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Northern AL, SW Tenn, NE Miss


Holly Moore
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Going to be in the area in early May. So what's good to eat. Any and all grease stain worthy places in Northern Alabama, Southwest Tennessee (not counting Memphis, been there, ate that) and Northwest Mississippi.

The usual suspects: meat and three's, barbecue, dogs, burgers, fried chicken, local specialties and a new quest, the floating cheeseburger (cheeseburger buried in a bowl of chili).

Thanks.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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  • 4 weeks later...

Big Bob Gibson's Barbecue in Decatur, AL. They have won many times at Memphis In May, but have gotten a little commerical in the past few years with marketing of their famous white sauce and their red sauce. Greenbrier Bar-B-Que , which is between Decatur and Huntsville off of I-565, is also locally reknowned for good food. This is not to be confused with the Greenbrier Restaurant, which is nearby and used to be the Greenbrier Bar-B-Que until the Greenbrier Bar-B-Que moved to a new building. The old building was taken over by the Evans family, who opened the Greenbrier Restaurant - which is the same in theme and decor as their other restaurant, the Catfish Inn.

The Catfish Inn is about 7 miles west of Athens, AL, on Highway 72. The Catfish Inn is pretty good. It has been there for ages. A former sheriff runs it ("Buddy" - wouldn't you just know a southern sheriff would be called Buddy?). They also have barbecue in addition to the fried catfish. Their barbecued chicken is my favorite, although the pork barbecue is decent too. I am not a big catfish fan. I like their hushpuppies.

Around north Alabama you will find several Whitt's Barbecue stands. These are drive-ups with no indoor seating. Maybe a picnic table. Lawler's Barbecue in Athens is good too, although they just opened another store at the I-65 interchange in Athens which may affect quality.

A place that always has a line of cars at the window is Thomas Pit Barbecue in Madison, AL. The smoke rolls across Highway 72 and smells wonderful. The meats are very good.

One place I do not recommend is Smokey's BBQ in Madison. This is a few hundred feet from Thomas Pit. Smokey's meat doesn't taste or smell like it has seen any smoke!

I think I need to go get some barbecue....

Edited by djbeers (log)

Dave

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If you are going through Tuscaloosa I can't reccomend the Waysider highly enough. It's a great building and really, really good food in the traditional roadhouse style.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Thanks for all the ideas. So far I'm done mega award-winning barbecue at Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur, some of the best country ham I've happened upon at the Jackson Family Restaurant in Madison and a fascinating hot dog from Pete's Famous in Birmingham.

Spending the day in Birmingham and open for lunch, dinner and breakfast suggestions.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Holly,

I didn't realize you were going to be in Brimingham. Go to Bright Star for lunch. It is exactly your kind of place. It is over in Bessemer, which is just a few miles west of downtown, but it's easy to get to and the food and the place, well, you won't regret it.

This is a pretty good description of the place. I have been going there for 25 years and look forward to every visit, as much for the "throw back" experience as for the food.

Hope you like it, I sure do.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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I drove to Bessimer. I lunched at Bright Star. I left well fed, savoring the Southern gentility of another area and harboring no regrets. Beyond that, I finally found the chicken and dumplings of my mind's eye. I have eaten them all over, and some have been very good, but these were the first prepared the way I have always envisioned them.

There was one regret actaully. The desserts are homemade and the pies looked especially tempting. But after a cup of Gumbo and a plateful of chicken and dumplings, alas, my capacity was overflowing and no pie for me.

Thanks Brooks. Should I return to Bessemer this evening for some of Mr. Sykes barbecued ribs?

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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If you haven't traveled yet---you could try Madidi in Clarksdale, MS. It's straight down Hwy 61 from all the casino frenzy in Tunica, MS.

Twenty years ago, Tunica county was THE poorest county, per capita, in the USA. THEN the "riverboats" were built to accomodate about a dozen casinos, and the state highway department ignored every pothole and patchwork road South of Clarksdale, to install DELUXE four-lanes from Memphis to the slot machines. And it WORKED.

