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Green Top Bar-B-Q

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In the late 1990’s I was working a video freelance gig somewhere around Birmingham or Tuscaloosa.  I don’t even remember what it was for but I heard an old crew member talk about eating at a barbecue restaurant where you could smell the smoke coming up the road.  That immediately caught my interest and I asked him what place he was talking about.  Green Top was his answer.

I had never heard of Green Top so he gave me a quick location.  This was long before everyone had a website so I didn’t know exactly where it was.  However, the first time Greg (my barbecue mentor) and I were working in Birmingham and had spare time, we jumped on 78 and headed towards Jasper.

Green Top was a simple, green, cinder block building right on the highway.  The pits are fed from the back of the building so the smoke drifted towards the road and into the path of every passing car.  The old guy was right.  The smoke gave away the experience we were in for.

The inside was nothing to talk about but we sat in the lower room and had pork sandwiches and fries.  The meat was smoky and a firm texture.  It wasn’t dry but the way they chopped it made it feel more like a hamburger than a pulled pork sandwich.  The red sauce was good and the fries are hand cut and deep fried.  They reminded me of fries we made at home and this is the only place I’ve ever seen them done this way.  We enjoyed our lunch with one of our companions even ordering a second sandwich.  Over ten years later, though, I discovered the true gem of Green Top, the barbecue potato with white sauce.

The pork barbecue potato with white sauce is one of my favorite dishes anywhere.  It begins with a giant russet potato the size of a youth football.  It’s baked without foil so the skin becomes firm to hold all the contents together after it’s sliced open.  A generous amount of cheese goes in, then hot, chopped pork is placed on top and all of the cheese is melted by the time the plate hits your table.  You’ll probably get red sauce if you don’t specify but I always get the white sauce.  It is killer on this potato and I order it every time I go to Green Top.  I don’t even look at the menu.

Let me tell a brief story about how good this dish is.  I went to Green Top with a couple other producers after a shoot in the Sumiton area.  I ordered the barbecue potato as usual but they didn’t have any white sauce.  My choices were go ahead and eat using the red sauce or wait while they went to the store, came back, and made more white sauce.  I chose to wait.  It took about 30 minutes but it was so worth it.  The sauce is peppery and lemony with a texture that’s a bit like a gravy.  It is smooth and pours like a good sauce but it’s not runny.  The consistency is just right and I really love that because it allows you to taste the flavors in every bite.  I eat everything, including the skin, because that sauce is just that good.  Simple but amazing!  That’s a trait of good barbecue.

Early in 2022, a fire in the original Green Top structure forced a move to a strip mall in Dora.  The new digs are very nice and comfortable.  Much of the memorabilia from the old place is now hanging on the walls of the new spot.  It still feels like Green Top and the barbecue potato is still king.  Maybe it will prove to be a blessing in disguise.  Just call it tradition with a facelift!

Bonus points for:

TV with sports

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