12 Birmingham restaurants locals love

The Plough’s light-filled dining area has cosy booth seating and hanging plants. Credit: The Plough

Birmingham’s super diverse composition means a buzzing dining scene that bursts with world-class spots. To wit, England’s second-largest city was singled out as Britain’s “most exciting food destination” in the Good Food Guide 2022, and Brummies take great pride in their cosmopolitan neighbourhood faithfuls. 

A trendy tapas joint in Digbeth draws locals for its paprika-dusted margaritas and al fresco backdrop. A bougainvillaea-clad taverna on the Southside shuttles area residents to Greece. Peruvian flavours shine bright at a lively bank-turned-restaurant in Moseley. 

England’s heartland metropolis is rich with restaurants that reflect its kaleidoscopic soul. Read on for 12 neighbourhood gems in Birmingham to book now.

 

Noel’s Bar & Restaurant (Mailbox)

Noel’s occupies a prime canalside spot and is a go-to for fresh Mediterranean-style cooking. Locals regularly gather over charcoal-grilled meat platters and fresh housemade pasta. Alongside a stellar steak selection, highlights include lamb rump and pork cutlet served with a red wine jus and potatoes. Area residents pack the outdoor terrace on weekends, tucking into a two- or three-course lunch complete with bottomless drinks such as prosecco and lychee martinis. To all that, add a plush interior decked with pink banquettes, floral walls, and an arresting green marble bar and you’ve got a scenic neighbourhood classic.

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Medicine Bakery (Mailbox)

This quirky bakery is the brainchild of husband and wife team, Simon and Francesca Jones (the duo behind some of Birmingham’s most innovative club nights in the 1990s). When the two veered into bakery territory, their initial venture proved so popular that it spurred additional three branches in the Midlands. Residents flock to the Mailbox location for its relaxed vibes and bread- and pastry-heavy brunch menu. Expect decadent brioche sandwiches, such as the Sichuan sausage patty with fried egg, streaky bacon, pepper jam, and rocket or the halloumi with pico de gallo and smashed avocado. Brummies also adore Medicine Bakery for its cocktail nights, where mixologists create bespoke drinks from housemade syrups.

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Gaijin Sushi (Southside)

A trio of nigiri featuring torched fish on a plate at Gaijin Sushi in Birmingham

Torched nigiri is a part of the chef’s omakase experience at Gaijin Sushi. Credit: Gaijin Sushi

Gaijin Sushi scored local favourite status soon after opening in 2018 for its sumptuous sushi and interactive but intimate dining experience. The restaurant’s sushi chefs are known to banter with diners, and patiently field questions about ingredients and preparation techniques. Choose from a long list of sashimi, rolls, and nigiri—or leave it to the experts and go for one of the chef’s selections, which showcases the menu’s greatest hits such as thinly sliced yellowtail served with chile, ponzu sauce, and tobiko and you’ll see why it’s a spot with many regulars.

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Mythos Taverna (Southside)

For Birmingham locals who can’t get to the Greek isles, Mythos is the next best thing. Though it’s set in the Arcadian, one of the city’s popular retail and dining venues, the taverna channels an idyllic escape. Its interiors feature yellow stone and cascading bougainvillaea vines plus a heated terrace and live entertainment, which add to the holiday-like atmosphere. Mythos’s menu was made for leisurely lunches and special occasion dinners, and is filled with traditional staples such as marinated chicken and pork souvlaki skewers and shareable sides including hummus and feta salad. Well-versed locals know to order from the sizable Mezzedes menu—for a little bit of everything—and end with one of the cinnamon and rose water-kissed pastries for dessert.

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Rico Libre (Digbeth)

This crowd-pleasing Valencian tapas spot caters to diners of all kinds—vegetarians are spoilt for choice with patatas bravas, fried aubergines, and linguine with sweet and sour vegetables. For the omnivores, there are garlicky prawns, fragrant meatballs, and a hearty leg of lamb stew, slow-cooked with fresh vegetables. But the inclusive menu—and the killer Margarita De La Vera, a paprika-accented take on the classic cocktail—is just part of what brings locals here. Rico Libre is also treasured by locals for its al fresco dining area next to Gibb Street fountain. The ambiance is downright fiesta-like inside, thanks to a lively playlist (that diehard fans can even tune into at home via the restaurant’s website). It all adds up to an entertaining neighbourhood spot ideal for date nights and lively catch ups with friends.

