Classic Eats is a series about old-school and beloved Southern dining establishments. Do you have suggestions? Leave them in the comments.
It is a well-known fact that the culinary route to many North Alabama hearts goes through Big Bob Gibson’s Barbecue in Decatur, Alabama. The Baby Boomer crowd can remember when Big Bob himself, standing 6′ 4″ tall and weighing nearly 300 pounds, manned the cash register and greeted all the customers at the first location on 6th Avenue, built in 1952.
They have carefully passed this love for Gibson’s on to their children and grandchildren. The smell of the world famous, hickory-smoked pork, chicken, ribs, beef, and turkey continues to entice hungry folks, just as it did when Big Bob first started cooking his brand of barbecue back in 1925.
He worked for L & N Railroad during the week and cooked in his backyard on the weekends. Now, 92 years and 4 generations later, it is still a family-owned business with thousands of loyal followers.
You can choose to eat-in or drive-through for carryout. Big Bob’s has great vinegar-based coleslaw, potato salad, and baked beans, but be sure to save room for pie. Coconut, chocolate and lemon icebox with their mile-high meringues are probably the top sellers, followed very closely by pecan and peanut butter. All are made in-house and worth every calorie.
In this part of the South, you can expect to find both white and red sauce, as well as hot sauce. If you haven’t tried white sauce on barbecue, give it a try, especially on chicken. Big Bob himself created the recipe for that white sauce, and every chicken is smoked until it is done and then thoroughly baptized in it.
Eat like the locals for a meal or so. You can buy the meat by the pound, the plate or by the sandwich, and Big Bob’s caters for large crowds. The sauces are bottled and available for sale in the restaurants and in area grocery stores.
Bar-B-Q-stuffed potatoes and Bar-B-Q salads are also on the menu, as well as Brunswick stew. You’ll find yourself returning again and again while you decide on your favorites.
Tips for Visiting Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q
Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q has 2 locations in Decatur, Alabama. At 1715 6th Avenue, SE, it is open 7 days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. At 2520 Danville Road, SW, it is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 8:15 p.m.
About the Author
Connie Pearson is a native Alabamian but spent four years living in Ecuador as a missionary. Her book about that time is called Telling It On the Mountain: 52 Days in the Life of an Improbable Missionary.
She and her husband have 3 married children, 12 grandchildren and have traveled extensively within the USA and to the countries of Brazil, Guatemala, South Korea, Kenya, Venezuela, and Italy.
She has degrees in piano performance and music education but is currently enjoying this stage of her life as a travel writer and blogger. Connie is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, The International Travel Writers Alliance, and International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance.