Celebrating Black History Month can look different for everyone, but one of our favorite ways to recognize and honor this special time is to prioritize supporting Black business owners. We’ve created a weekend itinerary highlighting just some of the amazing Black-owned businesses right here in Tuscaloosa County.
Let’s just say you come into town on a Friday and get settled in to where you’re staying between mid and late afternoon. If you want to check out a few downtown spots before dinner, we know just where to send you.
Walking around Tuscaloosa’s Downtown area is a wonderful experience on any day, but if you can make your stroll while drinking a fresh-made smoothie from The Veganish Market, that’s a real treat. The Veganish menu caters not only to the vegan community but also to vegetarians, pescatarians, flexitarians, and those transitioning into a plant-based lifestyle.
On your walk downtown, it’s worth your while to pop in the Paul R. Jones Museum. Paul Raymond Jones (1928-2010) was considered by many to be one of the top 100 art collectors in the country. Jones donated thousands of pieces to the College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Alabama to preserve the legacy of African American artists. The Paul R. Jones Museum is also a classroom for the arts, where students from kindergarten to college experience learning in a new and exciting environment.
From there, you’re only blocks away from one of Tuscaloosa’s newest Black-owned businesses. Only Ones is retail store backed by Chicago White Sox star and Tuscaloosa native Tim Anderson. The shop is a great place to find unique and stylish casual wear.
Now it’s dinner time, and boy do we have a treat for you. One of Tuscaloosa’s most popular restaurants is Urban Bar and Kitchen. USA Today named UBK one of the 47 best restaurants in the entire country for 2024! Their motto is, “This must be the place,” and it is! This is one of those places where everything is good: seafood, pasta, salads, handhelds…all of it! We recommend you start with the Bacon Bombs for an appetizer, the UBK Pasta and / or the salmon for entrees, and end your meal on a sweet note with their White Chocolate Bread Pudding.
If you’re not ready for bed just yet, Cutter’s Cigars in Northport offers an upscale lounge experience. Enjoy a delicious cocktail along a fine cigar from the extensive Cutter’s collection.
If you’re an early riser, we suggest hitting the Tuscaloosa Farmers Market first thing Saturday morning. Visit locally Black-owned businesses such as Poppin’ Sisters, Araya Sunshine Candle Company, Blessed Bites, and more. You can even grab some breakfast while you’re there!
Now it’s time to explore! The state of Alabama has a rich Civil Rights history, with some of those chapters coming from here in the Druid City. The downtown portion of the Tuscaloosa Civil Rights History Trail is walkable. It focuses on events surrounding “Bloody Tuesday” and much more. On Tuesday, June 9, 1964, one year after Gov. George C. Wallace, Jr.’s “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” at the University of Alabama failed to block the arrival of two Black students, a group of peaceful citizens gathered at the First African Baptist Church to march to the new courthouse in protest of its segregated features. Ignoring warnings not to march by local law enforcement, hundreds followed the leader of the movement in Tuscaloosa and pastor of First African, Rev. T. Y Rogers, Jr., and hit the streets. They didn’t get very far. Police and members of the Ku Klux Klan attacked the marchers as they spilled out of the church, swinging night clubs and cattle prods and firing tear gas into the church itself. Many of the wounded were treated at the nearby Howard-Linton Barbershop. Thirty-three were sent to Druid City Hospital; ninety-four were arrested and jailed. All charges were subsequently dismissed, but no formal apologies were ever issued. You can find out more information about the trail by visiting their website here.
After taking in the history Downtown Tuscaloosa has, you’ve probably worked up an appetite.
The staff at Archibald’s serves their primary fare with bread and a choice of two sides—fried green tomatoes offer a tangy counterpoint to fried catfish, and slaw adds a creamy balance to the spicy flavors of half-chickens and hot wings.
Located in Tuscaloosa’s historic West End only a few minutes from the University of Alabama, sits Catfish Heaven. You can’t miss their bright yellow building! Staying true to its name, the restaurant is famous for its catfish, but also their wings!
