The word ‘hidden gem’ is one that is often over-used in our line of work.
We chronicle Birmingham’s independent culture with the hope that our articles not only shine a spotlight on the local businesses doing something different and special in our city, but with the hope that our words inspire you to get out there and explore Birmingham like never before. To look at the streets and the skylines in a different way, to consciously make an effort to seek out the brilliant and intriguing independents that are dotted about Birmingham, and to use Independent Birmingham as a means of rediscovering your city.
Independent businesses are the life-blood of our city. They are the innovators, the game-changers and where they lead, the chains follow. Due to high rent prices in the city, alongside other factors, often our independents (the cafes, bars, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, pubs and shops that lend a unique character to Birmingham) are tucked out of the way down side streets or are located in areas deemed ‘less desirable’ due to low footfall.
We’re here to shine a light on these magnificent local businesses, tucked out of sight but forever holding a place in our hearts. Introducing our glorious guide to 40 Hidden Gems In Birmingham You Need To Discover (Part 1).
Orientee Artisan Bakery And Cafe
Part artisan bakery and part brunch cafe, Orientee is the true definition of a hidden gem. Off the beaten path, tucked away in an obscure corner of the city (it took us a good ol’ while to find it, but it was well worth it when we did) this is a destination in itself. Serving delicious brunch options (think French toast, corn fritters, eggs Benedict and more) in generous portions at ridiculously reasonable prices, this is a great spot for stuffing your faces whilst you sip on warm coffee and catch up with friends. Also selling baked goods from hearty loaves of sourdough to delicate and delicious pastries, this is a great place to stock up on some goodies. The cruffins (a cross between a croissant and a muffin) are a particular highlight and will leave you going back for more at every opportunity.
Location: 57 – 58 Dale End,B4 7LS
IB Deal: 10% off the bill
This hidden gem is so hidden they don’t broadcast their exact location – merely stating that they’re somewhere on Thorp Street. Serving some of THE very best cocktails in Birmingham, this small, intimate bar is an absolute must for any cocktail connoisseur. Once you manage to find them (hunting this bar down is all part of the adventure), ring the doorbell and you’ll be greeted by the friendly staff ready to seat you in the bar. At 18/81 they specialise in pre-batched cocktails (where the very best ingredients are combined ahead of time, diluted to perfection, chilled, and then ready to pour out over huge blocks of transparent ice within moments), so you can expect fast and efficient service from knowledgable and welcoming staff. Their menu changes every few months, so you can discover new favourites every time you visit. Quick, to 18/81!
Location: Thorp Street, B5 4AT
IB Deal: Seasonal Prix Fixe Menu For Just £20 (Instead Of £25) [Wednesday and Thursday Only] OR An Exclusive Off-Menu IB Cocktail Of The Month For Just £7.50 (Anytime)
The Sara Priesler Gallery
Located in The Custard Factory, at the heart of Birmingham’s creative quarter, Digbeth, this gallery is an asset to Birmingham that many don’t even know exists. Sara is a jewellery designer who has been creating unique and beautiful pieces since 1993. The gallery is internationally-renowned for showcasing (and selling) contemporary, handmade jewellery, alongside other innovative design pieces. You can head to the gallery to observe pieces from over seventy of the UK’s top designer makers across a number of different collections. Gaze at everything from jewellery to ceramics, silverware, glass, photography, wire sculpture and textiles – and then purchase a few one-off pieces that you won’t find anywhere near the High Street.
Location: The Custard Factory, B9 4BF
Dig Brew Co.
This independent brewery and kitchen is making waves down in up-and-coming Digbeth. Thanks to some incredible independents, including Dig Brew Co, working tirelessly, Digbeth has begun to re-grow with a new lease of life and exciting times lie ahead for the area. As a working brewery, Dig Brew Co produce some of the finest beer to come out of the city and supply to many other local events and venues. But they also have a kitchen and taproom for the good people of Birmingham to sit in and enjoy the spoils. Sip on thirst-quenching beers and munch on tasty pizzas from Practise Pizzeria (or enjoy any number of different cuisines from the kitchen takeovers as part of DigEats). The industrial feel adds to the ambience of the venue and gives it a great character. Oh, and did we mention that you can tour the brewery? A great idea for any beer-mad friends.
