One of the articles I saved earlier this year sent us to Northport, near Birmingham. Most folks, when they think of ribs in this area automatically steer toward Dreamland (on a side note, please don’t judge Dreamland based on visiting the franchise locations in Georgia – do yourself a favor and drive to Tuscaloosa, or at least to Birmingham). In the recent Garden & Gun barbecue bucket list, they suggested Archibald’s.
We pulled up to the address I had plugged into the GPS and found ourselves in an empty parking lot. The first thought that came to mind was, “here we are at another dead end”. Feeling sorry for myself (and also feeling tears begin to fill the corners of my eyes), my dear wife pointed out the smoke spiraling skyward about two blocks north – I had mistyped the address…
We pulled up to a cinder block building where George Archibald began smoking ribs and pork in 1962 and debated whether or not to eat inside. We knew it was only noon and we had several stops, so not wanting to reek of barbecue smoke all day I went inside to grab lunch. I had planned for us to eat on one of the picnic tables in the parking lot.
You may note the sensitivity to smelling like barbecue – earlier in the week, after eating at Leo’s, we were in a department store. I heard the sales lady sniffing as she walked around. “Does it smell like barbecue in here to you?”, she asks. “Yes, ma’am. It’s me…” She did not find it nearly as sexy as you’d envision.
As you’d guess, from the picture, it is small inside. There are three or four tables in the room added on to the front and a counter with a few stools, directly across from the smoker. Seated at the end of the bar was the current proprietor Trey Archibald, talking to the three folks behind the counter. The door to the smoker is just across from the register – you can see the nozzle of a hose in the left of the picture that one of the ladies had just finished using to spray down the ribs at the back of the grill.
I ordered a half chicken, which came with white bread and their fabulous rust colored sauce for my co-pilot. The sauce was neither spicy nor sweet, but tangy instead and made for an excellent sandwich with the sauce and the white bread. And a mighty fine dip for the white bread, when the barbecue was gone. And the chicken was moist and smoky.
I ordered ribs, and received this delightful stack of seven, which were pull-off-the-bone-with-your-teeth tender.
The ribs were excellent – the best ribs I had on this road trip and, based on memory (as opposed to a side-by-side comparison), better than those at Dreamland. You may notice the unique floral table cloth in the chicken picture – the flies were so numerous that we retreated to the front seat of the car to dine. I’ll be honest – I’ve eaten plenty of barbecue in less comfortable surroundings. These were mighty fine ribs.
Please note, if you choose to go, they are only open for lunch, Monday – Saturday.