A slice of pecan pie.

PieLab: A Big Taste for a Small Town

What draws people to a restaurant?  Looks?  Taste?  History?  When it comes to a restaurant like PieLab, all three of those categories are not only sufficiently met, but go beyond expectations.  Other reviews found on the internet glow with praise, so it’s not surprising that mine will be doing the same thing.

My experience began with the hour-long trip from Tuscaloosa to Greensboro, where PieLab is located. The highway between the two cities was lined with cozy homes and trees that had just begun to change colors, despite it being late October.  I drove over rolling hills while the sun shone brightly overhead.  When I pulled into the small downtown area of the city, it was quiet, though cars filled the parking spaces on the street and a few people could be seen roaming the sidewalks, going about their business.

img_8729Looking at the exterior, you notice that it is a crisp, clean white, proudly displaying the restaurant’s name in a bold, black font. It makes a large statement for the small town that PieLab is located in.  Windows allow you to peer inside before you go in, and inside you can see employees behind the open kitchen’s counter, working on food orders with a sense of diligence, but not one of urgency.  It’s simple and sweet to watch from the outside, but even the outside of the restaurant invites you to come inside.  Written on the window panes on both sides of the door is this humble phrase “Pie & Conversation, Optimism & Inspiration.”  But then the restaurant takes it one step further on their invitation for you, and tells you a little bit about their story, right on their front door.  The idea began on a napkin by a group that calls themselves “Project M” somewhere in Belfast, Maine.  Then it became a pop-up shop in Greensboro, Alabama turned restaurant, job-training center, and community space, all within the confines of an abandoned pool hall.  The restaurant’s mission is the final few sentences on the door.  They read, “PieLab strives to be an open and inclusive environment where all voices of the community can be heard.  So welcome.  Welcome to our pie shop, our community and our story.”  It’s a powerful welcome, and that’s just from standing on the outside. Continue reading

Miss Dots Delicious Dining

Miss Dots

1715 University Blvd

Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

            Miss Dots Chicken Shop is one of the many restaurants Tuscaloosa has added to its growing foodie scene in recent months. Miss Dots Tuscaloosa is the newest addition to John Cassimus’ quickly growing collection of restaurants. He and business partner Tyre Stuckey opened a Miss Dots location in the Birmingham township of Mountain Brook just a few weeks before their Tuscaloosa launch. Risky? The men don’t seem to think so. The new fast casual chain is the second that the duo has tackled; the first is the contagious Zoes Kitchen that is quickly spreading across the southeast. The new up-and-coming Miss Dots chain is sure to make a huge impact with its traditional southern cuisine in a fast casual setting.

Owners aptly named Miss Dots after a local culinary inspiration, Miss Leona Rogers— AKA Dot. Miss Dot and owners have created the perfect mixture of a southern at-home meal and a fast dining experience unprecedented in Tuscaloosa. The restaurant is located within Tuscaloosa’s forgotten mile, bridging the gap of between The Strip and Downtown. With plenty of parking and brand new sidewalks, Miss Dots is easily accessible to Tuscaloosa locals and students alike. Continue reading

UnsatisFi-ed at Tuscaloosa’s New Fast Casual Burger Chain

1320 McFarland Blvd E #510, Tuscaloosa, AL 35404

BurgerFi is part of a family of fast casual food chains that have achieved great popularity in the past several years. While the Tuscaloosa location is only the third in the state, BurgerFi currently has 82 restaurants in the country. According to the website, BurgerFi is conscious of its impact on people, animals, and the environment. They strive to hire skilled chefs, use fresh and humanely sourced ingredients, and recycle whenever possible. The restaurant itself is perfect for college students, professionals, and families. Because it falls under the classification of fast-casual, it is of high enough quality to eat as a treat, but low-key (and cheap) enough to eat on an ordinary day. Continue reading

The Avenue Pub: A Cheesy (Fries) Review

405 23rd Ave.  35401

Downtown Tuscaloosa, AL

As a college town, Tuscaloosa has its share of starving college students, artists, and other young adults in need of a good meal. While downtown is developing as fast as it can manage, filling previously empty spaces with trendy stores and all sorts of restaurants, at least one location has already won the hearts of many a Tuscaloosa resident: The Avenue Pub. Between its inviting atmosphere and its generous portions, The Avenue Pub has wasted no time in winning the hearts of hungry patrons. Continue reading