A pro-tip from us would be to choose one of these staples for lunch and the other for dinner! Keep in mind, Catfish Heaven closes at 7:00 pm central.
Ladies, if you’re looking to a little more shopping, step inside Thrifty Charm Boutique. With a love for unique fashion, this boutique offers a range of beautiful and quality pieces at affordable prices. Whether you’re looking for a stylish outfit for a night, out or a comfortable yet chic look for everyday wear, Thrifty Charm Boutique has you covered!
After all this walking and touring, you are likely ready to sink into some relaxation. A Gray”ceful Touch Massage & Yoga offers a variety of therapeutic massages and yoga classes that will have you thanking yourself for booking them!
On your way out of town, we highly recommend taking a little piece of Tuscaloosa with you. Whether it’s savory or sweet, you’ll find just that at Bobbie’s Bakery. They’re are a family-owned bakery and catering service. The motto there is, “Nothing fancy, just good Southern cooking!”
Supporting Black-owned businesses like these all year promotes diversity, uplifts representation, increases visibility, and stimulates economic development.
More Black-Owned Businesses in our area can be found here.
Thank you to our partners at the Bryant Conference Center for sponsoring this content!
A Nick Saban-Inspired Itinerary Filled with Things to do in Tuscaloosa
You know what they say… “All good things must come to an end.” And while we’re excited about this new era of welcoming Coach Kalen DeBoer to Tuscaloosa and to the Crimson Tide family, we can’t help but be a little in our feels about Coach Nick Saban’s retirement. So, what better way to pay a Tuscaloosa tribute to the GOAT than a Saban-themed trip to the town he and Ms. Terry have called home for 17 years?
Whether you’re local or coming in from out of town, this lineup is built for champions!
Since we’re celebrating the Saban’s, it’s only right we remind you of the option to stay at the hotel they have ownership in. Built in 2022, The Alamite is filled with elevated Crimson Tide touches.
Once you check in and settle into one of the 112 boutique guest rooms, you don’t even have to leave the property for dinner. The Alamite boasts two incredible restaurants guaranteed to please any palette.
If you’re feeling more of a casual, laid-back atmosphere we recommend hopping on the elevator to the rooftop bar Roll Call. You’ll find a thoughtfully curated menu of seasonal shareables and entrees. They often have live music you can enjoy while looking out over the Downtown Tuscaloosa skyline or towards the lights of Bryant Denny Stadium.
If you’re leaning toward a formal dining experience, you’ll love the Alamite’s house restaurant Forte Cuts and Cocktails. Forte seamlessly marries the charm of classic old-world European cuisine with the sophistication of a modern setting. Step into a world where timeless flavors meet contemporary elegance.
For music lovers, the newly renamed Mercedes – Benz Amphitheater doesn’t have a bad seat in the house. Shows are still being announced for the 2024 season. The music venue seats 7,470 along the Black Warrior River right next to the future location of The Saban Center, a first of its kind STEAM hub for education training, arts participation and academic support for teachers and families, opening in 2026.
If you’re an early riser like coach and want to start your process in the morning, we’ve got a breakfast spot that has never lost.
Opened in 1951, The Waysider is one of the oldest continuously operating restaurants in all of west Alabama. You’ll need to bring your appetite and your patience to this local favorite. Crowds are known to gather early for the generous portions of hearty breakfast classics. If these walls could talk, they’d have quite some tales of Tuscaloosa. Another legendary Alabama football coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant, was known to dine on his favorite menu item, country ham, regularly at a particular table tucked away by the door.
Once your bellies are full, you might want to walk off some of that delicious breakfast with a stroll along the Walk of Champions outside Bryant-Denny Stadium. There are several social media worthy photo opportunities here. You’ll definitely want your picture made with the 2,000-pound bronze statue of Nick Saban along the Coaches Walk. This is the site where students and fans brought tokens of their appreciation in the days following his retirement announcement.
