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JACK SPICER ADAMS
Photograph: Jack Spicer Adams

The 23 best restaurants in Birmingham you need to try

London who? Birmingham's restaurants are winning more Michelin stars by the year - discover the best of the second city

Written by
James Brennan
&
Kayleigh Watson
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You don’t need us to tell you about Birmingham’s famous Balti Triangle, although we’re more than happy to sing the praises of magnificent curry at every possible opportunity. Still, there is more to England’s second city than Anglicised curry, with an ever-growing range of excellent establishments pushing culinary boundaries and making bellies happy across the city.

Birmingham might just be England’s most underrated city, something that is definitely true on the culinary side of the ledger. Come for the Balti Triangle, stay because you need to discover more about the city’s burger obsession or spectacular street food spots. The best restaurants in Birmingham? Look no further.

Best restaurants in Birmingham

  • Restaurants

In 2013, Adam’s began life as a less than glamorous pop-up in a former sandwich shop. Thanks to subsequent high demand and an almost cult-like following, it amped up the production pace and outgrew its original location (receiving a Michelin star in the process). These days, you’ll find Adam’s in a much grander premise on Waterloo Street, where contemporary fine dining is the name of the game. It isn’t cheap, but the quality is high and offers a gastronomic adventure. After all, it’s not every day you get to tuck into crab cashew satay.

The Ivy
Photograph: Courtesy TripAdvisor.com

2. The Ivy

Yes, we’re on about that Ivy, but instead of London finery, the brand planted roots in Birmingham to bring the same opulence to the Midlands. Located in Temple Row but devoid of the celebrity types that frequent its counterparts in the capital, the restaurant and the menu are explosions of colour and taste. Whether it’s à la carte, afternoon tea or a dip of crème brûlée on the cards, expect it to arrive with a flourish.

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Describing itself as ‘the yin yang experience’, Tattu is, in many ways, the antithesis of balance – it is grand and OTT in every way. When setting eyes on its painstakingly precise dishes, however, it is impossible to deny the refined skillset it took to get there. Between classics with a twist, tender wagyu beef and impressively arranged desserts, this is a great setting to toast a special occasion.

Tucked on the short stretch between New Street and Grand Central Station, La Galleria is where to head for first-rate Italian cuisine in the very centre of Brum. A family-run venture, its team are passionate about the food they serve, notably the top-notch pizza and fresh pasta dishes (served in reassuringly generous portions). Cosy with a relaxed atmosphere, it’s a snug spot for a date or family meal. 

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An old favourite at this point, Original Patty Men still holds up against the seemingly never-ending competition as a favourite haunt of Birmingham’s burger connoisseurs. Launched by a bunch of designers and now finding a permanent home in a Digbeth archway, the staff refer to themselves as ‘purveyors of filth’, and the menu is deliciously messy (it’s not unknown for OPM to replace a burger bun with a glazed doughnut). Hip hop megastar Drake got a takeaway from here too, which is the ultimate kudos.

Bonehead

With premises on the undeniably small side, it’s logical that Bonehead’s residency continues at Digbeth’s Zumhof market – which is a beacon of hope for ravenous chicken lovers. Despite its speciality being succulent free-range fried chicken, its sauces prove the real winner – think hot wings, sriracha honey butter burger dressing and blue cheese tater tots.

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A café by day and a restaurant by night, Tropea has brought the tastes of Italy – more specifically, Calabria – to Harborne. Favouring great coffee, pastries and focaccia before switching to contemporary yet seasonal Italian staples for the evening, this relaxed setting and authentic Italian wine set up a chilled dining experience.

These are big burgers. Cool, edgy, and lots of fun, The Meat Shack gives Original Patty Men a run for its money with its uproariously decadent stacks, chicken and loaded fries. The trademark smashed patties are a big draw (the Hell Shack packs a hefty punch), but vegetarians can indulge in an equally attractive cheese and mushroom beast called Bella Emberg (she was an iconic Brit comedy actress of the 1980s, trivia fans). Graffiti-strewn walls and a backstreet location make it seem all the more depraved, and happily so.

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With a handful of locations across Moseley, Harborne and Stratford-upon-Avon and Birmingham city centre, Sabai Sabai is thriving with quiet composure. Its stunning menu of Thai food caters to all dispositions, whether that be pad thai stalwarts, seafood lovers or the vegan-friendly crowd. Your senses will be overwhelmed before you’ve even taken a bite, and the food is always hugely moreish. Return visits are recommended.

Craft comprises a trio of restaurants and experiences depending on where you choose to sit. And whether it’s immersive dining by Andrew Sheridan, chic takes on British classics or a good ol’ flame-grilled BBQ, it covers all bases with aplomb. The outdoor dining setup consists of an array of striking glass pods and capsules.

