Birmingham's best restaurants and bars - an insider's guide (2023)

I feel we're incredibly lucky to live in Birmingham, surrounded by so many amazing places to eat. From wood-fired pizzas in Jewellery Quarter and Korean-style pancakes round by the Hippodrome, to Venetian-style tapas right in the city centre. And did you know we have FIVE Michelin-star restaurants too? Five!

We're truly spoilt for choice. But whether you're a lucky local Brummie who fancies a night out to enjoy some good food or maybe you're visiting us from afar, it can be tricky to know where to begin...

Our editorial team have put forward their favourite places to eat and drink in Birmingham - some might be well known, but others you might never have heard of. But they are all worth checking out. We've all included a few extra details too about each place, including the dishes you need to try and the drinks worth having.

I absolutely adored Trentina when I visited for the first time only a few weeks ago. This tiny little Italian-inspired restaurant is tucked away down Mary Street in Jewellery Quarter but it serves the most incredible fresh pasta. It's got the most gorgeous vibe, the staff treat you like an old friend, and the cocktails are so moreish. It’s cosy too with just a handful of tables.
If you like fish (like me), you'll love the Linguine Vongole, with Dorset clams, white wine, garlic, chilli and parsley. And you'll want to visit again just for the homemade tiramisu - which comes in such a monster portion it’s lucky they let you take it home!

For my money, the best pizza in Birmingham - bar none. Otto kept me going during lockdown, with twice-monthly trips along to Caroline Street to pick up a couple of boxes. Expect specialty wood-fired pizzas, charcuterie - and vegetable boards - plus wine and house cocktails. The staff are charming, the atmosphere is always on point, and the quality never wavers. The P3 - Otto House Ham - is my go-to, but everybody says I'm mad for not being a P2 (Wenlock Edge Farm chorizo, nduja) obsessive. I'll let you try both and decide.

One of Birmingham's five Michelin Star-rated restaurants, Simpsons is utterly wonderful in almost every way. A visit on a sunny day means the doors are thrown open so you can watch the birds on the perfectly-manicured lawn while eating unreal food, dishes so exquisite and pretty that it's mindboggling when they ignite all of your senses at once. The little touches are impressive, like the way the print on the card containing your bill matching the heritage tiles in the Georgian building's hallway, and the service is surprisingly unstuffy and light, like the dining room itself. The plant-based menu is so special and carefully-planned, presenting humble vegetables like beetroot and artichoke in elevated and exciting ways.

This small Korean independent is, in my opinion, the best place to go in Birmingham city centre. If you're feeling adventurous, and willing to try a bit of spice and a different cuisine, head there pre-theatre - as it's one of Birmingham Hippodrome's neighbours. With optional BBQs at your table to cook the food just how you like it too, it's an experience in itself. It's authentic, has a chilled, casual atmosphere and the food is to die for! I absolutely love the Korean Style Pancake (Bu-Chim-Gae) as a seafood starter and for main, try any of the Bibimbaps or Dupbaps. Prices are reasonable too - with miso soup for just £1.50 and my recommended drink - the grape juice (bon bon) - for only £2. For an Asahi beer, you'll pay just £3.50. Exactly what we all need as the cost of living crisis continues to bite.

This colourful little cantina popped up at the inopportune time of Spring 2020. Despite successive lockdowns, the spot has become a firm favourite among Bearwood locals and is bustling throughout the week. The family-run restaurant A La Mexicana specialises in hearty plates of familiar and less-recognised dishes, cocktails and top-shelf tequila.
Recommended dishes: A neat quartet of soft tacos with your choice of spiced filling, sprinkled with coriander and a squeeze of lime. Or indulge in a huge plate of chicken enchiladas smothered with tomato sauce, cheese and a salsa and guacamole garnish. An order of chips, guacamole, and homemade salsas alongside a salty margherita to start is essential!

Mr Bumbles

Cherry Street, Birmingham, B2 5AL
Recommended by Reporter Gurdip Thandi

In a city centre bursting at the seams with highly rated restaurants where you can lunch, this Birmingham landmark van selling spuds remains my favourite.
You may scoff at this suggestion but I would instead urge you scoff the tasty treats served up daily by the cheerful hosts Leigh and Lesley. There are plenty of toppings to put on those gorgeous fluffy potatoes but as soon as I tried the glorious chicken curry delight, an obsession was born.
Situated next to House of Fraser and facing off against competition including Greggs and McDonald's, Mr Bumbles stands tall - just ask those who happily queue for ages!

