street food is your thing and you’re around on a Friday then head down to Digbeth to check out the award-winning Digbeth Dining Club, who have a rotating selection of some of the best street food vendors in the city.

curry house

The best views of the city are, predictably, from on high and the newly opened Rofuto at the top of the Park Regis on Five Ways is an excellent treat. Topping a four-star hotel, it’s not cheap but well worth it for some excellent food and views. Of course, all five Michelin-starred restaurants are worth a visit, if your budget allows, too. But if adventure is what you’re after in your dining experience, then The Wilderness is a must visit; tucked away on the relatively unknown Dudley St, it’s an immersive dining experience which uses seasonal British produce to tell a story of nature, memory and place. And if seasonality and sustainability are your thing, then Opus at Cornwall Street is also worth a visit; their market menu being excellent value.

Michelin star restaurants

There are plenty of options for nightcaps too. Island Bar on Suffolk St, next to the Alexandra Theatre, got the ball rolling for cocktails in Birmingham and remains a strong contender for a great night out. They have flaming tiki cocktails upstairs and at weekends some of the city’s best DJs will keep you dancing all night long.  For something more chilled, 40 St Pauls has a superb gin collection and hosts frequent takeovers of other spirits. Wine drinkers will be excellently served by Loki Wine, where guests can try 40 wines by-the-glass in their wine lounge and marvel at the sheer amount of awards the team have won. For the beer fans if you didn’t already partake in Cherry Reds or Tilt then The Craven Arms, The Wellington and Purecraft Bar are worth visiting too.

tilt beer

Birmingham is a vibrant city with plenty to see and do. The city’s food and drink scene is going through a renaissance, with new places springing up all the time, and not forgetting a packed-full festival calendar and pop-up street food events. You’ll never get round them all in one visit, but that just means there are plenty of excuses to come back to Birmingham!

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