Eating Down South
Published on April 18, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I write about some of the great food I ate on my vacation.

Here's an excerpt:

"I recently returned from vacation, which entailed driving south, with stops in Leesburg, Va., Durham, N.C., and Birmingham, Ala., where I spent the bulk of my trip.

I used to live in Birmingham, and shortly before the trip I began making a mental list of restaurants and bars I wanted to visit. The list wasn’t actually all that long: I ate at a lot of good restaurants when I lived in Birmingham, but many of them served the sort of quality ethnic food I can get up here without too much trouble: Indian, Mediterranean, Mexican. The shortness of my list, however, didn’t diminish my eagerness to eat at the few restaurants on it. In fact, as I approached the city, I could feel my appetite growing stronger and stronger, which might have had less to do with desire than with the fact that I subsisted on peanuts, french fries, coffee, ginger ale and water on the nine-hour drive from Durham to Birmingham. Although the ginger ale was pretty fantastic — a hot and spicy Atlanta-based brand called Red Rock Golden Ginger Ale. I regret not buying a case of it, because it’s not available up here.

Anyway, I arrived at my friend Leigh Anne’s house in Birmingham around 6 p.m. feeling somewhat malnourished, and demanded to eat at The Fish Market in downtown Birmingham. The Fish Market was one of my first discoveries when I moved to Birmingham, and I could not believe my luck: Here was a reasonably priced, high quality restaurant featuring a mix of seafood and Greek food. And it wasn’t a fancy restaurant. You ordered at a window, took a number and retrieved your food when your number was called. Service was quick, and I often took my dinner breaks there while working the night shift. Anyway, I ordered the barbecue shrimp and grits, and six oysters on the half shell, which I devoured. The Fish Market’s menu has actually expanded since the late 1990s, and has gotten a little fancier, but the basic set-up remains the same, and meals typically still come with hushpuppies — deep fried balls of cornmeal batter.

The Fish Market was so good I was tempted to make a second visit. However, there simply wasn’t time, as I spent the rest of the trip eating barbecue. The Capital Region has a very good barbecue place — Dinosaur Barbecue, in Troy — so it’s not like I’ve been deprived of good barbecue. But it was still fun to take advantage of some of the best barbecue restaurants Birmingham has to offer."

Click here to read the whole thing.

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