Big Cove BB-Q, Owens Cross Roads AL

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 / 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. Continue reading “Big Cove BB-Q, Owens Cross Roads AL”


Hildegard’s German Cuisine, Huntsville AL

(I didn’t eat anything at the fifth restaurant on our day trip, thinking, correctly, that Marie would really enjoy this one. It’s one of at least four German restaurants in the Rocket City, and the one that our friend Helen recommends as the best in town.)

Every so often you chance on something that reminds you just perfectly of something in your childhood. If you’re lucky, it’s a good thing, and the genuine pleasure of enjoying it along with the memories of past encounters layer on each other for a really wonderful experience. In this case, it was the red cabbage at Hildegard’s German Cuisine. Continue reading “Hildegard’s German Cuisine, Huntsville AL”

Big Spring Cafe, Huntsville AL

For our next stop in Huntsville, we drove with our friend Helen just a few miles down the road to check out the city’s oldest restaurant. While Big Spring Cafe has only (heh, only) been in its present location on Governors since 1970, the restaurant originally opened downtown in 1928. It is a much-loved old greasy spoon, and it serves a pretty darn good hamburger. It’s on at least its fourth owner, and I don’t believe that it’s ever stayed in the same family’s hands for more than a couple of decades, but considering the difficulty in keeping a restaurant open for even a few months, I believe that any restaurant with this kind of history, even one with as many asterisks as this one has, deserves a round of applause for making it for so long. Continue reading “Big Spring Cafe, Huntsville AL”

Stanlieo’s Sub Villa, Huntsville AL

Our good friend Helen complains that she is overweight, and that, instead of a T-shirt that reads “Body By Jake,” she needs one that reads “Body By Stanlieo’s.” She protests that when she went to college, she and her friends were regulars at this iconic sandwich shop, and that too many of their Kitchen Sink sandwiches are what did her in. Naturally, I had to try one of these. Continue reading “Stanlieo’s Sub Villa, Huntsville AL”

C.F. Penn Hamburgers, Decatur AL

For the second stop on our trip, I wanted to visit the last remaining location of C.F. Penn Hamburgers, a very old chain that started selling slugburgers in the 1920s and grew to three or more locations in north central Alabama. A couple of my blogging buddies had visited the old storefront in Decatur, not, I must clarify, with glowingly positive reviews, but vintage places like this just should not be missed. Continue reading “C.F. Penn Hamburgers, Decatur AL”

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Decatur AL

Not for the first time, I was forced to consider the odd discrepancy between a phalanx of awards from major cooking competitions and the supposed awesomeness of what the winners of these competitions serve in their restaurants. Either the two are not anywhere close to being the same, or the judges of these competitions have an entirely different set of criteria than I do for what makes good barbecue. Of course, the written word often doesn’t have any nuance whatsoever, and I’m not saying that I’ve ever had a bad meal at a restaurant with one of those larger-than-a-child Memphis in May trophies, but I sure have had better. Continue reading “Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Decatur AL”

Circumnavigating the Tennessee River Valley – part seven

Because when I’m on a circumnavigation I am constantly racing against the clock, it is very difficult to actually schedule time to meet with anybody. Any time I can shave a few minutes here or there, the better! However, since this trip would be taking me into the Huntsville metro area, where our friends Vincent and Helen live, I wanted to make certain that we could break some bread together. Finding the right place would be a little challenging. Continue reading “Circumnavigating the Tennessee River Valley – part seven”