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”


Golden Rule Bar-B-Q, Irondale AL

For our final stop on this road trip, we visited one of the oldest restaurants in the southeast. Golden Rule Bar-B-Q is on at least its fourth set of owners, and the current home of its flagship store is, again, at least the fourth, but it traces its history back to 1891, when a family named Williams opened the original stop on the long Alabama to Birmingham highway. In the late 1930s, a gentleman named Jabo Stone, who had married into the Williams family, became the owner. He sold it in 1969 to Michael Matsos, and, in 2010, CM Foodservice, LLC took over Golden Rule as well as Matsos’s popular Michael’s Steakhouse. They run a few other small brands with locations dotted around the southeast, including La Paz, which, until recently, had a store within walking distance of my childhood home in Vinings GA. Continue reading “Golden Rule Bar-B-Q, Irondale AL”

50 Taters, Scottsboro AL

We wanted to sample a couple of barbecue places while we were in northeast Alabama, and so when we finished shopping at the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, we made our way to the downtown area around the courthouse square, and saw a closed-up storefront where the restaurant we were looking to find was supposed to be. We’ll chalk this up to really poor research on my part and some outdated listings on Urbanspoon. 50 Taters closed their downtown location in late 2011 and moved out to the big highway – there’s a Sprawl-Mart access road alongside US-72 that gets all the traffic – and actually has opened an additional store up on Sand Mountain in Rainsville where they now do the smoking for each location. I think that we’ve got everything sorted and corrected now, so anybody else looking for barbecue in this corner of Alabama should have an easier time getting to where they need to be. Continue reading “50 Taters, Scottsboro AL”

Dixie Barbeque Company, Johnson City TN (CLOSED)

When we went to the Tri-Cities, I knew that we’d be having some very unique and original barbecue at Ridgewood, but I wanted to try some more traditional pulled pork in the area as well. We arrived at Dixie Barbeque Company, a couple of miles north of downtown Johnson City and on our way back to I-81, in a quiet lull between their lunch and dinner rushes. A gentleman named Alan Howell opened this place in 1990, after spending almost twenty years in a couple of other restaurant jobs. In the 1980s, he owned a burger joint called Richard A’s, but eventually realized that he enjoyed barbecue even more than burgers. Apparently, some of the locals howled in protest when he closed Richard A’s, no matter how good his barbecue is, because while barbecue will always spark friendly disagreement, everybody concurs that the Tri-Cities haven’t had a hamburger as good as the ones that he used to make. Continue reading “Dixie Barbeque Company, Johnson City TN (CLOSED)”

Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que, Atlanta GA

Generalizing a little bit here, but if bloggers and hobbyists tend not to be that interested in chains, then barbecue bloggers are ten times tougher on them. The sadly-abandoned Gentleman’s Guide to Swine Dining had a term he used, “the franchise curse.” We all know what he was talking about.

A couple of years ago, I’d heard that the Alabama-by-way-of-Colorado chain, Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que, had opened a location in Atlanta. It’s on 14th Street west of the connector, about a third of a mile past The Silver Skillet and across the street, in the building that once housed Kool Korners. It didn’t seem like anything that I needed to rush to try in Atlanta. One of these days, I’d like to make another trip to the Birmingham area and visit the original Jim ‘n Nick’s, and the original Golden Rule, for example, but I’m just not all that interested in franchises. Continue reading “Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que, Atlanta GA”

Circumnavigating the Tennessee River Valley – part two

I’ve driven between Chattanooga and Nashville dozens of times climbing up and down the mountain through Monteagle, but until this trip, I had not gone down the southwest side, following US-41A. In the spring of 2012, we used US-41 down the north slope to Manchester, but this was all new to me. Taking US-41A west-southwest to Winchester will take you first past the campus of the oddly-named Sewanee: The University of the South before dipping down the mountain’s western side through a beautiful and gentle series of curves and twists. The highway then rolls through the town of Cowan before finding Winchester and winding north again. Continue reading “Circumnavigating the Tennessee River Valley – part two”

Circumnavigating Alabama – Postscript

After finishing our quick visit to Huntsville, I had hoped to visit a couple more barbecue places in northeast Alabama, and so I used Google Maps to chart our way home. Then, unlike our “whatever happens” drive to Nashville the previous afternoon, I looked around Urbanspoon and hammered down two more places to try. This served as a “postscript,” if you like, for my “circumnavigation” of that state two weeks prior, hitting a few more places that I couldn’t have found at that time. Continue reading “Circumnavigating Alabama – Postscript”