Continuing our 40 Hidden Gems mini-series, we’re back to provide you with even more incredible independents to add to your ever-growing list of places to visit.
We’ve trawled the city to deliver you our third instalment of 40 amazing places that may or may not be on your radar, but that you definitely need to explore.
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 3).
Note: Whilst many businesses have now reopened, some are yet to do so. Social distancing is still in place and very important, please check each individual business’ website for their up-to-date opening times and safety measures prior to visiting. Some businesses may require you to make a booking in advance.
Tiger Bites Pig
If you haven’t heard of this small restaurant on Stephenson Street (next to York’s), then you’re doing this whole Birmingham thing wrong. Serving the tastiest of bao buns and delicious rice bowls, they’re a total hidden gem. There are just a handful of covers, so make sure you get there early to grab a window seat (perfect for a spot of people watching while you tuck into your bao). Their short but sensational menu is bound to keep you venturing back to grab your favourite bao as often as possible. And keep an eye out for their weekly specials too. We just can’t get enough of them!
Location: 34 Stephenson Street, B2 4BH
IB Deal: 10% off the bill when you spend £10 or more (Monday – Thursday)
Asia Asia Food Hall
Can’t decide where to go and eat? Asia Asia is the perfect place. With 9 different restaurants serving dishes from all over Asia, this is a great place for the indecisive foodie. There are so many different options to choose from, you can grab everything from pad thai to sushi, and bibimbap to katsu curry. All of your favourite Asian dishes all conveniently housed in one place. Split into two floors, grab yourself a top-up card when you enter and load it up with the funds you need to fill your belly, then simply present the card at each vendor when you order, take away your buzzer, and wait for that exciting moment when it buzzes and you can go and collect your food. It couldn’t be more simple, and the food is totally delicious. Grab your mates and go get fed.
Location: 10 Pershore Street, B5 4RX
Photo: Shaun Fellows/Shine Pix
This build-your-own lolly and coffee bar is an ice cream lover’s dream. Choose your gelato flavour, then choose a chocolate to dip it in, and finish it off with a flourish of your chosen toppings. And voila, your very own bespoke gelato lolly creation is brought to life and ready for you to devour. With plenty of flavours and combinations to try, you can create something completely different every time. The cafe is bright and fun and colourfully decorated with cartoon lolly motifs and a neon lolly in the window. This place is a wonderful treat for all ages.
Location: 38 Islington Row, B15 1LD
IB Deal: 10% off the bill
The Blue Piano
The Blue Piano is an independent guesthouse, restaurant and bar and happens to occupy a stunning Edwardian building. The South-East Asian restaurant and bar was inspired by owner Siew Kuan’s birthplace of Singapore and features a real blue piano. Equally as stunning as the interior is the beautiful courtyard garden. With plenty of outdoor seating and surrounded by an array of beautiful plants and flowers, this is the perfect spot in which to relax on those wonderful sunny days. Known for their eclectic programme of live music events, this is a wonderful hidden gem, tucked away in the suburbs, just waiting for you to discover it.
Location: 24-26 Harborne Road, B15 3AA
Another exciting addition to the rapidly growing cohort of independent businesses springing up in Stirchley, is the long-awaited permanent home for Eat Vietnam. Having previously made a name for themselves by slinging the tastiest Vietnamese grub at highly popular pop-ups and kitchen takeovers at some of Birmingham’s best indies, they finally settled down in Stirchley. If you haven’t visited them yet you are seriously missing out on some of the tastiest food you can get your hands on in Birmingham. Their Pork Belly Banh Mi is one of our favourite things to eat. Get yourself down to Stirchley to try some incredibly tasty Vietnamese dishes with a twist. Go get your feast on.
Location: 1422 Pershore Road, B30 2PH
This neighbourhood pizza joint from the team behind firm favourite, Grace + James, is rapidly gaining cult status. Naturally they serve some of the most delicious pizzas to be found in our fair city, but it’s the small plates that are really getting the foodies in Brum talking. From their house sourdough with roasted bone marrow, to the seasonal burrata, the only way to follow these little plates of foodie joy is with one of their incredible ice-cream sandwiches. You will be dreaming about those ice-cream sandwiches for a long time after you’ve tried them. If you haven’t yet ventured to Kings Heath to check them out, what are you waiting for?
