Friday, August 30, 2019

Nino's Italian Restaurant "The End of An Era"

My first experience dining at Nino's Italian Restaurant several years ago was incredibly memorable. Mostly for 2 reasons; the overwhelming smell of garlic and Walter Caron. 

After being in business for 10 years, the famous local eatery has decided to close it's doors. As an Italian food lover, it's been one of the most amazing food adventures I've had during my decade of writing as the Restaurant Raider. Everything from "greet to eat" is / was always a pleasant experience there. 

During my recent visit, I reflected on the review I did on Nino's back in 2011. To walk in and not see Walter definitely gave me an empty feeling. His personality was HUGE and he filled the walls of the restaurant with a great big burst of life. His passing several months ago definitely left a void in the restaurant's atmosphere and I'm sure in the Caron family. 

Side Salad

We stopped by this week to get one last experience at Nino's prior to the official closing date of August 31, 2019. It was beautiful to witness a packed house full of people eager to have one last dinner at this community landmark.
Cheese Bread Appetizer

What we had: We started out with a couple of side salads with house made creamy Italian dressing, topped with shredded cheese. No meal is complete without a shared order of their famous warm cheese bread with a side of their delicious, authentic marinara sauce.
Garlic Bread

It was hard to pick my last meal, but I ended up with the Chicken Parmigiana: breaded chicken breast topped with tomato sauce and melted Mozzarella cheese. My dinner mate had a huge serving of their Gnocchi with chicken topped with an incredible pesto sauce.

Chicken Parmigiana, Spaghetti w/ Marinara Sauce
Nino's was and will forever be one of those places that had the total package: the menu, the atmosphere and the personalities that make up a great dining experience.
Gnocci w/ Chicken topped with Pesto Sauce

Thanks to the Nino's family for the great service over the years and as they say in Italy,
The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
"Anonymously Raiding A Restaurant Near You" 
Est. 2009

Friday, March 15, 2019

Exploring The City With Birmingham Taste Tours

Launched in September 2018, Birmingham Taste Tours founder Annie Reynolds brings the food tourism trend to The Magic City.

The food tourism trend has begun in the metro Birmingham area. 
Walking food tours have been a source of entertainment and education for locals
and tourists alike for years in other cities. Previously voted one of  Zagat’s 30 Top Food Cities , Birmingham was the only one not utilizing walking food tours as an economic stimulator and (let’s face it) a really fun way to eat the city. Birmingham Taste Tours currently offers a walking food tours.  
The Downtown Tour: a 3 hour guided walking, food, drink, and historical tour of the Downtown neighborhood. Customers will sample 4 to 5 eclectic tastings from our most authentic, locally owned restaurants.
They will hear about Birmingham's  culinary history and culture and the people who helped shape it.

The Downtown Brunch Tour: On the Saturday brunch tour you will visit at least 3 restaurants and our local food hall to sample many traditional southern brunch items. You’ll be given the opportunity to indulge in classic brunch cocktails as well.   

The tour will consist of a discuss about the ongoing revitalization of Birmingham and specific new developments that are currently underway. Learn about Downtown’s history and its expected growth in the coming years.

This 3-hour tour will take you within a 1.5-mile walk of some of the popular streets of Downtown, where you will find locally owned shops and weekend neighborhood markets as well. The goal is to leave the food tour participants with the impression that Downtown is no longer just a weekday destination.

 It's Nice To Have You In Pepper Place Tour:
Enjoy this newly appointed Entertainment District and bustling Farmer’s Market on this 2 1/2 hr walking tour. Guests will enter several local eateries and sample both food and beverage tastings along the way. You will also hear from local farmers and artisans at the market and be able to purchase directly from the vendors. $10 worth of market tokens will be included in your tour ticket to use as you wish. You will hear the history of Pepper Place, taste what it has to offer, and see the neighborhood’s new and exciting growth!