Location: 43 River Street, B5 5SA
IB Deal: 2-for-1 on all pizzas AND 20% off all merchandise
Photo: Jake’s Food Bible
Independent fried chicken joint, BoneHead, is an absolute haven for fried chicken fans. If you cluckin’ love fried chicken as much as us (unlikely), then you’ve probably already heard of BoneHead. For those who haven’t, let us clue you in. Chicken burgers, chicken wings and chicken strips are the order of the day. Choose from a selection of tempting rubs and sauces (and daily specials) of varying degrees of heat and seasoning, add in some ludicrously tasty sides (homemade slaw and waffle fries anyone?) and you have yourself a ridiculously awesome combo. What else could you have to wash down this succulent feast, but a delicious beer. Serving up some wonderful brews (other drinks are available) alongside this poultry feast is their speciality, and boy, do they do it well.
Location: 8 Lower Severn Street, B1 1PU
IB Deal: 10% off the bill
Alicia’s Micro Bakehouse
This independent artisan pizzeria is a true shining star of the city. With a strong focus on simple, high-quality ingredients, these are some of the most incredible pizzas you will ever sink your teeth into. Originally beginning life as a bakery making beautiful sourdough loaves, they soon moved into pizza territory, using their knowledge of baking to create outstanding pizza bases. The speciality dough is allowed to rest and develop for a minimum of 24 hours to give it the light texture and beautifully bubbly crust. If this place isn’t on your radar yet, it definitely needs to be. Right now!
Location: 1377 Pershore Road, B30 2JR
If you love amazing food, you’ll definitely love Caneat. The concept is simple: they take wonderful, seasonal ingredients and they turn them into delicious plates of food that are irresistible and will keep you coming back again and again. Serving up a ridiculously tasty breakfast, brunch and lunch offering, alongside coffee and cakes too, this little independent should be on everyone’s ‘to visit’ list. Now open on Sundays (so you have even more chance to visit), go and get your fill of dishes like: kale and scrambled eggs on toast; carrot, walnut and cinnamon porridge; or lamb, squash, tomato and rice soup. This place is ridiculously good!
Location: 1397 Pershore Road, B30 2JR
Tucked away within the Bullring Indoor Market is a hidden gem ready to serve your health-kick needs. If you want to guarantee your five-a-day, there’s only one place to go – U-Juice. Serving up the freshest juices and smoothies (you watch them make your juice to order, right in front of your very eyes), these guys are your one-stop-shop to cram in as many of those fruits and veggies as possible. Not content in providing the good people of Brum with the very best juices, they also serve up delicious and nutritious Açai bowls and dragon bowls (alongside a range of vegan snacks). These bowls are packed with healthy fruits, plant-based milks, granola and topped with delicious vegan treats from nuts and seeds, to dried fruits and cacao nibs. Perfect for a quick breakfast or on-the-go lunch.
Location: Bullring Indoor Market, Level 1, B5 4RQ
Some hidden gems are more hidden than others, and some are true destinations in themselves. Gaijin is one such hidden gem. You may have to walk a little way to get there, but it’s well worth the trek. If you love sushi, this is an absolute must. Gaijin are introducing Birmingham to the world of good sushi, and boy, are we glad they’re here. Enjoy delicious sushi dishes prepared with care in front of your very eyes, in a small, intimate restaurant space. Whether you’re a sushi newbie or a sushi pro, you’ll find something you love here.
Location: 78 Bristol Street, B5 7AH
IB Deal: 10% off the bill (all day Wednesday – Thursday, and Saturday from 1pm – 4pm)
If you love homeware, Kin Home is a treasure trove of beautiful, carefully-curated pieces to upgrade your home. The high quality, Scandi-style pieces will be a wonderful addition to your home. It’s well worth the trip to Moseley to peruse the shelves filled with homeware, stationery and lifestyle items. The collections have been brought together from across UK, Europe and beyond, from brands that share the same vision and passion as Kin Home. IB top tip: they also have a beautiful range of gift options and greetings cards, so why not pop in and pick up something for that upcoming birthday?
Location: 10 Saint Mary’s Row, B13 8JG
IB Deal: 10% off purchases
Pizza may not solve all of life’s problems, but it sure as hell helps! Otto is a true gem, nestled in the crown of the Jewellery Quarter’s culinary scene, providing Brummies with everyone’s favourite circular, tomato and cheese laden, dough-based meal. With a rustic charm to the interior and an open kitchen where you can watch the chefs lovingly prepare your pizza in front of you, this is a lovely, relaxed restaurant, ideal for a cosy, chilled date night (or mate night).