Location: 21 York Road, B14 7SA
Moseley Road Baths
This beautiful and historic hidden gem is quite the architectural and cultural treasure. Originally opened in 1907, this is the only Grade II* listed pool still open for public swimming, and it boasts a rich history. It’s not often that you get the opportunity to swim in such a stunning space, and we think that more people should take advantage of this incredible community-run facility. On offer are public swimming sessions which take place seven days a week (including adult lane, women only, men only, and family splash), twice-weekly aqua-aerobic classes, Be Active sessions, and swimming lessons run by local organisation Diamond Swim Academy. Go and make the most of this marvellous piece of history.
Location: 497 Moseley Road, B12 9BX
IB Deal: 15% off the adult swim price
This wonderful Japanese restaurant can be found tucked away in The Arcadian Centre. At Miyako Teppenyaki they offer an entertaining dining experience combining the traditional elements of Teppanyaki cooking with delicious, freshly prepared food and excellent service. If you’ve never experienced Teppanyaki before, it is definitely something you need to put high up on your list. Witness your meal prepared and presented to you before your eyes as the talented chefs cook your chosen dishes on a hot steel plate. Often involving fire, Teppanyaki is dinner and a show combined, as the chefs delight guests with their artistic skills and a theatrical cooking display. What are you waiting for – go enjoy a delicious Japanese feast right now.
Location: Arcadian Centre, Ladywell Walk, B5 4ST
Thanks to its friendly staff, quality food and reasonable prices, Shabar in Sheldon has gained a loyal customer base who return time and again to sample the delicious food on offer at this brilliant Balti restaurant. They offer traditional Indian cuisine in a warm and welcoming environment at this popular restaurant which has been serving locals for over 30 years. If you haven’t visited Shabar before, we highly recommend a trip to Sheldon to sample their fantastic, fresh and high quality Indian dishes.
Location: 4 Arden Oak Road, B26 3LX
Leverton & Halls Deli And Coffee Shop
Amidst the copious new openings that seem to occur on a weekly basis, it’s sometimes easy to forget about those independents who have been there for us through the rough, and the smooth, and remain standing when the shiny new things are a little less shiny. Leverton & Halls began life over 20 years ago as an organic green grocers, supplying Birmingham with package-free produce. Since then, this wonderful indie has branched out (and moved home) to become a delightful deli and coffee shop, serving all your café faves: from a Full English and breakfast baps, to sandwiches and burgers. Go and reacquaint yourself with this marvellous café, and remember why new isn’t always best.
Location: 218 Mary Vale Road, B30 1PJ
Think you’ve seen all that Birmingham has to offer? Think again. Tucked away in Aston, on the outskirts of the city centre, is a magnificent piece of Birmingham’s rich and diverse history. Aston Hall is a Grade I listed Jacobean Manor and is an imposing and impressive ode to times gone by. Built between 1618 and 1635, this seventeenth-century red brick mansion is steeped in history (from receiving royalty, to its fate during the English Civil War) and waiting for you to explore and discover its secrets. This fascinating, historic house is home to one of Birmingham’s most famous corridors (the Long Gallery) and is a wonderful day out for all ages (don’t forget to check their ‘What’s On’ page to see their events).
Location: Trinity Road, B6 6JD
Ristorante Caffe Gustami
If you love authentic Italian food, a trip to this independent restaurant is a must. A true hidden gem, this Italian restaurant is tucked away, just a stone’s throw from the city centre, but is one that is worth travelling to. Enjoy tasty wood-fired pizzas and traditional handmade pasta, followed by home-made desserts (hello, tiramisu). Or pop in for lunch for a light bite, such as one of their panini or a slice of focaccia. They also serve a sweet pizza topped with Nutella, and we’re not saying you should plan your whole visit around it, but… plan your whole visit around it.
Location: 4 King Edwards Road, B1 2PZ
If you’re passionate about sushi then a trip to Sushi Passion is a must. Located in the stunning Great Western Arcade, this little restaurant is a sushi-lover’s dream. With an extensive menu featuring a number of platters and selections to choose from (for the indecisive amongst us), and a wide range of individual options for you to pick and choose your favourites, there are plenty of options to keep you going back again and again. The sushi is delicious, the Japanese-themed décor is enticing, and they serve some of their sushi platters on wooden ships (ahoy!) – what’s not to love?
Location: Unit 31 Great Western Arcade, B2 5HU
IB Deal: 10% off the bill (Monday – Thursday) or a FREE glass of Classic Sake with your meal (Friday – Sunday)
If you’ve never tried Poké before, then you need to get yourself down to Kuula to give this Japanese-influenced, Hawaiian dish a try. Often described as “sunshine in a bowl”, Poké is both delicious and healthy, and commonly includes sushi fish over layers of rice, vegetables and tropical fruits and topped with sprinkles and sauces. Choose one of their house bowls (including chicken and tofu options for non-fish fans), or build your own to combine all of your favourite flavours in one delicious meal. We can’t think of a Kuula way to get your five a day (sorry, we couldn’t resist).
