Pies & Pints - Birmingham, AL

The day before Thanksgiving I came into town, and I mt my mom at this new spot that I was hearing people talk about Pies and Pints downtown Birmingham. I was excited about the prospect of good food and they did not dissapoint, well kind of. I ordered the chipotle chicken pizza and it was just ok. But my mom ordered the Classic, and I am so glad she doesn't eat much because it was absolutely delicious, and I ate her left overs, and a good deal of her pizza while were sitting there. That pizza was so good that  contemplated going back on Sunday for another helping an hopefully some for the road, but I digress. 

The atmosphere was modern with plenty of clean lines, and did I mention how great that "Classic" was. I was weary when I saw it had mushroom and banana peppers on it but the flavors have never complimente themselves o well that it created a glorious 6 part harmony in my mouth. 

Pros: nice dining space

Cons: Chipotle chicken pizza was nothing to write home about

Verdict: I will most certainly be back

 

Taco Mama - Birmingham, AL & Auburn, AL

So there is a Taco Mama in both the cities I live. they both popped up within months of themselves. While I have been to the one in Birmingham more than the one in Auburn, I think this review will be useful for both locations (an probably any others that are around as well). 

So it's not the best tacos I have ever had (Click here for my favorites) but when you factor in all of the perks it's still a pretty sweet spot. So The tacos are good in both crunchy shell and soft shell. I'm not a fan of the shredded meat but I did enjoy the chicken, steak, shrimp, and ground beef tacos (I would tell you about the flounder, but I am deathly allergic (yikes)). These are tex mex tacos, which I typically prefer over the authentic stuff. So they use yellow cheese and flour tortillas, so if that's your thing you'll enjoy it.

I like the energy of the restaurant. I'm quite the fan of the garage door deal, it makes the retaurant feel like you're eating outside without the sacrifice of air conditioning. 

Pros: Great Ambiance. Decent Food. 

Cons: Slightly Over priced. Perpetually Busy.

Verdict: Yea I'll go back if its conveinient. 

DeVinci's - Homewood, AL

DeVinci's has been a staple in my life for the bulk of my life. I have watched football games there, and I have had awesome high school memories there. I even had a couple memorable date nights there. There isn't much on the menu that i wouldn't order, or haven't ordered for that matter. Earlier this week I went with my mom, and I ordered an En Fuego pizza for the first time ever, adn I think I have a new favorite item on the menu!!

DeVinci's is the type of restaurant you see on TV on almost all of the 90s sitcoms. its a familu owned italian restaurant, that people come to eat and relax. The place, just feels like home. Not only does it feel like home it tastes like home. This isn't some cheap tomato sauce, this is top notch italian food that you can taste the love in every single bite. 

Pros: Absolutely Delicious food

Cons: Small Space, sort of prolonged wait

Verdict: I'll be back! as I have for the last 20 or so years!

 

Meatball Shop, Manhattan, New York, NY

So I was in search of good food while I was in manhattan recently. The fact that I live in Alabama, i had not been impressed with anything I put in my mouth in New York with the exception of maybe a sprite with lime I had at the bar at my hotel. Everything I was eating just seemed to be subpar in comparison to the food i'm accustomed to eating, because in the south let;s face it, we life big food and big flavor, and the big apple was lacking. 

We happened upon this spot called the meatball shop by way of google and we took our chances, because my dad calls us the "black italians" because we love italian food so much. I called an Uber and headed right to the spot. The spot was like something I had seem on televisuoin my entire life. I was quaint well lit and while it was moden i was very reminicinent of a homestyle restaurant. 

The menu however was everything but homestyle. They had red sauce white sauce, gravy, YOU NAME IT! They had meats for meat balls, anything your heart could imagine. They bring out a dry erase menu, and you just have your way and build your meal however you please. Mine was great. My sister's was digusting. My dad's was gross to me, and great to him, gross me. That's the beautiful thing about restaurant, you can go in any direction and make it delicious to you. Whether the people you're with like it or not, it's your plate.

