I awoke on Monday and my bag had been delivered. Hurrah! Tired of Northern Alabama, I hightailed it south to Tuscaloosa, home of the legendary Dreamland. It's nestled on a side street off the interestingly named Jug Factory Road (no jugs but lots of tires). Unfortunately, it’s a tourist haunt now, so the walls are plastered with Dreamland’s national press. They open early (10 am) so I had a short stack of ribs for breakfast—that’s all they sell. You have a choice of two sides, white bread and potato chips. And at that early hour, the place was packed. But it was mostly fellow travelers, and I had to giggle when I overheard this exchange: I’d like salmon. (No, we only serve ribs). Chicken? (No, we only serve ribs). Pulled pork? (How many ribs would you like, sir?). Oh, I guess I’ll have the ribs. Drowning in sauce, the meat wasn't as tender as I'd like, but the flavor was tasty.
Next I hit Miss Myra’s in Birmingham. Smoky goodness greeted me as got out of the car, and the meat served (pulled pork and more ribs) was juicy and flavorful. Her Alabama white sauce was tangy and thin, sort of in-between Big Bob’s and Greenbrier's.
For dinner I ate at Jim and Nick’s, a local chain that's owner operated instead of franchised. I wanted to eat at the original, but unfortunately, it’s long gone. If you go, order the sausage--smoky and peppery with a perfect snap--and the juicy fried green tomatoes.
Before I hit the airport on Tuesday, I decided to stuff my weary belly with a couple more meals—a Whataburger with cheese (which is as good as Shake Shack's, without the line or the price) and a meat-and-three joint in Trussville, AL called Joel’s. I found the latter when I was lost, and the parking lot was so full I knew there had to be something good happening inside. The place serves its meals cafeteria style, and I ordered the Blue Plate special which was fried chicken, black-eyed peas, squash casserole and jalapeno cornbread. And I’m delighted that I got lost and tumbled into this country-cooking gem because it was the best meal I had the entire time in Alabama. Everything exploded with flavor and the people were all very friendly as well. So that’s my recommendation: if you’re in Birmingham, drive to Trussdale and eat at Joel’s.
If you'd like to see more food photos from Alabama, check out my Flickr page.