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Birmingham hailed as America’s ‘Next Hot Food City’

(Video above: Zagat names Birmingham its #1 “Next Hot Food City”)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Zagat ranked Birmingham No. 1 on its new list of the nation’s up-and-coming food cities, singling out its tasty mix of high-end and casual dining spots and a growing cocktail culture.

Zagat – an authority on where to eat, dine and stay for more than three decades — announced its choice in a Youtube video. Birmingham’s closest competition was No. 2 Oakland/Berkely, California, followed by Detroit; Asheville, North Carolina; and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

“This Southern contender took the top spot due to a delicious combo of fine dining, barbecue and a fresh batch of more casual restaurants,” the Zagat video says. “The food culture – and the city itself – have changed dramatically in recent years.”

In the video, Zagat focuses on spots such as landmark Birmingham restaurant Hot and Hot Fish Club, headed by chef Chris Hastings, and two newer eateries, the Carrington Public House in downtown Birmingham and Post Office Pies in Avondale. It also highlighted the Swing Shift Pop-Up Series.

John Hall, who joined with partners to open the pizza restaurant Post Office Pies after working as a chef in New York, said Birmingham’s food scene has a way of surprising people.

“A lot of times when people come here from out of town, they feel like, ‘Wow, this is not what I expected. This is not what I had in my mind what Birmingham was going to be.’” Hall said. “I think we’re going a good job of changing that perception of what the old Birmingham used to be …”

Added Feizal Valli, general manager and head bartender of The Collins, a downtown bar that is at the center of the city’s cocktail scene: “Birmingham has great food everywhere.”

Other cities on Zagat’s “Next Hot Food City” list are No. 6 Nashville, No. 7 Louisville, No. 8 Durham, No. 9 Phoenix and No. 10 San Antonio.

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