I grew up in Oklahoma, where barbecue is an important part of life. When my husband and I moved to Birmingham in 2014, we quickly learned that barbecue is a very big deal here, too. We immediately set out to try it all.
Our dear friends drove our second car down for us (from Michigan!) when we moved so we could drive the U-haul and our other vehicle. To celebrate our newfound Southern-ness (is that a thing?) and express our gratitude to them, we took them on a barbecue tour! If you’re looking to try your own tour-de-barbecue, do not leave any of these off of your list.
The first Golden Rule opened in 1891 . . . yes, you read that right. The original location is in Irondale with franchise locations in Hoover, Helena, Pelham, and Trussville, among others. Golden Rule is one of the few Birmingham area barbecue joints that serves beef as one of the main menu items (most focus on pork and chicken). Known for delicious burgers, fries, onion rings, and pie in addition to traditional barbecue, this place can’t be beat for good food and its small town feel.
Located in Cahaba Heights, Miss Myra’s is a hole-in-the-wall restaurant worth a visit (or several)! They have the usuals such as chicken, pork, and even brisket, but the sausage in particular gets rave reviews. The banana pudding is an absolute must-try for dessert.
Full Moon has multiple locations around town and serves delicious pulled pork and chicken. Everything comes with their famous chow chow, which is a slaw-like creation native to the South. Be sure to get one of their delicious chocolate-dipped chocolate chip cookies for dessert.
Saw’s has four Birmingham area locations, but this is not your typical chain. All locations have a distinct style and menu. Both Saw’s Homewood (the original location) and Saw’s Southside have a more traditional, hole-in-the-wall type of feel. They are famous for their chicken with white sauce, an almost-ranch-but-not-quite type of sauce that is zesty and oh, so good. They also have amazing ribs, pork, and stuffed (gigantic) baked potatoes. Saw’s Juke Joint, located in Crestline, also serves up your choice of protein (think pork, chicken, shrimp, catfish) with greens. Saw’s Soul Kitchen in Avondale features unique items such as the sweet tea fried chicken sandwich and shrimp ‘n grits.
Jim ‘n Nick’s
Jim ‘n Nick’s first opened in 1985 on Clairmont Avenue in Birmingham, and today has 34 restaurants in seven states. Locally, you can find stores in Hoover, Homewood, Five Points South, Gardendale, Greystone, and Alabaster. They have fabulous pork, chicken, brisket, and ribs. Everything comes with their famous cheese biscuits (which are to-die-for)!
Moe’s is another local chain serving up all kinds of delicious meats and sides, although they are probably best known for their pork. The chicken platter (available bone-in or pulled, though my husband recommends bone-in) is another popular choice. The baked beans are a must-try as well. You can find my family there many Tuesday nights because kids eat free, and Mama loves a night off from cooking.
Carlile’s is a cute little lunch place on 6th Avenue South. It’s only open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., so be sure to go during business hours. The service is friendly and fast, and the prices are reasonable. They are known for their burgers and hand-cut fries in particular, as well as their wings, pork, and chicken.
Dreamland is a Tuscaloosa original, but lucky for us, there are two locations in Birmingham: one in Southside and one in Inverness. They’ve always been famous for their ribs, and for good reason. Slather on that famous sauce and enjoy.
Based out of Nashville but new-ish now to Birmingham via Cahaba Heights (just down the way from Miss Myra’s), Martin’s is another place worth checking out. This is a whole hog barbecue style restaurant. This means that an entire hog is cooked at a time, rather than individual cuts of meat. The food is delicious, the atmosphere is fun (think indoor and outdoor seating, plus a bar), and yet it is family-friendly, too.
Have I listed your favorite Birmingham barbecue restaurant? If not, let me know in the comments so I can try it out as well!