Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Coming to Tuscaloosa?

First, let me just say that I watched "Cavemen" last night because I thought the preview of the guy beating up the mascot looked funny. It really wasn't that bad. There is surely much worse television out there. This show had such lousy expectations, because everyone thought the premise was horrible and couldn't support a show. That may yet prove to be true, but the show isn't incompetently written or acted like may have been reported at times. The episode satirized racially insensitive mascots and the sometimes lame official explanations for them.

OK, on to the regular topic of the day. If you are an LSU fan and you're planning to come to Tuscaloosa for the game, and if you're looking for places to eat, here are my suggestions. I will stick to local, nonchain options you can only get in this area.

Alright, first let me just say because I know everyone likes to talk about it. Avoid Dreamland BBQ. It's a pretty low-quality option for bar-b-que that is much more popular with tourists and nostalgists than with people who actually like to eat good food and know the area. If you want good bar-b-que, there are much better local options. I suggest going to Archibald's/Woodrow's. There's one out in the boonies on Hwy 42 and another downtown. It's really good bar-b-que. Another option is Mike & Ed's, which is centrally located 15th St. near campus. I really liked Foxfire as well, but I think it may have closed down. If it's still open, it's located on Hwy. 69 towards Moundville.

If you prefer more fine-dining fare, I suggest The Globe restaurant, located in downtown Northport. It has a good variety of very good food, a good wine list, linen table cloths, etc. If money is no object and you're not concerned about it taking a little while, this is the place to go. Entrees cost about $17-$20, and salads are separate. There's more expensive out there, but there isn't anything better place to eat in Tuscaloosa. It's got a nice atmosphere too with a Shakespeare theme to the interior. It's not exactly fine-dining, I suppose. It's more dressy-casual. It's probably best not to wear your gameday colors there, but pants and a polo shirt would be fine. My favorite selection is the Thai Curry, but there is all sorts of stuff there.

On the opposite end of the scale, on the way to Tuscaloosa is a restaurant called The Cotton Patch. It's a log cabin off of Exit 40, about a half-hour outside of Tuscaloosa. It's a stop-off point for a lot of people on their way to or from hunting locations, and the crowd is definitely more working class than at The Globe. The atmosphere is great though. It's lighted mostly by candlelight and heated by large fireplaces (it's always fun to go there in the winter). The food is typical southern country, with lots of fried chicken, country ham, etc. Avoid the ice cream for dessert. I don't know what was wrong with it when I got it, but it was not good. Don't let that stop you though.

For breakfast on game day or the day after, go to The Waysider, one of the oldest restaurants in Tuscaloosa. It's located on Greensboro Avenue across 15th street from the campus. It's kind of tucked away and is a little difficult to find, but is worth it. It's a standard southern country breakfast cooking, like your mama used to make (and still might). It's very Bama-oriented in the clientele and the decorations, but the people are friendly. I think it would be OK to wear colors, but don't be an ass.

If you're getting into town early, City Cafe in Northport is a good place to have breakfast, but it's only open on weekdays. It's similar to The Waysider in its style of cooking. Grits. Eggs. Biscuits. It's another very traditional local place. I once saw 60 Minutes' Ed Bradley there when he was doing a local story. It's rather inexpensive and they'll kind of hustle you in and hustle you out. The good news is they recently started accepting credit cards.

If you want a hamburger joint, I think Mugshots is the place to go. It's a very college-town atmosphere, kind of like a chicken wing place in that respect, but with hamburgers instead. Beer flows freely (except on Sundays of course), and the burgers and fries are good. It's located on Greensboro Avenue in downtown Tuscaloosa. Actually, I think this is a small chain, with locations in Starkville and one other place. It definitely specializes in college towns though.

For Mexican food, definitely go to Los Tarascos. There is one on Syland Blvd. near the Wal-Mart and another on McFarland Blvd deep in Northport. They have very good standard Mexican fare like fajitas, tacos, burritos, and enchiladas, but if you're feeling a little more adventurous, try to Shrimp Diablo or one of the other Chef's Specials on the back of the menu.

The selection of sushi is not as good in Tuscaloosa as it is in Baton Rouge, but if you absolutely must have sushi, Bento on the strip is a good option. It's good sushi reasonably priced. Parking is an issue because it's on the strip. If you're tailgating near there, just walk to it.

Well, that's about it. I'm sure there are other good options that I am not thinking about right at this second. I'm not saying that Tuscaloosa is like New Orleans in its culinary ability, but there are good options here. Try to avoid the fast food places or the O'Charleys of the world and experience a little local flavor while you're here.


Anonymous said...

This blog has just about everything that interests me - food and sports. One stop shopping. Thanks for both.

gerry dorsey said...

tuscaloosa has sushi now?? what the hell is the world coming too??

damn i love me some city cafe. and you're right about dreamland/archibald's. dreamland is one of those places you should experience at least once just to say you've been, but its not worth it on a football game weekend.

Aimee Pittman (Richard's other half) said...

Actually, the downtown version of Woodrow's and Archibald's has closed but you can still get to the Original Archibald's (think a small cinder block building behind someone's home) off of MLK in Northport. If you want directions, leave a comment for Richard and I'll tell you how to get there.

Foxfire has closed - I can't remember what went in there.

If you want wings and other pub fare, I would try Baumhower's Wings, just off of McFarland just off the edge of campus. It's a part of a small local chain (2-3) restaurants owned by a former Bama football player.

Other small local chains with pretty good grub:
Newks, on University Blvd. at the edge of campus (across from the Rec Center and soccer fields), serves sandwiches and huge salads - it's an upscale deli.

Full Moon BBQ, in the Wood Square Shopping Center right off of McFarland between University and 15th St., another BBQ place that is pretty good.

Oh and places on the Strip to eat: Swen's, local chinese, very good.
Pepito's, Mexican.
Crimison Cafe, coffeehouse and sandwiches, run by a former classmate of mine.

gerry dorsey said...

wife blogging?? pretty impressive....and oh so cute.

couple other goodies...cypress inn and depalma's.

Chris Rue said...

Don't forget...

- Mellow Mushroom (downtown) for pizza
- Mr. G's (Northport) for low-key Italian

And if folks are over near Moundville, Miss Melissa's Cafe is a must-visit.

Richard Pittman said...

I forgot about Cypress and DePalma's. I guess I really shouldn't forget about DePalma's. That's where Aimee and I went on our first date. It's really good stuff, kinda more like fine dining, but not too uptight to get mad at you if you show up in jeans.

TideDruid said...

One small place in Hale County is Mrs. (or Miss) Melissa's in Moundville, AL. They have fantastic catfish and pecan muffins for a great deal on Friday nights. It's out of the way, but a great place to eat not many people know about.

Just basically follow the path towards Foxfire but keep going until you come to a small, small town. Turn right at the only red light. It should be near a church and library.

Anonymous said...

Chuck's Fish downtown is pretty solid. Cafe Venice or Old Venice was great when I used to go there 3-4 years ago.

PurpleTiger006 said...

I wish I could get my wife to post something on my blog, but she doesn't have the patience or the willpower to listen to me explain certain things.

Anyhoo, where is a good place in T-Town to go watch the game. My wife, myself, her two brothers, and their better halves are coming into town for the game. One of her brothers has tickets we don't, so we figure we'll watch it somewhere.

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