Ahhhhh, October! The time for pumpkin-spiced lattes, hammocking, and celebrating the spooky season. But don’t stop there. Now is also the prime time to immerse yourself in different cultures to recognize their significant influence in our local community. With Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, steadily approaching, we wanted to highlight the Hispanic heritage that makes Tuscaloosa such an eclectic and unique town. This beautiful culture contributes significantly to various aspects of our lives, whether it be the music we listen to, the food we eat, or the art we cherish. Here in the City of Tuscaloosa, we want to honor and showcase the incredible Hispanic businesses and the overall importance of Hispanic culture to our community and its people.
Many are familiar with Hispanic food options and may regularly visit them from time to time, but how authentic is the experience? Explore Hispanic heritage with your tastebuds by visiting the incredible Hispanic-owned restaurants all around T-Town! We have pooled together a list of Hispanic restaurants for patrons to enjoy delicious, authentic dishes around the clock, including Antojitos Izcalli, La Bomba, and Tienda La Michoacana. These restaurants feature a diverse offering of homemade Hispanic and Mexican dishes along with plenty more for you to discover and enjoy!
La Bamba, located on McFarland Boulevard, is a classic Mexican restaurant in town that features Hispanic dishes, a fantastic selection of margarita flavors, and family packs that make last-minute meals a breeze. Another local favorite is Antijitos Izcalli on the corner of McFarland Boulevard and Hargrove Road. This Hispanic-owned restaurant is guaranteed to blow your mind with exquisite and mouth-watering homemade dishes. Looking for a quick stop for some authentic Hispanic food? Carniceria Y Tienda La Mexican is the Mexican restaurant for you, featuring its own roaming food truck! This restaurant/food truck offers a menu of homemade Mexican dishes, from classic dishes like quesadillas and nachos to more adventurous tastes like authentic Mexican tamales.
Summer may be over, but there is never a wrong time to treat yourself to a frozen sweet! The two following locations are just a few of the many wonderful local Hispanic-owned businesses that offer a unique fusion of bold Hispanic tastes and classic ice cream flavors. Discover your new favorite treats to satisfy that sweet tooth at La Real Michoacana and Las Piñas! These ice cream shops are incredible places to experience authentic Hispanic frozen treats and to support Hispanic businesses in and around the one and only Tuscaloosa.
La Real Michoacana is an inventive ice cream and sweet treat stop that loves to explore and experiment with new flavors daily. They are even open to requests for new flavors they do not have on hand! Visit their Facebook page for more information about the delicious offerings and decadent new flavors featured at La Real Michoacana. Las Piñas is a family-owned business located near Bowlero that combines Mexican and American flavors into their 100% homemade frozen treats. With the incredible addition of Mexican flavors and spices, you can discover a new flavor profile that will blow you away!
In addition to treats and sweets, be sure to stop by these local stops to pick up Hispanic foods and flavors to add the perfect touch to your home-cooked meals! These are stores that offer specially-collected Hispanic foods, spices, and seasonings to add that indescribable Hispanic flair to everyday dishes or new recipes you’d like to try out! Before heading to these stores, be sure to plan ahead and read up on what foods you would like to whip up. Don’t forget to bring along a mask to wear while you shop!
There are several stores in the Tuscaloosa area that offer Hispanic-oriented foods and groceries, including: la Tienda Latina El Puerto, la Esperanza Tienda y Panaderia, and la Tienda Sabor Latino. These stores offer a wide variety of cooking ingredients and also freshly-made desserts for the instant gratification we all need every now and then! Each of these stores is Hispanic-owned by Tuscaloosa residents, so they are the one-stop shops to learn more about Hispanic culture and support the local community!
When visiting these restaurants, shops, and stores, it is important to call ahead to verify hours and up-to-date COVID-19 protocols. Additionally, although masks are not needed while seated and eating, don’t forget to bring it along for walking through the restaurants and shops! While you’re supporting Hispanic Heritage within our local community, feel free to tag @visittuscaloosa to any photos or posts about your experience! We can’t wait to see all of your adventures exploring this culture while showing your support for the Tuscaloosa community.
Will Baggett & Jamie Hoven
It is International Coffee Day and there is only one way to celebrate. Treat yourself to the must-needed companion, Coffee, as the work and school year are in full swing. With the temperature slowly dropping like an autumn leaf, what better time than now to discover a new coffee shop where you can enjoy specially-curated coffee brews and specialty coffee drinks? The City of Tuscaloosa is home to a variety of eclectic local cafes and shops to satisfy your coffee, so you’re in luck! Below is a list of locations around town where you can discover your new favorite cup of joe and celebrate International Coffee Day accordingly!
