Hardens Guide to the Best Restaurants in Birmingham
Hardens guides have spent 32 years compiling reviews of the best Birmingham restaurants. On Hardens.com you'll find details and reviews of 50 restaurants in Birmingham and our unique survey based approach to rating and reviewing Birmingham restaurants gives you the best insight into the top restaurants in every area and of every type of cuisine.
Featured Birmingham Restaurants
1. Sabai Sabai Thai restaurant in Birmingham 268 High Street - B17
Husband and wife team, Torquil and Juree Chidwick, first opened Sabai Sabai as a small, cosy, family-run Thai restaurant in Moseley 10 years ago. Proving a real hit with the locals they opened the Harborne restaurant, oozing a subtle eastern sophistication with carved wooden b...
2. Sabai Sabai Thai restaurant in Birmingham 25 Woodbridge Road - B13
‘A True Taste of Thailand’ is the promise at the original Mosely branch of this small local Thai chain (nowadays also with branches in the city centre, Harborne and Stratford-Upon-Avon). Feedback remains relatively limited, but is enthusiastic all-round.
3. Raja Monkey restaurant in Hall Green 1355 Stratford Road - B28
Raja Monkey began as an authentic roadside café experience that pioneered the street food scene - that was to become so popular in later years – growing into into one of Birmingham’s best-loved Indian restaurants and b...
4. The Karczma Polish restaurant in Birmingham Bordesley St - B5
2022 Review: Lovers of kitsch should make a beeline to this well-established venue, not far from the Bull Ring, decorated like an old-fashioned Eastern European cottage – “highly recommended to anybody who would like to try Polish cuisine” or looking for a meal with “great character”.
5. Black & Green British, Modern restaurant in Barnt Green 49 Hewell Road - B45
In June 2022 (after our annual diners’ poll had concluded), Andrew Sheridan of Birmingham’s Eight (see also) with partners Sam & Emma Morgan opened this new 16-seat restaurant in a small village outside Brum (near the intersection of the M6 and M42). It serves a duo of seven-course and eight-course ‘micro-seasonal’ menus for £60 per person and £70 per person.
6. Adam's British, Modern restaurant in Birmingham 16 Waterloo St - B2
“Easily Birmingham’s top dining destination” (of the modern European variety), say fans of Adam & Natasha Stokes’s local luminary, which is entering its tenth year of operation. Its “exquisite and inventive food has evolved and reinvented itself over the years and just keeps amazing with new creations and combinations of flavours”. “Impeccable service” is “that lovely combination of being professional but also engaging” and “the general feel of the restaurant is classy with Art Deco influences”. All this plus the “comprehensive wine list” you would expect. Top Tip – “the kitchen table experience is a well-designed and great experience”.
7. Rosa's Thai Cafe Thai restaurant in Birmingham 2b Chamberlain Square - B3
2021 Review: The “lovely Thai food” at these reliable cafés is “impressively authentic given that they are a chain” – “excellent value” and “fast”, if occasionally let down by “iffy service”. Founded in 2008 by Saiphin and Alex Moore, who inherited the name of their first East End site, the group has 18 branches in London and expanded to Liverpool, Manchester, Reading (delivery only) and Leeds following the sale of a majority stake to US investors. The couple also have two spin-offs, Lao Café in Covent Garden and the new Chinese noodle bar Hoh Sek in St Katharine Docks.
8. Dishoom Indian restaurant in Birmingham Paradise, One Chamberlain Square - B3
The deservedly popular retro Bombay-themed chain has made itself thoroughly at home in Brum with this “busy, buzzy venue in the city centre” – “a very slick operation” serving “authentic and tasty” food with a “good variety of tapas-style small dishes and sharing plates”. Much is made of Birmingham and Mumbai’s shared histories of manufacture, commerce and craftsmanship.
9. Asha’s Indian Bar and Restaurant Indian restaurant in Birmingham 12-22 Newhall Street - B3
This city-centre venue wins consistently strong ratings – if not much feedback this year – for its classic “rich” cuisine from India’s northwest. It is part of an international group (with UK branches in Manchester and Solihull) owned by the prolific Bollywood singer Asha Bhosle and run by her son Anand; now 88, she is best-known in Britain from Cornershop’s 1997 hit single ‘Brimful of Asha’, which punned on her name, meaning ‘hope’ in Hindi.
10. Fazenda Brazilian restaurant in Birmingham 55 Colmore Row, Barwick Street Entrance - B3
2021 Review: “Latino steak restaurant in the heart of Birmingham city centre” – this well-appointed new branch of the expanding Brazilian chain offers its trademark “generous meat and buffet” formula. It’s tipped by one or two reporters as “good for business meals”.
11. San Carlo Italian restaurant in Birmingham 4 Temple Street - B2
2022 Review: Sicilian-born Carlo Distefano founded his now international chain thirty years ago with this Brum institution, creating a template of classic upscale Italian food served with immaculate professionalism in a smart and “romantic atmosphere”. He now has 22 restaurants in England and branches in the Middle East and Bangkok.
12. Sabai Sabai Thai restaurant in Birmingham 8 Waterloo Street - B2
2019 Review: Fourth and most ambitious of this Thai mini-chain, established in Moseley in 2003 – it occupies a large Grade II listed, city-centre property that once housed the Legal and General Assurance Society. It opened in late 2018 – limited feedback so far, but all positive.
13. The Ivy Temple Row Birmingham British, Modern restaurant in Birmingham 67-71 Temple Row - B2
“You wouldn’t go for ‘haute cuisine’, but as a jolly place to eat comfort food in a spectacular setting, it is hard to beat” – that’s the upbeat view, anyway, on this now-“ubiquitous” brasserie chain. Eight years and 40 openings later, the spin-offs increasingly eclipse the Theatreland original (see also), whose Edwardian features provide the style-guide for its nationwide ‘roll out’. “Even if the unchallenging food reaches no heights, there’s a consistent buzz”, which makes them a “posh”, “fun” choice for a get-together, if not a particularly foodie one. This is particularly the case at the landmark London off-shoots: at ‘Chelsea Garden’ (“gorgeous greenery”); Kensington (“slick”, with a “pretty glitzy crowd”); and on the Thames (“great views over Tower Bridge”). But while it’s always been acknowledged that the mass offering is “a shadow of the mothership’s” – with “average grub at not-so-average prices” – the feeling that the brand has become just “a chain that does not excite” is gaining ever-stronger currency. Service seems more “stretched” nowadays, and a sliding ambience rating is making the whole offering seem ever-more “overrated, for all its modern art and perky décor”.
14. The Oyster Club Fish & seafood restaurant in Birmingham 43 Temple Street - B2
“The food is always great” – especially the oysters – at this “reliable” seafood outlet which is the more relaxed option from chef Adam Stokes, whose high-flying flagship Adam’s is nearby. But diners expecting the same standards as his main gaff might be in for a “disappointment”: ratings here are more generally good rather than outstanding and service has its ups and downs.
15. @pizza Pizza restaurant in Birmingham Unit 33 Grand Central - B2
Rectangular pizza cooked in 90 seconds is the draw at this top local pizza pit-stop, which is consistently well-rated: choose a base sauce and cheese and then zhoosh it up with various toppings.
16. Opheem Indian restaurant in Birmingham 65 Summer Row - B3
“The tasting menu is an exciting journey” at Aktar Islam’s increasingly famous dining room a little out of the city centre, which is “going from strength to strength” as Brum’s most commented-on destination; one of the top-10 most mentioned outside London in our annual diners’ poll; and with some claim on being “the best Indian restaurant outside of London”. The “elegantly presented” cuisine is rooted in the subcontinent, but might equally be described as “European with Indian flavours and spices”. However you define the kitchen, it provides “a great experience with subtle spicing and some unique touches and flavours” complemented by “outstanding wine matches”. The main dining room is a dim-lit, modern and stylish space and among improvements in recent times “the new lounge in particular is a fabulous addition”.
17. Tattu Chinese restaurant in Birmingham 18 Barwick Street - B3
2021 Review: “Arresting” design is a big feature of Adam and Drew Jones’s stunning-looking Chinese-themed yearling: the city’s biggest basement bar and restaurant situated in the recently reopened Grand hotel (built in 1879, and refurbished after over a decade’s closure). Too few reports for a rating as yet: its menu contains a “theatrically presented combination of small bites and larger dishes”. The next stop after this is Edinburgh, opening late 2019.
18. Purnells British, Modern restaurant in Birmingham 55 Cornwall St - B3
A gastronomic “tour de force”, this “fun and playful” Business Quarter flagship from exuberant locally born chef Glynn Purnell – aka ‘the yummy Brummie’ – continues to thrill both regulars and first-timers with food “so good we went back 3 times in 6 months!”. “Being served by the man himself (twice) brought my wife to tears” – “the tasting menu was a revelation, from the showmanship of the mint choc chip dried ice to the intensity of the flavours throughout”.
19. Tonkotsu Japanese restaurant in Birmingham Selfridges Foodhall, Upper Mall East - B5
This “slurpy Japanese noodles” outfit has grown from a 2011 pop-up to a fledgling national chain (14 branches in London, plus Brighton and Brum). These days it “feels formulaic, but the ramen does the business – the tonkotsu (pork broth, from which the place gets its name) is satisfyingly porky and the chilli chicken has a spicy hum”. Critics are not so sure, pointing to “very disappointing noodles” and “drab stock”.
20. Lasan Indian restaurant in Birmingham 3-4 Dakota Buildings, James Street - B3
Now in its 21st year, this “superior” Jewellery Quarter fixture has led the way in modernising British Indian cuisine, presented for “degustation” in a sophisticated setting. Ratings have remained very steady despite the travails of recent times – and the departure of high-profile chef-director Aktar Islam (see Opheem).
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