Location: Great Western Arcade, 16a Colmore Row, B2 5HU
IB Deal: a FREE Miso Soup (vegan or salmon/prawn) when you purchase a Sumo Poké Bowl
This awesome hidden gem of a cafe has made a name for itself, serving up tasty and thirst-quenching bubble tea (a tea-based drink that originated in Taiwan and is sweetened with fruit, milk or syrups and embellished with small, chewy tapioca balls). Since then, they have diversified into delicious frozen yoghurt, taiyaki (a fish-shaped waffle cone, filled with frozen yoghurt and decorated to look like a unicorn and more) and cute and colourful character macaroons. You can even get adorable character meringues to float on your bubble tea, so it looks like the cutest bath-time scene ever. A winner for your belly and your Instagram feed – get down there and discover them for yourselves.
Location: 3 Ethel Street, B2 4BG
IB Deal: 10% off drinks
We just can’t get enough Japanese food! If you’re like us then you’ll be on the lookout for even more places to enjoy your favourite Japanese delicacies. From Katsu curries to sushi rolls, ramen to bento boxes, Japan has given us some of the tastiest dishes around. Where can you go to enjoy all of your favourites under one roof? Head to Yakinori. Situated in Grand Central, this is one of the most accessible hidden gems, serving seriously good food in a fun and welcoming environment. Watch as your food is freshly made in their open kitchen, using high quality, fresh ingredients, then tuck into your tasty dishes in this fast-casual restaurant.
Location: Unit 14, Grand Central, B2 4BF
IB Deal: 10% off the bill
Deep Experience Jamaican Restaurant Bar and Grill
This authentic Caribbean restaurant can be found in the very heart of Birmingham City Centre. Their signature style of West Indian cooking has earned them a loyal set of customers who return regularly to sample the delectable delights of their Caribbean menu. With plenty of meaty options as well as fish dishes and a good selection of vegetarian and vegan choices, there’s something for everyone. Go for the classic Jerk Chicken or try their signature dish of Dutch pot oxtail with butterbeans, spinners (dumplings), and rice and peas. Whatever you choose, it will be full of flavour and utterly delicious.
Location: 34 Bristol Street, B5 7AA
Priding themselves on being one of the more unique Indian restaurants in Birmingham, Bombay Brasserie have taken inspiration from around the world to provide an enjoyable and memorable dining experience. Their warm, rustic, wooden dining room combines influences from French décor, Italian intimacy and German precision to give a subtle European vibe to the restaurant. The food on the other hand is taken straight from the streets of Bombay. Enjoy an authentic taste of India as you sample the delights of their delicious menu. This restaurant is a wonderful hidden gem, just a stone’s throw from the City Centre.
Location: 2a Station Road, B27 6DN
This great little suburban bar has a strong music focus with their vintage jukebox being the inspiration behind the venture. Serving tasty craft beers for you to enjoy as you bop along to the awesome tunes emanating from that jukebox, this is a wonderful place to enjoy a pint or two with pals. With kitchen takeovers from some brilliant street food pop-ups, you have everything you need for a fun evening. Head to Kings Heath now to go check them out.
Location: 16 York Road, B14 7RZ
This modern British restaurant can be found in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter, just off St Paul’s Square. With a focus on quality ingredients and fresh, simple cooking, this fine dining restaurant is a wonderful hidden gem, serving tasty and tantalising dishes. Their ingredients are sourced from ethical and sustainable suppliers and chosen to produce the highest quality dishes possible. Their simple and elegant presentation lets the incredible flavours take a starring role, and the fluctuating menu allows for the freshest ingredients possible to be used.
Location: 8 Caroline Street, B3 1TW
If you’re yet to discover the delights of Wayland’s Yard and their delicious brunch menu, you’re seriously missing out. This laid-back coffee shop is the perfect place to grab a quality cup of Joe and unwind for a while. Or if you can escape the office for an hour or two, a great place to crack on with some work without the distractions at your desk. Make sure you grab yourself some of their legendary eggy crumpets (crumpets dipped in egg and served with homemade smoked chilli jam and grilled halloumi) – they’re out of this world delicious.
