Top Five: Two writers pick the best restaurants in Tuscaloosa

Macy Dye, Chase Bodiford

There’s a strong and growing restaurant scene in Tuscaloosa, with options that range from traditional Southern-style cooking to international cuisine as diverse as German, Indian and Thai. This can be hard to sort out for newcomers in town, so two of our writers, Chase Bodiford and Macy Dye, picked their five favorite spots in the city. Happy Eating!

Chase’s Pick: Buffet City
I honestly don’t have the highest expectations when encountering a new buffet joint for the first time, but this place took the cake when it came to food selection and freshness (especially the sushi and fruit). The best place nobody seems to know about, head over before three or so and the check should only come out to $8 or so.

Macy’s Pick: City Cafe
On the most attractive street in the city, City Cafe is quaint, unobvious and wonderful. It’s a true small town Alabama restaurant with a menu that proves it. The Cafe is open Monday-Friday from 4:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Everyday features a different menu so no matter how many times you go, you could never get tired of the ever delicious food in that southern atmosphere we all love.

Chase’s Pick: Ruan Thai
I tried curry for the first time here, and have subsequently had a love affair with the delicacy. They have a loaded pineapple dish here that has been, visually, the coolest thing I’ve ever ordered, and pretty high up there on the culinary scale of things as well. Their coconut ice-cream has so far eluded me, to a great deal of disappointment on my part.

Macy’s Pick: Sweet Home Food Bar
Upon walking into this restaurant, you know exactly why the words “Sweet Home” are in the name. The smiling faces of the workers and the homey decor all over the restaurant makes you feel as though you’re walking into an old friend’s place for a meal. Their once-a-week brunch is nothing short of fantastic, but their special nights are what really draw in the crowds. Every Tuesday evening, Sweet Home Food Bar has a burger bar. Not only do you create your own burger but it’s basically a 5:00-9:00 p.m. happy hour with specials on beer and wine.

Chase’s Pick: Broadway Pizzeria
I just tried out this place about two weeks ago, but after hearing so much about it. I didn’t think it could live up to hype. Instead, it exceeded those expectations and then some. Pizza will always be my guilty pleasure of choice, and as such I have over the years developed a keen sense of taste toward the subtleties of this delicacy. The cheese at Broadway is layered without being drenched, the crust/dough is firm without veering into tough, and the sauce is heartwarmingly not skimped, unlike in so many other establishments. I had a veggie loaded specialty, and the final verdict was a finished box within twenty minutes. Dangerously addictive.

Macy’s Pick: Edelweiss Bakery
Authentic German food that makes you feel like you have walked out of Tuscaloosa and into downtown Berlin. A bakery with meals as well as baked goods and easily some of the best coffee in town, Edelweiss truly has it all.

Chase’s Pick: Pastor’s Kitchen Mexican Food
The best Mexican I’ve had in my life bar none. Now to be fair, I’ve only declared my taste buds open to international cuisine within the last three years or so (I was quite a picky kid let me tell you), but this shack across the Northport bridge rocks all kinds of socks regardless. The guacamole here was top-notch, and my first experience with shrimp burritos and a fajita quesadilla was one I will not soon forget. This is the quintessential “hole-in-the-wall” spot that doesn’t look like much, but will absolutely blow your mind when you try it.

Macy’s Pick: The Historic Waysider Restaurant
A cozy place to eat with made-from-scratch breakfast and lunch foods, what more could you ask for? Waysider has been in business since 1906, and there’s no question why. Simple menu with simple food that will never disappoint.

Chase’s Pick: Sitar
I had little experience with Indian food before checking out this place on a tip from a friend. I have not looked back since. With excellent dishes spanning the range from tiki masala to chicken curry, plus a good dozen vegetable dishes, this place has easily been my most frequented restaurant since I started going out to eat more in Tuscaloosa. Apparently it is a small-scale operation, but the quality never lacks and I have yet to have an unpleasant experience eating here. Some items are a tad spicy for the newly initiated, but certainly nothing overwhelming. Plus, they have a desert akin to a cheeseball soaked in caramel that literally translates to heaven squeezed into a half-inch of food.

Macy’s Pick: Avenue Pub
Whether it’s time for breakfast, lunch, or dinner Avenue Pub has you covered. Right in downtown Tuscaloosa, the Pub offers a varied menu no matter what the meal. The food is anything but typical, on the brunch menu they feature a Jalapeno Cheese Dip served with their own housemade chips. The spirited restaurant also has live music every Saturday from 12-4 p.m. With over 25 beers on the drink menu, plus cocktails and wines, the drink menu will compliment any of the restaurant’s exotic meal choices.