Circumnavigating the Tennessee River Valley – part nine

I left Leo & Susie’s ahead of schedule, and I’ll tell you folks, it is a good thing that I did because Birmingham’s rush hour turned out to be every bit as bad as I’d heard. I won’t complain about Atlanta’s again for at least three weeks. Complicating things up front, there’s about a two-mile stretch between not-quite-finished I-22 and I-65 that hasn’t been completed yet, and eastbound traffic exits onto a road called Coalburg, and absolutely everybody takes that down to 41st Avenue and cuts over. These roads were not meant for this volume of traffic. It’s like driving across trenches. Then you get on the I-59/I-20 connector and it’s every man for himself. For the rest of my life, I’m going to do my level best to avoid Birmingham Fridays between four and six. Continue reading “Circumnavigating the Tennessee River Valley – part nine”

Circumnavigating the Tennessee River Valley – part eight

Of all the restaurants that I planned to visit on this circumnavigation, Leo & Susie’s Famous Green Top Bar-B-Q – my heavens, what a great name! – was the one that I looked forward to the most. About three years ago, I discovered the work of the Southern Foodways Alliance and their “Southern BBQ Trail.” This is, if you have not already found it, an invaluable resource for barbecue lovers. In Alabama, this restaurant is one of twelve to be spotlighted via one of Amy Evans’ completely terrific oral histories. Please go give this a read and a listen if you’ve not already, and if it doesn’t leave you craving a visit, something might very well be badly wrong with you. (Evans covered all the details about how the meat and sauce are prepared in her interview with Richard Headrick, so I’ll point the curious among you that way.) Continue reading “Circumnavigating the Tennessee River Valley – part eight”

Klingler’s Cafe, Vestavia Hills AL

This is Marie, once again contributing an article that is primarily about dessert, although rain, congestion, and comments on the works of Douglas Adams will also become important along the way.

A reader, Mark Vick, sent a recommendation that we might enjoy stopping here. We were not able to make it by the bookstore that he also told us about on this trip, but I’m always happy to make time for cake. Klingler’s Cafe is also listed on the famous 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die (PDF), a bucket list put together by that state’s department of tourism, and which Grant reads while licking his lips. I don’t necessarily approve of having a definitive bucket list, as I firmly believe that people change enough during their lives to change their tastes. If you don’t believe me, think about your favorite food when you were five, the one you had to have at least once a week or you’d sulk and refuse your dinner. Is it still your favorite now, or has the item changed into an occasionally indulged comfort snack? Continue reading “Klingler’s Cafe, Vestavia Hills AL”

Rusty’s Bar-B-Q, Leeds AL

This is the first of two entries this week in which I will mention a restaurant that I can tell you less about than I would like. In fact, I can’t tell you the most important thing about it: where we heard about it. Well, I suppose “Is it any good?” might truly be the most important part, but as we typically don’t go in for negative reviews here, the fact that it gets an entry at all should be evidence that it’s a good place. Continue reading “Rusty’s Bar-B-Q, Leeds AL”

Mix, Birmingham AL (CLOSED)

Over the course of the next several days, we’ll be telling you about the fun trip that we took to Starkville, Mississippi, to visit Marie’s brother and sister. Karl moved there after serving a few tours in the army, and Anne, as readers who were with us last year, lives in Memphis. We had a terrific little trip, taking the baby out of state for the first time. Starkville is five hours’ drive from our place, not including the stop in Birmingham for breakfast, and once we got to Karl’s place, and visited for a little bit, he and I got back on the road to go pick up Anne, and get some barbecue. Continue reading “Mix, Birmingham AL (CLOSED)”

Kool Korner Sandwiches, Birmingham AL

I must admit that within a couple of minutes of entering Kool Korner Sandwiches, I was completely baffled. I had read up on the place, which is in a Publix strip mall in the Vestavia Hills suburb of Birmingham, and followed the reviews and looked over their web site, all of which promised the best and most authentic Cuban sandwiches in the southeast from this brand-spanking new restaurant. Well, I was game. What I did not expect was the sight of all the awards on the wall labeling Kool Korner the home of the best sandwiches in Atlanta for several years. Continue reading “Kool Korner Sandwiches, Birmingham AL”

Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs, Birmingham AL (CLOSED)

So I was sketching out this trip and my daughter requested a hot dog while we were in Birmingham. That suited me just fine; I’m mercenary enough to want to add more chapters to this blog, and we had bypassed Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs, arguably the best-known restaurant in the city, in favor of one of its competitors the last time we visited. Having now tried both, I’m prepared to make an unusual claim: I prefer the dog that George makes at Gus’s to the one that Gus makes at Pete’s. Continue reading “Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs, Birmingham AL (CLOSED)”