Cloudy skies fill the air stimulating a desire for a warm latte alongside a delightful “toastie,” made from a sweet potato biscuit, bacon, scrambled egg, white cheddar and mustard seed. A quick 10-minute drive east from Birmingham’s center brings me to Woodlawn Cycle Café, located on a low traffic street in Woodlawn, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.
Along with Avondale and surrounding areas, Woodlawn is becoming one of Birmingham’s hip revitalized communities. The progressive endeavors of Purpose Built Communities, Woodlawn Foundation and many other organizations, entrepreneurs and individuals are helping make Woodlawn a safe, healthy and thriving community.
Among the businesses helping to make Woodlawn a vibrant locale is Woodlawn Cycle Café, which offers cyclists and noncyclists alike a relaxing, hip refuge from other generally chattering coffeehouse spaces. This establishment is the quintessential café providing an excellent menu that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as drinks.
The contemporary minimalist design soothes the senses when entering the daylight-flooded space. Gray, white and black Victorian tile ties the floor together and pops against the dark stained wood counter where the order is placed. During warmer days the breeze follows inside through an open garage door. Across from the entrance, shelves display the latest cyclists’ merchandise the savvy owners deem worthy of carrying such as top-of-the-line jerseys, socks, waxed canvas bags and water bottles.
Located at 5530 First Avenue South, the café must be experienced for its dinner menu, featuring three different options each night of the week. Homemade pasta from scratch is a true delight! Tuesday’s special is farfalle con pesto, Wednesday’s is fettuccine puttanesca, Thursday’s is pappardelle brown butter and Friday’s favorite is lasagna. If not the biggest fan of pasta, no worries for there is also an excellent café salad—kale mixed with green lentil, roasted beet, carrot, candied walnut and pomegranate dressed with a lemon-tahini vinaigrette. Make sure to take advantage of the mouthwatering dinner menu on weeknights until 10 p.m. The café closes at 3 p.m. on weekends.
Working our way in reverse, we see the lunch menu, which is available between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Soups, salads, two sandwich options—featuring bread from local bakery Birmingham Breadworks—are offered, and chicken and rice is the seasonal option. The atmosphere is warm and comfortable whether you are meeting with some friends or having a moment to yourself. A turntable spins music that floats slightly above the conversations filling the room, creating the perfect sound for deep lunch reverie.
If time does not allow for a meal, there are superb drinks that can be served to-go. Creative baristas can quench any thirst, pulling from the traditional Strada espresso machine. Whether your desire is a latte, mocha or even cortado, Woodlawn Cycle Café satisfies. There are eight options for loose-leaf tea, and coffee choices of cold brew, batch brew and manual brew. Draft Kombucha and bottled products finish the day drinks menu. There is also a beer and wine menu upon request.
Finally, breakfast is no joke, with four solid options to start the day. Alongside the toastie, there is a muesli, granola—with milk or yogurt—and a toasted bagel with optional butter and jam, plain labneh or olive labneh. Brunch takes place all weekend, with a rotating menu of inventive dishes. Saturday is definitely the most social time of the week. A healthy dose of morning light is essential to a good breakfast or brunch and, even on a cloudy day, one can sense the refreshing, innovative vibe of the wonderful Woodlawn Cycle Café.