by Jeffrey Martin and James Goodman
At every college campus, students tend to eat dinner late. There’s always the usual suspects, and typically it’s not just the food that’s important, but the experience too. Here is our list for Magic City’s top five late-night restaurants.
Weekdays 10:30 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Weekends 10:30 a.m. to 4 a.m.
With heroic service that can only be described as “clutch,” we have the powerhouse of college cuisine; Cookout. Known for handing out enough food to feed a family of west-African hippopotami, Cookout has a wide variety of options. The menu includes things like quesadillas, wraps, burgers and corn dogs. Cookout has a way of opening its arms at 2:37 in the morning that reminds you of chugging water after a long run. It’s strangely necessary and required. There’s a massive selection of ice cream and milkshakes to choose from for when you’re in desperate need of something sweet. We had to put this on our list to pay homage to the security we have all felt at Cookout.
4. Waffle House at Five Points
Open 24 hours
It’s late as hell. As a southerner, you’ve been programmed to think of Waffle House as the epitome of late-night eating. There appears to be at least one Waffle House per square mile in the Birmingham-metropolitan area and this is the closest one to UAB. Located in the heart of Five Points South, it is home to some of the best entertainment in the South-East. The menu here is as recognizable as the periodic table. We all know what they’ve got. You get a waffle, some eggs, maybe some hash browns (scattered, smothered, covered, diced, topped, and chunked) and a good ole singular slice of city ham. Not only is the food great, but this Waffle House in particular has a way of making you be thankful for Birmingham.
3. The Den by Denny’s
Monday-Friday 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Late at night, you’ve stayed up to finish writing a paper due at midnight. You’re tired, don’t want to go far from campus and had to skip your usual dinner-time eating routine. The Den is there for you, open until 11 p.m. With easy GrubHub ordering available, you can order your food on your phone and don’t have to make social contact. Furthermore, students are free to use their meal plan money when ordering. That way, even though you certainly are paying for it, it feels free. Although not having many options for vegans and vegetarians, The Den is famous on campus for great western-style breakfast food accessible at any time of the day, along with exquisite, premium hand-smashed beef burgers and hand-crafted salads. With an average calorie count clocking in around 672 and no item being over $8, you are guaranteed to get your fill at a cheap price in a proper American fashion.
2. Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint
11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Finishing at our number two spot, we have this hidden gem of Birmingham. Located within spitting distance of St. Vincent’s in the Lakeview District, this late-night burger joint has a decor that reminds me of what can only be described as an urban Cracker Barrel. Throw in a little southern twang twist and you’ve got Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint. This place has a wide menu and habit of putting nearly everything but the kitchen sink on a burger. From peanut butter to mac-n-cheese, Jack Brown’s is iconic for its fancy burgers. A great late-night experience in the dream-filled 205.
Tuesday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Everyone knows this would be our number one. Experience the Mediterranean diner motif at UAB’s favorite late-night restaurant. Founded during the bitter end of the Clinton administration, Al’s has been there for UAB students and staff since the start of the millennium. At one point a very similar restaurant — Purple Onion — was open right next to Al’s, but ever since it became the place to go after shows at the old Cave9 in Five Points Al’s drove them out of business. This 10th Avenue classic has a menu with a selection that rivals the touch screen Coke-machine. Along with their phenomenal ‘bakers’ (stuffed baked potatoes), they’ve got all the Mediterranean classics too — you can’t go wrong with their kebabs or gyro. That’s just the start of it. Typically Al’s has been open 24 hours, however, Al’s is currently open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.