The Irondale Café was the model for a hit movie
Birmingham, Ala.---As anyone who has ever cooked or eaten fried green tomatoes knows, preparing that Southern delicacy is something of an art form. The good ones are hot and tangy, gilded with a light golden crust. Just like they cook at the Irondale Cafe in Birmingham.
The Irondale Cafe is the real-life model for the fictional Whistle Stop Cafe in the hit movie Fried Green Tomatoes.
The movie was drawn from the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, written by Birmingham-born author and actress Fannie Flagg. It is widely rumored that the movie’s most colorful character, Idgie Threadgood, is loosely based on Miss Flagg’s real life great aunt, Bess Fortenberry. Miss Fortenberry owned and ran the Irondale Cafe for half a century. In 1973 she sold the diner, but the current menu still is very close to the original, only expanded considerably.
Good simple home cooking, including perfect fried green tomatoes, makes the cafe a favorite with the locals. Sunday dinner* finds the line out the door and halfway down the sidewalk.
Publicity from the book and movie hasn’t hurt business either. Tourists from all over the world seek out the restaurant for its Idgie connection. Fried green tomatoes are always on the menu.
(*This designation for the midday meal may be a tad confusing to our friends from the North. What may be lunch to them is properly referred to in the South as dinner. It is traditionally the big meal of the day. The evening meal is called supper. Now you know....)