Birmingham's local secrets - picked by those who know it best
© Ghetto Golf
Birmingham's movers and shakers recommend their favourite spots off the beaten track.
From secret bars to waterside walks and go-to record shops – this list is your guide to an alternative Birmingham, picked by the locals.
Read on for some must-visit hangouts and other hidden gems.
Visit the tiki bar at The Prince of Wales
On first appearance, it looks like your usual boozer. However, as you venture through the back there’s a big garden area, a cigar lounge, a mini wine shop and a tiki bar... it’s a mini adventure. They have a tipple to suit the mood you’re in but I love the cocktails at the tiki bar in the garden. I’ve never heard of a place like it and it’s just so chill and not trying to be cool – which makes it unpretentiously cool!
Hang at Cafe Artum, a homegrown record shop, gallery and events space
One of the newest additions to the city. It's a great little record shop, art space and coffee shop. Adam Shelton, Christy Lakeman and Jayson Wynters are all on hand to help you out with a selection of records that really compliment what’s great in the city right now. Music ranges from current house and techno for your Penda, Resonate and Moodfix fans. Then world music, funk, electronica, nu-Jazz and breaks for your more Digbeth Dining Club/Hare & Hounds residents. They've got a few small parties happening there, too.
Wander through the Canals, the veins of old industrial Birmingham
For runners, possibly one of the most under-appreciated asset to the city is the endless intricate canal network. The canals were the life blood of the city in Victorian times and connect the entire length and breath city.
There is nothing more beautiful than getting the solid running miles in on the canals in the evening to unwind. Head south for a grassy route that takes you past the idyllic Cadbury factory, or head North for a run through the towering brutalist concrete architecture of spaghetti Junction. Each one is as visually stunning in its own right.
Multiple networks across the city
Visit The Diskery, Birmingham's longest-standing home for all things vinyl
Opening in the early 1950s, The Diskery is one of the oldest record shops in the UK. It’s run by some real salt of the earth blokes who, aside from having an encyclopaedic knowledge of jazz, also offer good old fashioned hospitality in the form of bottomless tea while you have a dig. These guys have been working with records for 40-plus years, and their shop is well worth a visit.
Discover the secret password to drink at The Speakeasy
For me, owning an independent store means supporting fellow independents and this ethos has led me to unique and memorable places across the world. Some of my favourite drinking experiences have been in Speakeasy bars so it is exciting to have our own authentic prohibition bar in Birmingham. Its secret entrance reveals a dimly lit, intimate drinking den set to a 1920’s soundtrack. It has a real sense of community, with personable service and close attention to detail paid to ensure your experience is amazing with each visit.
I’m forbidden to reveal its exact location, but I highly recommend calling 0121 2362400 for further information.
Shop for second hand threads at Cow Vintage
We get the ethos behind Cow which offers some fantastic affordable vintage clothing and accessories, and we love their vast collection of Hawaiian shirts. From talking with the guys there we found that the bulk of the vintage clothing are sourced from around the world. So our Hawaiian shirt did come from Hawaii! What impressed us was the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere with really nice peeps going out of there way to help.
Shop for jazz, soul and reggae at Polar Bear Records
There are plenty of reasons to visit Kings Heath, including some great businesses on Poplar Road and even a few gems on the High Street, but York Road has become the focal point over recent years. If you're after a classic old school record shop then you can't go wrong with Polar Bear. With second hand collections of jazz, soul & reggae that bring in the Japanese collectors, and well stocked racks of new vinyl and CDs, this is one of my favourite spots in Birmingham.
Get a fresh trim at Black Market Barbers
While at Grace + James, you can watch people getting their hair cut at the equally brilliant Black Market Barbers across the street. They’ve even got a darts board out back while you wait for your trim. Your beard trim or short back & sides is usually sound tracked by some classic hip-hop or a blissed out Balearic mix. Or if you're really lucky, a debate about local football.
Test your putting skills at Ghetto Golf
For a fun day or night, I'd go to Ghetto Golf, which is just around the corner from us on Gibb Street by the Custard Factory. It features 18 holes including one based on us, the oldest pub in town, The Old Crown! What the guys have achieved there is mint. It brings something new to Digbeth, and if you haven't been you definitely need to check it out. The whole place is covered in amazing street art and they do banging cocktails too.
Visit Grace + James, a wine bar and deli supporting independent producers
Grace + James is a brand new deli, wine shop and bar on York Road, and has been welcomed with open arms by the locals. The natural wines, cheese and charcuterie boards can be enjoyed inside or out front. I like to imagine that me and my pals are the Sopranos crew having a sit down outside Satriale’s Pork Store.
Limited edition Keys To Your City cans of Red Bull are available in bars, clubs and others venues across the UK. By Shazamming the can of Red Bull, you can unlock guestlist features at the following venues.
Ghetto Golf | The Custard Factory, Gibb Street, B9 4AA
Loft Lounge | 143 Bromsgrove Street, B5 6RG
Village Inn | 152 Hurst Street, B5 6RY
Mama Roux's, Spotlight and Cafe Colette | Lower Trinity Street, B9 4AG
Mooch Bar | 260 Broad Street, B1 2HF
Spotlight (Propaganda) | Lower Trinity Street, B9 4AG
Digbeth Dining Club | Lower Trinity Street, B9 4AG
Nightingales | 18 Kent Street, B5 6RD
Sugar Suite | 200 Broad Street, B15 1SU
Hare and Hounds | 106 High Street, B14 7JZ