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Tamu may be a tiny café, but its dishes pack a big punch. Hearty portions and delightful presentation showcase high-quality ingredients at their colourful best, and there’s plenty to cater to vegetarian and vegan tastebuds. Open sandwiches, French toast and pancake stacks make this a prime brunch spot, with ‘super salads’ a decent healthier option.

A newish addition to the Arcadian – a tiered ring of bars, nightclubs, restaurants and shops in the Chinese Quarter – the Mythos Taverna is a homey, family-run Greek restaurant that captures the charm of the Mediterranean. Traditional souvlaki and moussaka are firm favourites, but there’s also a tapas-style selection on hand for those who simply can’t make up their minds – the loukaniko (sausage) and spanakopita (spinach pie) are particularly good.

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In the charming Great Western Arcade – home to a range of independent bars, shops and restaurants – Land sets out to prove once and for all that plant-based dining is long past being dull. Since it opened in 2019, the restaurant has focused on prioritising seasonal ingredients while taking inspiration from various cuisines around the world. Taste and texture are heightened by the stylish presentation. 

With colourful Snowhill and Solihull locations as well as its brewery tap room, Indian Brewery is putting an original twist on the food + craft beer formula. Its ‘Indian fish and chips’ combines your favourite battered cod with masala fries and replaces ketchup with curry sauce, while the ‘faat naans’ speak for themselves. It also serves delish milkshakes.

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Bar Estilo has been serving up tapas and paella for more than two decades, so you can imagine they are damn good at it. If you are not averse to sharing food with your friends and family, we recommend you take a punt on the aforementioned Spanish dishes (you’ll find plenty of meat, fish and vegetarian options). The staff also possess a knack for whipping up a generous cocktail or sangria – so it’s a great night all year long.

Another foodie highlight in the Jewellery Quarter, The Pig & Tail is as cute as they come with its chic decor and artsy garden. The bar specialises in small-batch craft beers, though it’s Lisa and Pann’s menu that has really been causing a stir. All the Singaporean, Thai and Malaysian dishes are ace, but if you can’t make up your mind, take our advice: get the signature deep-fried sushi or its signature spiral curry puffs.

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A lot is going on in and around Digbeth landmark The Custard Factory, but Baked in Brick has been quietly smashing it. With a custom-built oven and an in-house bakery, you presume good things from the dough – play it safe with one of its thick-crust, thin-base pizzas, go a bit wild on a calzone, or pop in on a Sunday for the much-raved-about roast dinner.

Despite the prime location on New Street, it’s easy to walk straight past Medicine’s unfussy exterior. Pop inside, however, and you are greeted with a boggling range of sweet and savoury bakes, which could easily be considered a meal on their own. The excellent brunch menu includes traditional and vegan breakfasts, buddha bowls and a mouthwatering grilled cheese sourdough. 

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Birmingham is known for its balti, but there are other great Asian restaurants giving the Triangle a run for its money. Siamais is fine dining that celebrates the heat and flavour of Thai food with an added dollop of theatricality. Think stir-fried prawns in chilli paste, salt and chilli chicken wings or traditional curries – plus a good ol’ bottomless brunch.

As above, so below. Lulu Wild is another great East Asian restaurant to hit Birmingham. Also residing in Brindley Place, it is a visionary Chinese venue that takes the art of its cuisine as seriously as it prioritises creativity. Taking influence from the traditional belief that food is medicine as well as sustenance and indulgence, its range of dishes includes fresh and succulent dim sum, light and bright stir fry, and more left-field options such as strawberry sweet and sour sea bass.

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Isaac’s brings New York-style diner classics to the UK’s second city. Everything here is exceedingly rich: there are your famed New York steaks and cheesecake, plus Italian staples like gnocchi and ragú, but there’s a hefty section of the menu dedicated to raw oysters and seafood too. Top it off with a boozy Miami Vice milkshake.

Are you a fan of Korean food? Then look no further than Toppoki. Situated in the intersection of the Gay Village, The Arcadian and The Hippodrome, the understated establishment whips up some of the best East Asian grub in the city centre. Aside from the eponymous dish, the restaurant’s dupbap and bibimbap tickle the taste buds; take a punt on the bulgogi dupbap - sticky, tender beef - or classic ramen for an authentic Korean taste.

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Another popular establishment sat in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, Saint Pauls House is a boutique, restaurant and bar that has made a name for itself as a stylish abode with great food and drink without compromising on the hearty portions. Their full English breakfasts and Sunday roasts, for example, will set visitors salivating, whilst their herb-infused and sourdough crusted cod loin or hefty steaks offer something a tad more indulgent.

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