Eating Humble Pie at Bib Bob Gibson's BBQ - Decatur, AL
OK... I'm going to start this review by stating that I'm from North Carolina. That might not be saying much to some of you, but in the South, BBQ is serious business, and we all have our ways of doing things. In SC it's mustard sauce. In TX it's brisket. In NC, it's all about pulled pork with vinegar sauce and red slaw. Yummmm.
So here I find myself at a BBQ joint in ALABAMA?!?!?! Let's just say the suggestion didn't thrill me. I'm mighty particular about my pig and I like it like home. Yes. BBQ can bring out the stubborn side of someone below the M-D! We cruised down 6th Ave. in Decatur to Big Bob Gibson's, only to find the joint completely packed. It was a good sign, but really? My stubborn NC attitude told me not to be fooled by the locals.
When we got out of the car, I could smell the wood smoke in the air. A good omen, I had to concede. And then another good sign... you walk into Big Bob's and immediately are confronted by Memphis in May trophies almost as big as me. Trophies for things like Pork - Grand Champion. Looking good, except Memphis isn't anywhere near NC, even if Memphis in May is the World Championship BBQ Cook-Off. Still, between those trophies and a gazillion other things hung on the walls like mentions in Food and Wine magazine, I was starting to come around.
It came time to order and the choices included chicken, ribs, and pork. To me, the others are nice, but the only BBQ is pulled pork. I settled in for an un-sweet tea (they actually had it. Yeah!) and a BBQ pork baked potato. Joe got the plate so I could try the baked beans. While we were waiting for just the few quick minutes it took to get our food, I looked at the 3 containers of award winning sauce Big Bob has to try, and buy. Both the red and white sauce have gluten in them, in the form of soy sauce or in modified food starch. If you are gluten-free, go for the vinegar sauce. Glad I figured that out. I tried a little on my fork and it was a tad weak for me but hey,we weren't in NC, right? The waitress brought our meals and the potato was huge! I swear almost as big as my round head! It has sour cream, chives, cheese, butter, and bacon, because you need more pork with your pork. On top of that was the pork, gloriously undecorated with sauce.
So let me tell you about this infamously famous BBQ from Decatur, AL. It's dang good. Really. I'm not kidding. It didn't need any of the sauce to make it right. This pig wasn't greasy but was tender. It had enough pork and smoke flavor to it to be complex, even naked. They chop in enough of the crispy bits to give good texture. OMG this was yummy. Honestly, I have to admit (and for someone as stubborn as me that is HUGE), people in Alabama can cook some pig. In fact, Big Bob's has the BEST BBQ I have ever had, hands down, just like the menu says.
I finished my meal humbled by this pig. Humble enough that when the waitress offered pie, I almost got some. It was time to be on our way, but if you're ever near Decatur, just west of where I-565 and I-65 cross, stop in and see the folks at Big Bob Gibson's BBQ, even if you are from TX, or SC, or yes, even NC.