Coffee with Breakfast
You simply cannot go wrong with a hot (or iced) cup of coffee paired with a tasty treat to satisfy your sweet tooth. What are you waiting for? Start your week off with a little pick-me-up! On the corner of Greensboro and University Blvd sits Babe’s Donuts, this local favorite has earned quite a reputation around town with exceptional service and plenty of delicious treats to choose from. Their donuts can be topped with anything from fruity pebbles to Reese’s and Heath Bars, so be sure to scope out the many options before choosing wisely. Start your week off with this little pick-me-up! They are only open for take-out, so finding a good view of Downtown T-town to enjoy your killer combo is a must.
Breakfast with Coffee
If you are looking for a spot to grab a bigger meal and still celebrate today’s holiday, check out Another Broken Egg or Five Bar! Both of these restaurants offer a delicious variety for breakfast, brunch, and lunch (as well as dinner for Five). There is indoor seating available for those that want to get out of the house, but don’t forget to bring your mask! Five Bar also has a dedicated coffee shop that is open every day from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm! Visit either of these T-Town stops to pair an incredible meal with a delightful cup of joe.
Traveling all around the city of Tuscaloosa is the Joyful Java food truck! This one-of-a-kind coffee stop is considered a must-try by hundreds of UA students. Each cup is filled with a full-bodied flavor, from beans that are daily roasted and brewed fresh. If that isn’t quite your style, no problem! Joyful Java has a nice variety to choose from, including nitro brew, Greek frappe, espresso, and even caramel apple cider. There are no wrong choices here. Find Joyful Java in Tuscaloosa, or have ’em out to cater to your next event!
Tuscaloosa is home to several unique coffee houses that all bring something special and different to this town’s cafe scene. Turbo Coffee, for example, offers cold-pressed juices, açai bowls, and superfood smoothies in addition to their coffee selection. If you are looking for to-go options, Monarch Espresso Bar currently offers wonderful window service and outdoor seating so visitors can continue to visit the shop and socialize safely while enjoying a cup of coffee!
A classy coffee cafe, Just Love Coffee, is joining Tuscaloosa in a few weeks and we can hardly wait. Run by a mission to spread joy and kindness communities, this new local shop is sure to bring something unique to T-Town. Former alumni of The University of Alabama and two brothers are more than determined to spread the mission of Just Love Coffee to the Tuscaloosa area. In addition to the specially-curated coffee, Just Love also offers a menu of delectable goodies ranging from chicken and waffles to salads! Be sure to join us in giving this local business a warm welcome when they open!
The City of Tuscaloosa has a plethora of activities to do and places to enjoy, but there are a few incredible local gems that are just waiting to be discovered! So, what hidden treasures are the locals not telling you about? We pulled together a list of spots around Tuscaloosa that you may not have heard of and could potentially become a regular part of your rotation! These suggestions range from delicious food and drink destinations to quiet spaces to relax and unwind for a bit.
1. Kentuck Art Center
For those who are looking to explore the fine arts side of Tuscaloosa, the Kentuck Arts Center is a local spot that more people ought to be aware of! Located off-campus in Northport, the Kentuck Art Center is a collection of many different artists and creators exhibiting their work for anyone to see and learn about. Kentuck’s mission is “to perpetuate the arts, engage the community, and empower the artist” and is open all year long for anyone!
2. Catfish Heaven
Named for their delectable catfish offerings, Catfish Heaven is a fish lover’s dream! Fried and prepared fresh daily, Catfish Heaven is a local restaurant that has been serving up savory catfish and irresistible hot wings since 1993. For over 25 years, the brothers that opened Catfish Heaven have been making this delightful and delicious destination in the Historic West End of Tuscaloosa a local favorite! Catfish Heaven’s dining room is currently closed for safety due to COVID-19, but they are still offering take-out orders for anyone looking to expand their list of go-to restaurants in Tuscaloosa!
As a spot filled to the brim with a diverse collection of drinks, beers, wines, and more, Cravings is a must for anyone looking to expand their drink repertoire. In addition to drinks, Cravings is also a good place for a bite to eat! There is an offering of snack foods, deli favorites, and an incredible breakfast offering for everyone to enjoy. Not to mention they serve unbelievable Detroit and Sicilian style pizza that will turn you into a regular customer in no time. Visit Cravings to discover new drink favorites and see if it becomes one of your new go-to spots in Tuscaloosa!