Birmingham's best restaurants and bars - an insider's guide (1)

Missing Bar

Bromsgrove Street, Birmingham, B5 6NU
Recommended by Reporter Kelly Ashmore

A night out in Birmingham isn't complete without a trip to Missing - a true gem in the heart of the city's Gay Village. It's not the biggest venue but you'll almost certainly leave with new friends. Nothing bonds people quicker than spending a sweaty few hours on the dancefloor doing the Macarena and singing along to Whitney and Kylie at the top of your lungs. The drag acts are always fabulously entertaining, the DJs don't mind a cheeky request and if gin is your thing, there's plenty to choose from (other alcoholic beverages are available but haven't been as thoroughly tested).

The Dark Horse

145 Alcester Rd, Moseley, Birmingham B13 8JP
Recommended by Reporter Naomi DeSouza

We walked into the Dark Horse on a whim when we saw their 'Brum Mi' Vietnamese food. 'Brum Mi' is the Dark Horse's take on Vietnamese street food - and it's absolutely banging. It's only served a few days a week, and felt like a well-kept secret. We ordered pulled beef Banh Mi and Pork belly Banh Mi and their seasoned fries (the fries are just £1.50!) which we finished in minutes. The Banh Mi was bursting with flavour, accompanied by pickled vegetables and bean sprouts. They had generous portions of meat, and I would go back for the fries alone. Yet to try the pub's roast dinners - but there are rave reviews online.

Shababs

163-165 Ladypool Rd., Sparkbrook B12 8LQ
Recommended by Life Writer Robson McCallister

If you’re missing a restaurant when you’re on holiday, you know you’ve got something special in the city. Whether it’s visiting for a quiet weekday meal, or leaving at 5am after a Saturday night, the quality is the same no matter what the time. The best place in Birmingham to get a Balti and one of the city’s best Indian restaurants full stop. Popular with locals, YouTubers and more, Shababs is the quintessential Birmingham restaurant. And I haven’t even mentioned their massive naan breads.

Jyoti's

1045 Stratford Rd, Hall Green, Birmingham B28 8AS
Recommended by Reporter Alison Brinkworth

This small family-run vegetarian cafe and sweet shop in Hall Green has caught the eye of top chefs including Jamie Oliver, whose photo from a visit hangs proudly on the wall. It's casual dining with superb Indian food, notably its authentic dosas, pani puri and thali. This unlicensed eatery has a friendly vibe with only about six tables that often get filled up. It started out in Sparkhill and moved further out but its customers continue to travel out for its comforting food at fair prices. The dosas are its piece de resistance that set the bar nationwide.

Siamais

6, 7 Brindley Pl, Oozells St., Birmingham B1 2HS
Recommended by Reporter Rachel Hunt

If you’re in the market for a bottomless brunch, but don’t fancy sacrificing good quality food for the sake of unlimited tipples, then Siamais is the place. In the heart of Brindleyplace, this Thai restaurant elevated the classic sweet and sour chicken and vegetable spring rolls from a safety option to a must have!
The aesthetics in the place make the experience even more enjoyable with a beautiful floral arrangement perfect for pictures situated as soon as you walk in.
The brunch options vary from Prosecco and Mimosas, to the choice of two popular cocktails, with a non-alcoholic version if you’d prefer.
You’ll be wanting to revisit to try everything on the menu after your first dine there.

Simpsons (again!)

20 Highfield Rd, Birmingham B15 3DU
Recommended by Parenting Editor Zoe Chamberlain

If you want fine dining but don't want to stand on ceremony, Simpsons is the place to go. The dining room is flooded with light and the atmosphere is relaxed, warm and inviting.
You can dine here on exquisite and imaginative food, and never be made to feel ill at ease for putting your elbows on the table. The garden is an oasis - hard to believe you're only a couple of miles from the city centre!
What's more, you can tuck into three courses for £50 per person on a Sunday lunchtime and on Friday evenings. You can also splash out on a tasting menu and there's separate plant based menus and kids menus too.

Birmingham's best restaurants and bars - an insider's guide (2)

Bonehead

8 Lower Severn St, Birmingham B1 1PU
Recommended by Reporter Harry Leach

Bonehead is one of those places that changes the way you view food. One bite and there's no turning back. Every chicken burger thereafter will pale in comparison to what is on offer here.
The menu is small, and hasn't changed much in years, but that really doesn't matter. Try any of the five burgers - OG Bonehead, Hothead, Buffalo Soldier, Dragon Burger or Lizard King - and you'll come away feeling that you've never really tasted anything like it. You'll also be feeling full. Seriously full.
Buttermilk fried chicken, the main ingredient between all the buns, is so tender and juicy that it literally melts in your mouth. Enjoy a burger alongside a rack of tender strips or waffle fries for the full rock and roll experience. Make sure to grab a craft beer to wash it all down.

