Joe’s Knows Italian

Many a Shelby County, Alabama resident will tell you about the culinary landmark known as Joe’s Italian. Built on the foundation of love, quality ingredients and fresh, delicious food, the “baby” of Papa Joe and Mama Elvira has been serving up the best in Italian cuisine for years. Sadly, in 2013 Papa Joe, who was a staple on a stool in the front of the restaurant passed away. However, his legacy of amazing food lives on.



On my most recent trip, rushing to try to dine in less than 45 minutes before Wednesday night service at Church of the Highlands I branched out on a limb and sampled the pizza my dinner companion ordered. It was a CHICKEN ALFREDO PIZZA made with Cream sauce, roasted garlic, red onion, chicken, fresh tomato & basil. Gaze up there at it again. Go ahead. I know you want to. The pizza was as good as it was pretty! Ample cheese was not overshadowed by fresh herbs, seasoned chicken, the savory cream sauce and a sweetness to the crust which was the perfect combination to balance out the red onions and tomatoes. The pizza was perfect, in my opinion. It really was. I felt the need to hop on a gondola and speak the little Italian I learned from two years of classes in college.

I ordered my usual children’s portion of Spaghetti and Meatballs covered with fresh parmesan cheese. You can’t really see it from my picture, but there’s enough on this “small plate” for two meals. Trust me. I ate my leftovers for lunch. This was especially easy to do when paired with their fresh bread and herb, olive oil which comes as freely as the oil flows.



To top it off, being so big it toppled over, is their famous Strawberry Cake. I was too full to eat dessert before church, but boy-oh-boy, the four forkfuls I ate around 9pm hit the spot and didn’t even keep me up all night.




Joe’s Italian is located at:

21 Weatherly Club Drive​, Alabaster, Alabama 35007 (205) 663-4111

Opening Hours:

​​10:30am – 9:00pm

The food at Joe’s Italian is delicious. That’s the only word I can use to describe it. The staff is friendly, especially our server Felicia who clarified her name by saying, “as in Bye Felicia”, and the environment is perfect for a hot date, a birthday party, a quick meal before church or a family feast just because you’re in the mood for Italian. And while Papa Joe no longer greets his guests at the door when they arrive, his presence is surely felt throughout the restaurant.


Crape Myrtle Cafe is Still Hot and Happening

There’s a hidden jewel tucked inside of Homewood’s Little Professor Book Center that’s serving up food so fresh, tasty, and made with love it evokes the memories of food your grandmother used to make, especially if she was a five-star cook who could whip up anything from Apple Smoked Pork Loin to a Kobe Beef Burger cooked perfectly to a Grilled Salmon Sandwich with dill and lemon, and a side of crispy chips which will make your mouth dance. Crape Myrtle Café is its name and that’s a name you should certainly remember. I’d not been there in years until recently, but was not surprised to see the inviting menu, stellar service and quietly, entertaining atmosphere nestled among a book store was just as lovely as I had remembered. Many come for the books and come back for the food. Books and food. What can be better than that?

On a recent visit with a business colleague, and in the mood for soul food, I listened to the sage wisdom of the gentleman at the register and ordered the Beef Tips Over Rice. Knowing I was headed home for the day and in no threat of the “itis” ruining my vibe I also ordered fork tender collards, and black eyed peas so scrumptious they would have made Alberta Scott (my paternal grandmother) spin around in her powder blue Lazy Boy…God rest her soul. My associate ordered the Wagyu Hamburger Steak, with gravy and onions sans the onions, fluffy mashed potatoes ladled with gravy and greens. We both devoured a cornbread muffin about as buttery, sweet and moist as restaurant-made muffins can be.

The meal was perfect, and surely didn’t disappoint from this treasure I’ve been enjoying for more than a decade. It was so tasty I didn’t even stop through the bookstore to sneak a peek at the latest in literary offerings. That hardly ever happens. I was so completely satisfied by my savory, mid-day experience. The only thing which would have made my visit to Crape Myrtle Café any better would have been had I known in advance that my dining companion was paying for the meal and would have ordered their Carmel Fudge Pecan Pie to take home. Drats! Oh well. There’s always next time.



In the Mood for Mexican

Often I’m asked for recommendations of restaurants. I’d like to think that’s not because I eat a lot, but possibly because I have a palate which is speaks for itself. Whatever the case may be, the occasional ring of the telephone or ding of the text message or email asking my thoughts on a particular establishment is becoming more common than uncommon.

Recently someone asked for thoughts about a good Mexican food restaurant in the Birmingham, Alabama area. Like rapid-fire darts thrown at water balloons to win a prize at a state fire I was able to fire off names so quickly even I was impressed.


So here it is. In no particular order, and for varying reasons, here are my top three favorite Mexican food restaurants in the ‘Ham:

  1. LaPaz Crestline-I’ve adored this spot since being introduced to it in the late 90s. The quaint Mountain Brook setting is the ideal backdrop for some delicious Mexican cuisine, full of flavor, spice and everything nice (Hey, I like to rhyme.) Simple and plain, their Tacos Supremos also known as beef tacos (sans the lettuce) do it for me every time. Add to that some Chile Con Queso with a cold Co-Cola (that’s Coca Cola for you non-southern folks) and lunch is perfect.
  2. Superior Grill-This one is for nostalgic purposes. Back when I was an on-the-go, roving producer/reporter for a local news station and lived in a few spots off of Highway 280 my girl friends, guy friends, and I would meet after work for their all you can eat, as long as you buy a drink worth more than $2.50 Happy Hour buffet. The food was delish (it still is), and authentic. The atmosphere was always festive, especially the patio. And the tortilla chips were hot and crispy, coming out of the tiny little warmers in masses. It was there I fell in faux-love with a couple of fly by night ex-boyfriends and fell in real, deal food-love with Superior’s Chile Con Queso dip, virgin strawberry daiquiri and Single Puffed Crispy Taco. That was until they shut it down when they caught a lady stuffing food in her purse in the restroom.
  3. Cantina Laredo-Fresh Guac (also known as Top Shelf Guacamole) made right at your table is what drew me in to this gem of a place. It’s so good it makes a girl like me who’s no fan of avocado forget that she’s not a fan or avocado. Add to that the hustle and bustle of Birmingham’s Uptown Entertainment District, some amazing desserts like Mexican Apple Pie, that BIG ol’ big screen atop the roof which is perfect to yell Roll Tide with friends during football season, and order up a few fajitas and one could easily stay five or six hours there. For real.
  4. Some other notable establishments include Cozumel Grill & Mexican Restaurant in Pelham which is super affordable and serves the most plenteous, velvety smooth refried beans I’ve ever had and Moe’s…well, simply because it’s near my home and I love it. No other explanation needed.

So there you have it and of course now, I want Mexican food. Anyone treating or down for a little chat and chew over a tortilla chip or two? (There I go rhyming again…LOL!)