The goal is for the tourist to feel comfortable adventuring throughout the city while getting a taste of local cuisine. Quite simply, it is a way for a tourist to become a local in 3 hrs.
Locals will hear fun stories of Birmingham they may not have heard before and have the opportunity to eat at several of their favorite restaurants in one day.
At Birmingham Taste Tours, guests get more than just a meal. They get a memory.
For more information about tours, please visit their website at and also look for them on Instagram, Facebook and

If your restaurant/business would like more information about becoming a partner, shoot an email to

Thanks for reading & sharing! 
The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
"Anonymously Raiding A Restaurant Near You"

Monday, March 4, 2019

Food Excellence 101 at Jefferson State's Bistro ProVare

Incredible chefs often begin their careers standing on a stool next to their grannies & gramps or mom & dad. If you had the opportunity to watch your parents or grand parents make their famous recipes, consider yourself fortunate. In may other cases, becoming a chef starts with a 5- star top rated culinary school. Jefferson State's Culinary & Hospitality program is exactly that. 
Accompanied by two friends, I recently made a visit to the campus bistro  to check out this semesters lunch assignments to see if they made the grade. 

Atmosphere: The Shelby campus bistro seats roughly 40 people and also has a slightly curved counter with bistro chairs. There is an open kitchen and also a brick oven on site. It definitely has the feel of a contemporary cafe. The tables are set with an upscale place setting. 

The Meal(s): A variety basket of breads including triangular Parmesan crisps was delivered to curb our hunger. We each tried a different dish from the appetizer menu. I tried the Crispy Shrimp Spring Rolls with a dipping sauce hinted with Asian flavors. These light & crispy spring rolls were incredible. One lunch mate had the Vegetable Soup. This scratch made soup was made up of cabbage, tomatoes, beans, peppers and topped with delicious cornbread crumbles. Our other lunch mate had the traditional Cesar salad: Romaine lettuce, house made croutons, shredded Parmesan with a creamy Caesar dressing.

Our entree's consisted of the Slow Cooked Jerk Pork: A succulent, hearty pork dish atop red beans and rice & cilantro slaw. This was a very good Caribbean dish. I finished every morsel.

 My other lunch mates had the Pan Seared Scallops: Large, perfectly cooked scallops accompanied by fingerling potatoes, fried Brussels sprouts and creamed leeks.

 The other entree' we tried was the Steak Tacos: Delicious, cuts of perfectly seasoned steak in a soft pita shell, topped with citrus slaw, jack cheese and avocado aioli with a heaping helping of french fried potatoes.  Another amazing dish! Overall, everything was absolutely perfect.

Overall Experience: This was a great experience. The student chefs did a phenomenal job with everything from presentation to the meal prep & plating. We will definitely be visiting again!
*The menu changes often*

For more information or to make a reservation this semester at Jefferson State's Bistro ProVare, visit their website at

Bistro ProVare at Jeff State
4600 Valleydale Road
Birmingham, Alabama 35242
(205) 983-5214

Thanks for reading & sharing! 
The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
"Anonymously Raiding A Restaurant Near You"


Friday, February 8, 2019

Comfort Food At Jo Jo's On Broadway

I'm willing to bet that we definitely have MORE chilly weather coming to the Birmingham area. One day it's spring... one day it's winter. You just never know. One thing that IS consistent is the reputation for Jo Jo's On Broadway
The last several years have been good to this establishment. From the Homewood locals, to the metro Birminghamians, everyone I've mentioned Jo Jo's to had nothing but positive things to say. We took the time to head over for dinner recently and this is the 411. 

Atmosphere: Entirely not what I expected. I was expecting an uptight, snooty environment and they were just the opposite. We are greeted with genuine smiles and warmth. It's not a huge space, but just the right size so that patrons don't feel like just a "table number". 

Staff: Amazing! An attentive staff is a winner in my book. Our server, Lauren was on point during the entire visit. 

What we had: I had the Jo Jo Burger: A fresh ground Black Angus patty cooked to order w/ Jo Jo sauce, lettuce, tomato, pickle, & red onion on a butter brioche bun. I added a side of fries. The burger was cooked medium and was very flavorful and pleasing. The fried were incredibly well seasoned. 
My dinner mate had a generous helping of their homemade chili with a hot-off- the- griddle grilled cheese sandwich. Just the right meal for a chilly night. 

Overall Experience: This was a great stop for us. The service and the food combined with location were all great. I look forward to the next visit

For more information about Jo Jo's on Broadway or to find out about their "daily specials" visit their website at

Jo Jo's On Broadway
903 Broadway Suite 105 
Homewood AL 35209
(205) 877-8058 

Thanks for reading & sharing! 
The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
Est. 2009
"Anonymously Raiding A Restaurant Near You"

Friday, January 25, 2019

Review: Saltgrass Steak House 280

Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good steak, but an even greater steak is better. Highway 280 in Birmingham has some of the best steak restaurants in the area. I feel it's my duty to try them all because of course, the people want to know all about them. 
I ventured over to the new Saltgrass Steak House in Birmingham. I typically don't do steak for lunch, but I had a craving after several of my twitter followers recommended this spot. 

