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Stately Bohemian Style at Rojo in Highland Park

Rojo in Highland Park

Rojo in Highland Park

It’s no secret we love this neighborhood gem. We included it in both our neighborhood roundup and an ode to its weekend-long brunch service. But we also love the feel of it, the way its tree-lined location, full bar, and interior stylings create an excuse to linger. So, how do those interiors create help create the Rojo in Highland Park we know and love? And more importantly, what lessons can they offer for your home, in Highland Park or elsewhere?

When we first considered a post on Rojo’s style, we thought artsy, eclectic, almost Five Points South in feel. But when we revisited photos of the restaurant’s actual interiors, we realized parts of it are downright stately. What we came away with is an approach for making even the grandest homes feel relaxed and fun based on Rojo in Highland Park.

 

Deep impact

There are two things that stand out most about the restaurant: its deep red interiors and its large-scale gunslinger mural. Fortunately, both those things are replicable, at least to a degree, while carving out your own casual style attitude.

Red may be a bit dramatic for your own home space, and so long as your name doesn’t literally translate to “red,” no pressure. Think about other deep tones — a rich navy, a flirty emerald, a cozy charcoal — all still on point for interior colors, especially in high-ceilinged historic homes. Just don’t leave those ceilings white if you’re looking to replicate Rojo’s cozy feel. Houzz has a compelling argument for black ceilings (like Rojo’s), but there are plenty of Pinterest options involving a single deep wall, ceiling, and trim paint color.

Then there’s that mural. The combination of bold color and standout art defines the feel of the space, even while keeping the rest of it pretty low key. Large local art won’t be your cheapest accessorizing option. But there are few splurges we feel better about than buying a nice piece during Art Crawl or one of Rojo’s side-room showings.

 

Built-in definition

The built-in elements are what make this space most compellingly Highland Park. That iconic gunslinger? He’s surrounded by a wall of built-in bookcases with a simple dark stain. The best trick is how the built-ins frame the art so that it owns the room without occupying all that much of it.

Built-ins are the kind of detail that’s expensive to replicated but that well may exist in a historic Highland Park home. In fact, it’s one of the things we love most about them. And while Rojo’s shelves store their extensive collection of libations, yours could just as easily hold books. Perhaps offset with sculptural bookends or the odd accessory piece. Though carving out space for Redmont bottles and small-batch bourbon would be a classy alternative to a bar cart.  

 

 

Bham Eats: Vegetarian in the City

urban standard food
Image via Urban Standard

Remember when eating out as a vegetarian meant ordering grilled cheese and fries or a sad side salad? Those days weren’t that long ago, but thankfully, they’re no longer. The new Birmingham dining scene may celebrate the pork arts and other meat-loving specialties, but it offers delicious meat-free choices as well. Here’s our roundup of menu picks by neighborhood for a food-loving vegetarian in the city.

Loft District

Urban Standard is a standout option, offering the broadest array of non-meat entrees, including a veggie reuben, hippie gumbo, and a veggie burger of mushrooms and barley. And despite our complaint about the grilled cheese as a default option, you’ll very much want their grilled cheese.

El Barrio offers guacamole, chile rellenos, veggie quesadillas, and enough delicious meat-free sides to craft a meal of your choosing. We highly recommend either the sopa seca or the oaxacan donuts for brunch, depending on your sweet or savory preference.

Continental Bakery Downtown has a solid veggie option in every menu section, including peasant garlic soup, a salad featuring stone’s hollow goat cheese, a roasted eggplant sandwich, and red pepper farci.

Other neighborhood choices are the tofu base at Tau Poco, fill-you-up falafel at Pita Loco, veggie-filled mac ‘n cheese at John’s City Diner, and meat-free pizzas and pastas at Trattoria Centrale.

Avondale

Post Office Pies not only has a classic margherita pizza with house-made mozzarella but also seasonal salads like the roasted corn and tomato.

Melt is another grilled cheese feature, but it’s not relegated to the kids menu. Other options include pimento cheese, fried pickles, the mac melt (mac ‘n cheese grilled cheese), and tomato basil soup.

