Birmingham’s World-Famous Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes and Other Southern Foods, Irondale Cafe, Feb. 7, 2010
Fried Green Tomatoes and Other Southern Foods, Irondale Cafe, Feb. 7, 2010

Yesterday I was in Birmingham, Ala., and rather than sinking my teeth into good ole’ barbecue, I ventured over to the Irondale Café in nearby Irondale for their world-famous fried green tomatoes. You can take the girl out of New York but can’t take the Yankee out of the girl. I love food in all shapes, forms, and tantalizing flavors and textures. I’m always up for tasting something new and rarely turn my nose at anything edible.That’s why it’s so hard for me to say I’m not a fan of fried green tomatoes.

Living in the South, I feel it’s my duty to embrace the golden discs. But it ain’t happening. Anything dipped in batter and fried to a golden goodness in a vat of animal fat sounds as though my taste buds are destined to fall in love with it. I’ve savored deep fried Twinkies, Oreos, and Coke. But fried green tomatoes? I’m not feeling it.

Maybe I just haven’t had the right ones. Or maybe I have. Does Irondale Cafe ring any bells? If not, does the movie Fried Green Tomatoes sound familiar? Irondale Cafe is the model for the cafe in the movie, which was based on Birmingham-born Fannie Flagg’s novel, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.

Only a short distance from the Birmingham International Airport, I arrived in time for the cafe’s 11 a.m. Sunday opening and I wasn’t alone. Dozens of other folks lined up for the buffet-served meal. Chalk boards announce items such as fried chicken, beef liver and onions, and world-famous fried green tomatoes.

I picked up my red tray and the man wearing kitchen-white asked what I wanted. Overwhelmed with Southern cuisine, I named off what I could identify, there were no labels like ones found at ice cream shops. A bottle of Coke in the classic bottle, baked chicken, fried okra, a hot yeast roll, and of course, fried green tomatoes. (Lunch total: $9.99)

Dining alone, I felt all eyes were on me since most folks probably were either heading from or to church. But, I found a nice little table in the corner of the first dining room. Like the rest, my table was topped with a vinyl black and white check covering with red vinyl and chrome chairs. Hugging the tomato-green painted wall adorned with head shots of the celebrities who starred in Fried Green Tomatoes, I watched the crowd of hungry patrons growing and kitchen crew churning out more food.

Irondale Cafe, Birmingham, Ala., Feb. 7, 2010
Irondale Cafe, Birmingham, Ala., Feb. 7, 2010

The next table over, three ladies chattered away, gushing over the food and how next to Driving Miss Daisy, Fried Green Tomatoes were their favorite movie. As they left, I heard one say, “I ate enough to kill an elephant.”

At another table, a family of five sat down, with the father saying this was his favorite Sunday lunch spot.

I saved my order of fried green tomatoes for dessert, hoping to savor them like a sweet pecan pie. The crust was flaky but when I bit into the world-famous fried green tomato, I remembered I just don’t like them. The crust was heavy with the taste of grease and tomato was sour. Is that how they’re supposed to taste? I ate the three other slices, all the same. Perhaps that’s the appeal and it just isn’t for me.

Whether you enjoy fried green tomatoes or not, Irondale Cafe is worth the visit. Publicity clips adorn the wall along with movie posters. It sits across a railroad track and a gorgeous mural of a train adorns a side of the building. Despite its Hollywood ties, Irondale Cafe is authentic Southern cuisine.

Birmingham Things To Do



Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

4 thoughts on “Birmingham’s World-Famous Fried Green Tomatoes

  1. It was more like putting Coke syrup in the batter and frying globs of batter. Then pouring the Coke syrup and powdered sugar over the fried end product. Very sweet and greasy.

Comments are closed.

Packzi at Yummies Donuts & BBQ in Venice, Fla.
Culinary Travel Featured Florida Fun

I’m Prepared for Paczki Day Thanks to Yummies Donuts & BBQ in Venice, Fla.

I’m prepared for Paczki Day with a visit to Yummies Donuts & BBQ in Venice, Fla. Are you?

Continue Reading
Cocktail expert Diana Pittet leading a Context Conversation via a Zoom call.
Cool Stuff Others are Doing Culinary Travel Featured

James Bond Got it Wrong. Martinis Should be Stirred, Not Shaken and Other Fun Info I Learned During a Context Conversation.

Join a Context Conversation to travel the world from the comfort of home. I recently tuned into a cocktail seminar, and it was a fascinating hour full of compelling history and beverage-making tips.

Continue Reading
Shrimp Boats Docked in San Carlos Island, Ft. Myers Beach, Fla., March 2022
Culinary Travel Featured Florida Fun

Learn About Southwest Florida’s Shrimping Industry with a Working Waterfront Tour

Learn about the Gulf of Mexico’s largest fishing fleet during the Working Waterfront Tour with the Ostego Bay Foundation in Ft. Myers, Fla.

Continue Reading