Get yourself a burger with a side of breathtaking!
Tip Top Grill isn’t a hole in the wall, it’s more of a hole in a rock.
That’s how owner Curt Reamer describes his restaurant. And though Tip Top Grill is a semi-hidden gem tucked away in Hoover’s Bluff Park community, Reamer says customers have come from all 50 states and nearly 50 countries to his hamburger and hot dog stand.
“It’s a small joint, whatever you want to call it – if you want to call it a mom and pop operation,” Reamer said. “We have 600 sq. ft. worth of building and we have what I think one of the best views in Birmingham if not one of the best views anywhere. It’s a no-frills hamburger and hot dog stand.”
Reamer’s description is as direct and accurate as they come. But while the burgers and dogs are genuinely good, it’s the view off Shades Mountain is what truly makes the restaurant unique. Aside from buying a home along Shades Crest Road, you likely won’t find a better view of the sunset in Hoover.
Tip Top is a popular spot for pictures to post on social media, and the pictures are worth searching on Instagram.
Tip Top Grill History
If at a quick glance you think Tip Top Grill might’ve been a gas station in a previous life, you’re absolutely correct.
The building opened in the 1950s as a gas station and served the Shades Mountain area for 40-plus years. At one point the gas station closed and the building sat empty for several years. Then in 2003, Tip Top was born.
Tip Top Grill’s menu is pretty simple. It’s a burger and dog stand in Hoover’s oldest neighborhood. It’s nothing more, nothing less (aside from the incredible view, of course).
“You go there and you get a hot dog,” Hoover High School teacher and Bluff Park resident Brad Coltrane said. “There’s nothing all that special really about the food, but I think that it’s there and it thrives because they do one of two things really well and that’s who they are.”
“We just use high-quality ingredients for everything,” said Reamer. “We don’t cut corners on anything, which makes our food quality good.”
For many people, it doesn’t get better than the chili dog at Tip Top Grill.
“Our chili is homemade, our slaw is homemade, our sauce is homemade, our special sauce that goes on the special dog is homemade,” Reamer said. “That’s what separates us from a lot of places. We do it homemade and don’t use the canned hot dog chili. It’s a homemade recipe, and it’s good.”
One change that has been made at Tip Top is an expansion on the menu. It’s nothing too crazy, but jalapeno pimento cheese was added recently on the new ER burger, and chicken salad has also made its way onto the menu.
“We’ve got what’s called designer burgers because Millennials like different things so we’ve added those to the menu,” Reamer said.
Tip Top also has a full breakfast menu as well. The breakfast menu has “everything but waffles.”
To truly understand what makes Tip Top so wonderful, you have to go to visit them in person! Order a burger or dog, pick a seat and simply take it all in.
Tip Top has only 140 seats (120 outside, 20 inside). It closes at 3 p.m. daily, except during summers when it’s open until 7 p.m., and it is closed on Sundays – and will always be.
Tip Top has such a community feel that if you go frequently enough you’ll become well-versed with the employees – all five of them.
If you’re planning a trip to Tip Top, be warned the chaotic parking lot is always a bit busier during the summer. There are several marked parking spots, but most cars, especially on Saturdays, will be parked anywhere there’s room.
And if you want to have Tip Top host your private event, just ask. They can do wedding rehearsals, private parties, wedding showers, football watch parties and even corn hole tournaments.
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