Atmosphere: Saltgrass has the feel of an "out west" steak house. They have definitely erased every reminder of The Tilted Kilt, which previously occupied this location. There is Texas themed decor throughout the building. They have lots of booth seating and a cool bar set up. It's a spacious restaurant and definitely a great place for date nights or family dinners. 

Staff: The staff was friendly. My server Joel was eager to provide great service and was very knowledgeable about the Saltgrass menu options. Everyone I came in contact with was great. No complaints.

What I had: To start off, each table is delivered a warm, delicious loaf of their famous beer bread. It was really good, so I only ate half in order not to fill up. I followed up with a traditional garden salad with balsamic dressing.  For the main course, I had the Gulf Coast Steak & Shrimp with a side of sauteed Brussels sprouts . I opted for the 6 oz steak (medium) with grilled shrimp.  This is the kind of steak where sauce is not needed. The flavor was very good. They don't skimp on the shrimp! The Brussels sprouts were A-MA-ZING! ( I don't know why I rejected these as a kid). 
I also decided to have huge a slice of their amazing cheesecake to go. 
(sorry, no pics) 
*click photos for larger (mouth watering) view

Overall Experience: Overall, I feel that Saltgrass is a great addition to the Birmingham area and I am hopeful that they will definitely attract steak lovers from all across the region. I saw several other things on the menu that I'm anxious to try so a return visit is definitely on the books. The staff was super! 

For more information on Saltgrass Steak House Birmingham, visit their website at

Saltgrass Steak House - Birmingham
14 Perimeter Park S.
(205) 967-1181

Be sure to sign up for their emails for updates and deals. 

*Ask your server about AAA and AARP discounts.

Thanks so much for reading & sharing! 

The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
Est. 2009

Celebrating 10 years as a trailblazing Dining Experience Examiner

Monday, December 10, 2018

Grille 29 Doing Brunch In Style!

As a kid, Saturday morning breakfast was always treasured. We'd typically wake up earlier than the adults just to grab a bowl of our favorite cereal and binge watch cartoons for what seemed like hours. 
Fast forward to adult hood, breakfast is usually eaten "on-the-go" if at all. 
That's why whenever I get a chance, I treat myself to a nice hearty, warm breakfast or brunch. 

Grille 29  in Birmingham offers the chance to create new Saturday morning memories with their awesome brunch menu. 
On a recent Saturday morning meet-up with a friend, we decided to give Grille 29 a try. 
After making a reservation via OpenTable, we arrived during brunch hours and settled into our cozy booth. 

Atmosphere: This is a very nice restaurant. The space is large enough to accommodate crowds of any size. I don't think space or crowding is an issue here when it comes to comfort. The waiting area up front is spacious. They have booth and table seating. There were a couple of large groups near us, but not too uncomfortably close. They also have a large bar with lots of seating. 

Staff: The staff was incredibly friendly. The hostess was very pleasant and accommodating. Our server, Aaron was incredible. He was knowledgeable of the menu and the brunch favorites. I would request him again. 

What we had: I had the Grand Marnier French Toast: Brioche bread dipped in an orange batter and topped with Grand Marnier anglaise and powdered sugar, served with fresh fruit and I added a side of perfectly cooked bacon. This was extremely good. The fruit was delicious. I ate every morsel. 

My brunch mate had the Chicken and Waffles: Crispy chicken over buttermilk waffles with a pecan butter sauce. This is typically served with fresh fruit also. However, she decided to have a serving of fresh sliced tomatoes. I had a nibble of her chicken and it is legit!
Since mimosa's  are only .29 cents between 10 & 11 during brunch, we definitely took advantage of the special pricing. 

They also serve other breakfast/brunch favorites such as steak & eggs, lobster & shrimp frittata (breakfast pie), shrimp & grits and many more! 

Overall experience: They serve an amazing brunch with customize-able options. The service along with the staff and the mimosa pricing makes this place a winner in my book. 
Have you been to Grille 29? Let us know about your experience. 

