The best Birmingham foods everyone should try include local staples that have been popular for decades, some of which date back from the 18th century. The city of Birmingham is well-known for its great variety of restaurants, with no less than 5 Michelin-starred venues. However, it's not always the popular eateries that whet the appetite of tourists.

    We’ve curated a list of real dishes locals love in Birmingham so that you can enjoy an authentic dining experience in the 2nd largest city in the UK. Some may have eyebrow-raising names, while others contain ingredients you might not even know of, but all are absolutely delicious.

    1

    Faggot

    A traditional pork meatball dish

    Faggot is a traditional meatball dish that’s often served with peas and mashed potatoes. In areas such as Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, and Lancashire, faggots are also known as savoury ducks. The dish, however, doesn’t contain any fowl – only bits of pig or cow.

    Traditionally, faggots are prepared with pig’s offal, liver, and the fatty meat around the belly. It can also be mixed with minced cut-offs before it’s wrapped in bacon, onions, and breadcrumbs. For a taste of traditional faggots in Birmingham, we recommend heading to The Bull, a historic pub and restaurant on Price Street. 

    2

    Shrewsbury cake

    A traditional dessert combining cakes and biscuits

    Shrewsbury cake is a traditional dessert that was made popular in Shrewsbury, the county town of Shropshire. It’s said to have been around since 1602. However, the traditional cake was too delicate for transport, so it’s no longer commercially baked. As such, a variation of the recipe was created for better transportation.

    Today, Shrewsbury cakes are popular outside of Shropshire and are ranked among the best Birmingham foods everyone should try. They're often regarded as a fusion between a cake and biscuits. The basic ingredients include sugar, butter, eggs, and flour. Modern cakes usually have additions, including lemon zest and dried fruits. A variety of bakeries around Birmingham still proudly make Shrewsbury cakes, so you can always pick one up to try when you’re in town.

    photo by Emerald-wiki (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    3

    Pork scratching

    One of the UK's most popular bar snacks

    Pork scratching is a popular bar snack in most of UK today, though it's been said to have originated in Birmingham. They are made by deep-frying pork skin before lightly salting and serving them alongside crisps and peanuts at bars.

    Because pork scratchings are traditionally cooked only once, you may often find inconsistencies in the texture of the snack. For instance, it's possible to find pork scratchings that are very hard, very soft and may have pig's hair stuck to its surface, all in a single piece.

    4

    Balti

    A Pakistani curry with a twist

    Balti is a traditional Pakistani curry dish but is ranked among the best Birmingham foods everyone should try because it was actually invented here in the 1970s. It’s made following native Kashmiri influences but carries a flavour twist to suit western palates. The Birmingham Balti is often cooked with meats like lamb or goat and is served in a flat steel Balti dish. To qualify as a Birmingham Balti, the dish must include spices like turmeric, garam masala, fenugreek, garlic puree, and fresh ginger.

    You can find a variety of restaurants serving great Birmingham Balti around The Balti Triangle. Covering Ladypool Road, Stoney Lane, and Stratford Road, the area has some of the best Balti restaurants in the city, with Shabab sitting high on the recommendation list.

    5

    Birmingham soup

    Warm your bellies with this homely soup from the 18th century

    The Birmingham soup is a hearty broth that has been among the best Birmingham foods everyone should try since the late 18th century. It’s a combination of stewed beef and vegetables, typically served with a slice of bread. Often reminding locals of a warm hug from their mothers and grandmothers, the Birmingham soup remains a crowd favourite, especially on rainy days.

    You can find one of the best servings of the reimagined Birmingham soup at Purnells, a fine-dining restaurant on Cornwall Street. If you’re on a budget, simply pop into any of the local cafés to find modern renditions of this traditional staple.

    6

    Brummie bacon cakes

    The perfect teatime accompaniment from Birmingham

    Brummie bacon cakes are scone-like snacks that you’ll often find served around brunch or teatime in Birmingham. Made popular by its savoury touch, they are traditionally made with cheese and bacon for a crispy texture.

    Worcestershire sauce and ketchup are added into the milk, giving the bacon cakes a tangy flavour to make it more appetising. Like most of the best Birmingham foods everyone should try, you can find Brummie bacon cakes available in most local cafés. Enjoy it like a local by ordering a side of eggs with the cakes.

    7

    Pikelets

    Discover Birmingham’s famed pancakes

    Pikelets are Birmingham’s version of thin pancakes. Often mistaken for a crumpet by non-locals, this dish is cooked over a thin pan and left to bubble before it’s flipped to cook on the other side.

    Because pikelets don’t contain yeast, they’re much flatter than your typical pancakes. You can also see many holes on the surfaces. Many Birmingham households enjoy it as a snack, piping hot and fresh off the griddle. You’re welcome to spread butter over your pikelets for added flavour.

    8

    Doner kebab

    A savoury wrap with rich Turkish flavours

    Doner kebab (or simply kebabs) is a dish made of meat carved from a vertical rotisserie. It's often served as a wrap or stuffed in pita bread, resembling a sandwich. You can enjoy it with a variety of vegetables, like sliced tomatoes, onions, pickles, and cabbage. For more flavour, it comes with a drizzle of homemade sauces of your choice.

    Originally a Turkish dish, doner kebab has become increasingly popular in Birmingham these days, as you can find easily them in the city centre. It's very affordable for days when you're travelling on a budget. As it comes in a wrap, it’s very convenient to eat when you're on the go.

    Elie Lam | Contributing Writer

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