Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Archibald's BBQ

Ill start out by saying Archibald's is not for the faint of heart.  If cleanliness and Health Department violations bother you, just head on over to Dreamland or Jim N Nicks.  From what I can tell the Health Department doesn't even visit the place.  Hell, they may not even have a business license.  Archibald's reminds me of street vendors in Thailand or India, people that are grilling tasty treats on the side of the road.  By far the best calamari I've ever had was on the side of the road in Goa, India. This India guy had set up a stand between the bars and the Arabian sea.  He was grilling fresh caught squid on a half barrel using his hands. He had seasoned the squid with a mixture of mild Indian spices. After spending a couple of weeks navigating the crowds in Delhi, Jaipur, and Mumbai it was so peaceful to sit by the beach, drink a cold Kingfisher, and eat that calamari...

 Archibald's is a shack behind some houses in North Port, Alabama. It is right off MLK blvd.  It's a little hard to find the first time.  You will have to look for a sign then drive up into someones yard and kinda park up on a dirt hill.  First experiences can be mildly intimidating, because its like you've just invited yourself into someone's back yard.  It is near the original Dreamland and from what older people have told me Archibald's is what Dreamland was like when it first opened. 

There are a few seats inside and a couple of tables outside. Archibald's is mostly a to go BBQ pit. Their menu is extremely limited, but that is the beauty of this place.  The only food they cook is ribs and sliced pork, which are served with sauce and white bread.  They do offer bags of chips and bottled drinks.  There are no baked beans, no slaw, no potato salad,etc... 
In the third picture you can see the lady tending the BBQ pit.  When you place your order she grabs the meat off the pit and cuts it by hand.  This is some seriously tasty food!!! It is the best Alabama BBQ I've ever had.  The meat is so moist and tender but the sauce steals the show.  Their sauce is spicy and sour with a hint of mustard.  You can't help but mopping up every last drop of sauce with a piece of bread.
The flavor of their sauce is really complex, there is something in the preparation or some ingredient that makes it have a taste that I can't replicate.  If you look closely at the sauce in the jar you will see flecks of mustard suspended in the sauce.  I've repeatedly asked the guy that runs the place about how they make the sauce, but he always grins at me and doesn't say a word.  The only thing he will tell me is that they do not make the sauce there and that someone else in their family makes it.  I do recommend bringing some of their sauce home, so bring some kind of container.  They sell it by the pint, quart and gallon.  Last time Marsha and I were there someone had placed an order for 4 gallons of nothing but sauce. 

Overall Archibald's is very basic BBQ.  But that is how BBQ should be, let the meat shine.  From what I can tell they do not use any kinda of seasonings or rubs. They give you slow cooked meats with one of the best BBQ sauces you will ever taste.  If you ever get the chance to eat at Archibald's you will not be disappointed!

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  2. I believe you have your timeline reversed. Archibald's predates the original Dreamland, and I've heard from Jeff Rouzie (who played and later coached under Bryant) that Archibald's was Coach Bryant's favorite ribs. Both have good ribs so it's probably not important which opened first. As for the best pork shoulder in Alabama, you'll have to drive about 2 hours north to either Johnny's BBQ in Cullman (I-65 exit 308) or Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur (on US-31 just north of AL-67). Both have excellent pulled pork but I'd give the advantage to Johnny's because I prefer their sauce.