Location: 14 Caroline Street, B3 1TR
If you haven’t discovered Harborne Kitchen yet, you are seriously missing out. They consistently put out incredible dishes, featuring high-quality, seasonal ingredients, for ridiculously reasonable prices. With both a la carte and Tasting Menu options, if you’re just dipping a toe into the fine-dining world, this is a wonderful, accessible place to start. Equally, if you are a foodie through-and-through, this is an incredible place to enjoy beautiful, well thought out dishes in a friendly and welcoming space. The staff are accommodating and welcoming, and the food is exactly what Birmingham is otherwise lacking – tasty and affordable. We can’t speak highly enough of HK and we’re sure you’ll love them just as much as us when you visit.
Location: 175 High Street, B17 9QE
IB Deal: A complimentary glass of sparkling wine with the Express 5 or Tasting Menu (Thursday – Saturday, lunch) OR 10% off bar food (Thursday – Saturday, lunch)
At its heart, Cafe Artum is a social space, combining two of life’s greatest pleasures: music and food. A place to meet friends, a place to settle down and work on that all important, looming deadline, and a place to discover new friends. This record store and cafe is truly a hidden gem where you can while away an hour or two browsing the selection of records to purchase, or sit and enjoy coffee and cake with friends. With three turntables and banks of records to browse through (from electro and house, to hip-hop and jazz), music is a big focus for this cafe, and a place to discover new favourite records. Also offering sandwiches, this is a great little lunch spot away from the office. Head down to Cafe Artum and see what you will discover.
Location: 177 Corporation Street, B4 6RG
IB Deal: 10% off sandwiches, coffee, teas and cakes
The Clean Kilo
With the rise in awareness for the need to reduce our plastic consumption and help protect our planet into the future, comes the demand for more sustainable practice. Enter: The Clean Kilo. As a relative newbie to Birmingham’s indie scene, The Clean Kilo provides Brummies with an alternative to the heavily-packaged products available at traditional supermarkets. Head here to browse the range of plastic-free fruit, veg and store cupboard staples (you can pick up rice, pasta, flour and loads more, paid for by weight so you don’t need to waste anything – just bring your own container, buy a re-usable one in store, or use one of their donated containers for free) and grab yourself guilt-free groceries. They stock fresh produce from local farms, as well as plastic-free lifestyle products (from cleaning supplies to bamboo toothbrushes and more). Well worth a visit, this hidden gem is doing something good for Birmingham and the planet.
Location: 1 Gibb Street, B9 4AA
IB Deal: A choice of FREE gifts when you spend over £20
Hidden away in the depths of the Chinese Quarter is a lesser-known gem of a Chinese restaurant. If you love Chinese food, this place really needs to be on your radar. Specialising in roast meats, Look In is a must for meat lovers. Served with fluffy white rice, this is the ultimate in Chinese comfort food. You may have heard of neighbouring Peach Garden, where the two brothers who opened Look In previously worked and have brought all of their expertise to Look In. Head here for delicious roast duck and pork and you’ll be sure to be coming back for more.
Location: 6 Ladywell Walk, B5 4ST
The jewel in Moseley’s crown, Little Blackwood is the delightful neighbourhood restaurant that you’ve been missing all this time. Taking the freshest seasonal ingredients and presenting them in exciting dishes to delight the senses is the name of the game, and Little Blackwood plays that game so well. With all of the ingredients sourced within a 35-mile radius of the restaurant and a menu that changes regularly to reflect the freshest ingredients of the season, this restaurant focuses on high quality ingredients. Seasonal, fresh, flavourful and innovative dishes make this place a must for any foodie, and affordable pricing makes it accessible. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, heading out on a date night, or simply just grabbing dinner after work, this restaurant is perfect for any occasion. If you’ve not yet been, get yourself there immediately!
Location: 145 Alcester Road, B13 8JP
IB Deal: 10% off food (weekdays only)
We couldn’t think of a single place that epitomises the term “hidden gem” any more than Salcooks. Offering incredible Portuguese-inspired lunch options – from delicious pies and croquettes, to some of the best damn sandwiches you’ll ever eat, alongside sweet cakes and treats – this is a wonderful spot to pick up an on-the-go lunch during the week. We *almost* don’t want to tell you about them just in case you get there before us and take the best sandwiches. Also serving salads, soup and more, many of the options are vegetarian and vegan, and all of them are packed full of flavour. All served from a tiny shop in the Jewellery Quarter, this lunch spot is tucked away, off the beaten path, but oh boy, it is worth the trip.