Tunica county has a nice annual income, people fly in from all over the world, and the money pours in.

Madidi is the new (three years or less) restaurant owned by Morgan Freeman, a frequent visitor between movie locations, and his partner. It's nicely upscale for the area, and you can watch the local matrons in their little black dresses sit up and purr at the famous man. Food is definitely NOT local, save for perhaps a bit of farm-raised catfish used in one of those Gucci appetizers. The chef is innovative, the dishes are well-conceived and well prepared, and you MAY get to share a glass of wine with the host.

It's very near Ground Zero, his blues "juke joint" which features quite a lively selection of very talented performers. The atmosphere is full of blues and the fragrance of fried catfish, there is a great energy in the room, yet when Morgan is in the house, the blues takes second place to camera flashes and hugs all round, all night. It feels a bit like that horrendous "Rocco" program on TV last year, about the chef they couldn't keep in the kitchen---he was out front hugging the ladies, and they WOULD NOT LEAVE so they could turn the tables.

(Except that Morgan is a lovely person, handsome and gracious and with an IQ out the roof, with wonderful manners and a voice like chocolate velvet). (And WOO he can dance).

But the place to see (and sample) is on down 61 south of town to Hopson's. An old farm commissary has been made into a fabulous barbecue joint, with all the requisite pits and grills and pitmen schooled in the old ways. The Delta planters send their hands there to pick up their noon dinners, and then host their own debutante daughters' wedding rehearsal dinners for all the out-of-town dignitaries in that humble, paper-towel, truly finger-licking place. It's history combined with historical food in the best of ways, a taste of the TRUE South.

And you can stay the night at the Shack Up Inn--several preserved cabins (A/C and electricity installed, the only concession to the century) with their own decor and atmosphere. These were NOT slave cabins, but TENANT HOUSES, home to vast families which worked the fields dawn to dusk in that hellish Delta sun.

I hope it's not too late---but there's always next time. I've a hankerin' to go now myself.

rachel

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I drove to Bessimer.  I lunched at Bright Star.  I left well fed, savoring the Southern gentility of another area and harboring no regrets.  Beyond that, I finally found the chicken and dumplings of my mind's eye.  I have eaten them all over, and some have been very good, but these were the first prepared the way I have always envisioned them.

There was one regret actaully.  The desserts are homemade and the pies looked especially tempting.  But after a cup of Gumbo and a plateful of chicken and dumplings, alas, my capacity was overflowing and no pie for me.

Thanks Brooks.  Should I return to Bessemer this evening for some of Mr. Sykes barbecued ribs?

The Bright Star is a gem. There are lots of (or there used to be anyway) lots of those around, back when Birmingham was the "Pittsburgh of the South" (that has always been, in my mind, a truly bizarre way to describe a place). The pie is really good. Next time, Holly. Next time.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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The Bright Star is a gem. There are lots of (or there used to be anyway) lots of those around, back when Birmingham was the "Pittsburgh of the South" (that has always been, in my mind, a truly bizarre way to describe a place). The pie is really good. Next time, Holly. Next time.

Thanks for the tip! We drive from Washington D.C. to Lafayette, Louisiana every year and can use some tips for eating along the way. Our stopping point on the way down is often Birmingham to Tuscaloosa. Your tip makes me want to stop in Bessemer.

On another note, we will also try your recommendation for Joe's Dreyfus Store Restaurant in Livonia, Louisiana.

I would like to take pictures but don't know the protocol and etiquette for doing so. Do I need to buddy up with the chef or just make like a CIA man? We joke that when we go in a dancehall in the country in Louisiana and people ask where we are from, we reply that we are from Washington and work with the Dept. of Agriculture, here to check on your crawfish crops.

Just kidding :)

Edited by My Confusing Horoscope (log)

Scorpio

You'll be surprised to find out that Congress is empowered to forcibly sublet your apartment for the summer.

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