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Jim's Hwy 82 Barbecue

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I was introduced to Jim’s in 1996 while a student at Alabama.  I was working a co-op for public TV, gripping for documentaries under the direction of Greg McNair, my mentor, friend, and barbecue junkie.  The first time we traveled together to Montgomery we stopped at Jim’s, which was a little building with a few tables inside.  Jim was always outside, sitting on a bench in the shade on the front sidewalk.  Greg introduced me to him and we were shown his smoker, which was made from either stainless steel or aluminum.  I’m not sure which but I remember it being shiny.  I’ve never seen one like it and wonder if it makes the difference in Jim’s barbecue being the best in the state.

That was also the day Greg introduced me to the Big Jim, a half-pound pulled pork sandwich covered in sauce on an oversized bun.  From the first bite I knew this was something special, something unique.  That lunch started my passion for barbecue.  Jim’s is a special place for me, and not just for the nostalgia.  It’s the best barbecue in the state!

Be aware that Jim’s is in the little town of Billingsley.  At least, that’s the mailing address.  That means on most nights that everyone knows each other.  Last time I went there were 15 people in the dining room.  Everyone eyeballed me when I went to take my seat.  I was clearly the outsider and they were just checking me out.  Awkward but after that initial moment everything was comfortable.  It was just really amusing.

The most important thing to be aware of is how dynamite the food is.  The pork at Jim’s is super tender and moist without being greasy and has a nice chew that feels substantive.  The texture allows the enjoyment of eating a meal and leaves you satisfied at the end.  The flavor is slightly smoky with a textbook aroma that gets all the senses going.  It’s unique to Jim’s.  I can’t think of anyone’s pork that compares to it in texture and taste.  I just need to cut myself off or I’ll go on and on trying to describe it.

Jim’s also has one of my favorite sauces.  It does remind me of Dreamland in its color and seasoning, but it is a bit milder.  It has the same color and is the perfect balance of sweet and spice.  It’s also a thick sauce so it holds to the meat without making the bread soggy.  It’s so good I even dip my fries in it.  Ketchup is just too sweet when standing beside that heavenly pork and masterful sauce.  It’s the perfect bite and is my favorite pulled pork sandwich in the world!

When it comes to sides, Jim’s really knows how to deep fry.  Whether it’s corn fritters, French fries, or fried pickles, it’s always golden brown, crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside.  The large menu delivers plenty of options for sides and desserts.  Numerous entrees aside from barbecue are also on the menu.

The décor is simple.  The walls are covered with Alabama and Auburn posters and pictures going back to the 1980s.  (Moreso Alabama but don’t let this discourage you if you’re an Auburn fan.  The food is absolutely worth any discomfort and there is an eight-foot wall in the back with some Tiger memorabilia.  Take the table beside it and everything will be fine.)  Many are autographed and even personalized to Jim himself.  It’s fun to browse the walls and reminisce or discover items you didn’t know existed.  They’re far from museum quality with most being tacked or taped up.  Nothing is pretentious.  It’s just comfortable and friendly.  It’s everything you want in a rural barbecue joint and worth whatever distance you have to drive.

Bonus points for:

Order at the counter

Sauce on the table

Coke products

Sports on TV

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