4. Ernest & Hadley’s
Ernest & Hadley’s is a charming local bookstore located a few blocks away from Downtown Tuscaloosa just waiting to be discovered. This bookstore is filled with popular picks, classical favorites, and even highlighted works from local Alabama writers! In addition to being a store, Ernest & Hadley’s regularly hosts events that are open to any and all visitors, so be sure to check online ahead of time for more information. Currently, Ernest & Hadley’s is operating with safety in mind and is allowing only five (5) patrons at a time and even has a curbside pick-up option available for anyone who would prefer not to enter the store!
5. Ruan Thai
Since 1991, Ruan Thai has been serving up fresh and savory authentic Thai food to students and locals alike with their extensive menu of delectable offerings. Ruan Thai offers both a lunch and dinner menu and even has dedicated portions of its menu for its sushi dishes and curry specials. Due to COVID-19, Ruan Thai is currently available through curbside pickup and through the delivery service, Crimson 2 Go. This locally-owned, authentic Thai restaurant is located on the Western end of the Strip and is the perfect local option for authentic Thai food in Tuscaloosa!
6. Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center
The Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center is a place for fans of fine arts and culture to explore and for everyday adventurers to discover! It is home to a rotating lineup of galleries that exhibit the thought-provoking and insightful power of the mediums of the fine arts. Not only is the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center a delightful spot to immerse yourself in fine arts and culture, but it is also a stop on the Civil Rights Trail of Tuscaloosa! In addition to visiting the resident exhibit, this center is an important site to learn the history behind it as it pertains to the City of Tuscaloosa as a whole.
7. Catch 22
If you are looking for a bar to hang out and enjoy outstanding cocktails at the end of a long day, Catch 22 is the place for you. As the home of house drink specialties galore, including pickle-, cucumber-, and even pepperoncini-infused vodka, this bar is known for creating a unique flavor in each creation. Located in Downtown Tuscaloosa on 6th Street, this is a great place for anyone looking to unwind with some boutique cocktails and refreshing favorites! Additionally, Catch 22 has recently extended their outdoor patio to accommodate social distancing requirements and create a safe environment for customers!
8. The Oasis
Located in Cottondale is a restaurant named The Oasis, offering a welcoming and Southern environment with the delicious food to back it up! The Oasis is famously known for its savory burgers and their incredible appetizers, including jalapeńo poppers, fried pickle spears, and fried mushrooms. The Oasis is truly a hidden gem for eating and may soon become one of your regular food spots in town! In order to accommodate the COVID-19 situation, The Oasis is currently only able to offer pick-up orders that can be placed at the restaurant.
9. Innisfree’s Lucky Lunch
I know what you’re thinking. “Everyone knows about Innisfree…”. Although that may be true, many regulars and first-time visitors alike don’t know about the spectacular meat and three meals available from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. With classic options like chicken parmesan, chicken tenders, or country fried steak you can experience irreplaceable southern cooking right in Downtown Tuscaloosa! The meat + three meal also falls under $10, so Innisfree is easy on your bank account, too.
10. Van de Graaff Park
Whether you’re looking for your next nature adventure, picnic spot, or photoshoot set this local treasure has it all. Fish, hike, or camp on the gorgeous acres of Van de Graff with its breathtaking parks and large ponds stocked with freshwater fish! Along the way, you can also find a section of Alabama’s oldest iron bridge crossing over Mill Creek. This local’s secret is nestled in Northport. Revel in nature’s beauty and enjoy some fresh air at Van de Graaff Park.
Written By: Will Baggett
Edited By: Jamie Hoven
As the school year starts back up in Tuscaloosa, we are excited to be welcoming students back to town! A few things have changed around town since school last left off, so we wanted to share a list of must-visit food stops and businesses around town. There are dozens of local businesses and restaurants around Tuscaloosa just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed, and there’s no better time like the present to be adventurous and experience new offerings! The following list of experiences ranges from familiar favorites in new locations, new spots to check out, and a variety of places that are perfect to enjoy on a daily basis!
The ever-popular Local Roots food truck has transitioned into its own brick and mortar restaurant location on North McFarland Boulevard and is prepared to deliver the same mouth-watering dishes that students have come to expect from the food truck window, plus more! If you have not yet eaten at Local Roots, be sure to swing by to discover the many decadent menu items offered, featuring a variety of burgers, sandwiches, wraps, and salads.
