For a quick recap, the purpose of this series is to eat at fifty restaurants that I’ve never visited before in and around Birmingham (although I’ve been known to break my own rules.) Feel free to catch up with Round One and Round Two.
Although we usually eat local, chains aren’t against the rules, and several restaurants this week fall into the chain category, so if you’re not local, some of these restaurants may be near you, as well.
So. Let’s hop in.
7. Mooyah Burgers – This one is a chain, but it’s fairly new to Birmingham. And we love a good burger, so trying it was an easy decision.
We walked in and they had order cards much like our favorite one-location hamburger place, Riff Burgers. I love a good check-the-boxes sheet, especially when many decisions must be made. Because remembering all of the burger accessories I need while trying to order quickly at places like Five Guys is entirely too much for my tender disposition.
So we filled out our orders and handed them in, all of our work already done.
I liked the look of the assembly line and grill – much less greasy than Five Guys appears, if you can for a moment suspend reality and assume that a hamburger could come in quantities of “less greasy.” They also offer sliced avocado as an option, which gives them the automatic status of winning.
And the kids. Mooyah has a wall-sized chalkboard to entertain the kids, IN ADDITION TO multiple coloring sheets.
They know how to lure parents in and keep them coming back.
The food was great. I especially like their sweet potato fries – they’re crispy-not-crunchy and soft and slightly sweet. The hamburger lived up to the cleanliness of the grill and was less…let’s call it “juicy”…than I prefer, but my inner thighs thanked it.
They also have shakes that looked pretty phenomenal, but the big cup of fries was really enough for me to stomach without guilt.
Mooyah is at the Colonnade on 280, and the best little summertime secret is just around the corner in Cahaba Heights: Doodles. They have the most fantastic sorbets and italian ices in dozens of flavors,
in addition to a huge field for kids to run off their sorbet-fueled energy, AND the new addition of a climb-on fire truck.
There are not enough words in the human language with which I could reiterate the joy that this fire truck brings to my son’s heart.
(And a Peach Sorbet has to be less calories than Mooyah’s milkshake with M & M add-ins, right??)
We have been back twice, so clearly, Mooyah is a keeper on our list.
8. Moe’s Original Barbeque – I’m a bit embarrassed about the fact that I proclaim to be a somewhat foodie but have done a severely poor job of exploring the vast amount of barbeque options in Birmingham.
Guys. I have never even been to Dreamland.
Granted, I don’t like ribs and I don’t like messes and I don’t like white bread, so I have just cause. But still.
Anyway, we’d been hearing about how great Moe’s was for a while, so we finally went with some friends, and then back again a few weeks later.
Their pulled pork made me very happy, because if I’m going to eat barbeque, I want it to be tender, not at all crusty, and it better not be chewy. I forgot to order “all inside meat” at Moe’s, but it was anyway – beautiful, so soft, and it had a deep, smoky taste.
Chris tried their wings, and he also approved. He said they tasted both smoked and fried.
The kids were a bit unhappy because Moe’s doesn’t offer fries, and one cannot eat chicken without fries, and my children eat nothing but chicken and fries when we go out to eat, so their meal was ruined.
9. El Barrio – We teamed up for a date night with Lora Lynn and Andrew, who are in that beautiful category of people “friends in real life that we would have never met had it not been for the internet.”
None of us had ever been there before, so we were unaware that we would have to wait a while to get a “private table” – El Barrio has quite a number of family-style tables, where you get to know strangers as you eat.
But the four of us had come to visit with each other, so we waited.
(And after all, no kids were present, so waiting was a glorious basking in leisure-without-the-consequences-of-child-boredom.)
We ordered a trio of appetizers to get a feel for the restaurant: guacamole, salsa, and queso.
I’m a guacamole girl, so I hung out there. But the consensus was that all three were quite pleasurable.
I ordered the fish tacos, which came out deconstucted so that I could make my masterpieces exactly how I wanted them. Yes, my fish looks like Gorton’s Fish Sticks. No, it didn’t taste like that at all. I loved their sauce, their rice and corn mixture, and the fact that they were thoughtful enough to give me more guacamole.
Then, because we’re all internet people and understand the need for documentation, we passed my phone around the table for everyone to photograph their food.
Problem is, this all happened a few weeks ago. And I was busy visiting. And I have no recollection of what everyone got.
Hey look! Chris got some mexican looking dishes.
And Andrew got a gigantic mouth-unhinging sandwich of some sort!
Lora Lynn got a pretty salad!
So despite the fact that this is the most unhelpful and undetailed review of El Barrio ever, we all enjoyed our meal greatly and the company of each other even more, so I’ll say that El Barrio was a win.
[One More Bonus Tip]
I don’t feel like it’s right to review Mooyah, without paying homage to the best burgers I’ve ever had, especially since we just discovered them this year: Mugshots Grill and Bar. Yet another chain restaurant, they are doing something seriously right.
Or several somethings.
For instance, their freshly made sourdough hamburger buns.
They are indescribable. Seriously.
And the burgers are excellent too, with the added bonus of all sorts of inventive toppings, including peanut butter?!?
But I stick with mushrooms and Swiss.
To wrap things up, on Week Three of 50 Restaurants, the winner is officially Mooyah, with an honorable mention to Mugshots.
So go get a burger this week, wherever you are.