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Indian Brewery (Snowhill)

Vintage Bollywood posters cover chipboard walls at Indian Brewery in Birmingham.

Vintage Bollywood posters adorn the walls at Indian Brewery in Snowhill. Credit: Indian Brewery

Vintage Bollywood posters and colourful murals bring Mumbai-inspired swagger to this industrial-chic space. Diners regularly share crowded tables with newcomers, fuelling a friendly and energetic vibe. Catch up with pals—or make brand-new ones—over craft beers, brewed by the owner’s family and friends. If you’re here to graze, order one of the brewery’s renowned “fat naans”, layered with creative toppings such as cod pieces or aubergine and potato curry. Regulars know to pair the large flatbreads (pro tip: go for lunch between Monday and Wednesday and you’ll get them for a discount) with masala fries. Wash it all down with the crowd-pleasing mango lassi, flourished with sprinkles.

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The Queen’s Head (Colmore)

Come for one of the city’s best happy hours but stay for the killer round-the-clock menu. This spacious pub is a neighbourhood star thanks to £4 craft pints and bottomless cocktails from 5 pm to 8 pm on Thursday to Sunday. Not to mention the versatile food menu, which begins with a hearty breakfast, makes way for lunchtime sandwiches and afternoon tea, and ends with pub grub in the evening. Regulars can’t get enough of The Queen’s Head’s shareable snacks such as loaded nachos, wings, and garlic bread. Larger plates including beef and red wine lasagna and piri piri chicken keep punters coming. The area’s families know to book The Queen’s Head’s Sunday roasts—bonus points for the half-priced mini children’s portions.

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Itihaas (Colmore)

Itihaas is an award-winning Colmore institution that has earned honours (including nods from the Cobra Good Curry Awards and The British Curry Awards) for its impeccable Indian fusion lineup. In addition to being adored for its succulent tandoori meats and superb Indo-Chinese selection, the restaurant is a beloved hangout for Birmingham’s vegetarians thanks to its wide selection of plant-based curries. Get a chilli paneer and some mature cheddar and coriander naan, take in the original 18th-century Indian art, and know that you’ll be back to eat your way through the prolific menu again soon.

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The Plough (Harborne)

A slice of pizza topped with prosciutto and rocket is picked up from a plate at The Plough in Birmingham.

The stone-baked pizza at The Plough is a local favourite. Credit: The Plough

This award-winning pub and coffee house hybrid has a local fan following for its silky flat whites, stone-baked pizzas (two for one on Mondays), legendary Sunday quiz nights, and more. The after-work crowd is known to fill the inviting plant-filled space and keeps coming back for some of the city’s best pub fare—The Plough is truly a home away from home.

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Cucina Rustica (Jewellery Quarter)

This Italian Jewellery Quarter stalwart is home to many Birmingham favourites. The lamb cutlets with rosemary, garlic, and Barolo is one of its greatest hits, as are pastas such as the restaurant’s decadent riff on carbonara, topped with pancetta and bacon. Cucina Rustica’s warm digs are perpetually packed, so be sure to book in advance to score a seat in one of its coveted leather booths.

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The Rolling Mill (Jewellery Quarter)

This sprawling spot was a rolling steel factory until brothers Sunny and Sonu Rull (the duo behind popular Indian pub Hen & Chickens on Constitution Hill) gave it a second life in 2021. The result is a 1920s-inspired addition to Jewellery Quarter, decked with wood-panelled skylights, exposed brick, intimate alcoves, and two bars. The menu is all about global comfort food, with standouts such as chicken schnitzel with shallots, tomato, and rocket and a vegetable-packed udon ramen. To those dishes, add imaginative cocktails such as the Late Harvest (raspberry vodka, sweet vermouth, mint and sage syrup, and cloudy lemonade) and it’s no surprise why this urban-luxe place is a sought-after local haunt.

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Chakana (Moseley)

Peruvian flavours shine bright at this former bank, which is now a stylish restaurant from acclaimed chef Robert Ortiz. Ortiz’s London spot, Lima landed a MICHELIN star in 2013, and he brings that expertise to Moseley, wowing residents with fresh ceviches, spicy tiraditos, and colourful causas. Chakana buffs know to order the restaurant’s tasting menu for the most comprehensive meal. They also come for the restaurant’s superb Peruvian cocktails—Chakana boasts one of the largest pisco collections in the United Kingdom. 

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Shekha Vyas is a London-based reporter, writing about business, lifestyle, and food. Follow her on Instagram at @shekhav or on TikTok at @tastingbritain.