IB Top Tip: you have to get the pastel de nata – we can wholly vouch that they are the best you will try outside of Portugal itself.
Location: Water Street, B3 1HL
This Scandi-style coffee shop is a hotspot of great coffee, amazing brunch and that cosy, Nordic vibe. It also helps that the coffee is served in amazing, locally-made, branded stoneware that makes it highly Instagrammable. But Instagram aside, this independent speciality coffee shop is a great place to get lost in a wonderful cup of coffee and take in the world. The brunch offering is simple but exciting. From amazing bacon buttys to smoked salmon, smashed avocado or mushrooms on toast – classic brunch dishes, but done insanely well. IB top tip: add the espresso-infused chorizo chutney to any dish to take it to the next level. They’ve recently introduced a range of tasty flatbreads to the menu too, if you’re in the mood for something slightly less brunchy and slightly more lunchy. Brunch, lunch, or just coffee – whatever you’re in the mood for, you NEED to get it here.
Location: 4 Gordon Road, B17 9HB
IB Deal: 15% off the bill
A visit to Laghi’s Deli is like visiting Italy, but with a lot less travel and a lot more Brummies. As is the Italian way, family truly is at the heart of this restaurant. From handmade pasta to the freshest pizzas, you’ll be very hard-pressed to find an Italian restaurant more authentic than Laghi’s Deli, this side of Italy. As their name suggests, Laghi’s isn’t just a restaurant, they are also a deli where you can pick up some of the finest Italian produce – from some of the best olive oils, to delicious cheeses and charcuterie, and handmade pastries (and doughnuts that are to die for). Sit in and enjoy a coffee or come back for lunch or dinner and enjoy the magnificent selection of homemade pizzas, pastas and more. We LOVE this place, and know you will too.
Location: 22 – 24 Islington Row
IB Deal: 10% off the bill (Monday – Thursday) OR 20% off takeaway pizzas (anytime)
The Wolf is a local pub offering up what all the best local pubs do: delightful beer, pleasant surroundings and great company. Oh, and there’s also cheese. That too. We do love cheese… With 10 different kegs on tap (funky eagle-and-wolf adorned taps to be precise), and loads of different canned and bottled beers, The Wolf has curated a brilliant selection of delicious beers perfect for the beer connoisseur and craft beer newbie alike (don’t worry they have a carefully-curated selection of wines and spirits too). Discover new favourites, satisfy your thirst on that beautiful ambrosial nectar, feast on tasty pies, meats and cheeses, and then toast to IB for telling you all about this wonderful haven of craft beer.
Location: 2 – 10 Constitution Hill, B19 3LY
IB Deal: 15% off the bill
Medicine Bakery And Gallery
From the ashes of the former Medicine Bar, rose the phoenix that is Medicine Bakery. This is primarily a brilliant bakery, serving delicious baked goods – from robust loaves of sourdough to delicate croissants and pastries. But the crowning glory of the baked good selection is the cronut, a croissant-doughnut hybrid of epic proportions. Presented in a range of tempting flavours, the Medicine cronuts are a beautiful thing to behold. Sit in (the cafe area is light and airy with a patio-conservatory style, feeling reminiscent of a little Parisian cafe) or take out to enjoy on the road – but either way, you need to try one. This space isn’t just a brilliant breakfast, lunch and coffee spot, it’s also a gallery hosting regular cultural events and serving the community with a slice of the Medicine quirk that we all know and love.
Location: 69a New Street, B2 4DU
IB Deal: 15% off baked goods
The Birmingham Whisky Club Bar And Tasting Room
This bar is such a hidden gem, that it’s in fact located inside another building. Hidden away within The Museum Of The Jewellery Quarter, is The Birmingham Whisky Club Bar and Tasting Room – a haven for whisky lovers. This bar is the perfect place to embark on your very own whisky journey, as at The Birmingham Whisky Club they truly believe there is a whisky out there for everyone (you just haven’t discovered it yet!). So even if you are a self-proclaimed whisky hater, head down to this bar and challenge them to find you a whisky you enjoy. Specialising in whisky and whisky cocktails, they also serve a small selection of non-whisky drinks, for if you really can’t stomach the strong stuff. With an ethos of learning and discovery, one of their main specialities are the whisky “journeys” – a themed tasting flight designed to lead you on a journey.