Pros: Customizable. I love the menus, leaves very little room for error.

Cons: could be a tad more verbose in flavor

Verdict: If came across one I wouldn't be oppose to returning. It would proabably be a great dat night spot or a great place to go with friends after work.

Fisher's - Dockside - Orange Beach, AL

2 dining experiences. I'm a fan of them both!

When I really begin to think of places that I would indoctrinate into tradition Fisher's would be one of those places. Actually I could probably build an entire resort out of their entire set up. What I love about Fisher's is that they offer 2 unique dining experiences. You can sit dockside, and enjoy the breeze outside, and check out all of the yachts that are docked or you can sit upstairs in the dining room for a multi course high star meal. Both meals are exceptional, and both experiences are worth writing home about (as you see I am lol). 

From the frozen palmer to the oysters, to the awesome dishes I had Fisher's is one of those places I could come for a night out with friends, a date night or just a quite night alone. After dinner you can take a casual stroll up the dock and really enjoy yourself. This place was completly up my alley. 

Food: Flavorful

Ambiance: Refreshing

Pros: Location is quaint yet on the water

Cons: The summer in Alabama tends to be sticky, so eating outside isn't always delightful, if you've spent your day sweaty.

Verdict: I'll be back

When I return to the gulf coast with a special someone, I'll be sure to review the dining room.

Island Wing Co. - Auburn, AL

The reason I wanted to be a food critic is because of restaurants like this. Island Wing company has one of the coolest atmospheres in theory. Every booth has its own TV with a remote. You control what your group watches. The colors are vibrant, the aesthetics of the place are dope. There are some flow issues with the tables through out the restaurant, but other than that aestehiclly and gimmick wise the restaurant is nice.

Food wise it is DISGUSTING!!!! Nothing about the food is good. The problem is it should be delicious, the way the food sounds on paper, should be a total dude food moment, but not so! You can tell they use frozen artifically preserved food that they have not taken the time to enhance or even make it something worth eating. To make it worse, their food is priced well above comparable spots. 

So the first time I actually dined in, I gave them the benefit of the doubt, because my waitress was down right RUDE! Being the jovial soul that I am, I was still polite, and covered the tab, and even left her a tip. Not one of my notorious 30-40% tips but a fair 10% because her service was so poor. I returned a few weeks ago, to be greeted by a much more congenial server, so I suppose their service isn't all around poor. 

Island Wing Company is a company I want to see thrive. I think they have a model that could do exceptionally well, but not with the poor quality of food thay they serve. In their niche it doesn't have to be gourmet it just has to be real. Out of personal preference please stop baking french fries that come out of a frozen bag. If you must bake a potatoe bake a fresh potato. 

Pros: Great Ambiance

Cons: TERRIBLE FOOD. one bad experience with one server, but I dont think she works there anymore. 

Verdict: I have no desire to consume their food ever again. I would however love to come in and help them improve their overall dining experience. So if someone from Island Wing Co. sees this, please reach out, I sincerely want to help you!

N. A. JonesComment
Tuco's Tex Mex Cantina - Auburn, AL

There is a very small number of places that I eat on the regular. I'm a creature of habit and so when I am not in my foodventure mode I repetitvely frequent a handful of places. Tuco's is one of the places I eat once a week at least. I really love the food. What's interesting is the first time I went, I had high hopes for them, and I was grossly dissapointed. I ordered the absolute wrong thing. So a few months ago I gave them another shot and they quickly went from being on my crap list to my frequent list. 

Tuco's impressed me tonight in a way that I have to tell you about. It's no secret, I'm black and I eat in a lot of spaces that are not usually predominately black. It is the reality of my life. For most of my life I haven't given it 2 thoughts because it is the life I live. In the recent political climate, and the videos of black discrimination emerging on the regular from establishments that seek to exclude people who happen to be wrapped in similar skin as I, I have become more aware of how I look now than ever before. 

