The University of Alabama is known for many things.
Established in 1820, it is one of the oldest public universities in the nation. Its Crimson Tide football team is one of the winningest programs in college football history. It boasts notable alumni such as: To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee, TV reporter Joe Scarborough, and legendary NFL quarterback Joe Namath.
But did you know they have a robust culinary scene, with food fit for far more than just college students? Tuscaloosa, Alabama has you covered whether you’re looking for authentic BBQ or fresh and delectable sushi. And don’t worry, there are still plenty of perfect spots for your inebriated late night escapades…
508 Greensboro Ave, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
This is a classic upscale T-Town spot. If you’re looking for the tastiest seafood, sushi, and more, Chuck’s Fish is your place! Start off with some chicken spring rolls, kimchi brussels sprouts, or smoked tuna dip. Then enjoy dozens of tasty sushi options or other seafood entrees, like the gulf fish of the day, hickory-grilled, gronzed, or sauteed. You can also opt for the sesame-seared tuna or the shrimp stuffed with crab meat and wrapped in bacon.
And just because this is a nicer restaurant doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some pizza! Check out the hot honey, with mozzarella, pepperoni, and a spicy honey drizzle, or the chicken & bacon with alfredo, spinach, and tomatoes.
1000 Paul W Bryant Dr, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Rama Jama’s is an old school breakfast joint right next to Bryant-Denny Stadium, the home of the dominant football team. That connection to the legendary football program can be seen all over the restaurant, with dishes whose names reference the sport and all types of memorabilia. Owner Gary Lewis also bears a striking resemblance to Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban. Have we ever seen them in the same room at the same time…?
No matter the meal, you’ll feel like a winner after your meal. For breakfast, you can get the SEC Champ Breakfast (three eggs, smoked ham, grits, and hash browns) or go to the next level with the National Champ Biscuit (egg, bacon, sausage, and cheese). Have you ever had a hot dog for breakfast? Now you can, with the Breakfast Dog topped with Conecuh sausage, scrambled egg, and shredded cheese.
Lunch is also a solid option, with the National Champion BLT topped with 18 strips of bacon (one for every Natty the Bama football team has won), three slices of Texas Toast, lettuce, and tomato. Or get the National Champ Burger with 18-oz of beef, two slices of cheese, two strips of bacon, onion rings, and a dill pickle spear. Here’s hoping Alabama doesn’t win any more National Championships so these dishes don’t have to get even bigger (also because I’m a UGA fan).
2128 University Blvd Ste A, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
This family-owned Japanese restaurant will make you feel at home. They not only serve the classic Japanese grub you know and love, but often reinvent it in original new ways. There’s no better spot for you and your friends to enjoy your Sunday night dinner.
Check out their Bento boxes, available with chicken, steak, shrimp, salmon, and veggies, and including steamed or Fried Rice, Crabmeat Rangoon and Salad with your choice of dressing. They also have all types of sushi, both cooked and raw.
514 14th St, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Mr. Chen’s is one of the most authentic Chinese restaurants in town! There’s an Asian grocery store attached, so you can enjoy browsing while waiting to be seated (or just get your shopping done here and see what kinds of cool stuff you can cook!) They offer all of the Chinese staples, though their Chicken with Black Bean Sauce is a crowd favorite.
101 Bridge Ave, Northport, AL 35476
Dreamland is exactly what you expect when you think of a classic BBQ spot. You’ll feel like you traveled back in time when you walk in, with license plates and other memorabilia littered throughout the space. Dreamland doesn’t try to be anything more than it is, which is fantastic meat prepared with love. Ron Swanson would be proud.
They’ve got BBQ classics, like ribs in half or full slabs or the Big Daddy BBQ Sandwich, topped with your choice of chopped pork, chicken, or sausage, as well as BBQ sauce and pickles on a toasted bun. Pair your meal with house-made BBQ chips or fried okra, and no Dreamland meal is complete without their legendary banana pudding. You can dine in or let Dreamland cater all the special (or ordinary) moments in your life.