A ‘must visit’ for any whisky lover, their collection of rare and hard-to-find whiskies are a wonderful thing to behold. And to drink… that most of all.
Location: 75 – 80 Vyse Street, B18 6HA
IB Deal: The Whisky Club Old Fashioned for just £5
In Birmingham, street food is king. We love it, and when we hear those special two words together our bellies start to rumble and a dull glaze films over our eyes. We NEED street food. Now! If you work in an office around Temple Row (outside Pigeon Park), or just anywhere in Birmingham really, and you haven’t been getting your street food fix at Habaneros then you’ve been doing life all wrong. Freshly-made burritos wrapped right in front of you. And you get bang for your buck as they’re stuffed tight with all manner of tasty goodness – chicken, pulled pork, beef, as well as the essential extras of rice, salad, salsa and guac. Because no burrito is complete without them. Their sauces are all homemade too, and taste like heaven wrapped up in a tortilla. We’ll meet you there.
Location: Temple Row, B2 5JP
IB Deal: 10% off the bill
Migas Tapas And Wine Bar
Sister restaurant to Edgbaston’s beloved El Borracho De Oro, Migas Tapas And Wine Bar is the answer to Sutton Coldfield’s tapas prayers. You’ve all been praying hard, and Migas has answered. Migas is a place where small plates are king and bumping into a local who speaks the lingo (because you’ve been transported to Barcelona the moment you walked through the door, right?) is just another evening at this wonderful ode to tapas. There are too many favourite dishes for us to single out just a few, but luckily they’re all small plates so you can just order the whole menu and feast until you need to siesta. It’s the Spanish way. The only way.
Location: 5 Manor Road, B73 6EJ
The People Shop
The need to surround ourselves by the handmade and the heartfelt is a yearning unlike any other. When you purchase something from an artist, you’re buying more than just an object – you’re buying hundreds of hours of errors and experimentation, years of frustration and moments of pure joy. The People Shop is a beautifully-quaint lifestyle shop which celebrates the homemade and the heartfelt by stocking an eclectic array of handmade womenswear, gifts and interior products. Walk in and find yourself greeted by the owner, then peruse the eclectic array of items surrounding you in this bright and wonderful shop. Bath candles, notepads, clothes, coffee cups, sweets – if you’re looking to add something special to your home, then do it at The People Shop.
Location: 50 Poplar Road, B14 7AG
IB Deal: 10% off purchases
Birmingham is all the richer for boasting an internationally-renowned contemporary art gallery which sees thousands of art aficionados and culture vultures visit each month. Once you’ve perused the wonderful artwork on display in the Ikon Gallery, we’d like to draw your attention to their gift shop. Everyone loves a gift shop, often it’s the best part of visiting a museum, zoo or cultural sight. Ikon’s gift shop (unbeknown to 98% of the populace of Birmingham) is one of the best places to pick up specialist art, design and architecture books. They also stock some of the very best Birmingham products (created by our good friends Frilly Industries, Working Clasp and others) and sell limited edition prints. Essentially, if you love Birmingham (or art) they will have something in stock for you.
Location: Ikon Gallery, B1 2HS
IB Deal: 10% off all purchases (excluding magazines and limited edition prints)
For foodies in the know, Antep is the place to go. Thems our rhymes, it ain’t a crime. Ok, we’ll stop now… Back to Antep. Folks, this is Turkish cuisine at its finest. There are small plates, skewered meats and vegetables from their charcoal grill (which are to die for, trust us), and then there’s the Antep platter – a huge platter of meat, meat, maybe like one chilli (token vegetable quota hit) and then more meat. We like this, because we like meat. It will set you back a few pennies, but then again there’s enough food on the platter to put two fully-grown adults into a deep food-induced coma. Colourful dishes, bold tastes and great prices, you really can’t go wrong at this hidden gem haven of Turkish delights*.
*Disclaimer: they probably don’t actually serve Turkish delight. That was just us being all wordy and stuff.
