By Jennifer Kornegay
Our state is packed with more than its fair share of barbecue joints, and many of them are really, really good. So good, that when you walk into an establishment specializing in the smoking, slow-roasting and saucing arts for the first time, it can be difficult to decide what to get. Is this place known for ribs? Or is it the pulled pork that really merits mention? When you visit Bubba’s BBQ in Evergreen, just ask ole Honest Abe which menu item he recommends.
Our 16th president is always there, sharing a window seat with Marilyn Monroe, Elvis and a pilot named Leroy, who, despite crashing his plane into the restaurant’s roof, found a warm welcome. (Ask whoever takes your order for the full story on this.) This fab foursome is sitting around a table talking about who knows what, but it must be something interesting, since each is sporting a can of Coke and, aside from a grimacing King, a permanent smile.
I, for one, trust a women’s intuition, so I queried the blonde bombshell in the group and got a sound suggestion, one that the sweet lady who took my order echoed. I heeded their advice and requested the half chicken plate with sides of slaw and potato salad. My hubby joined me on this trip and went for the large pulled pork sandwich.
We grabbed a booth and while waiting for our lunch, took in the symphony of sights surrounding us; the timeless dining guests are by no means the only points of visual interest at Bubba’s. Every chair and table in the place is different, finds rescued from thrift shops and junk stores. The walls and ceiling are completely covered in vintage signs, memorabilia from Evergreen’s schools and businesses, and car license plates from all over. A toy train travels a track suspended from the ceiling around the room. There’s even a handy-dandy bin to the right of the front counter that encourages you to “turn in” your old plate and give it a new lease on life as restaurant decor.
Between the famous folks seated up front and myriad colors, shapes and sizes of metal adverts and such plastered everywhere, there’s no shortage of distractions. Yet, when our food arrived (and it came pretty quickly), the surroundings fell away. Nothing but us and our plates filled with food remained. My chicken slid off its bones in juicy threads, each bite boasting the appropriate amount of smoke flavor that had sunk through crisped skin. It bore no sauce and needed none. Both the slaw and potato salad were heavily speckled with black pepper and light on the mayo, to delicious effect. My hubby’s pit-cooked pulled pork rich with smoke and softened by rendered fat was mighty good, but Marilyn had it right, the chicken dinner is the winner, winner here.
Another chicken preparation that keeps regulars raving is Bubba’s chicken salad. It has a mustardy bite and comes with two sides of, guess what? Fruit. So if you’re seeking a little something lighter for lunch, you can still choose Bubba’s. Got a non-meat-eater in your midst? They, too, can enjoy Bubba’s, if they ask for the giant stuffed spud. Just tell them to keep the pork and bacon off; they’ll still get puffs of airy baked potato smothered in cheese, sour cream, scallions and Bubba’s classic tomato-based sauce. The menu also offers wings, a sausage dog, ribs and beef brisket. If you’re in a hurry, you can even get slabs of ribs and whole Boston butts vacuum packed to go.
There is one thing missing from Bubba’s menu, and that’s french fries. It’s an interesting omission since practically every pork sandwich plate in Alabama comes with, if you want ’em, fries. But, you can get fries almost anywhere. Only at Bubba’s can you eat some of the state’s tastiest ‘cue in a kitschy-cool atmosphere alongside a president, a movie star, a rock legend and an aviator of questionable skill named Leroy.
Have Pork with a President
281 Alabama 83, Evergreen, AL 36401
Hours: Mon – Sat: 10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.