Alabama Getaway: Review of Big Bob Gibson BBQ
I was on a short road trip to my hometown in NW Alabama and on the way wanted to have some BBQ at the famous Big Bob Gibson BBQ in Decatur, Alabama. They have been around since 1925 and are very serious about the BBQ business. The first thing you’ll notice inside are all the awards. Nearly every square foot of wall space is covered with plaques, ribbons, and framed magazine articles. Even the floors are crowded with huge first-place BBQ competition trophies. Chris Lilly, their executive chef/owner has written cookbooks and is regularly touring the country filming his competition BBQ TV shows. So I should be having the BBQ lunch of a lifetime, right? Read on…
12:30 on a Friday, the place was about half full. The waitress took my order of brisket, ribs, greens, stew and mac-n-cheese and in a flash it was in front of me.
The tender, thick slices of brisket were delicious. It was seasoned well (possibly marinated) and didn’t require a drop of sauce. It had nice bark consisting of a tangy rub. It was some of the best I’ve had.
The ribs came out on their own plate, and they needed to… It was enough for three people. They had a tangy baste and an awesome smoky flavor. But they were somewhat inconsistent. Some rib meat was tough and some was very tender. My thoughts are that the Atlanta BBQ scene is very rib-competitive so it spoils us reviewers. These ribs were really great but far from being the best I’ve had.
I sampled some chicken from my lunch partner’s plate. Let me say that it was the shining star. Accompanied with their white BBQ sauce (a Big Bob Gibson BBQ invention), it was wonderful. It was smoky and tender beyond anything I’ve experienced. BBQ chicken and white sauce is now my favorite thing.
The stew was more processed than what we typically get in Atlanta, but was excellent nonetheless. The sides were okay and not much to write home about.
Being in the Bible Belt means no beer menu in family restaurants. And based on the elderly lunch crowd, it wasn’t missed. Unsweetened iced tea was just fine.
On the way out I picked up a coconut cream pie to have later with my dad and it was in its own class as well. It was amazingly good and didn’t last long between us. Is there a connection between coconut pie and BBQ? My dad thinks so but I can’t say that I’ve seen it in the BBQ world.
As a bonus, owner Chris Lilly was my high school classmate. This was our reunion weekend and we had a chance to catch up later at the festivities. He’s a great guy who’s enjoyed a ton of well-deserved recognition and success.
Big Bob Gibson BBQ is on the roadmap of some of the finest BBQ in the country for good reason. Skip the ribs and go with the brisket and chicken with white sauce and you’ll know why.
Four and a half cleavers!