The University of Alabama hosts student-guided stadium tours most days at 11:00 a.m. For $25.00 per person, you can get a first-hand look at the game day experience from the perspectives of coaches and players.
To truly understand Alabama Football, you’ll need to go back in time to long before Nick Saban stepped on campus. Paul “Bear” Bryant coached at The Capstone from 1958-1982. He is considered by many, including Coach Saban, to be one of the greatest football coaches of all time. To celebrate his legacy, The University of Alabama houses the Paul W. Bryant Museum, complete with six exhibits that highlight the university’s sports successes. Bryant won a record 323 career games and six national championships.
By this point, you’ll probably have worked your appetite back up. Don’t worry, we’re not sending you far. Located in the shadows of Bryant- Denny Stadium, sits one of the most iconic restaurants in Title Town. If a Crimson Tide football museum and a classic diner had a baby, it would be Rama Jama’s. Alabama sports memorabilia hangs, sits and stands on every wall, ceiling and surface in sight. You’ll walk away from this place with not only a fantastic meal, but also more knowledge of one of the most storied sports programs in the country. You might have to play a little defense depending on the crowd, but the food and experience is well worth the wait. We recommend having the National Championship BLT. It has 18 strips of bacon on it, one for each Crimson Tide national title.
While you’re close by, you might as well hit up another UA staple if you’re up for a boozy beverage. Just down a stretch of campus known as “The Strip,” sits a bar famous on its own. Gallettes is home of The Yellowhammer—and we’re not talking about the state bird. This drink is a blend of rum, vodka, amaretto, orange juice and pineapple juice. While it is delicious, we don’t recommend having too many. They’ll sneak up on you… and we’ve got a lot more Saban celebrating to do!
For afternoon activities, we have a few different plays in our playbook.
Coach Saban has been known to spend time with his players off the field and on the water. That’s right…. the GOAT on a boat! Several videos have gone viral of coach captaining his pontoon while relaxing with several of his players on board. Lake Tuscaloosa is the perfect place to tube, waterski, wake board and sight see. No boat? No problem. You can rent vessels from Pier 43 or one of Tuscaloosa’s newest attractions Captain’s Club.
If the water isn’t for you, and perhaps you have little ones with you on your trip, the Sabans thought of that too. During their time in Tuscaloosa, they’ve donated funds through their nonprofit Nick’s Kids Foundation to create two new playgrounds for children of various ages. One is located on the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk, and you can find Mason’s Place, an all-inclusive playground for children of all abilities, at Sokol Park.
If you’re looking to volunteer while you’re in Title Town, here’s a unique way to say you helped the Saban’s build their dynasty, literally. Coach and Ms. Terry have sponsored 20 Habitat for Humanity homes in this community since an EF-4 tornado destroyed much of Tuscaloosa in 2011. Hours after Coach Saban’s retirement announcement, Habitat confirmed the Sabans would sponsor one last home to commemorate the Tide’s latest SEC championship win against the Georgia Bulldogs. This home is known as the LANK House (Let All Naysayers Know). If you’d like to volunteer your time to help with this historic build, you can visit habitattuscaloosa.org/volunteer.
Regardless of how you spend your afternoon in Tuscaloosa, we think you’ll love ending your day on a sweet note. River is a restaurant favorite here locally. Living true to its name, this urban dining experience is located on the beautiful banks of the Black Warrior River. If you really want to tip your hat to Coach Saban, order his all-time favorite treat, the Oatmeal Crème Pie. This delicious dessert is a made from scratch buttercream filling sandwiched between two warm oatmeal cookies. Is your mouth watering yet?
As you can tell, the Saban’s have done a whole lot more for our city than just win a lot of football games. They’ve helped weave the fabric of this community by giving, serving and building a legendary legacy here. Although Coach Saban is stepping off the field, he and his family are continuing to leave their mark on Tuscaloosa.