Since moving to Stirchley a few years ago, jumping on the train into Birmingham city centre has become a mindless action. It takes approximately 11 minutes to reach Grand Central Station and allows me enough time to scroll through Instagram and catch up on BBC news as I roll along the tracks. While this may sound like an absolute dream (for example, not driving the car into town anymore has saved me hundreds of pounds in parking across the years) it also means that reaching all the best foodie destinations within 30 minutes or less has become somewhat of a bad habit. So let’s get to it…
Just before the Christmas period, I was checking my phone on the train and up popped a convenient collaboration opportunity with Hotels.com – a renowned website for finding hotels in Birmingham and across the UK. As well as staying in a lot of places around Brum, I also eat a lot of food. Thankfully, they’ve challenged me to explore my home city, discover new pubs, places to eat, great restaurants and event spaces that others might not know about or have visited before. So without further ado, here are some examples of places I enjoy visiting when I come into the centre.
Piccadilly Arcade, New Street
If you’re looking for a bite-size coffee shop that screams ‘independent’ – just a few hundred metres from the station door is Faculty Coffee; one of my ‘go to’ places when I’m in need of a coffee fix. Staff are friendly, welcoming and quick to serve a delicious cup of caffeine. Not only do they serve speciality coffee beans and tea in Piccadilly Arcade, but they also bake fresh sweet and savoury goods inside (to the left as you walk through the door). Just this morning I was watching the staff bring out freshly baked muffins and I somehow knew my morning would be off to a great start. A rustic place with a few scattered wooden tables and chairs, it’s no wonder why it’s ranked in the top 10 coffee places in Brum. See their website here.
Serving warm coffee (just as it should be served) it’s fantastic setting to grab your 5 minutes worth of people watching in the morning. Alternatively, you can stare hazily at people getting their bonces cut in the barbers opposite. A latte at Faculty costs £2.70 and is oh-so Instagram worthy.
5-7 Temple Row West
A delightful coffee house and delicatessen overlooking what we Brummies know as ‘Pigeon Park’ and St Philip’s Cathedral, this place is one of my favourites to dive into when I want to a take a time out from the rush of the city crowds. I’ve visited many times with family members and friends, and it never disappoints if you want something a bit different from the bog standard coffee shop. The aromas of spiced teas, Arabian spiced coffees and sweet treats (you have to try the croissants and walnut katayif) is a true blessing of this place and it’s no wonder it gets filled up quickly with locals and business workers from midday onwards. Alongside a plethora of tantalising meze boards (did someone say flatbread, hummus and olives?) and a beautifully lit majestic back room, it really is a place of mystical wonders.
If a gorgeous artisan coffee isn’t your cup of tea (woah, woah woah!) then I highly recommend trying the fresh mint tea which comes with a stick full of sweet sugary goodness to stir into your glass. You won’t leave disappointed and is something to tell your mates about. Damascena menu can be found here.
Tiger Bites Pig
34 Stephenson Street
A brand new addition to the 2018 Birmingham food scene, Tiger Bites Pig is also located within a stone throw of the train station. Chinese food is my ultimate and if I had to eat one type of food for the rest of my life, it would be this. The new Chinese establishment offers delicious parcels of joy wrapped snug inside a steamed white bun. The Bao, as it is formally known, has a very simplistic menu with just 5 various types available. The Red Braised Pork Belly and Braised Beef Shin are ultimate goals and average at around a fiver each.
Albeit pricey for those who moan it’s not even two mouths full, believe me when I say the inhalation is worth every penny. Other dish varieties are served on a bed of rice and can be washed down with beer. You’d be a fool not to try this place out, it’s absolute foodie filth. Opening times and more here.
Edwardian Tea Rooms
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery
Hidden away in the depths of the gallery is a renovated tea room. Think open skylight ceilings, beamed walls, and a historic setting. In addition to the expected tea and cake, the tearoom also offers a tasty Sunday Lunch option alongside full English breakfasts, soups and an array of gluten free and vegan options too. Usually crammed full of visitors from the gallery, it’s an ideal spot to duck into for a simplistic and filling lunch.
I’m not sure how much of the produce is actually made on sight but tastes great all the same. The Victoria Sponge is one of my favourite cakes to eat and can be easily washed down with a generous pot of tea. Knowing you’re within the proximity of some of Birmingham’s most famous art installations, you can’t go far wrong. On this occasion I went for something I could see on the counter, but staff will be happy to assist if you want something else. Check out their menus here.
Islington Row Middleway
In my personal opinion, Laghi’s Deli is one of the best family-run Italian restaurants outside of the Italian border and this reflects its high standard of grub. One of my favourite places to eat in Birmingham, this modern restaurant provides selective dishes – all of which are downright sexy. Laghi’s opened in 2018 and go the whole hog of awarding guests breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. If you’re a hungry pig like me, you might even succeed in demolishing all four throughout the day. Sourcing the very best ingredients from Italy, the passion for great food is showcased in every dish. All food is handmade onsite and you can taste this with each bite. There are no theatrics here, just quality food. On this occasion we opted for the Fagotto (handmade ravioli with ricotta cheese & spinach with butter & sage – £11.95) and Tagliatella Alla Bolognese (Italian pasta with our homemade beef ragù – £9.95). To start the meal we had Pane E Olive – a selection of Italian bread served with balsamic vinegar, olive oil & olives at £4.50.
For desserts we had the Ricotta cheesecake with triple chocolate £6.50 and Josh asked for the Coffee & White Mousse which was also. £6.50 Will I be returning any time soon? You’re god damn right I will. If they rented rooms, I would totally buy one. Laghi’s menus change and can be found here.
Are you thinking of taking a trip into Birmingham for a foodie date? Are you looking to discover some new finds? Be sure to tell me your favourite places or those you’re looking to try below. The spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.