Posted by: apriljobeasley | September 17, 2008

Top Ten Restaurants in Montgomery

Let me preface this list by saying that contrary to popular belief, Montgomery has an abundance of great restaurants, and just because one is not listed in the Top Ten doesn’t mean it isn’t an outstanding place to eat.

From time to time, I get asked for a restaurant recommendation.  An ideal response would be almost totally dependent on your preference or whomever you might attempt to impress; whether it be a boss, friend, date, etc.  I love helping out people in this regard.  

The list is very general and does not attempt to categorize whatsoever.  For example, Chappy’s is the single best NY style deli in the entire state, and I enjoy eating there.  However, it didn’t make the list because this list was dependent on the restaurant experience as a whole.  Therefore, the dependent variables upon which this list was made are largely intrinsic.

In other words, don’t get mad.  As before, there are additional comments below the list as well.  Please add your comments and tell me what I left off!

10.  Casa Napoli

This is the only Italian restaurant that makes the list.  I don’t know why I think Montgomery should have more Italian restaurants, but the selection just seems slim.  While a neighboring, national chain can rival taste, I believe that Napoli directly contributed to one Italian chain’s demise in this city.  Chef Richard Bowen is a third generation Italian from Napoli.  The service is good and the food is great!  When I want Italian, I think Casa Napoli or Napoli II. 

9.  Chris’ Hot Dogs
This Montgomery staple would not be left out.  Unfortunately, I don’t get to visit as often as I’d like.  Many out-of-towner types scoff at the thought of visiting a place with such a name.  However, I would argue that Chris’ Hot Dogs is exactly what a restaurant should be: unique or good recipe and excellent service.  Not to mention that a restaurant is a BUSINESS, and Chris’ has made more money than all the other restaurants on this list combined.  Chris’ hot dogs are the best I’ve ever had, and they are unique.  Bryant-Denny Stadium’s hot dogs are the only others that come close – yeah, you Bama fans know what I’m talking about.  If you haven’t tried Chris’, you must – there will be no debating it.

 

8.  Sam’s Bar-B-Que
I rather get annoyed by the entire BBQ hullabaloo.  Every Billy Bob, Joe, and Fat Man seems to think theirs is the best, and that because they have scientifically combined Heinz 57, sugar, and another BBQ sauce to make their proprietary formula, you should bow at the feet of their redneckness.  You will not find such idiocy at Sam’s Bar-B-Que.  They are my favorite.  I’ve told others that the BBQ by which you were raised determines your predilection, and therefore I respect almost every preference on BBQ.  I believe Sam’s has an outstanding recipe, and they follow a niche model that makes their operation inherently simple and profitable.

 

7.  La Jolla
The atmosphere is gorgeous, and the location is superb!  This restaurant excels in the fine dining experience.   They serve all my favorites: beef medallions, crab, and seafood and do so artfully.  Chef Kent Booth received his training from the Culinary School of the University of New Orleans and brings his Louisiana heritage to his cooking.  Who doesn’t love that?

 

6.  Sommer’s Place
Whereas the location between Taco Bell and Winn Dixie is quite humbling, I frequent this place more than any other on this list.  Their two-for-one crab claw specials contribute mightily to this regimen.  This is where Dean takes his out-of-town friends to eat.  Besides pizza or my father’s filet mignon, Sommer’s is home to my favorite dish in town: crab claws and a house salad.  While the house salad is simple, it has fresh, bright greens as well as a tasty blue cheese offering.  Owner Steve Sommer is a great guy that creates repeat business on unmatched service and consistent quality.

5.  Dawson’s at Rose Hill
This restaurant is a hidden treasure.  Dawson’s is by far the most romantic restaurant in the vicinity and a natural fit for Valentine’s, anniversaries, and other special occasions.  Ahem … I have not been there in a while.  Upon approaching the entrance, you’ll make your way through a garden, and a vine hallway.  After being greeted by a charming hostess, she will sit you in your own intimate nook for a pleasurable dining experience.  They specialize in unique southern recipes for duck, rigatoni, and crab, and my personal favorite, their pork tenderloin.  Call ahead.  This experience is by reservation only.

4.  Montgomery Brewing Company
This is the most fun place to eat in town.  The “Brew Pub” offers such a sentimental style to Montgomerians that most residents could never turn it down.  I am particularly fond of their appetizers.  My favorite is the crab claws in white wine sauce.  When I am with a group, I will always recommend ordering an assortment of such for our meal — in place of entrees.  I also boast the Brew Pub to my out-of-town friends, and I’ve found that it is the best of its variety in central Alabama.  The landmark is a perfect retreat before and after Biscuits’ games and on the weekends.

3.  The Olive Room
I went to this place when it first opened and initially thought it was sort of odd.  I finished my meal with absolutely zero complaints.  The Olive Room still seemed odd to me.  I don’t know why.  I have conjectured that it is the aesthetic appeal of the inside.  It is green, yay, olive.  What isn’t awkward about green?  Also, the place is small.  On the other hand, I love the restaurant.  The service is second to none and so is the food.  They elegantly serve progressive, culinary delights to perfection.  Without the slight awkward feeling I get when I go to the place (I’m sure it’s just me), The Olive Room would be number one.  But perhaps, that’s what makes it unique.

 

2.  Jubilee Seafood
I can think of only two other seafood restaurants that ever I’ve been to, that may be slightly better.  Barring those other two places, Jubilee is the best place in the country to get true Gulf coast style seafood.  If you think I’m being naïve or goofy, think again.  I am not alone in this belief.  Every foodservice person that I’ve ever taken to Jubilee claims it is the best seafood restaurant they’ve ever been to.  (I’m in the food business.)  Each person I know that comes from the coast claims it is the best.  They have an assortment of catches, hundreds of recipes, impeccable service, and a trendy locale.  Jubilee is my favorite seafood restaurant.  Unfortunately, it is overlooked and remarkably underrated by a decent helping of Montgomery natives.  But perhaps an Achilles heel of being the best is that you are constantly overlooked.

1.  City Grill
Balance.  Balance to perfection: impeccable service, unforgettable taste, unmatched value, and immaculate presentation.  City Grill is the best restaurant in Montgomery, Alabama.  It has perfected all the outstanding attributes of the great restaurants above.  Make plans to visit it for your next special occasion.

 

HONORABLE MENTION:

1.  I believe the Farmer’s Market Café has the best meat and three.

 

2.  Wynlakes Country Club is home to the most extraordinary blue cheese dressing ever crafted.

 

3.  Bonefish Grill is an outstanding chain that serves terrific, fresh seafood.  This is the best chain restaurant in Montgomery.

 

4.  Papa John’s consistently uses the finest ingredients in their pizzas while offering the lowest price among pizza delivery stores in Montgomery.  The finest ingredients thing has been proven – in court.

 

Author:

Dean Norton

Montgomery Native

Food Broker

 

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