Location: 42 Bull Street, B4 6AF
IB Deal: 10% off the bill
As humans, we use our vision as our main sense, helping us to navigate the complex world in which we live. That’s why it’s so important to protect our peepers and keep our eyesight in tippity top condition. You don’t want to trust your vision to just anyone, you want to have your eyes cared for by the best. That’s why you should look at (geddit?) a trusted, independent business for your eye-care needs. EYE Opticians take pride in taking their time to care for each customer’s needs on an individual and personal basis. With a long list of clinical eye services available and over 30 years of experience behind their business, check them out next time you’re due for a visit to the optician.
Location: 44 Islington Row, B15 1LD
This fun, fresh and authentic Japanese restaurant is named after the Tsukiji fish market (formerly the world’s biggest fish market, found in Tokyo). At Tsukiji they pride themselves in serving fresh and authentic Japanese food and providing an immersive experience. The décor is designed to reflect elements of Japanese culture and they even have a rail of Yukata (a type of kimono) which you can borrow and wear while you enjoy your meal. The metre long plate of sushi is an absolute must, but you can also enjoy rice bowls, ramen, Japanese BBQ and lots more.
Location: 51 Station Street, B5 4DY
The New Talbot Quinton
This Indian restaurant found in Quinton has discovered a new niche and is bringing a unique take on traditional Indian food. Whilst you’ll still find the classic curries and take-away favourites on their menu, their focus is on Tapas style dining. Think chicken wings, squid, prawns, pakoras and more all flavoured with Indian spices and sauces and perfect for sharing with friends. Order a load of Tapas dishes and dig in – a wonderful way to sample lots of different flavours. They have lots of delicious vegetarian Tapas dishes too (onion bhajis, samosas, spring rolls and Paneer Tikka to name a few). If you haven’t visited yet, go check out this Indian restaurant with a difference.
Location: 43a Wolverhampton Road South, B32 2AY
Glasshouse Beer Co.
This independent nano-brewery started life in Kings Heath and now calls Stirchley home. Their distinctive brews have given them a firm hold on the local brewing scene, and for good reason. They brew hop forward, experimental beers and are known for big, fruity numbers, stouts, sours and some big, juicy IPAs. They’re always striving for the best product possible, so they source the best ingredients they can find. Make sure you head to their fantastic taproom to enjoy their delicious beers in-house. Winning.
Location: Unit 6B, Waterside Business Park, B30 3DR
Zen is your home for all aspects of spirituality for the mind, body and soul. This alternative therapy shop is dedicated to enlightening the souls of those who cross the threshold, with an extensive array of crystals, essential oils, herbs, candles and unique giftware available. As well as the eclectic array of artefacts on display, Zen is also renowned for its psychic and Tarot reading, should you ever feel in the mood to pierce the veils of mystery and see what your future holds. If you’ve never visited and this sounds like your cup of tea, then make sure you pop in to this quirky shop as soon as possible.
Location: 162 High Street, Deritend, B12 0LD
IB Deal: 10% off all gifts and jewellery
A haircut and a cocktail? You’d be forgiven for thinking that the two are not the most common bedfellows, but Stag Digbeth are here to prove us wrong. Coffee shop by day, bar by night, and with their own barbershop – Stag Digbeth has more than one string to its bow. With a cocktail menu that takes inspiration from the business’ barbering roots, and a regular programme of live music events, this barbershop/bar/coffee shop is putting its own stamp on Digbeth night-life. During the day, enjoy coffee made from Quarter Horse beans, by night sip on cocktails and bop along to awesome tunes. And in between – enjoy the barbershop services to keep you looking your best.
Location: The Custard Factory, B9 4AA
IB Deal: 10% off all bar purchases
This wonderful restaurant and bar can be found in the very heart of the City Centre and since opening in Summer 2019 they’ve become a firm favourite due to their excellent food and drink and fabulous decor. Showcasing the very best of British produce in a refined dining setting, this is a foodie favourite for those in the know. Everything from the star ingredients to the wine list, spirits and more, has been carefully curated to shine a light on brilliant Blighty. They have a stunning garden and outdoor dining pods for a fun al fresco experience whatever the weather. If you’re yet to discover them, go and book a table right away.
Location: Unit 10 The ICC, B1 2EA
IB Deal: 20% off the bill (Monday – Friday) [Please mention your IB App at the time of booking].
Birmingham Blue Nile
This laid-back, casual eatery is a hidden gem found in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Serving authentic Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine along with Ethiopian beers and coffee, this is a great place to try something different. Named after the Blue Nile river in Ethiopia, they have a great range of vegan, vegetarian, fish and meat options available on their menu (if you can’t decide or have never tried Ethiopian cuisine before, the sharing platters are a great option). If you’re looking for a truly authentic experience, we recommend you give their Traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony a go.
