At the family-owned-and-operated Chris' BBQ & Grill, a dedicated team of grill-savvy specialists slowly smokes dishes such as barbecue pork and spare ribs to fill out a menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner creations. The daily menu offers a variety of Southern favorites, beginning with early-morning servings of hash browns with eggs and bacon and ending with dishes such as grilled chicken breast served over rice. To satisfy midday cravings, the kitchen staff shape intricate sandwiches with ham, turkey, buffalo chicken, or rib-eye steak. They also orchestrate a daily Meat and 3 meal that pairs meaty specialties with three vegetables, such as fried okra, black-eyed peas, baked beans, or baked potatoes, so that customers can sculpt edible monuments in honor of the food pyramid.
In 1958, spirits were high in Tuscaloosa as Paul “Bear” Bryant began his long career as coach of the Crimson Tide football team and John “Big Daddy” Bishop opened up the first Dreamland Café just south of town. Bishop was a brick mason by trade and began selling simple meals of grilled barbecue pork ribs with his wife, Miss Lilly, as a way to get a little extra cash. Little did the Bishops know that their bustling barbecue shack off of Highway 82 would blossom into 8 locations. A bona fide southern institution, the Café is famous for its tangy secret barbecue sauce, meaty slabs of slow-cooked ribs, and creamy, ambrosial banana pudding. Today, the slightly larger menu satisfies cravings for old-school Alabama barbecue recipes with pulled pork, hickory-grilled chicken, baked beans, and coleslaw.
Living up to the Café's motto—“Ain't Nothing Like 'Em Nowhere"—Dreamland's famous ribs are a cultural touchstone of the state of Alabama, like a haunting Hank Williams tune. At each location, a friendly, country-style hospitality shines forth in every door held open, earning the loyal patronage of families and local fans, as well as a raft of visiting celebrities and elected officials.
The chefs at Carlile’s Barbeque slow cook cuts of meat using the same recipes and the original barbecue pit made famous by brothers Herman and Warren Carlisle, who founded the restaurant in 1945, following their return from World War II. Despite several changes in ownership, the tried-and-true restaurant––named after the misspelling of Herman’s last name upon his entrance into the armed forces––has sustained its popularity for more than half a century, thanks to the addictive nature of its signature vinegar-based barbecue sauce, which graces everything from barbecue chicken salads to slow-roasted slices of tender pork butt and the door handles of every car in the parking lot. Full-meal platters showcase catfish, honey-mustard chicken, and slabs of ribs topped in their own sweet, ketchup-based sauce alongside a slew of hearty, house-made sides ranging from creamy mac ‘n’ cheese to crispy fried okra. Meals end on a sweet note, courtesy of the shop’s specialty “Momma’s recipe” banana pudding; lemon, chocolate, coconut, or pecan pies; or slabs of peach cobbler.
The first Golden Rule Bar-B-Q and Grill?a roadside joint frequented by locals and travelers alike?served its first heaping plate of lovingly smoked barbecue in 1891. The restaurant has since adapted with the times, acquiring a car-repair garage, neon signs, and a hovercar dock, in addition to nearly a dozen saucy outposts across Alabama and Mississippi. Now the various locations serve slow-cooked, hickory-smoked meats served with a variety of secret-recipe sauces and sides such as collards or mac 'n' cheese. Guests can also forgo the sauce and order surf 'n' turf dishes such as a hand-cut charbroiled steak or a creole grilled fresh catfish fillet.