The Birmingham Lunch Club visited Al’s Deli and Grill for this week’s meeting. Located on 10th Ave S, Al’s is located in an ideal location for UAB students and faculty.
Joey: I think I’ve visited Al’s more than any other BLC stop so far. But this was my only second trip there in daylight. Much to my surprise, I found easily accessible parking in the lot directly behind the Al’s building. The large patio area looked like it had been recently redecorated with nice plant arrangements, but I maybe I’m just not used to seeing them in sunlight. I ordered a gyro and french fries, which is not something I would normally try here with a bellyful of adult beverages. My normal late night choice is chicken fingers. I also received a free soda for being a UAB student, something I can only take advantage of up until my graduation in May.
The gyro did nothing to differentiate itself from a gyro at any of the many other “Mediterranean” style diners in the Southside area. (The Pita Stop, Purple Onion, etc.) Some of the sauce also dripped onto my dry clean only pants, so I was super pissed. If I want a gyro in the future, I will go to Taziki’s. Of course, I can’t go to Taziki’s after the bars close. I think Al’s is a great choice for late night dining, but it is not my favorite option for lunch. Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 Bros
Greg: This week, I again went back to one of my favorite college restaurants, Al’s. Anyone who has either gone to UAB or been out in Birmingham past midnight has probably already eaten at Al’s. They are known for being open 24/365 and having an excellent outside dining area. I arrived just before noon and found the entire parking lot behind Al’s to be empty. This made for an easy 20 step walk to the front door. There is a large picture menu on the wall when you walk in. We ordered and I got a chicken salad rollup with fries and drink. Total cost: $8.40, very reasonable for a BLC event. We secured a nice spot on the patio with an umbrella. The food arrived in about 10 minutes. I don’t know how to describe the chicken salad at Al’s. It has some unknown spices in there and it has more of a bold flavor as opposed to sweet mayo based flavor you typically get with chicken salad. The fries also have a unique seasoning and were piping hot upon arrival. Al’s is a great place to hang with bros and relax. The environment is nice and even has an abortion clinic right next door. The cuisine at Al’s is not over the top awesome, but it is always consistently good. You know what you are going to get coming in and this visit was no exception. Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Bros
Brad: Al’s is a Mediterranean restaurant well-known by UAB students and employees. It never closes, and let’s face it: how many times have you been coming off a two-night bender and thought, “you know what would really hit the spot? Lamb!” Having neither attended nor worked at the campus, and being that I choose to do my heavy drinking while alone in my house watching M*A*S*H* reruns, this was my first jaunt to these hallowed hungover halls. Parking was brutal. I found a spot 1/4 mile away, which, in hindsight, was fine considering the Gyro Plate I ordered was – like its latenight clientele – loaded. The plate came with about 10 strips of lamb on wild rice (I thought it would be a Gyro sandwich wrap) with a salad, pita and fruit slices. I went with a water as this cost me $12+. The lamb was delicious. Tender and not overwhelmingly spiced, it was the highlight. The Greek salad was delicious and not “over-Feta’d.” The fruit – two pineapple slices and an orange slice – was a lite “dessert” and a treat. This was too much food. However, the only other option was to buy a Gyro and sides a-la-carte.
I didn’t know much about Al’s, apart from it was going to set the BLC record for “Shortest Name” (so long, Mr. P’s). I left full, but far from my car. But as my wallet was far lighter, it was an easier walk than expected. Al’s is good food, and perhaps I will give it a try with a smaller, more reasonably-priced meal. I will have to find an excuse to be on-campus as I couldn’t see myself, as a commuter, eating here again. Overall Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Bros
Blake: I left for Nashville on Thursday, so I knew I was going to miss this week’s scheduled stop. Greg was on board for my dining alone at Al’s, a greasy spoon just three blocks from my apartment that I spend more time in than I should, Brad was not. The deciding vote was Joey’s, and he conceded that “if I was drunk” I could go, to make the composite review more authentic.
So before I left town, I had a six-pack of Beast Ice and made my way over just before midnight. Beast Ice could be the most brutal thing on a package store shelf, but it was the end of the month, and I was just trying to play by the rules.
A late night staple for me has been the grilled cheese sandwich and ranch fries. I think the BEST menu item is the ribeye steak baker. But this night called for a classic: chicken fingers and ranch fries. Now, getting the order correct is a challenge – I would say it happens 3 out of every 5 trips. On this occassion, it did not. Rather than substitute ranch fries for the fries on the side, I was given both and charged extra. But I didn’t particularly care, as I ate most of both and the ranch fries were an absolute delight. See, the thing about these ranch fries: unlike Al’s cousin, the Purple Onion, these are shoestring fries (which I prefer to Purple Onion’s crinkly cut). They are doused in ranch with a secret ingredient (SHHHHH…it’s paprika), and, here’s a key, BEFORE they are put into the oven. If they ever forget to put the ranch on first, you aren’t getting the best for your dollar. The chicken fingers are some of the finest frozen chicken fingers you will ever throw into a vat of grease.
Al’s lives under this “Greek” umbrella, but if you are going there for a gyro or a salad, you aren’t doing it right. Well, I don’t know. Maybe the gyro is good. I suppose judging is unfair. I will go back to Al’s a lot, and that would be true if I lived 30 miles away, because I did that then. There are a lot of great late night dining options, and even though I had a phone stolen in December at Al’s, it’s always going to lead the pack. Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Bros
COMPOSITE BRO SCORE: 3.125 BROS on a 5 bro scale