Martineau Place Shopping Centre doesn’t look much like the kind of place you’d want to go shopping, let along the starting point for this search. But braving the shabby shops will lead you to La Vera, a pizzeria that if it was located anywhere else, would probably be charging twice what it currently does. Little emphasis is put on appearance here, and that goes for the décor and the pizzas, but the taste is sensational. The pizzas emerge from the wood-fired oven with all the crucial elements intact: charcoaled and bouncy around the edges, wafer-thin in the middle. The ingredients are vibrant and fresh and prices range from just under £6 to £8.50. You can’t argue with that.
Minmin Noodle Bar
A huge local favourite, Minmin should come with a word of warning: when the menu says hot chilli broth, they’re talking more about a volcanic eruption of chilli, rather than a gentle warming glow. We reckon some of the ramen on the menu could cure colds. The menu of this bright, clean noodle bar includes Thai tom yum soups, Japanese ramen and a range of chef specials that draw influence from all over South-East Asia. The ingredients are anything but dull, ranging from pig trotters and sea bass to aubergine with minced pork. All this creativity and bags of flavour come at very reasonable prices.
Peel & Stone
Once Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter was embraced and enlivened by the city’s creative set, it was only a matter of time before the cafes, bakeries and restaurants followed. Peel & Stone is something of a celebrity in the area. Their sandwiches are the stuff of legend, putting the art in artisan, while the cakes ensure that even the biggest sandwich can’t stop you finding room for afters. Their pecan pie is so good, it regularly sells out. You could spend months trawling the Deep South and not find a better slice.
How could we leave out curry altogether? It just wouldn’t be right. Al Frash opened on Ladypool Road in the early 90s and has been doing a roaring trade ever since. You could watch the entire Lord Of The Rings trilogy in less time than it would take to read the entire menu, so don’t be afraid to ask your waiter for guidance. This is the classic curry house that puts little thought into décor and saves it all for the kitchen, and isn’t that where it truly counts?