Back in 2009, a restaurant with a wonderful exterior took first place in one of those many readers’ polls about the best barbecue here and there. This one was run by The Huntsville Times / al.com for the best in northeast Alabama, and I wondered whether we’d ever make our way here. Since then, I’ve seen Big Cove written up at many blogs (see below) and have very much wanted to try their hot sauce.
Earlier in the evening, we hugged goodbyes with our friend Helen and made our way to Monte Sano State Park to get some exercise. They have a playground that our son adored, and I hiked around much longer than planned, since the place was so gorgeous and quiet and the view was so nice. Plus, I needed lots, and lots, and lots of exercise after four small meals on this trip. Unfortunately, we were there so long that time got in our way and we were not going to be able to make a detour north of the city and then back, southeast, to the small town of Owens Cross Roads before Big Cove closed. So as the sun started to ebb, we just drove straight to Big Cove and got there before dark.
The restaurant opened in the early 1970s and was purchased by James and Jennifer Taylor in 1994. He goes by “BBQ James” and plays a little country music on the side with some like-minded friends. Perhaps if your child is particularly pleasant and cute, he’ll give you one of his CDs along with a plate of some quite good, and incredibly inexpensive barbecue.
I do not know whether they always have this special on Friday evenings, but they were offering a plate of pulled pork with beans, cole slaw, potato salad, and some buttery rolls for only $6.99 when we visited. That’s an enormous pile of food, most of which went into a take-home container because I couldn’t finish it.
The meat is pretty dry, and I think it could stand to be chopped a little finer before it is served, but it had a good, smoky flavor. I thought about how it compared to the barbecue that we had at the start of the day at Big Bob Gibson, and while neither were really amazing, I enjoyed Big Cove’s much more. This was especially true when I added the sauce. Many other writers have noted Big Cove’s orange-red vinegar-cayenne hot sauce. You can find similar examples of this sauce at a few places in northeastern Alabama, like Tate’s in Scottsboro. While I’ve had hotter, it hasn’t been all that often. This is a terrific sauce and really brings the meat to life.
As for the other sides, the slaw, which was mayo-based, and the potato salad were very good. The beans just tasted like they came from the Publix on the other side of US-431, where we stopped to buy some Buffalo Rock and Grapico before coming home, but I only had a bite or two of each. This visit was for the pork, and it didn’t let me down.
We said our thanks and made our way, and took a really stupid course home. I had charted what sounded like a really neat drive back, using 431 and AL-68 through Guntersville and Leesburg, completely forgetting that it would be after dark before we started home and we wouldn’t get to see all that I wanted to see. We did motor on down 431 for a ways, but then took AL-79 north instead, criss-crossing Guntersville Lake several times back to to Scottsboro and connecting with the way we drove in, through Henagar and Summerville. We got back around 11, having thoroughly enjoyed the day out.
Other blog posts about Big Cove BB-Q:
Are you planning a barbecue road trip? You can see all the barbecue restaurants that we have visited for our blog (more than 360 !) on this map, with links back to the original blog posts!