Hotbox has a small menu, but they’ve made room for five spice tofu and spicy soba noodles. Try a side of marinated edamame or cucumber kimchi while you’re at it.

Lakeview

Slice Pizza & Brew offers baked feta (!), raw kale salad, and an impressive array of veggie pizzas, not to mention the build-your-own option.

Babalu boasts tableside guacamole, a black bean burger, veggie tacos, and a host of meat-free small plates.

Cantina‘s molletes (basically a spanish bean sandwich), vegetarian tacos, and cheese enchiladas cover your entree base, along with great sides like saffron rice and beans and corn in a cup.

Five Points

Surin West is your place for vegetarian noodle dishes and tofu-based stir fries at varying degrees of spiciness, along with tofu coconut soup.

The Garage Cafe has loaded veggie sandwiches of your own design, served warm or cold on hearty Big Sky bread.

Other neighborhood favorites are pizza options galore (Cosmo’s, Mellow Mushroom, Little Italy’s), Golden Temple’s menu of meat substitutes and latin-inspired bean plates, and the falafel and seasoned fry arts at Mediterranean staples (Al’s, Purple Onion, Makario’s).

Highland Park

Rojo‘s veggie choices like black bean burgers, summer burritos, Kate’s salad, and totchos (tater tot nachos) are tempting even for meat eaters. The menu’s broad enough you could probably eat here weekly and still want to come back.

There you have it. If you’re a vegetarian who fancies living within walking distance of great local food, consider this your neighborhood cheat sheet.

 

Bham Events: A Celebration of Joy

Image via Kelly Marshall

You’re likely familiar with Joy Myers’s work, even if you don’t know her name. As longtime executive director of Birmingham Artwalk, she’s been a key force in the annual loft district event. “From its inception the mission of Birmingham Artwalk has been equal parts to promote local artists and showcase the opportunities for revitalization in downtown Birmingham,” she told AL.com in September.

“As patrons filled the sidewalks each year, we caught a glimpse of what a thriving downtown neighborhood would look like. …Many patrons found their next favorite restaurant, shop or home during the festival.”

Planning for next year’s event has already begun, but this year it started in Joy’s hospital room as she battled a host of complications from undiagnosed diabetes that very nearly killed her. (Read more about Joy’s medical journey here.)

Not surprisingly, the hospital bills have started racking up, though Joy still has much recovery ahead of her. Her friends set up a gofundme site to help, explaining that the Joy and her family “are going to need a lot of love and support, but also some money, honey.” Besides newfangled crowdfunding, they’re engaging the local community with special events to raise money for Joy’s medical expenses.

Tomorrow at 5 pm, Rojo will host A Celebration of Joy and put 10% of its sales toward the Joy Myers Fund. Local artists have also offered up their work for sale to benefit the fund, while musicians Matthew Devine and Laura Lynn Hardy are scheduled to play. It’s a miniature Artwalk of sorts, and you’ll definitely want to be there.

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Participating artists include:

John Lytle Wilson, Christy Turnipseed, Melissa Jones, Paul Cordes Wilm, Vero Vanblaere, Jill Marlar, Kristen Hughes, Walt Stricklin, Delaine Green, Catherine Mae Beaton, Chad Moore, Brian Bohanan, Neil Koopman, Kristi Austin, Bonnie Brown, Leah Karol, Max Dawson, Chris Davis, Jamie Jaffe, Susan Shoemaker, Craig Skowronek, Marc Villanueva, and Anne Hooper.


Meanwhile, we’re feeling our share of warm fuzzies about living in a community where this sort of thing is possible. Besides Rojo’s generosity, 23 artists had donated their work for sale at last count. And it’s all happened incredibly quickly – Joy’s hospital admission was on November 19th.

We think the evening will be a great success, and we hope you’ll be part of it. Her friend Kelly Marshall says Joy “is the epitome of a hard working cheerleader for our city and works tirelessly to ensure a great city for her family.” Now’s the time for Birmingham to cheer her on.