Today I strolled into Tuco's as normal, and I was seated, and the waitress brought me some of that delicious salsa and chips, and took my drink order. The difference between today and say last week or the week before is that she didn't return. I didn't think anything of it until anout 15 minutes passed. After 15 minutes I start looking around and I realize no one in the room is black but me. So then naturally I begin to wonder am being discriminated against? Whats happening? I wait another 15 minutes and nothing. So eventually I summon a buss boy over, and I ask him who my waitress is, because I genuine can't remember, he doesn't know but he finds someone. A genteman comes over nervously takes my order because he thinks I'm enraged, (and I'm not). My waitress re-appears, and she is incredibly apologetic. Which is really all I want. I just want to know that you genuinely forgot I was sitting over here in the corner away from your other tables, and you forgot me rather than you not wanting to wait on the only black patron in the restaurant. That's all. She dispelled my fears. After she realized she was waiting on my table, she became the perfect waitress. She returned to the table and made sure I had all that I needed. I was prepared to tip her my typical 30-40% when she covered my bill due to her mistake. 

I wasn't going to hold the mistake over her. I actually was sitting at the table hoping this was a mistake and not discrimination because I love Tuco's so much. There are good people who make honest mistakes, and those are not the people we should villify. Those are the people we pat on the back and dust off, and encourage them to continue in the game. 

Tuco's is one of my favorite restaurants for a number of reasons, beginning with the first time I ever visited and the person I went with. To one of my favoite desserts that I only order (or have seen) at Tuco's, to the good service I always get. They have some of the most delicous taco's I have had, and I am huge fan of their taco salad. Their Sopapilla is good in house and to-go, and I am incredibly grateful that I don't stop patronizing one of my favorite establishments. When we make mistakes we should own them like Jordan did tonight. We should own them and fix them. Our society has a lot of ills but I'm willing to bet that a sincere attempt to right the wrong, is better than sticking to your guns when you're wrong (and you know you are). Jordan has restored a lot hope that seemed lost in our society. For that I am so grateful.

Pros: Amazing Tacos. Great Atmosphere. Genuine People. 

Cons: They are human (but so are we).

Verdict: I'll be back next week.

Hatch Early Mood Food - Oklahoma City, OK

It was a Saturday morning in mid-march I was craving some fried chicken (actually I had been craving fried chicken the whole trip). We stumbled upon this place with a weird name, and it had an hour wait for brunch y'all!! Any other morning it would have been a no. We were on vacation and enjoying one another's company so we put our name on the list and went for a walk. Grabbed some coffee from a local coffee shop, and before we knew it was our time. 

The ambiance was hip and modern. We sat outside in the perfect weather. So it's vacation so I was splurging. I had an appetizer at brunch...so out of the norm but so perfect. I had beignets. Let me preface this by saying that I desperately wanted something fried because it seemed like everything I wanted I wanted I was allergic to. But not at Hatch, They didn't fry in soy and I was over the moon. The beignets came with this orange dip, that I wasn't a fan of, but the beignets were golden perfection.  

My main course, was chicken and waffles and it was accompanied by an odd hot sauce, that made my taste buds tingle. Throw in some honey a top the two and it was heavenly. I had to make modifications to make it great but the atmosphere was the perfect brunch atmosphere . 

 Taste: good

ambiance: perfect brunch ambiance

verdict: The wait was extensive. Food was good. I'd go back

Kilwin's, Atlantic Station, Atlanta, GA

Y'all this place is greatness.  

Kilwin's is one of those places I just have to swing by everytime I'm in Atlanta. The variety of sugary delicacies is a breath of fresh air. You can get caramel apples galore with an insane number of toppings, but to be honest in all the times I have been to Kilwin's I just tasted one of their decorated apples for the first time here recently. My main squeeze is the coffee icecream (they make in house) and their freshly dipped dark chocolate pretzels. Both of which send off fireworks of serenity in my mouth. 

After you order sitting outside in the night air at this spot is the stuff that Romantic Comedies are made of. Completely quaint, but completely busy.  

Pros: heavenly desserts

Cons: always busy and packed

 Verdict: a must visit