For more information, visit them at
Follow them on social media: 
Facebook @Grille29Bham
Instagram @grille29_bham/
Twitter @Grille29_Bham

Thanks for supporting The Birmingham Restaurant Raider! 
Est. 2009

Friday, November 2, 2018

Smokin' Hot Experience at Ash Bar & Grill

Ash Bar & Grill Homewood is now open and serving up wood fired dishes to suit nearly every appetite. Located just across from the beautiful Patriot Park on Oak Grove Road, Ash has attracted droves of people who patiently awaited their opening. They are fast becoming an attractive spot to grab a delicious meal cooked in a trendy wood fired kitchen. We recently stopped in to check out this happening new spot & try out their interesting concept.

Atmosphere: When we arrived we were informed of a roughly 20 minute wait which was not that bad for a new restaurant. The weather was pretty decent so we sat outside on the patio to review the menu. The seating was not bad at all. There were plenty of tables filled with hungry and engaged customers. The atmosphere was extremely comfortable. We eventually got a table by the window.

What we had: We split an order of cornmeal fried chicken livers with a green tomato salsa & lime crema. These chicken livers were cooked to absolute PERFECTION! Moist, well seasoned & flavorful. 

My entree consisted of the BBQ of the week. This particular week's bbq feature was pulled pork shoulder topped with red & white bbq sauce, a side of mac & cheese, seasoned collards & field peas.The greens had just the right amount of spice added to them. I was "southernly" pleased with them.

 My dinner companion had the wood grilled hangar steak. This was accompanied by caramelized onion mashed potatoes, fire roasted baby sweet peppers and board dressing. This was an extremely tasty selection cooked to tender perfection.

From the cocktail menu, we had a couple of Ash's specialty cocktails. The Patriot Paradise- Bacardi, pineapple juice, lime, simple syrup and Campari. The Beesknees cocktail consisted of El Jimadour, lemon, bitter, and honey syrup.
Patriot Paradise


For dessert, I had their now infamous brownie. You gotta get the brownie. It's served with smoked graham cracker crumble and soft, homemade (fire toasted) marshmallow surrounding it.

The Staff: AMAZING! Everyone from "Greet to Eat" was pleasant and warm. We were very happy with the service and a table visit from one of the kitchen staff members to ask how we enjoyed our food.

The Prices: Pretty standard for a restaurant of this caliber. Appetizers started at $4, entree's start at $11.

For more information about Ash Bar & Grill, visit their website at

705 Oak Grove Road
Homewood, AL 35209
(205) 558-9401
Thanks for reading & sharing, 

~The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
"Anonymously Raiding A Restaurant Near You"

Monday, October 15, 2018

Experience The New Momotarō Birmingham

The name Momotarō translates to “Peach Boy” and originates from a popular Japanese folklore story. The peach namesake is reflected in Momotarō’s tea flavors and its logo. The new location in Birmingham is Momotarō’s third in the nation, with cafés in State College, Penn., and Ann Arbor, Mich. The 2,350 square-foot space that Momotarō occupies in Five Points South can seat more than 40 guests and was completely redone and transformed in preparation of the opening. The space contains new plumbing, a new kitchen and a custom-created, hand-crafted interior – all built and installed by Yu and his team. 

Momotarō, an Asian café serving poke bowls, sweet and savory crepes, rolled ice cream and teas, opened it's Birmingham location on October 10th in Five Points South near  Pickwick Place at 1011 20th St. South. 

Momotarō’s take on Asian cuisine fuses street food flavors and concepts from Japan and Thailand and serves them in a modern and sophisticated fast-casual café setting. All of the menu items at Momotarō are assembled, plated and prepared right in front of guests, and a host of fresh ingredients are easily viewable along the 32-foot marble top counter.

On the menu, guests can find build-your-own poke bowls and rolled ice cream, Japanese crepes - both sweet and savory - and an assortment of Thai-inspired flavored tea and milk tea. Each tea and juice drink is made fresh to order and is highly customizable. With eight different types of tea leaves and numerous flavoring options, Momotarō boasts one of the most diverse flavored tea palettes

1011 20th St S, 
Birmingham, AL 35205 
(205) 407-5648

Follow them on Facebook
Thanks for reading & sharing, 
The Birmingham Restaurant Raider 

"Anonymously Raiding A Restaurant Near You"


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Bartaco "Deliciously Folded"

OK, so I've tried numerous times to get into this place and the parking lot has always been a mad house. I figured it MUST be a great place to eat. This is the only Alabama location. The buzz surrounding Bartaco raised my level of curiosity some time ago. Known for their amazingly priced tacos and menu variety, this restaurant is so popular that I'm already anxious to return. I recently stopped in with a friend to try the food that literally everyone has been talking about.

