Three of the four times that we’ve visited Scottsboro, we have next driven east across the beautiful BB Comer Bridge, and thought that it must surely be the final time because they keep threatening to dismantle it. Fortunately, the Alabama DOT is slow, even slower than their counterparts in Tennessee, and they haven’t got around to it yet. You can see a couple of photos from our last trip back in August, when we were hopeful that the locals could preserve the bridge for pedestrians. I keep an eye on their progress, because I love the beautiful old thing, and encourage all our readers who are interested in preservation and history to check out the Friends of the Comer Bridge on Facebook.
So, the last time we crossed the bridge, we then went south, through Section on the way to Fort Payne, and had a beast of a climb up Sand Mountain in my li’l green hill-hating Mazda 2, antagonizing a bunch of guys in pickup trucks who wished I’d get out of their way. This time, we went north toward Henagar, and the road got just as steep and I made another bunch of guys in F-150s impatient with me. I love my car and I love mountains, but I sure don’t love driving my car up mountains.
We were bound for Henagar because our friends Vincent and Helen told us that we could get some surprisingly excellent barbecue at a roadside stop called Bama Boys. They weren’t kidding. I’ve noted before that Fort Payne is home to a pair of above-average barbecue joints, but fifteen or so miles away, this trailer blows them both out of the water. This barbecue is really great. 2015 is, after all, the Year of Alabama BBQ, and so we needed to visit at least one new-to-us barbecue joint on this trip!
Henagar is a very small town atop Sand Mountain. There’s a Jack’s and a McDonald’s down the street from Bama Boys’ corner – once home, many years ago, to a gas station and repair shop – and not a lot else here. Almost all of their business is carry-out, but they have a couple of tables underneath a canopy for travelers like us.
The pork is smoked over hickory in a pretty small smoker by the street, and it’s terrific, just juicy and smoky and flavorful and chopped just right. Three of the four of us split a plate with beans and slaw, along with a sandwich and chips. The girlchild actually passed on anything here, happy with her late breakfast at Sugar’s and anticipating the next stop. This led to some good-natured teasing when the owner rushed back from the trailer to the old gas station shop to replenish his stock of buns. We explained that she’s trying to lose weight and was looking forward to a big dessert in Chattanooga, and so was not eating now. “That’s okay,” he said, deliberately answering a different excuse than the one offered, “I’ve got ribs and hamburgers, too!”
The same fellow was also a little playfully unwilling to answer one of my questions. He asked whether I’d like sweet, spicy, or hot sauce with our meal. I asked for the difference between “spicy” and “hot.” Straight-faced, he replied that one was spicy and one was hot. Thank you, folks, he’s there five days a week, please tip your waiters.
Anyway, as good as Sugar’s is, this place is honestly a lot tastier and a whole lot less expensive. Well, the view may not be as nice, but otherwise this was our favorite stop of the day. That certainly includes the unhappy stop at Unclaimed Baggage, where they sold us a phone labeled as the wrong carrier, requiring a very lengthy delay until we found somebody willing to unlock it without charge. Now there – there’s a racket. But oh, yes, the food, yes, this was the favorite of the five stops. If you’re traveling through the valley on I-59, definitely climb Sand Mountain and swing by this place; it’s certainly worth the detour.
Incidentally, Bama Boys did not quite make the cut of the 78 restaurants featured in the Year of Alabama BBQ celebration, but there are probably at least 400 barbecue restaurants in the state, and so they had to make some tough choices. At present, we’ve been to 21 of the 78, with two more coming soon. And of course you can see all the barbecue restaurants that we have visited for our blog (more than 320 !) on this map, with links back to the original blog posts.
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