May 2012

A Taste of Alabama, BBQ Edition

FINALLY! Where have I been??? Sorry folks, my busy work schedule has kept me away from routine Paestry-posting. It’s high time I update this baby.

I’ve been living in Huntsville, Alabama for about eight months now. This has been enough time for me to do some food exploring in the area and report my findings. What else could I possibly discuss for my debut Alabama post than — you guessed it! — good ol’ southern BBQ.

Let me begin by saying the BBQ here is fantastic. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever had back home, of course. Phil’s BBQ remains dear to my heart but the pulled pork and ribs here have won me over.

Everyone has a go-to BBQ place. The “best” one varies, depending on who you talk to. I’ve tried countless places by now and noticed each restaurant has a unique way of preparing BBQ. You’ll be sure to see pulled pork plates, pork ribs, chicken, and brisket on the menu but they’re different at every place. Particularly, the very important BBQ sauce makes or breaks the dish. So without further ado, here are a few examples of what I’ve tried:

Dreamland BBQ
This place originates from the Tuscaloosa area. I like Dreamland because of the delicious sauce on the ribs. It’s vinegar-based, peppery and more runny. The mac and cheese is so amazingly bomb and those baked beans you see there — atomic bomb. No picture, but they also have an unforgettable banana cream pudding made from scratch.

Big Bob Gibson, Decatur
This place has appeared in food shows so it has gained its share of hype. I went there with my brother months ago and it was very good. The sauce is thicker and sweeter. But the real winner is the stuffed barbecue potato loaded with cheese, sour cream, and pulled pork. BAM-ah!

This place is famous for its white BBQ sauce. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of it but it’s a nice sauce that reminds me of thin ranch dressing. This description could be argued among white sauce aficionados.

Gibson’s BBQ, Huntsville
Another place with a similar name in Huntsville. I liked their ribs very much. The sauce is sweeter but I remember the pork was very tender and perfect. The deep-fried okra is also good. Crispy on the outside, pleasantly slimy inside (not pictured, sorry).


This is actually where I discovered a very particular style of coleslaw. I’m used to eating slaw with creamy dressing but here, nearly every BBQ joint serves it in a vinegar-based dressing. The cabbage is chopped more finely and tossed with vinegar and something else that makes it a little sweet. Tangy, if you will. I had a hard time truly enjoying it but the more I have it, the more I like it.

Gibson’s is also known for good pie. Here we have coconut pie. Great with a cup of black coffee.

On a final note, almost everywhere you go there is sweet tea. It’s just sweetened iced tea but for whatever reason, it is so damn refreshing here. I like it with a lemon wedge to cut some of the sweetness.

Just tonight, I went to a really good place in Madison called Greenbrier. Wonderful pulled pork but what wowed me was the most mellow baked sweet potato I’ve ever had. It came whole with the skin still on. Served with brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter for a DIY mash. Just simply good. I wish I took a picture! Next time…

Stay tuned for more updates on a Taste of Alabama.