Over the years, the food scene has evolved introducing new cuisine and reviving southern staples. No matter the craving, no matter the palate, Tuscaloosa continues to thrive and satisfy. The Planet Weekly has been publishing restaurant reviews for many moons. This review captures the best of each bite highlighting the restaurants that consistently aim to make each visit an experience to write about.
Downtown is a landscape of restaurants with a heart for this community and mouth-watering food. Executive Chef Tres Jackson promotes and supports local farmers through his restaurant, Epiphany Café. This new American farm-to-fork cuisine brings a refreshing approach to dining out. The menu offers no overly-processed, hormone raised foods. Here, they only serve “Happy Animals”. The menu changes based on what the farmer has to give that week. Chef Tres continuously produces enjoyable and exciting entrees despite the challenge of the unknown. The flavor combinations in the menu descriptions have to be seen and eaten to believe. Beautiful braised beef with peanut sauce over a steaming bed of collard greens was a favorite meal at Epiphany. Flavors from the actual food came with each bite. Additions like fat and seasoning simply compliment the food instead of overwhelming. The impeccable attention to detail and energy that goes into the production of this restaurant is exceptional. The esthetic atmosphere brings comfort and the reminder to take the time to enjoy good food and appreciate where that food came from.
Five Bar brings a different energetic vibe to Downtown. A personal favorite, Five Bar never ceases to amaze with the consistency of both food and service. The menu reflects the name offering five main entrees: gulf catch (varies daily), bacon cheeseburger, ribeye, fried shrimp and panéed chicken. Additional entrees are served over the weekend. A typical Five meal always starts with the baked avocado. Topped with bacon and shrimp spicy sauce, no words can properly describe the enjoyment each bite brings. Solo trips have been made just to order this delicious appetizer. The avocado is warm and easily spooned out. A touch of what appears to be bread crumbs is so delicately placed on top to give a slight crunch. The mild flavor from the avocado gives the salty bacon and spicy shrimp sauce full focus. A moment of depression hits when the spoon can scrape no more.
Similar feelings have been experienced during meals at The Avenue Pub. A newer addition to the area, The Avenue Pub has made a name for itself with a classic American kitchen approach. Each meal presents a new menu demonstrating the owner’s talent in menu development. From Brunch and lunch to dinner, owner Craig Williams serves classic pub food with some southern appeal. Favorites include the chicken club sandwich, fish and chips, and straight from the brunch menu: chicken biscuits and gravy. These are biscuits and gravy to wake up for. Country style white sausage gravy poured over homemade biscuits with a side, yes a side, of fried chicken was a recent first-time meal. The lightly breaded fried chicken yielding a crunchy and tender bite. The sausage gravy was a reminder of Mom’s southern Sunday breakfast. A meal definitely worth savoring. Food is too often taken for granted—being devoured and digested before it’s even tasted. The commonality of the eateries discussed is the consensus that food should be prepared fresh and savored bite for bite.

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