4018 Culver Road, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Nick’s in the Sticks, or Nick’s Original Filet House, is a local favorite. It’s a little far from campus and there’s usually a wait, but your meal will be fully worth it. Nick’s has been serving Bama students since 1953 and practice truly does make perfect.
Start your meal off with some of their iconic onion rings (or chicken livers if you’re feeling more adventurous) then it’s all about the bacon-wrapped steak dinners. You can get yours in a variety of sizes, including a 20-oz t-bone for less than twenty bucks! And don’t forget to wash it down with their signature Nicodemus rum drink. Don’t ask us what’s in it, but you’ll be feeling real good once you finish yours. Once you’ve polished off your meal, the owners ask that you “don’t forget to leave your signature on a dollar bill to add to the collection on the ceiling.”
2250 6th St, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Heat has been bringing the heat since 2015, preparing fantastic thin-crust pizza but also being a great bar. Name a better late night move…I’ll wait.
Get your meal kicked off with the Cheesy Bread with mozzarella, feta, and shaved parmesan. Or go a bit greener with the Spicy Kale Cobb Salad with Avocado, Boiled Egg, Bacon, Roma Tomato, Cucumber, Bleu Cheese Crumble, Ranch, and Sriracha Powder.
Once it’s pizza time, you really can’t go wrong. Some of the most interesting are The Standard with Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Green Pepper, Sweet Onion, and Mozzarella; the Chicken Bacon Ranch with ranch as the base, baked chicken, bacon, and mozzarella; or get the Thai Chicken with a Sriracha & Sweet Chili Base, baked chicken, red onion, green bell pepper, diced tomato, and mozzarella.
405 23rd Ave, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Located right in the heart of downtown Tuscaloosa, make sure to visit Avenue Pub, the neighborhood watering hole. Enjoy their Thai Nachos (house chips topped with shredded chicken, mozzarella, peanut sauce, spicy Sriracha, green onions, and sesame seeds), Fish & Chips (crispy cod fried in Black Warrior Brown ale batter and served on a bed of fries with a side of homemade tartar sauce), or the Steak Sandwich (grilled filet with roasted red peppers, sauteed onions, grilled jalapenos, provolone, and spicy mayo on a toasted hoagie roll).
If you’re getting your brunch on, enjoy the fresh Chicken Biscuit & Gravy, French Toast with a side of bacon, or the Grilled Pork served on roasted potatoes and topped with Conecuh cream sauce and a sunny side up egg. Pair your meal with any of their signature cocktails or the local craft beers you can find on draft.
515 15th St, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Hooligan’s has been Tuscaloosa’s go-to Mediterranean restaurant since 1998. They’ve got all your favorites on deck, like the slow-cooked beef & lamb gyro wrap or the lightly-fried falafel. But no matter what you get, make sure you take their advice and “share the hummus”.
4215 Greensboro Ave, Tuscaloosa, AL 35405
Archibald and Woodrow’s side-sticking BBQ has been serving Alabamians since 1962 (they use the very same cinder block smokehouse today!) Everything they serve has that time-tested smoke flavor, so you’ll be a happy and full customer every time. Definitely check out their jumbo hot wings, or the catfish. Anything you get, make sure to top it off with their vinegary sauce.
603 15th Street East, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Since Rod Wilkin founded Taco Casa in 1974, it’s been a Tuscaloosa staple (there are multiple locations here as well as one in Birmingham). Everything on the menu qualifies as comfort food. You can get the classic Mexican fare, like hard shell tacos, burritos, and enchiladas, or go bolder with dishes that are a bit more creative.
Check out the Beef Casa Pizza, a crispy flour tortilla topped with picante sauce, ground beef, and grated Wisconsin cheddar cheese. Or maybe the Chicken/Beef Taco Burger. Or the Chimalupa, a taco salad in a deep-fried tortilla bowl, always made fresh to order.
To learn more about the delicious food spots at other SEC schools, check out our Best Restaurants in the SEC guide, which includes all 14 college towns and their amazing eateries.