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Chase driving truck with Sho'Nuff banner

Sho'Nuff Bar-B-Que

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Alex City

Bar-B-Que

Stop for

Ahead

THE LOW DOWN

Max Shores was a producer/director at the Center for Public TV when I started working there as a student.  He had a knack for creating documentaries about oddball subjects, such as kudzu, salt, and haunted houses.  When my work-study turned into a full-time gig, Max and I became very good friends as I toured the state with him.  Our pursuit of the quirky and unexpected led us to local eateries all over Alabama.  When you eat in lots of small, rural restaurants, you end up with ridiculous amounts of stories.  Although I haven’t seen Max in years, I bet we could sit down and talk for hours about our memories of those golden days.  It would be great for us, but I don’t know how many others would be amused.

 

Through all that, the dream was to produce a documentary about barbecue.  While friend and mentor Greg McNair really turned me on to barbecue, Max was my enabler.  We’d even follow a simple rumor to score a tasty meal and most of the time it worked out.  We even dared the unknown, stopping at shacks we knew nothing about because it looked like it had potential.  Of course, sometimes we did that because our location was so rural, it was the only place we could find that served food.  All the while, we fed each other’s obsession and looked for the time when a show on piggy goodness would be right.

 

I ended up leaving CPT&R because it was impossible for me to support my family.  As much as I loved the work, I had to try to find a more prosperous living.  Max stayed on and finally got to make that documentary.  Not only one about barbecue in Alabama, but a second specifically about barbecue restaurants in Birmingham.  I was ecstatic for him and considered myself a “consultant” to his work.  I don’t think I got actual film credit, but knowing the genesis of the dream was fulfilling enough for me.

 

Sho’Nuff Bar-B-Que is a joint about which Max received a hot tip while we were working in Alexander City.  We didn’t know much except that it was in the corner of a strip mall east of Highway 280.  Normally that’s not enough information to find a place, unless you’re in Alex City.  This was before the days of smart phones and Google Maps, or even Mapquest so a quick web search wasn’t possible.  Fortunately it didn’t take much driving before we found the strip mall, but we still almost missed Sho’Nuff.  You see, when they say it’s in the corner, it’s waaayyyyyy back in the corner.  The mall makes an L shape that has the beginnings of a T.  You have walk into the corner to get to the door.  It’s tucked in a little alcove, making the storefront almost impossible to see from the lot.  We found it and that was just the beginning of our discovery.  We were so blown away that Max included Sho’Nuff in his first barbecue doc, “A Taste of Hog Heaven.”  You can find it and Max’s other documentaries at maxshores.com.

 

When you walk in, the first thing that hits you is the smell.  It just smells like barbecue, with smoky notes filling the air.  The first thing my wife says?  “Smells good.”  I’d been building this place up so that was a good start.  The décor is different from most barbecue joints.  Here it’s black and white checkered floors with black and white tablecloths.  Tradition might say that’s better suited for a pizza joint, but the red, white, and black theme is carried throughout and makes for a comfortable, coordinated dining room.

 

More than any other joint I frequent, the first sense that kicks in upon service is smell.  The olfactory receptors perk up from the smoky aroma rising from the plate.  My order is always pulled pork (which comes with red sauce on top), baked beans and onion rings.  If ever Christian Dior makes a barbecue perfume, this is what it should smell like.  That combination more than adequately preps you for what’s to come.

 

The pork is shredded and has lots of bark, giving it a good chew and making it really fun to eat.  It makes a neat bite and delivers smoky, backyard flavor.  It does need the sauce or it would be slightly dry.  Adding the sauce on top helps hold it all together and is a beautiful compliment to the meat’s natural flavor.  The sauce is a thick red with a little kick up front, then mellows, allowing the tomato base to come forward.  It’s a beautiful harmony between both components and is one of the most desirous bites I’ve come across.

 

The baked beans are cooked firm and served in a rich sauce, flavored with onion and a blend of seasoning that’s pretty safe.  It’s a good dish that’s hearty and comforting.  When I view this plate as a whole, the onion rings may be the star.  These babies are battered and deep fried to a crispy brown.  They’re served hot and in a huge pile.  Most joints, if they even serve onion rings, give you four or five.  These come in a mound that could be considered heavy lifting.  The coating is light which lets the onion flex as the dominant flavor.  I love these babies and hold them up as the golden fried standard.

 

Uh, my mouth is watering just writing this.  Sho’Nuff is one of the best barbecue joints for pure sensory overload.  Taste, smell, touch, site….complete immersion in barbecue bliss.  What about sound, you may ask?  That descriptor may be indecent for a family friendly article such as this.

 

Bonus points:

Order at counter

Coke products

Sho'Nuff pulled pork, onion rings, and baked beans
Sho'Nuff pulled pork & sauce
Sho'Nuff onion rings
Sho'Nuff baked beans
Sho'Nuff exterior
Sho'Nuff interior

WHATCHA THINKIN?

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