Sage Bar is the perfect spot to relax or share a meal and drinks with some friends while taking time off from your daily routine! This bar doubles as both a juice bar and a speakeasy to keep you calm, focused, and relaxed all the way through your day. Whether it is early-morning brain food, brunch and lunch bites, or an evening cocktail, Sage Bar has the answer. Sage Bar is located on 4th Street in Downtown Tuscaloosa.
Another popular food truck has also found its way into its own restaurant: Reggae Flava! Reggae Flava is a veteran-owned business that offers traditional Jamaican dishes that are sure to make your taste buds dance with delight. The Reggae Flava menu is filled with Caribbean dishes that are both delicious and can satisfy anyone’s comfort food needs. Now that Reggae Flava has moved into its own location in Timmerson Square, this spot is a great place for people to be adventurous with their food choices and experience the many flavors of Jamaican cuisine!
For fans of farmer’s markets and those who do their best to use locally-grown produce, Ingram Farms is a delightful place to visit and look around. Doubling as an ice cream shop selling Blue Bell Ice Cream and locally-flavored ice cream, Ingram Farms is a wonderful place for students to support a local business of the Tuscaloosa area! Ingram Farms is a family-owned and operated business in Northport and has been selling produce and ice cream to the local residents of Tuscaloosa and Northport for years.
Jackie of All Trades is a Furniture and Design Store located in a new spot on Rice Mine Road, where a person can come to find the experts at furnishing a new apartment, a new home, or a reimagining of either! The owner, Jackie, and her team of designers love to work with clients to bring to life new ideas and designs for home customization. If you are in need of a big redesign or looking to shake things up, visit the Jackie of All Trades showroom to dive into the full design experience!
Foosackly’s a new fast food addition to the City of Tuscaloosa, located on 15th Street. This chicken-centric restaurant is a staple throughout the state of Alabama and has caused quite a craze since opening its new location in Tuscaloosa over the summer. Fans of fresh chicken tenders, house-made sauces, and freshly brewed sweet tea must swing by Foosackly’s to get to know one of the newest fast-food spots in town!
Shindig is the go-to all-in-one party spot, with its offering of bowling, arcade games, laser tag, blacklight mini-golf, and a restaurant/lounge. If you are in need of blowing off steam with your friends, Shindig is the place to be for any and all the above reasons! Weekly and Seasonal specials are offered as well, including Night Owl Bowling (late night bowling), multi-game offerings of laser tag, and even 3-D mini golf. Be sure to check the Shindig website for hours of operation and enjoy an exciting evening of fun!
Looking for a homemade ice cream shop with an exciting and surprising twist? Las Piñas is a family-owned ice cream shop located off McFarland Boulevard, specializing in a unique twist of traditional American and Mexican flavors in its ice cream. Everything made in this shop from the ice cream to the special frozen treats is 100% homemade and 100% delicious! Las Piñas offers a refreshing change of taste with the care of a homemade treat for everyone to enjoy!
Mi Casita Bakery is a local bakery that bakes delicious treats that will be sure to satisfy any sweet tooth’s sugar craving! Whether it is mouth-watering cheesecake, fresh bread, or even authentic Italian tiramisu, Mi Casita Bakery is a great way to celebrate all different occasions or to simply provide a much-needed cheat day for anyone looking for sweet comfort food. Mi Casita bakery is located off McFarland Road on Hargrove Road.
The Biscuit Shop Co. isn’t just your everyday breakfast spot. This breakfast spot is a locally-owned and operated spot that offers a delectable variety of both sweet and savory biscuits and treats to start the day off right! At The Biscuit Shop Co., you can expect coffee and other drinks, a daily menu full of all your favorites, specialty biscuits that change twice a month, breakfast sandwiches to eat on the go! The Biscuit Shop Co. is located in Northport and is a must-visit spot for anyone looking to mix up their breakfast routine or looking for a spot to relax and start off the day with a calm bite to eat.
As the semester keeps rolling, more and more businesses will begin to either reopen or open their doors for the first time ever. We have pulled together a list of a few spots to look out for around town so you can be one of the first back or the first to try them out! This list includes a relaxing spot to enjoy a cup of coffee, a hearty barbeque joint, and exciting new places to unwind and enjoy a drink with friends.
