Bagels filled with bacon at Original Patty Men Birmingham

Birmingham foodie guide: where to eat and drink

Birmingham has long had a constellation of Michelin stars – and balti restaurants – but the city’s street food stalls, brunch spots and bars also shine

Check out the best restaurants in Birmingham and other places to eat and drink in Birmingham with our local foodie guide… 

Advertisement

Opheem – best new restaurant in Birmingham

Originally from Aston, North Birmingham, with Bangladeshi parents, Aktar Islam has made a name for himself as one of the Birmingham’s leading chefs, and Opheem is his first solo restaurant. Focussing on Indian culinary traditions married with modern techniques, this is fine dining with dialled-up flavour. Choose from Herdwick lamb loin with tongue beignet and bone marrow sauce, or tandoori cauliflower with lentil bhaji and coconut milk, and curd dumpling with milk sorbet and finger lime.

The room is dark with a large twinkly-light chandelier dominating the dramatic space, with brown leather chairs, clothless dark wooden tables and grey walls. There’s also a private dining room, and a bar, where you can have small plates and snacks.

Click here to read our expert review of Opheem, and find out which dishes to order…

Chef Aktar Islam opens his latest restaurant Opheem on Summer Row. Opheem, Birmingham: Restaurant Review
Chef Aktar Islam opens his latest restaurant Opheem on Summer Row.

Purnell’s – best for service and fine dining in Birmingham

“Fine dining doesn’t have to be stuffy,” says Sonal Clare, sommelier and restaurant manager of Glynn Purnell’s eponymous Birmingham restaurant. Sonal won Best Sommelier at this year’s GQ Food and Drink Awards – a timely accolade for his 10th year of working at Purnell’s, where he started as a waiter.

For the past five years, he has been restaurant manager, during which time he has stamped his personality on the relaxed-but-professional service style. Sonal has also curated the Book of Wine, a 25-page drinks list that includes a section of wines currently being enjoyed by the staff, as well as vintage champagnes at £3,400 a pop.

“We don’t have linen tablecloths or serviettes, but what we try to do is pass on the philosophy, ethos and personality of Glynn through the food and service. People see his fun personality on TV, so that’s what they come to the restaurant for.” With a Michelin star since 2007, Purnell’s has forged a national reputation for its food and service; Sonal says it’s all about adding theatre to a meal.

“I don’t see a problem with a bit of romanticism or ‘va va voom’ during the dining experience. There’s nothing nicer than a smart and sophisticated waiter or waitress attending to your table, and as long as the table chat is genuine and in good nature, then everyone leaves feeling happy. Personalities are very important here at Purnell’s – we certainly aren’t robots who all look and act the same.”

purnellsrestaurant.com


Yorks Bakery Café – best brunch in Birmingham

Weekends are built for brunch in Birmingham, as is small local chain, Yorks Bakery Café. Head to its latest opening, in the Ikon Gallery, and order a locally roasted coffee while deciding between avocado smash (with feta, sumac, mint and lemon) and shakshuka. yorksbakerycafe.co.uk 


Loaf – best bakery in Birmingham

Distract yourself from Cadbury World, just down the road, by taking a cookery class at Loaf in Stirchley. Learn to make your own sourdough, dosas, danish pastries and more (there are also expert pig-butchery courses), then grab a croissant from the bakery on your way out. loafonline.co.uk

Loaf, Stirchely

The Wilderness – best British restaurant in Birmingham

Cooking that focusses on native, often foraged, British ingredients and a theatrical, boundary-pushing approach (don’t be surprised to find an arrangement of ants on your plate) have made The Wilderness the hottest restaurant in Birmingham. Book early and enjoy the ride.

Click here to read our expert review of The Wilderness, along with which dishes to order…

The Wilderness - interior by Tom Bird-9

Warehouse Café – best vegetarian food in Birmingham

Allison Street has played host to a vegetarian restaurant for over 30 years and the Warehouse Café is a Birmingham institution. Visit for unpretentious vegetarian and vegan food such as spinach and buckwheat fritters, tofu curries or beetroot bhajis. thewarehousecafe.com 


Opus – best value meal in Birmingham

If you want a real treat but you’re on a budget, book a table at Opus and order from the prix fixe menu: £25 buys you three elegant courses such as ham hock terrine, Brixham Market fish of the day and vanilla crème brûlée. opusrestaurant.co.uk 


Raja Monkey – best curry house in Birmingham

Birmingham is famous for its baltis and the Balti Triangle, in the south of the city, is where you’ll find the highest concentration of curry houses. If you’ve only got time for one, head to Raja Monkey on the Stratford Road. It does great dosas and puris but the thalis are the way to go here; the Rajasthani version includes a rich mutton curry. rajamonkey.co.uk


The Edgbaston – best cocktail bar in Birmingham

The art deco-inspired cocktail lounge at The Edgbaston is the ideal spot for a tipple. Toast your evening with a Howzat Highball (Tanqueray gin, elderflower, cucumber, fino and violet leaf) or go earlier in the day for afternoon tea with a kick. theedgbaston.co.uk 


Digbeth Dining Club – best street food in Birmingham

Multi award-winning Digbeth Dining Club was the city’s first street food event and continues to welcome some of the best vendors in the country to Birmingham every Friday and Saturday (plus local favourite Baked In Brick, which cooks chicken tikka over charcoal under the bonnet of a Mini). digbethdiningclub.com 


Eight Foot Grocer – best deli in Birmingham

The area around Eight Foot Grocer, in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, is becoming known for its bars and restaurants as much as its gold, and this pint-sized deli is a great place to stock up on locally produced items (including Pip’s Hot Sauce and Cuffufle preserves), or to grab a sandwich, salad or soup to go. the8footgrocer.com


Original Patty Men – best burgers in Birmingham

Cutting their teeth on the street food scene before partnering with Siren Craft Brew to launch their own restaurant, Original Patty Men serve the best burgers in Birmingham. Big Vern’s Krispy Ring is a meat patty encased in a doughnut; it sounds weird but it works. originalpattymen.com 

Original Patty men

Where to stay in Birmingham

Double rooms at Saint Pauls House cost from £90, room only.

More info: visitbirmingham.com 


Words | Laura Creaven and Mark Taylor

Photographs | Jack Spicer Adams, Team Loaf, Tom Bird Photography, Wesley Alcorn


Advertisement

Laura Craven runs Full to the Brum, a Birmingham-based food and drinks blog (fulltothebrum.co.uk).