Atmosphere:Just inside the door, there was a hostess who greeted us right away. We were seated near the door in a comfortable booth. Very nice atmosphere. This location is extremely bright and inviting with lots of seating and large enough for a modest to somewhat large crowd. Parking was a little bit of a challenge, but we were able to get in. 

The Kids Beef & Chicken Tacos ( Pretty good sized )

Quesadilla from the kids menu

Tuna taco on a lettuce shell w/ slaw

Rock Shrimp, Chicken & Baja Fish Tacos.

What we had: The prices are so reasonable, it was hard to get only a few items so we decided to make ourselves a buffet: A large guacamole dip, 1 kids chicken taco,1 kids beef taco,  1 kids chicken quesadilla, 1 baja fish taco, 1 chicken taco, 1 rock shrimp taco, 1 kids version of the mojito and 1 seared tuna taco. 
Literally EVERYTHING was scrumptious! The flavor of the guacamole was amazing. It's served with large flat fried tortilla shells. The virgin mojito was just the right thing to top it all off. There are also specialty sauces at each table.
The Guacamole Dip

Cocktail Happy Hour Menu

Staff: Our server was friendly as she explained the unique concept. She was very attentive and had a great personality. We were not at all disappointed with the quality of service. 

Prices: Most of the tacos and kids menu items were only a few dollars each. All menu items range from $2.50 just about $9.50. 

Overall experience: Bartaco did not disappoint. Outside of the crowded parking lot, the experience was outstanding. The service & the food combined with the prices will definitely attract repeat customers. 

For more information on Bartaco & their other menu items, visit their website at

1017 Oxmoor Road
Homewood, AL 35209
(205) 875-8226 

Thanks for reading & sharing! 
~The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
 Est 2009

"Anonymously Raiding A Restaurant Near You" 

Monday, September 10, 2018

You're invited! Roverchase's 5th Birthday Party

The Birmingham Restaurant Raider has partnered with the Roverchase Foundation to plan one of the best events of the year & all for a great cause!
Come celebrate Roverchase's 5th birthday at Good People Brewing Company on Friday September 14, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. We will have delicious hors d'oeuvres catered by Shindigs and a cash beer bar with awesome Good People Brews. 

All proceeds will benefit The Roverchase Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing financial aid to families to receive service dogs who may otherwise not be able to afford them. To apply for a service animal please email

According to the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, service dogs can assist with lots of critical tasks including the following: 

Service Dogs Basic Tasks

  • Answers when someone’s at the door by pulling a lever.
  • Brings or retrieves stuff to its owner, such as the mail, medicine bottles or any other items.
  • Barks, summons or alerts someone in the other room, for the owner who cannot get to them.
  • Helps his owner get around, or get up from his seat, or climb the stairs at the home or in public establishments.
  • Be his owner’s steady support, in case he experiences an imbalance while doing activities.
  • Carries medicine and other provisions for his owner in a specialized back pack.

Service Dogs Tasks During Emergencies

  • Brings the phone to his owner to call 911 or a relative.
  • Knows how to bark at a speaker phone to signal for emergency.
  • Interrupts or tags its owner during a trigger or psychiatric occurrence.
  • Alerts other people when its owner is in distress.
  • Leads other people to its owner, who could already be down on the floor after an episode or a suicide attempt, especially in cases of depression and mood disorders.
  • Alert its owner in cases of fire or burglary attempts.

Tickets are available through EventBrite. Get yours today!

The Fetch Treat Truck will be on site with awesome doggie treats for all of our 4 legged guests.

Party Like A Puppy
Good People Brewing
114 14th Street South (across from Regions Field)
Birmingham, AL 35233
7:00 P.M.- 9:30 P.M.

Thanks For Reading & Sharing! 
~The Birmingham Restaurant Raider
"Anonymously Raiding A Restaurant Near You"

The Roverchase Foundation partners with nationally respected service dog schools to help these approved families with the funding needed to acquire one of these 
life-changing animals.