Alabama’s tourism authorities have flipped March Madness into a food fight, pitting many of the Yellowhammer State’s revered barbecue purveyors against one another in an online popularity contest.
Based on the most recent balloting, one of the following contenders will walk away with the title once voting closes April 7: Jim ‘N Nick’s in Birmingham (chicken, pork), Smokin’ on the Boulevard in Florence (ribs) and Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q in Bessemer (sauce).
Trouble is, some of the folks here on Capitol Hill would beg to differ with the vox populi. Given his druthers, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., would have propelled Archibald’s BBQ in Northport to the top of the rib heap, while Jim’s Highway 82 BBQ in Billingsley gets the nod for pork and Dreamland Bar-B-Que in Tuscaloosa remains his source for must-have sauce.
Retiring Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., declined to toss out any bracket busters — “The two things you can argue about endlessly in Alabama are football and barbecue,” he warned — but acknowledged that others in his immediate orbit have been second-guessing the slowly unfolding results.
“My staff has been arguing over their picks in the back office,” he shared, adding, “Some of them had favorites they thought were bounced way too early.”
They all, however, have coalesced around the idea of an exploratory dining CODEL.
“In the name of good staff work, they think I might need to fly them all down to Alabama to try everything before they finalize their brackets,” Bachus quipped.
The diplomatic pol gave D.C. props for trying but stressed that his mouth is happiest while back home.
“There are some good places in Washington. But there’s nothing like eating hot barbecue in its home setting with a jug of Milo’s sweet tea and a side of banana pudding,” Bachus suggested.