- Druid City Music Hall Grand Reopening
- Golden Rule Barbeque – previously Mooyah
- Just Love Coffee – previously O’Henry’s
- Central Wine Market – previously Carpé Vino
- Druid City Social – previously 301 Bistro
Written by: Will Baggett
It is National Farmers Market Week! Celebrate at Tuscaloosa’s own riverfront farmers market this weekend! The Tuscaloosa Farmers Market is a spectacular shopping spot where you can find anything from a hand-cut Maple & Walnut Cutting Board to a hand-poured Yellowhammer candle scented Alabama Shores, all within walking distance. Each Saturday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. local vendors of all specialties gather at the Tuscaloosa River Market to show off their wares to the community. Join us as we explore some of the market’s incredible vendors and show you just how much they have to offer!
Barry’s Bees is a local apiary that specializes in fresh and local honey bee-made products. They sell a variety of bee-related products, including beeswax candles, creamed honey, and raw local honey! They also offer homemade salsas and jams and fresh blueberries. For natural products straight from the hive or the garden, look no further than Barry’s Bees!
Fairy Fluff Cotton Candy and Stuff
Fairy Fluff is a family-owned and operated gourmet cotton candy business, serving freshly spun treats to satisfy that sweet tooth! Of course, cotton candy and cotton candy sticks are on the menu, but Fairy Fluff also offers caramel rainbow popcorn. If you catch a craving for a sweet treat while exploring the market, Fairy Fluff has got you covered!
Surreal Coffee Roasters
Surreal Coffee Roasters is a home-based roaster whose goal is to bring you a diverse range of specialty-grade, single-origin coffees from around the world. Each batch of coffee beans is roasted and sifted by hand, making every cup an exceptionally unique experience. Grab a bag of freshly-roasted coffee from Surreal Coffee Roasters this weekend to start all of your mornings off with a little extra pep in your step.
Scratch-made pies? Talk about goodness! HipPies makes perfectly baked pies with fresh ingredients, incorporating love and a bit of grooviness into each one! HipPies makes their artisan pies in a variety of sizes and fillings, including brownie pecan, balsamic blueberry, and strawberry rhubarb crumble, to name a few. They also have options for scrumptious keto treats, including lemon pound cake, banana nut muffins, and stuffed pumpkin spice muffins. To see how HipPies is wholly dedicated to the art, science, and enjoyment of real artisan pie, check out their masterpieces of locally sourced ingredients here.
Elephantine Mink Soap Co.
Elephantine Mink Soap is a local bath product company that specializes in luxurious skincare products at a price that won’t break the bank. Along with standard products like shampoo, conditioner, and soap, Elephantine Mink Soap sells endless specialty bath products, including bath bombs, sugar scrubs, bubble bars, and face masks. Treat yourself to a spa night this weekend with the help of Elephantine Mink Soap!
Ben’s Bread brings the taste of England to Tuscaloosa through baked goods! Freshly baked sourdough bread is their famous specialty, but Ben’s Bread also makes rotating specialty loaves like jalapeño and cheddar and both plain and everything bagels. With Ben’s Bread, it is easy to transform any meal from dull to divine!
Belle Meadow Farm
Fresh, organically grown local produce is so much better than your average fruits and veggies, and Belle Meadow Farm offers some of the best in the business! With a vast variety of fruits and vegetables, including potatoes, watermelon, okra, and cherry tomatoes, this Tuscaloosa treasure has earned its reputation as a must-see this Saturday! Pick up some local produce this weekend from Belle Meadow Farm and experience the goodness for yourself!
Yellowhammer Candle Company
Yellowhammer Candle Company began making candles in 2019 and has remained focused on maintaining the authenticity of quality handmade products ever since. Their candles and melts are made with soy wax, guaranteeing a clean and natural product. Their signature scents include coffee shop, berries and cream, sweet cotton, mahogany teakwood, and more! Bring the delicious smells of Yellowhammer Candle Company home from the farmers market this weekend!
Besides these vendors, there are so many more! Check out Norris Farms, B&S Farms, or JJ’s Produce for more fresh produce options, and try Emily’s Heirloom Pound Cakes or Elizabeth’s Wholegrain Breads for baked goods! To look at all of the vendors and plan out your visit in the morning explore here. No matter what you’re looking for, the Tuscaloosa Farmers Market will have amazing vendors ready to assist you and share their passion with you!
Busy this weekend? Not a problem! Earlier this year the Tuscaloosa Farmers Market launched a mobile “Pop-Up” Farmers Market each weekday at different locations around town. The Pop-Up Market will bring fresh, local produce to different neighborhoods around the city from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Face Coverings required to enter the Tuscaloosa Farmers Market. Review all COVID-19 Preparedness Guidelines here.