Location: 368-370 Ladypool Road, B12 8JY
Moseley is rather renowned for its fantastic independent scene, and to add further fuel to the fire is La Fibule. Tucked away (yet aren’t the best ones always a little off the beaten path?), La Fibule is a restaurant which serves an array of beautiful and decidedly moreish Moroccan cuisine. One of the best attributes of this ace restaurant is that it’s BYOB – which keeps costs down and means that you can bring your own favourite tipple from home. Now, let’s talk food. It’s Moroccan, which means tangines. Lamb tagine. There are other tagines but really, you just want the lamb tagine. It is the bee’s knees.
Location: 31 Woodbridge Road, B13 8EH
THE CHOCOLATE QUARTER
Everyone loves chocolate. If you say you don’t, you’re either lying, crazy or lying. The Chocolate Quarter hand-make all of their own chocolates and truffles, and Easter eggs, and just everything! We apologise to your waistlines and wallets in advance for telling you about them. From smoked bacon-infused truffles and Cherry Bakewell truffles, to alcohol-imbued chocolatey delights (mixing our two favourite things right there), get ye to The Chocolate Quarter and try not to buy everything in sight (well until we’ve got our chocolates at least, then buy away!).
Location: 1 Spencer Street, B18 6DD
IB Deal: 10% off all chocolates (in store) AND 15% off chocolate experiences
Coffee in Birmingham is a sacred thing. We love it here and we’re very lucky to have a score of really wonderful coffee shops dotted about the city, dedicated to seeing to our caffeine needs. Faculty is one such haven. Located in Piccadilly Arcade (opposite the entrance to New Street Station), Faculty is a coffee shop you could easily walk right past without knowing it was ever there. Yet, upon discovery, you realise you’ve stumbled into a rather marvellous spot where the coffee is incredible and there are all the baked treats you could possibly imagine (unless you’re really greedy, like us). We love it there, and you will too.
Location: Piccadilly Arcade, B2 4HD
Birmingham is renowned for its magnificent Indian cuisine, yet what sets a simple Birmingham Balti apart from the rest? Viceroy Tandoori is the answer. Secreted in the depths of the Jewellery Quarter, Viceroy Tandoori is a seriously brilliant Indian restaurant. With a rather large menu which could daunt some at first – or just cause them to order everything, like us – Viceroy Tandoori takes traditional Indian dishes and gives them an independent twist. The long walk to this restaurant (or taxi ride, if you’re not a rambler) is definitely worth the amazing Sub-Continent treats within. Trust us.
IB Top Tip: We recommend any of their lamb dishes. They are all simply incredible.
Location: 108-109 Icknield Street, B18 6RZ
Vincent Van Doodle
A homeware shop with a difference, Vincent Van Doodle is all about making science and history accessible in the home – from their geek-chic Steven Hawking coffee cups to their (utterly awesome) graphic design prints depicting Edison’s lightbulb and a strand of DNA. There’s up-cycled furniture, ace photographs and plenty of trinkets for you to pick up while having a nosey about – and if you fancy sprucing up your home with some intelligent homeware, perhaps to inspire the kids to pursue an interest in science or history, then Vincent Van Doodle is your first (and only) port of call. Their retro movie posters are also a ‘must have’ for any movie buff.
Location: Link Street L10, B5 4BU
IB deal: 10% off purchases
Located on Digbeth High Street, Zurakaro is a new, purpose-built yoga studio, offering a variety of classes for all abilities. By attending classes at Zurakaro, you become part of a community. A community that is home to many traditional forms of yoga and a variety of martial arts, for self protection, fitness or simply just the joy of movement. Everyone is welcome, no matter their background or level of ability, and here you will meet like-minded individuals, each seeking to achieve their own goals, whether through fitness or enlightenment.
Location: Unit 4, 162-165 High Street, B12 0LD
IB deal: A FREE pass for your friend or partner when you attend any of their classes at the regular price
There’s no better way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon than rifling through the records at your favourite record store. Following the advent of downloadable music, independent records stores took a major hit, with the recent resurgence of vinyl only now starting to get more people off their laptops and into actual, real life record stores. Swordfish Records is a stalwart of Birmingham’s independent scene and a golden oldie, paving the way for new independent businesses in our city. They have a brilliant selection of new and used vinyl and CDs, in addition to memorabilia and two owners who possess more knowledge about music than half the people on planet Earth combined. No exaggeration*.
