This is Spilling the Beans, where plugged-in baristas give us the lowdown on where to go, what to do, and what to eat (and drink) in their hometown. In this installment, Trevor Newberry of Urban Standard shows us around Birmingham, Alabama.
Fresh out of Fort Payne and Tuscaloosa, Trevor Newberry moved to Birmingham in 2007 to learn more about coffee. He worked his way up, picking up shifts where he could, and eventually working as a barista, coffee roaster, and now general manager of Urban Standard, one of the city’s best cafés. Newberry knows Birmingham isn’t the largest city in the area—not like Atlanta or Nashville—but “it’s one of those cities that gets ahold of you” and “gets in your blood.” Thanks to an underrated music scene, an exploding beer scene, and down-home Southern roots, Newberry’s in the city to stay—and wants to show you around.
Where should we stay?
I’d usually recommend The Redmont Hotel, but it’s currently under renovation. Then there’s the Tutweiler. We used it for our wedding night and still go any time we need to get out of the house. There’s also the Aloft Hotel; it’s more modern and trendier, which is not really the Birmingham vibe, but it’s cool.
Where should we grab breakfast?
Down here you don’t get a lot of boutique-y breakfasts. Most of what I go for is really traditional Southern biscuits, grits, or places with people who really know how to cook eggs. Bogue’s is a great spot. OverEasy is good, too, even though it’s a little more corporate-feeling. Then, Green Acres is a fantastic dive-y, greasy spoon joint that I don’t get to often. But if you’ve been out all night the night before, it’s great. Obviously Urban Standard is also awesome, and I work breakfasts.
Best cup of coffee?
Seeds Coffee is really impressive. So is Octane Coffee. Revelator Coffee is also worth trying.
Brewery worth a visit?
That scene is exploding right now. First, Good People Brewing. It’s probably not the hippest, but I really like their beer. It also lives up to the name. Trim Tab Brewing Co. is a trendier place doing really cool stuff with really good brews.
Best market to walk around and eat?
I would go to The Market at Pepper Place on Saturday morning. It’s a conglomeration of farmers and artisans and you’ll find things like candles and soaps but also great produce.
Best place to see art?
I’d say the Birmingham Museum of Art.
Hottest new dinner spot?
Ollie Irene has been getting a lot of press lately, and that’s a great one. Chris Hastings opened up Ovenbird and, really, that’s the hottest new place.
Where do you actually eat regularly?
Brick & Tin. It is not the fanciest place, but it’s always really good and there’s almost never a wait. That’s where my wife and I will go on Friday nights.
Super classic old-school restaurant?
Highland Bar and Grill is the Birmingham fine dining institution. But Niki’s West is a meat-and-three—a steak and fish place that’s just super old-school and awesome. My grandparents take my wife and me there a lot. It’s always really good in the worst way and just wonderful, with towering meringue on lemon icebox pies for dessert.
Where to get a great cocktail?
The Collins Bar is the frontrunner for me. There’s also a guy named Angel Negrín from Collins Bar who hosts Church Night at this dive-y bar called Lou’s Pub on Wednesdays and Sundays. It’s great to get his cocktail menu, at better prices, at a place you’d usually get a Jack and Coke.
Best place to see live music?
I would’ve told you The Bottle Tree , but it closed down and that’s tragic. So now I’d point you to Saturn first. It’s in Avondale, a hip new neighborhood. Satellite is the coffee shop, cocktail bar, and venue there—and it hosts some really good acts. I’d say Iron City is a good venue too.
Where can we get into trouble for the night?
Lakeview is where a lot of nights end, and not always that well. It’s the place you go after you’ve been to the better bars and you need another drink, but it’s 3 a.m. Nana Funks is over there; it’s a bar/dance floor/weird place. There’s also Gip’s Place, a blues joint in a guy’s backyard. It’s BYOB, $10 to get in, and they’ll have some people frying fish and stuff like that. That’s actually my top place to hang out on Saturday nights.