Hidden Gems

Discovering Tuscaloosa’s Holes in the Wall


You hear about a restaurant called Avenue Pub, you think of booze and burgers, this restaurant doesn’t fall short of the stereotype, but is so much more than its reputation. Avenue Pub’s atmosphere is far from just booze and burgers, the employees are welcoming and attentive to your needs and treat you like family. In the six years since it opened, the pub even has bands on Sundays that you can enjoy while you eat fantastic food. The rustic walls and furniture and the vintage lights and bar-style pull you into the pub aesthetic.

“I worked here for nine months, took a break, and then came back. I love this place, everyone is so nice,” Gabby, a waitress at Avenue Pub, said. She is a senior at the University of Alabama from St. Louis who gravitated towards the pub. For the people visiting Avenue Pub, there is a mix of locals, students, and visitors (especially for sports) says Gabby.

The specialty dish at the pub is the burgers. Burgers are what the people come for. There is a different burger every weeknight among 6 choices. They do always have the bacon burger and the strawberry siracha burger, the two top choices amongst the customers.

“We have a good downtown environment, like a dive bar. If you’re old enough to drink or just want to eat, it’s still always a good time. You don’t just have to be 21 and over,” Natalie, manager for three years at Avenue Pub, said.


Photo of Archibald's BBQ

Archibald’s BBQ

The three locations across Tuscaloosa might throw you off of the hole-in-the-wall title, but each restaurant has its own unique touch. The Archibald’s Greensboro Avenue location is a sit-down style restaurant. The other restaurants are walk-up and order. This one’s other unique touch is the wings that the other locations do not have. The sweet-spicy sauce used is fresh to taste and a flavor firework show to the taste buds.

“Yummy! Yummy! Yum!” exclaimed 3-year-old Jackson when tasting the crispy, perfectly- seasoned fries. Jackson comes with his mom, a former co-worker at Archibald’s, every chance they get to grab some of the sweet ribs and the juicy pulled pork.

Photo of Barbeque Ribs

Barbeque Ribs

The seat-yourself restaurant comes with an old-country style of serving with plates of homemade potato salad, fries, and many more southern-style sides paired with the servings of barbeque, seafood, or hot dogs. So, if you’re in the mood for food that reminds you of your southern roots or wanting a taste of the South, this is the place.


Photo of Nick's in the Sticks

Nick’s in the Sticks

Nick’s in the Sticks is the perfect description of a hole-in-the-wall. The almost-rural location is a bit isolated, but a popular stop, nonetheless. From the one-dollar-bills stapled to the ceiling to the University of Alabama gear hanging from the walls, the restaurant calls to the UA students.

“[Nick’s in the Sticks] is a great place to go for affordable food. It’s an icon,” Carla, owner for six years, said.

From the red solo and Styrofoam cups to the adorable salad dressing holders, every detail of the hole-in-the-wall flows well with the welcoming back-porch atmosphere. The employees are filled with the love and compassion that started the place. Walking into the restaurant, you are greeted with a smile and a sense of comfort. Feeling as if everyone knows each other, the regulars, the talking over the bar, everyone is family here.

Photo of Fried Shrimp and Onion Rings at Nicks in the Sticks

Fried Shrimp and Onion Rings at Nicks in the Sticks

Be careful of the hours, they open at 5 PM and close at 9 PM, so make sure you get there when they open. The seats fill up fast to grab a bite of the home-cooked variety of food.


Photo of Hooligans Restaurant

Hooligans Restaurant

If you have watched any television show about a small town, there is always a diner in some central part of town. Tuscaloosa has hidden gems everywhere, but diners here are overlooked. Hooligans is the definition of a diner. Hooligans is friendly, relaxed, and casual. The many booths, license plates, and friendly employees make your dinner even more enjoyable, it reminds you of home.

Tracie, a fresh, new employee at Hooligans, sees herself working at the restaurant for a long time to come due to the relationship she has with her co-workers and the love for the burgers. In her first three weeks, she said she has seen more students than locals or visitors at this hidden gem.

Photo of Students Browsing the menu at Hooligans

Students Browse the menu at Hooligans

The Mediterranean-based diner not only has gyros, wraps, and hummus dip, but also has grilled cheese, chicken tenders, and burgers. The two most popular dishes served at Hooligans are the cheeseburgers and the gyros. They are the most ordered and most adored at the diner.

“The University of Alabama students should come here because the community here is personal. We know their orders as soon as they walk in, they can come in here and we know them by name, you can’t get more personalized than that,” Jerrod, manager for the past 6 years at Hooligans, said.


Photo of The Waysider in Tuscaloosa

The Waysider in Tuscaloosa

A family-run restaurant since 1951, Waysider is the oldest restaurant in Tuscaloosa and well- known for its breakfast specials and homemade recipes. It began as a home in the 1940s, and Waysider doesn’t shy away from the hospitality of a southern home. The smell of their famous beignets in the kitchen fills your nose as you indulge in the treasured dish before you.

“The quality of the food is why the University of Alabama students should come here. We use fresh vegetables, everything is made to order, you can’t get that anywhere else,” Julie, daughter of the owner, said. Julie has worked there on and off ever since her mom bought the Waysider restaurant back in 1989.

Photo of Breakfast at The Waysider

Breakfast at The Waysider

The old-school beginnings to the restaurant are not forgotten, even when it comes down to the register. They write down the orders and prices on the checks. They type everything up on a register, the walls are the same walls as they were back in the 1940s, a refreshing escape to the evolving world around us.