Location: 66 Dalton Street, B4 7LX
IB deal: 10% off second-hand/used and vintage LPs and CDs
Peach Garden, secreted down an alley in the depths of Birmingham’s China Town (Southside), is possibly one of the best Chinese restaurants you will ever go to in Birmingham. Yes, we’ve just set the bar immensely high but it lives up to the hype. Trust us, we’ve not led you astray thus far. They specialise in roast meats (you can even see the hanging ducks pressed against the window as you walk past) and we recommend you either satisfy your hunger on their roast duck or suckling roast pig. Both are unbelievably tasty. The price range is extremely (obscenely) reasonable and you get hearty portions of the very best Chinese comfort food in town. We recommend you go. Right now.
Location: 34 Ladywell Walk, B5 4RX
Birmingham’s Southside district is filled with Chinese restaurants and eateries. However, we’re going to point you in the direction of Korean restaurant, Topokki, because it’s bloody marvellous. Simple and easy-going, Topokki is all about giving you a vibrant plate of food that leaves you satisfyingly full and with a huge grin on your face. The service is excellent, the portions are large and it’s all very, very reasonably priced. So if you’re looking for something a little different and want thrill your taste buds, then perhaps an adventure to Topokki is in order.
Location: Unit 1C Hurst Street, B5 4TD
The Deli Social
A stalwart of Sutton Coldfield’s independent scene, the question isn’t what do The Deli Social do, but more what don’t they do? Both a cafe and a bar, find yourself heading to The Deli Social for a banging breakfast/brunch menu (with ace coffee to keep it company), Afternoon Tea, craft beer, cocktails, street food (yes, you heard us correctly – every so often The Deli Social will play host to some of Brum’s best street fooders) and more. A hive of activity in the local community, both during the day and evening, The Deli Social has firmly cemented itself as a favourite hangout for many Sutton Coldfieldians (yes, we did just make that word up), and a destination venue for many to travel to from both in and around the city centre, and further afield.
Location: 60B – 60C Boldmere Road, B73 5TJ
Eateries dedicated entirely to desserts have been cropping up around Birmingham over the last few years. The concept is simple: you turn up, grab a colossal dessert of your choosing and then pig out with your fellow fatties until there’s only one left standing. It’s brilliant, and we love it. Eis Cafe is one such place. Serving an array of coffees, hot chocolates, teas and non-alcoholic cocktails, what really caught our eye (and what will definitely catch yours) are their outrageously enormous milkshakes. They are huge! Creamy and delicious and topped with anything from pretzels to brownies, these foodie treats are a must for all dessert fans and milkshake aficionados. They also offer brownies, waffles and ice cream – if you at all care about any of that after hearing about these magnificent milkshakes. Go feast!
Location: 500 Coventry Road, B10 0UN
Photo: Jack Spicer Adams
Loaf is a rather ace bakery, and we love bakeries here at Independent Birmingham. There’s just something about the smell of fresh bread in a morning. Enter loaf and find bread, lots of bread. However, whilst great bread is possibly one of the best things on planet Earth, we’d like to draw your attention to Loaf’s light lunch menu. They have daily specials which will rock your socks (chorizo and salami pizza, halloumi and avocado on brioche – to name but two), and also, quite often, have evening pop-up takeovers where you can go and grab some delicious food to take away and enjoy in the comfort of your own home. Wonderful.
In addition to all of this, Loaf is a cookery school. Learn anything from how to make artisan sourdough bread, butcher your own meat, prepare poultry, make macarons, cook seafood, and even how to forage for free food in the wild (for those tough months when it’s a choice between rent and food, and you like sleeping indoors).
Location: 1421 Pershore Road, B30 2JL
If you’re into your Polish food, head to The Karczma. If you’ve never tried Polish food, head to The Karczma. Starting to get the idea? Just go there, ok. The restaurant itself looks like a traditional Polish country cottage, with sheep pelts adorning chairs and a roof made of thatch, and the dishes being served are delightful. Polish comfort food at its finest. If you’re looking for something entirely different and new one day while walking the streets of Digbeth, or if you’re missing a taste of home, then look no further than The Karczma.
Location: Bordesley Street, B5 5PH
And that’s it for Part 1 folks. All that’s left for you to do is to get out there and rediscover your city, one hidden gem at a time!
To read Part 2, click here.
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