As in any Western city of over 2.5 million, you'll find that your choices for a range of cuisines will be quite good, while the quality will vary drastically depending on where you go and what you're willing to eat. The following is a quick guide to where you can find the types of food you'd enjoy at a cost you're able to afford.
Birmingham, although an English city, has actually carved a niche for itself with the advent of balti-style eating, where curry is served in a thin, steel bowl to your restaurant table. Most commonly this practice, which has spread throughout the UK, is seen in the aptly named “balti triangle” in Sparkbrook. Between Ladypool Road and Stratford Road, you'll find numerous establishments that serve this inexpensive option, including Al Frash, Adil, and Shabab's. You'll have nothing but choices if you choose to stroll around the neighborhood and look to see which shops are bustling come lunch or dinner.
If cheap is the only criteria you're looking to meet, then get to Selly Oak, the neighborhood that surrounds the University of Birmingham. A lot of joints have opened up in this area to cater to the student population, and, while quality isn't always guaranteed, low prices usually are. You'll find plenty of kebab, sandwich, pizza, and other take-out/fast food staples in the area, particularly of the Indian persuasion.
Since you'll find yourself downtown at some point, you'll find that there aren't as many tourist traps as you'd think and a good selection of cafes and take away food. Head toward the small Chinatown and the Arcadian, a group of pubs and eateries set around a piazza, for some great and often quite moderately priced food. The Big Wok on Wrottesley Street is great Chinese done buffet style, while Festival Balti and Cafe Soya are staples of the Arcadian. Elsewhere, the Bullring Market is worth your time for their indoor market and a good selection of eateries.
As you'd suspect, there are a great range of cuisines and areas where you'll invariably find something you'll like that aren't mentioned here. Search through our individual pages or pose a question to the embark community if you're looking for something more.