Grace + James

23 York Road, Kings Heath, B13 7SA
Recommended by Life Writer Emily Collis

From the outside, Grace + James looks like a simple deli, selling a range of delicious cheeses and bottles of organic wines you've probably never heard of. And it is that, partly. You can walk in and buy a bottle and a selection of cheeses to take home. Or you can grab one of the few tables in the shop or outside in the street and order wine by the glass. The staff are lovely and really know their stuff, so don't be afraid to ask for recommendations. They also host wine tasting events.
What some might not know is that Grace + James also takes bookings for dinner - and the food is to die for. There's a dimly-lit dining room out the back with music playing in the background. The decor is simple but the chilled out atmosphere feels like you're eating out somewhere abroad.
The seasonal menu of snacks and small plates changes weekly (they normally announce it on Instagram), but there are a few dishes that make a regular appearance, including the wild farmed focaccia, which is the stuff of dreams. The spinach and ricotta malfatti is delicious, too.

Turtle Bay

81-91 John Bright St, Birmingham B1 1BL
Recommended by Editor Graeme Brown

I know my answer should be an independent, but I love Turtle Bay on John Bright Street.
The food is limited but decent- I've tried variants of jerk burgers, fries, etc as well as some slightly more Caribbean flavours, such as West Indian curries, soul food, sunshine bowls and so on.
It's not just the food though - the decor is great, there always seems to be an atmosphere and then there is the main thing - the cocktails.
There are tonnes of cocktails to work your way through and regular two-for-one, and the bottomless brunch, which allows you to try many of them - so best not to drive there.
If there is a negative, service can take a while, but it's always a winner for me.

Mi Tierra

510 Bearwood Rd, Bearwood, Smethwick B66 4BX
Recommended by Reporter Nathan Clarke

As someone with Latin American heritage, no place tastes like home quite like Mi Tierra. Tucked away behind a bus stop on Bearwood High Street, this restaurant serves up mouth-watering, authentic Latin American food, cooked by chefs passionate about sharing the tastes and flavours of their homeland. If you've never tried South American food before, this is the place to do it. Whether it's to try a bandeja paisa (think a Colombian spin on a full English breakfast) or to sample some empanadas (think cornish pasties but better!) there's something for everyone here. And what better way to wash it down than with a bottle of crisp South American beer? Mi Tierra is criminally underrated - do not miss out.

Hong Kong Dining

The Arcadian Centre, 70 Hurst Street, B3 1UD
Recommended by Reporter Tom Cramp

Nestled down a side street of The Arcadian is one of the most authentic Cantonese noodle bars you will find anywhere in Birmingham. Specialising in piping hot bowls of Hong Kong-style noodles with fresh ingredients and a rich broth, diners can customise their choice with a wide range of vegetables, soup flavours, meats, and noodles. A sweet iced milk tea is the perfect partner to wash the food down, while Hong Kong-style French toast makes for a mouth-watering dessert. Staff are warm and will help you choose your noodle combo if you look like you can’t handle spice!

Bacchus Bar

Burlington Arcade, New St, Birmingham B2 4JH
Recommended by Reporter Carl Jackson

Bacchus Bar is the very definition of a hidden gem despite being situated right at the heart of Birmingham city centre. Finding it tucked away in the basement of the often-deserted Burlington Arcade is an adventure in itself, but you're then rewarded with a truly spectacular feast for the eyes. Choose from Greek, Roman and Egyptian themed areas as you make your way through medieval archways and past suits of armour on the wall.
It feels like an exclusive secret club and yet it's reasonably priced compared to the newer city centre bars. It's ideal for a drink and a chat but if you fancy a bite to eat you can't go wrong with one of Bacchus Bar's 'famous' pies.

Birmingham's best restaurants and bars - an insider's guide (3)

The Sun on the Hill

Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5QP
Recommended by Agenda Editor Richard Guttridge

There are likely to be many sophisticated suggestions from my more cultured colleagues, so here's something a bit simpler. It's not exactly Birmingham's best-kept secret. Chances are, if you've been out drinking in Birmingham you'll have popped in the Sun.
A fine collection of lagers and ales as well as more traditional pub food for those after something a bit more low-key at decent prices.
The Sun is a popular and, at times, heaving venue but manages to retain its warmth and can be a much more intimate location during the week. It sits somewhere between your Wetherspoons and 20 quid-a-cocktail, super upmarket bars on the scale of Birmingham drinking venues. It's also a short walk from both New Street and Snow Hill stations, making it an ideal stopping off point.
And from there the world is your oyster, with the many bars of Bennetts Hill and Temple Street just a short hop away.
It might not be to everyone's taste, but you can do a lot worse than the Sun.

Bodega Cantina

Bennetts Hill, Birmingham B2 5RS
Recommended by Reporter Jamie Brassington

If I could sum up Bodega in one word, it would be fun. The bright and colourful interior is as exciting as its food and cocktail menu.
With a strong South American theme, you can dine on nachos and tortillas and sip margaritas with names like the Fizzy Bandito (featuring pomegranate juice and prosecco). The place is the perfect go between for a bar and restaurant if you're after a light bite and drink.
Bodega do sharing nachos, the cheapest costing £6.95, meaning you can swing by with a friend or two, or you can enjoy larger plates if you're feeling more hungry.

