I read an article on al.com a while back about interesting places to eat in Huntsville. When I heard about a local food truck, I knew Shane and I had to go. Happy Tummy used to operate out of a food truck outside Lowe Mill but now has a less mobile spot inside the first floor of Lowe Mill. The atmosphere of this artsy revitalized building matches well with the vibe of Happy Tummy. Its food is quirky and creative and is served by people who seemingly have the same traits.
On this visit, I decided to order the Infidel, a cleverly-named bbq pork sandwich with ham and swiss served panini-style on garlic olive FredBread (for more on FredBread, check out Shane’s Take). The sandwich is served with your choice of a variety of chips for a total of $6.50. After placing our order at the counter, we waited at our table for the food to be ready. The dining area is small but open to the larger lobby of Lowe Mill. If you need to be entertained while you wait, you can check out some of the interesting artwork nearby or bring your laptop and take advantage of the free Wi-Fi.After a few minutes and some tasty chips, our sandwiches were ready. The combination of ingredients was fantastic. From the sweet heat of the chipotle bbq pork to the tart olives in the FredBread, the flavors matched well and were far above an average ham and cheese. The Infidel made a believer out of me (sorry….I couldn’t resist). If you can stomach the in-your-face, artsy, save-the-planet vibe of Lowe Mill, you’ll love Happy Tummy. My only complaint was that there was no recycle bin handy for my soda can.
We’ve tried eating at a variety of places during our Chain of Foods tour, and I believe we’ve been successful: we’ve had Chinese, Mexican, German, and American food in environments ranging from a bus to a buffet. Happy Tummy furthers our experience by taking us inside Lowe Mill, a mill-turned-arthouse located in a rougher part of Huntsville in which a number of people have invested much time and money in the last decade or so. The work in the Lowe Mill community continues, but the results so far are nice, as the mill suitably houses much of Huntsville’s artsy subculture and advances Huntsville’s reputation as a cosmopolitan city, despite its location and size.
Happy Tummy fits well in Lowe Mill. Formerly housed in a trailer outside the mill, it now sits in a corner of the mill much like a food court in a mall. There are a dozen or so tables and chairs, and the kitchen is small, containing what looked like just a panini press, an oven, a cooler or two, and a place to prepare the food. The seating atmosphere is wide-open, but I didn’t feel that I was being watched from all sides. Except for a quirky banner of the logo, there is little decoration to Happy Tummy, but the restored brick-and-mortar that surrounds it is pleasant.
For my meal, I chose the Diabilito, which consists of turkey, lettuce, and tomato served between toasted slices of jalapeño cheddar FredBread with a side of chips. I enjoyed my sandwich. As expected, it had a lot of punch and kick to it, but the jalapeño flavors didn’t overwhelm the meat. The FredBread was amply toasted and tasted great. I enjoyed the smooth and flavorful jalapeño cream cheese spread, and the turkey was tasty and plentiful. The chips—I chose the sea salt potato chips—worked nicely with the sandwich. I enjoyed eating at Happy Tummy. It’s a very artsy place (probably too artsy for some) and an adventure for us non-artists, but it’s a nice reprieve from the engineer-dominated and comparatively plain fast food and chain venues around town. The atmosphere was pleasant, the food was fresh and tasty, and the service was friendly (the server willingly offered recommendations, which I always appreciate). At $6.50 for the sandwich, chips, and a can of Coca-cola, the price was competitive and an affordable way to support support a local establishment. Overall, I enjoyed the Happy Tummy eating experience, and I recommend Happy Tummy as a diversion from the pedestrian lunch hour eats that most of us Huntsvillians usually enjoy.Other notables:
- Don’t miss the manually-operated elevator in the corner. Really cool stuff.
- Happy Tummy is surrounded by various art studios and vendors. Most were closed while we visited, but I imagine there to be some interesting things to see when they’re open.
- No doubt, Huntsville is thoroughly a science and engineering town, but Happy Tummy and the artsy goings-on at Lowe Mill are something we should be proud of.
- Melanie said something about FredBread. I’m no FredBread expert, but I’m enamored with it: it’s bread baked in a tiny downtown kitchen by a man named Jeff who delivers the bread by foot or bike to a few downtown establishments and by van to Happy Tummy (see the Huntsville Times articles for details). I’ve had it twice and enjoyed it thoroughly. If you eat at Happy Tummy, try a slice; the next time you visit Harrison Brothers, buy a loaf. (No, believe it or not, I’m not being paid for an endorsement. I’m just captivated by it—a dude who bakes awesome bread for a living! Incredible!)