You may run out of time during a fun-filled weekend on Lake Martin–but you won’t run out of places to eat, thanks to these four spots. Here’s how to spend a dining day.
Breakfast: The Landing at Parker Creek
Last summer, Herb Winches turned his vacations into a vocation when the former Birmingham sports broadcaster and his business partner opened the Landing at Parker Creek on the northern edge of Lake Martin. “I used to come out here on weekends,” Winches says. “Now, I spend my week at Lake Martin and my weekends in Birmingham.” Guests dine on a covered deck, at picnic tables set underneath the pines, or aboard their boats docked in the Landing’s marina, enjoying made-from-scratch burgers, sandwiches, tacos and ribs. Winches provides the hospitality, (which includes keeping the bar open after the kitchen closes at night), and oversees a staff that includes four chefs trained at Birmingham’s The Club. “I just love being around people and being on the lake,” Winches says. “So this may be close to a perfect job.”
Try: The homemade biscuits and gravy with Conecuh sausage.
Weekend hours: Friday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m. to 9 pm., and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
(205) 212-6091 www.thelandingatparkercreek.com
The original Kowaliga Restaurant opened in 1953 when Charlotte and Toppy Hodnett started welcoming customers to their small cafe adorned by a wooden Indian made famous in a Hank Williams song. Russell Lands On Lake Martin re-opened the current eatery three years ago after renovating the property. Now a fourth version of the famous Native American figure stands proudly inside the restaurant that faces Kowaliga Bay. While the new kitchen crew and Chef Ban Stewart still offer traditional Kowaliga favorites such as the Murphy Salad, they’ve added new offerings such as a Catfish Taco that was named “the Tastiest Taco in Alabama” by the Food Network.
Try: A bowl of Kowaliga Chowder made with fresh fish, bacon, potatoes, onions and peppers. Weekend hours: Lunch: Friday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Dinner: Wednesday-Saturday 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (256) 215-7035 www.kowaligarestaurant.com
Take on Provisions: Catherine’s Market
Before heading to the lake, stop by Catherine’s Market at the Crossroads and pick up a loaf of freshly baked bread, a house-made salad or a meat-filled muffuletta for an afternoon snack.
Located in the Russell Crossroads commercial area (on Highway 63, three miles north of Kowaliga Bridge), the upscale cafe, deli, grocery, produce market and bakery is also the place to fill up on (or pick up to go) a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner. Create your own sandwich from the deli’s delicious selections of fresh meats, vegetables and cheeses, or let the staff prepare a perfect, straight-off-the-grill Market Burger or Reuben on Rye. This month, the Market celebrates autumn, and the college football season, with a Halloween-themed Fall Family Festival, Oct. 31, and by showing pigskin presentations on its flat screens every Saturday until closing.
Try: The Shrimp and Artichoke Soup. Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (cafe closes at 2 p.m.), Friday-Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 256-215-7070.
Dinner: SpringHouse at Russell Crossroads
Set on a hilltop offering panoramic views of Russell Forest, SpringHouse restaurant features some of Alabama’s finest and freshest cuisine. Executive Chef Rob McDaniel works with local farmers and other food providers to gather ingredients for his menus. The result is a collection of eclectic, ever-changing appetizers and entrees such as pimento cheese-stuffed Peppadew peppers; slow-braised rabbit with baby vegetables and homemade dumplings, and Gulf red snapper roasted in a wood oven with baby carrots and sweet peas. McDaniel’s culinary skills and attention to detail have earned him two consecutive nominations as “Best Chef: South” James Beard Award, and won SpringHouse praise from publications such as Southern Living and Garden & Gun magazines.
Try: The hickory grilled Gulf swordfish with chickpeas, tomatoes, hot peppers, kale and fresh herbs. Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday Brunch 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations recommended (256) 215-7080 www.springhouseatcrossroads.com