Fumo

1 Waterloo St, Birmingham B2 5PG
Recommended by Executive Editor Audience Christina Savvas

If you like sharing your food then this is the place for you. A stalwart in the city’s restaurant scene and one of my favourites for a night (or day out), Fumo specialises in utterly wonderful “ciccheti” - pronounced chi - KET - tee - which is a Venetian-style tapas. From bruschetta to gnocchi, meat, pizza and traditional fried street food, there is something on the menu for everyone. Fumo has two venues in the city, Waterloo Street and Selfridges. While the service is exemplary in both and the Bullring is great for a mid-shop pitstop, Waterloo Street in my opinion serves finer food. I love the truffle ravioli, melt in the mouth beef ribs and Sicilian arancini and although we are a long way from the sea, the scallops and calamari are also a must try, along with the lobster risotto. I’ve been to Fumo many times and would say if you are hungry, choose four dishes each to share.
The restaurant, with its stylish interior and marble tables, has a fabulous vibe, always lively no matter what time of day and staff are always friendly and welcoming. I’ve enjoyed girly lunches, date nights and even taken the kids for special occasions, they recommend the lasagne and pizza!

Cherry Reds

88-92 John Bright St, Birmingham B1 1BN
Recommended by Reporter Rhi Storer

If you want a European box-of-tricks, come to Cherry Reds. Is it a pub? A bar? A coffee shop? Who knows and who cares. From the moment it opened in 2010, it was clearly something different. The lights twinkle. The atmosphere is relaxed. But the food still retains its power as both comforting and tasty. Come here, then, for delicious pancakes, succulent burgers, glorious loaded chips and, if I say so myself, a pretty good fish (and fish-like) sandwich.

Caffe di Milano

The Arcadian, 70 Hurst St, Birmingham B5 4TD
Recommended by Reporter Jacob Davies

I often find many people in Birmingham have never heard of The Arcadian, and I'm not surprised because neither had I until I moved into a flat above the venue. However I have found that it holds a number of hidden gems, including the stunning Caffe di Milano.
This beautifully decorated European restaurant specialises in Mediterranean cuisine and we loved their Italian food when I visited with my girlfriend on her birthday. We picked up the Pollo Milanese (bread-crumbed chicken on a bed of spaghetti) and it was both enormous and delicious. It's an expensive place to dine no doubt, but for a taste of the luxury life there are few places better in Brum.

Hanbao

46 Floodgate St, Deritend, Birmingham B5 5SL
Recommended by Reporter Alexander Brock

When Hanbao first opened in Worcester, TikTok foodies were travelling several hours just to try the restaurant's unique and imaginative burgers. There was a lot of anticipation then when a second branch opened in Brum - and it was thankfully worth the wait. The restaurant's stylish interior fuses both the industrial vibes of Digbeth with the atmosphere of a Hong Kong bar. When it comes to the burgers, there’s plenty of creations to choose from. The Odd Future, a beef burger topped with maple streaky bacon, American cheese and bourbon bacon jam, all sandwiched between a glazed donut bun, is a particular highlight.

Birmingham's best restaurants and bars - an insider's guide (4)

Zindiya

21 Woodbridge Rd, Birmingham B13 8EJ
Recommended by Executive Editor Content Sarah Probert

What I love about Birmingham is the variety of food choices we have and the amount of amazing independents which outclass most of the chains by a country mile.
Out of the city centre, my favourite place is Zindiya in Moseley. I love the vibrant walls and chilled out feel of the place and the Indian street food is absolutely divine! The samosa chaat, masala chips and the Vada Pav (Indian veggie burger) are among my favourites.
And the one chain restaurant I've really embraced since it opened in the city centre is Dishoom - an absolutely bustling, noisy place ideal for a big group of friends.. It's all about sharing here and the black daal is to die for.
My lunch time go to place is the lovely jacket potato lady outside House of Fraser. Yes it's just jacket potatoes but ones which are served by the loveliest people you can meet. Service with a smile and then some.

Rodizio Rico

The Cube, Wharfside Street, Birmingham, B1 1RN
Recommended by Reporter Ben Perrin

This all you can eat Brazilian barbecue restaurant overlooking the canal at The Cube is a must try. A range of grilled meats, including sirloin steaks, are carved in front of you. Green drink coasters for go or flipped to red for stop allow staff to know if you want them to visit your table with over 15 different meats. While a buffet salad, pasta and side station is available in this authentic Brazilian-style dining experience. The lunch menu is cheaper than dinner, while children under five eat for free.

What restaurants would you recommend in Birmingham? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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