Birmingham’s Best Chicken Salad Spots

My love affair with chicken salad began my freshman year at the University of Alabama. Anyone remember the chicken salad at the (now-closed) Crimson Cafe on the strip?? {A moment of silence, please, as we mourn the loss of their perfectly-proportioned, not-to-mayonnaise-y chicken concoction filled with crisp Granny Smith apple chunks and walnuts. The consummate mixture of flavors and textures. Sigh…} I know some prefer plain, “vanilla” chicken salad — the kind without all the fun mix-ins. Not me. The more chunks, the better. This brings me to the first of my Birmingham recommendations.

Chicken Salad Chick

Originally started in Auburn, Alabama, franchises are popping up all over the Southeast, including four Birmingham-area locations (Homewood, Southside, Riverchase, and Lee Branch). There’s bound to be one convenient to your office or home. What I love about Chicken Salad Chick is the variety of chicken salads: their menu offers twelve — you read that right, TWELVE — variations on this Southern staple. They offer everything from savory (think mix-ins such as onions, bacon, basil) to fruity (cranberries, grapes, apples, pineapples) to spicy (Sriracha, jalapeños, buffalo sauce). Not in the mood for any fun mix-ins? The Classic Carol (simply chicken, mayo, celery and seasoning) is always a winner. My personal favorite, which just happens to share the name with my daughter’s favorite story-book character, is the Fancy Nancy. The Fancy Nancy has crunchy pecans, grapes and apples. Order it with or without bread or crackers, and voila — an easy gluten-free meal option!

Ashley Mac’s

If you’ve ever been to Ashley Mac’s, you know what I’m talking about. We first fell in love with her food, but then we fell in love with her heart and mission. As if we couldn’t love this restaurant more than we already do, Ashley Mac’s is always supporting local schools, fundraisers, and events. With three Birmingham-area locations (Cahaba Heights, Inverness, and Riverchase), Ashley Mac’s offers a menu full of delicious options (don’t get me started on the melt-in-your mouth sour cream biscuits, strawberry cake, or the poppyseed chicken casserole), and their chicken salad is one of the best. It’s simple, yet hearty. It’s nut-free for all those who don’t care for a nutty chicken salad: it features celery, spices, and grapes. Order a heaping scoop atop a crisp green salad or enjoy it on a buttery croissant roll.

O’Carr’s

No Birmingham-area chicken salad blog post would be complete without mentioning O’Carr’s, am I right?! O’Carr’s has two Birmingham locations (Homewood and Downtown) and is the gold-standard of everything chicken salad. Their chicken is finely chopped (I’m assuming in a food processor) with just the right amount of mayonnaise, pecans and sweetness. I always order my chicken salad with their fabulous “eat by color” fruit salad side. I always admire the placement of the rainbow assortment of  fresh fruit and the crackers so artfully wedged into the chicken salad scoop — it’s almost too pretty to eat! Almost.

Homewood Gourmet

If you’ve never been to Homewood Gourmet in Homewood (in the TCBY shopping center), stop what you are doing right now and GO!

Homewood Gourmet’s out-of-this-world Chicken Salad

The owners used to work for Emeril Lagasse in New Orleans and came to Birmingham after Hurricane Katrina. Everything on their menu is absolutely superb (do NOT miss their signature Baby Bleu Salad), and their chicken salad is my husband’s and my go-to favorite. One bite, and you’ll realize their chicken salad is as fresh as it gets — it tastes made-to-order — the celery is incredibly crisp and it has the perfect chicken-to-mayonnaise ratio.

 

A Twist on a Classic

In closing, Birmingham has amazing choices for all things chicken salad.  I’ll leave you with one of my favorite comfort food casseroles my mom used to make for us growing up. Enjoy!

Hot Chicken Salad Casserole:

– Chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
– 1 C chopped celery
– 1 C chopped walnuts
– 1 T minced onion
– 1 C mayonnaise
– 3 T lemon juice
– Salt and pepper
– 1 sleeve of Ritz cracker crumbs
– Butter

1. Mix all the ingredients except the last two
2. Top with cracker crumbs and drizzle with melted butter
3. Bake in a greased baking dish at 350º for 15-20 minutes

Did your favorite chicken salad spot make the list? If not, share your favorite below!

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2 Responses to Birmingham’s Best Chicken Salad Spots

  1. Martha June 25, 2017 at 7:38 am #

    This is great, Jule! I also love Cafe Iz’s, with the diced apple (so small you can almost miss it!) and nuts- YUM!

  2. Ellie June 25, 2017 at 11:00 pm #

    The recipe for the Hot Chicken Casserole does not indicate how many chicken breasts…..

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