Location: 28A Great Hampton Street, B18 6AA
Petals of Piccadilly
This lovely little boutique florist can be found in the stunning Piccadilly Arcade (home to lots of wonderful independent businesses). For over 27 years, they have been creating beautiful bouquets, perfect for any occasion. Visit the shop to discuss floral arrangements for your next special event, whether that’s a birthday, wedding, anniversary, or any other occasion. At Petals of Piccadilly, they pride themselves in working with the freshest blooms to create beautiful, bespoke designs. If you’re in the market for some beautiful blooms for yourself, a loved one, or an event, be sure to pay them a visit and discover what this wonderful indie has to offer.
Location: 17 Piccadilly Arcade, B2 4HD
40 St. Paul’s
The World’s Best Gin Bar, right here in Birmingham you say? You better believe it, baby. The marvellous gin haven, 40 St Paul’s, is officially the Best Gin Bar In The World (2019), and it isn’t hard to see why. Tucked away at the top of St Paul’s Square, this little bar is a gin-lover’s dream. With an impressive gin list and a stunning menu of beautifully-balanced gin cocktails (with a few non gin-based drinks for your gin-hating friends – those heathens, we’re honestly not sure why you’re even still friends with them), this is a lovely place to spend an evening sipping on G&Ts with your loved ones. We recommend you work your way through the whole gin list to find your favourite (although not all in one visit, that would be insane – drink responsibly, folks). Gincredible drinks are waiting for you, go find them.
Location: 40 Cox Street, B3 1RD
IB Deal: 2 Cocktails For £15 On Selected Cocktails
Loki Wine & Deli (Edgbaston)
Sure you know of Loki Wine, in The Great Western Arcade, right? Well, did you know they also have a venue in Edgbaston? If somehow, you missed that news, let us fill you in. Same Loki awesomeness, in a neighbourhood setting – what’s not to love? This wonderful suburban wine bar is your little haven in which to sip on a glass of your favourite wine, enjoy some tasty morsels from the deli and unwind in an informal, relaxing environment, leaving the stresses of work and life behind. With a diverse and interesting selection of wines available by the glass, bottle, and to taste, and genuinely passionate and knowledgable staff to advise you on your wine choice, this is the ideal place to discover a new favourite.
Location: 10 Greenfield Crescent, B15 3AU
IB Deal: 10% off tasting card top-ups
Think you’ve explored all there is to see in Birmingham? Think you’ve visited every museum, gallery and attraction? Think again. Artefact is an artist-led, community-focused, art space in Stirchley, and we think there’s a fairly high chance that you’re yet to discover this cultural hidden gem. Offering a programme of free exhibitions, workshops and talks, this is more than just a gallery. At Artefact, they combine their exhibitions with community events such as pub quizzes, gig nights, film screenings and social gatherings, to really engage people in the space. If you’ve not heard of them, go and check them out for yourself.
Location: 1464 Pershore Road, B30 2NT
If you’re yet to discover this hidden gem of a lunch spot, you need to rectify that straight away. Dedicated to providing the hungry people of Birmingham with an affordable, quick and healthy lunch to tide them over until dinner, Hookway’s is the place to go for a delicious and nutritious grab-and-go lunch. With a self service salad bar packed with freshly-made, tasty options, you can mix and match to create your own delicious lunch. From Greek pasta salad, to Mexican corn, and amazing falafel, there’s something for everyone. They now serve healthy steak kebabs too (for lunch and dinner) so you can grab a quick and healthy meal when you don’t feel like cooking.
Location: 7 The Minories, B4 6AG
IB Deal: 10% off the bill
Empress Bar and Grill
This relatively new restaurant is a wonderful place to sample some African cuisine. Specialising in Nigerian food, they bring an authentic taste of Africa to Birmingham’s dining scene. Expect grilled meats and fish (in a special West African spice blend), along with sides such as yams, grilled plantain and Jollof rice (fluffy, golden sella rice cooked in a rich and tasty tomato sauce). To accompany your chosen dishes, they also serve fruity, exotic cocktails.
Location: 82-89 Cecil Street, B19 3SU
And that’s it for Part 3 folks!
To read Part 1, click here.
To read Part 2, click here.
To read Part 4, click here.
Then get out there and rediscover your city, one hidden gem at a time!
If you like to discover new hidden gems and support local, download the Independent Birmingham App.
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