Brick & Tin 214 20th St N 205-297-8636 BIRMINGHAM

Upscale sandwich shop may seem like an oxymoron but only if you ve never been to Brick & Tin. They bake their own bread fresh, source ingredients locally, prepare and plate it masterfully, and serve it with a smile. Located in the heart of downtown, their beautiful rustic-modern space is almost as impressive as their food. Almost. I can t remember the last time I had a sandwich this incredibly delicious. Other than the last time I was at Brick & Tin, that is. James W.

The Bright Star 304 19th St N 205-426-1861 BESSEMER

The Bright Star, an Alabama landmark since 1907, has been named one of the James Beard Foundation's America s Classics. Located in Bessemer, a short drive from downtown Birmingham, the family-owned restaurant is known far and wide for its comfortable atmosphere, excellent service and, of course, the specialty Greek-style snap- per and steak, signature seafood gumbo, homemade pies and luncheon meat-and-threes. The Bright Star is my very favorite restaurant ever! Please take it from me and ask for the

Texas Special, a trio entrée of beef tenderloin, Greek-style snap- per and lobster and crabmeat au gratin. Karen S.

Café Dupont 113 20th St N 205-322-1282 BIRMINGHAM Chris Dupont s pristine downtown restaurant brings exquisite seasonal dishes and artful presentation to scores of regulars. Dupont s cuisine is created in a French style from ingredients largely from local and regional origins. I enjoy the fact that they incor- porate locally grown products in their dishes. Erin L.

Chez Lulu is a neighborhood bistro featuring fresh-baked breads from their Continental Bakery next door.