One of the best ways to explore a city has always been through the eyes of a local. The most authentic experiences often come on the recommendation of those who are born and raised in the town you touch-down in. Gilda Joelle, a top model now based in New York City, who has been featured in campaigns with Dooney and Burke, Fruit of the Loom, and many more, takes us on a tour of her home town in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Gilda is as sweet as she is beautiful, and when she is not modeling, she can be found studying health and nutrition at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition or enjoying a nice meal and a glass of Oregon pinot noir with her boyfriend. Her essentials when choosing a place to eat? Making sure organic, pasture-raised, and wild-caught are keywords on the menu. 


Go-To Lunch Spot:

The Essential

They have healthy options, as well as amazing handmade pasta. They have a cute outdoor patio, and the inside is about as cozy as it gets.

Best Neighbourhood for a Leisurely Walk:

I’m partial to Homewood. There are so many cute homes, shops, and restaurants.

Favorite Restaurant for Dinner:

I have so many favorite dinner spots in Birmingham that it’s hard to choose just one!

 Automatic Seafood and Oysters is a new restaurant in town, and they serve amazing seafood that’s primarily from the Gulf. Gianmarco’s is one of my favorite neighborhood spots. It’s hands down some of my favorite Italian food!

 You’re bound to see a handful of people you know at Bottega or Chez FonFon, which are both owned by Frank Stitt. Two of my favorite places for dinner that have equally amazing vibes. The coconut cake at Chez FonFon and Bottega is on my “most favorite things I’ve eaten” list! Side note – In 2018, Frank Stitt won the James Beard Foundation award for the nation’s most outstanding restaurant for Highlands Bar and Grill, and Dolester Miles, the pastry chef, won the nation’s most outstanding pastry chef award. So, you can’t go wrong with any of his restaurants!


Gianmarco’s in Birmingham, Alabama

Best Place to Curl Up With a Book:

I love that Birmingham is big on the local coffee shop scene, but my most favorite place to post up with a book and my laptop for the afternoon is Urban Standard.

Urban Standard Cafe

Best Pilates Studio:

I love Studio G Pilates. I started going to Studio G in 2014, and every time I’m home, I’m always in a class. The classes are small, personalized, and always a challenge, which I love!


Best Place to Get a Drink:

Freddy’s Wine Bar. The Collins Bar. The Atomic Lounge. Carrigan’s Public House. Queen’s Park – it turns into a Christmas-themed cocktail bar around the holidays!


For more inspiration and to follow her journey find Gilda Joelle on Instagram @gildajoelle

For more local insider travel guides check out this page.