Many amazing restaurants are scattered throughout Alabama. Not only do these eating establishments serve up delicious cuisine, but several are also historic, whether they’ve been in business for a long time or they’re housed in a historic building. Either way, it’s really interesting to eat at restaurants with lots of history. Listed below are eight historical restaurants in Alabama.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Bright Star Restaurant - Bessemer, AL
The Bright Star is Alabama's oldest family-owned restaurant. Ever since 1907, this long-standing restaurant has been serving its customers delicious cuisine, including specialty Greek-style snapper and steak, signature seafood gumbo, luncheon specials, famous pies, etc. What began as a small, 25-seat cafe is now a 330-seat restaurant. During the past decade, the Bright Star has consistently been rated among the top three restaurants within the Birmingham area, and it's been recognized for its status as an Alabama landmark and its service to the community. For more than 100 years, this historic restaurant has emphasized customer satisfaction. People from all over the South enjoy dining here because of the great food and friendly service. (304 19th Street N)
2. Trowbridge's - Florence, AL
Trowbridge's is Florence's oldest business still operating in its original location. In 1918, Paul Trowbridge opened the Trowbridge Creamery and developed the recipe for the restaurant's soon-to-be famous orange pineapple ice cream. Later, hot dogs and homemade chili were added to the menu. Today, customers still enjoy this uniquely-flavored ice cream, in addition to delicious sandwiches. This old fashioned sandwich shop seats approximately 50 people and prides itself in getting people in and out in less than half an hour. (316 N Court St.)
3. The Freight House Restaurant - Hartselle, AL
The Freight House Restaurant, a modern Southern restaurant located in downtown Hartselle, is a historic freight terminal that's been remodeled as a dining facility. They serve a variety of foods such as steak, chicken and seafood entrees. The Freight House is listed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places, and the moment you enter through the doors, you really will feel like you've stepped back in time. Guests may even hear passing trains and witness a unique union of the past and present. (200 Railroad St.)
4. Toomer's Drugs - Auburn, AL
Toomer’s Drugs opened in 1896. Its founder, Sheldon Toomer, was a halfback on Auburn's very first football team. He graduated with a degree in agriculture and pharmacy, and soon opened Toomer's with a $500 loan. Since then, this small drugstore has become important to Auburn fans worldwide. They offer their customers great food, but nothing beats their "World Famous" freshly-squeezed lemonade. (100 N College St.)
5. C.F. Penn Hamburgers - Decatur, AL
C.F. Penn Hamburgers has been serving up slug burgers since 1927, and it's one of the most recognizable hamburger places in north Alabama. In its first 35 to 40 years, C.F. Penn Hamburgers only served hamburgers, cold drinks and milk. They later added hot dogs, chicken fingers and french fries to their menu. The hamburgers were originally sold for 10 cents, or three for 25 cents. During World War II, the price increased to 14 cents, and then 20 cents in 1962. If you're a hamburger lover, you simply must stop by this restaurant the next time you're in the Decatur area. Their hamburgers are the best! (121 Moulton St. E)
6. Irondale Cafe - Irondale, AL
In 1928, Irondale Cafe was first opened as a hot dog stand by Emmett Montgomery. Soon after, Maggie Prentice added hamburgers, barbecue and sandwiches to the menu. Then in 1932, Miss Bess Fortenberry purchased the business and renamed it "Irondale Cafe." Irondale Cafe was situated on the train tracks in Irondale and attracted both rail workers and locals. It was also the inspiration for Fannie Flagg's story of love, loss and life in the South. Fannie's book is titled "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café," which was later turned into the award-winning film we're all familiar with today. Nearly 100 pounds of green tomatoes are fried each day at Irondale Cafe. (1906 1st Ave. N)
7. Chris' Hot Dogs - Montgomery, AL
Since 1917, Chris' Hot Dogs has been serving up their famous dogs with their signature chili sauce. As a matter of fact, their chili sauce is so addictive that fans buy it by the gallon and have it shipped all over the country. As Montgomery locals and visitors walk up Dexter Avenue, they can't help but feel invited by this little hole-in-the-wall restaurant on the corner. From the 1940s to the late 1960s, this famous hot dog establishment was the hottest late-night spot in downtown Montgomery. It stayed open twenty-four hours a day and served hot dogs and liquor to pretty much everyone in Montgomery, including the one and only Hank Williams. At the height of Hank Williams' career, he visited Chris' Hot Dogs quite frequently. (138 Dexter Ave.)
8. Payne's Soda Fountain & Sandwich Shop - Scottsboro, AL
Payne's Soda Fountain & Sandwich Shop originally opened in 1869. In the beginning, it was only a pharmacy. During the 1930s, both a soda fountain and lunch counter were added. The moment you stroll through the door at Payne's, it's like stepping back in time.
The sodas are made just like they were 100 years ago - with hand dipped ice cream and real flavored soda water. The sandwiches are also some of the best you'll ever eat. (101 E Laurel St.)
Have you eaten at any of these restaurants? If you know of any other amazing restaurants in Alabama with lots of history, please share them with us in the comments below.