Going out to eat isn't always about cravings. Often enough, mealtimes dictate our choices, limiting restaurant possibilities. When circumstances narrow the options, let 10Best help. We'll direct you to the best Lunch restaurants in Birmingham and save you the hassle of calling around for business hours. 10Best readers find much to enjoy at Diplomat Delicatessen and Spirits thanks to its all-around good offerings. It's also hard to beat O'Carr's Delicatessen & Catering, which serves just what you're looking for when you're in the market for a great Lunch.

Irondale Café
The inspiration for the Whistle Stop Café in the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes," this cafeteria-style eatery sits beside train tracks and does, in fact, serve fried green tomatoes (between 60 to 70 pounds of them a day!). The menu changes daily but includes all of your Southern favorites, such as fried chicken, meatloaf and mashed potatoes. (205-956-5258)

Taziki's Greek Fare
A terrific international option if sandwiches and salads have become a touch ho-hum. Check out the Greek specialties, which include wraps, gyro platters, pasta salad, and the like. Dine and take-out orders are welcome. There are also locations on Doug Baker Blvd (205-980-6063) and in Mountain Brook (205-870-0455). (205-968-6622)

O'Carr's Delicatessen & Catering
Locals June and Cameron Carr own and operate this fun, friendly delicatessen in Homewood, where the mantra "food by color" translates to an emphasis on balanced portions, fresh fixings, and plenty of nutritious choices. Go for one of their amazing salads or a tasty sandwich classic like oak-smoked turkey, cream cheese & olive, or chicken salad. If you need to quench a craving for sweets, try a peanut butter shake, Additional locations in Cahaba Heights (205-967-4173) and Hoover (205-987-3232). (205-879-2196)

Gus's Hot Dogs
Sometimes simplicity is the best bet, and Gus's quite simply makes the best hotdogs in town. Started by Gus Alexander back in the late 40s, this casual downtown joint always draws a packed house during the lunch hours as locals just can't seem to get enough of their signature grilled dog accented by mustard, onions, and sweet, thick special sauce. If you leave after downing just one, then you've shown incredible restraint. (205-251-4540)

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Zoës Kitchen
The slogan at Zoës Kitchen is "Eat Smart. Eat Fresh," and they take it seriously. The customers are the primary beneficiaries, of course, thanks to tasty choices like lean turkey and Swiss cheese pita to the homemade pimento cheese with lettuce and tomato. The box lunch option makes ordering easy and efficient — just choose your sandwich and go with the Original (a side and chips), Lean (cup of fruit), or Loaded (Original plus tea and a slice of cake). Kid-size boxes are available as well. Additional locations at Summit (205-967-5800), SoHo (205-870-1100), Patton Creek (205-989-4020), and Crestline (205-871-0060). (205-252-5200)

Niki's West Steak and Seafood Restaurant
Located in an area full of heavy industry and down the street from the farmers' market, Niki's West delivers the best vegetables in Birmingham. You'll see everyone from lawyers to truck drivers at lunch. If you can eat $10 worth of food here, you may need a doctor (205-252-5751)

Franklin's Homewood Gourmet
More than just a sandwich shop, Franklin's offers a variety of pastas, sandwiches, salads and more. The grilled chicken roll-up with vegetables, served with a side of bowtie pasta is extremely tasty. Perfect for take-out if you don't want to prepare a meal at home. (205-871-1620)

Diplomat Delicatessen and Spirits
Hungry either early or late, you can find great deli fare at the Diplomat. Over 500 different wines and beer are available. The tables are situated in the middle of what appears to have been a convenience store at one point. From ties to tie-dyes, this is a popular spot with the locals. The service is great! (205-979-1515)

Maps and Directions

Irondale Café 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Local Specialty, Regional
Neighborhood: IRONDALE
Cost: $
Taziki's Greek Fare 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: European, Greek
Neighborhood: Colonnade
O'Carr's Delicatessen & Catering 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Deli
Neighborhood: Homewood
Cost: $
Gus's Hot Dogs 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American
Neighborhood: Downtown
Cost: $
Niki's West Steak and Seafood Restaurant 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Seafood, Southern, Steakhouse
Neighborhood: Downtown
Cost: $$
Franklin's Homewood Gourmet 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American
Neighborhood: Homewood
Cost: $
Diplomat Delicatessen and Spirits 10Best List Arrow
Cuisine: American, Deli
Neighborhood: Vestavia
Cost: $
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