Not so sure about the area not being safe. I can tell you it's safer than Ensley or the North side of the city, Gate City and the airport area. You are over the mountain which is usually the richer part of the city, better kept up too. The Zoo, Botanical Gardens and such are close by. You are also up there on Red Mountain with the tv stations. Downtown isn't as safe as it use to be but you gotta be smart of course and don't go wandering empty streets walking alone.
I love 5 points south and have no problem walking around down there, my brother lives in Southside, but I'd never go it alone. Then again, I'm female and usually don't go wandering around anywhere alone.
I love the new observation deck. The other one made me feel dizzy because of the way it leaned out to give you a full view. June 1st is the old boys 104th birthday. I use to live at the foot of Red Mountain and Vulcan was a daily view out my bedroom window. And of course Thunder on the Mountain, the 4th celebration, was a pleasure since we were so close. Four things I miss about Birmingham, the food, vulcan, the accents and the rolling hills.
Enough waxing nostalgic,
There are nearly as many bbq joints in Birmingham and the surrounding areas as their are Churchs. Not hard to find.
Jim N' Nicks (my favorite)
Johnny Ray's (another favorite)
Costa's...though they do better fish at the fish market than they do bbq. Be aware, they are Greek.
There are reviews on this sight too. Do a search you'll find a few.