This post picks up with samples from western Virginia, Alabama, and Georgia (by way of Vermont). The first one covered Louisiana and Texas. The second post covered Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. The third covered North Carolina and eastern Virginia. This is a very unscientific sampling taken from doing a search on the likely places we might stop for a meal. We consulted the Southern BBQ Trail and Our State Magazine (NC), as well as doing simple searches.
This first is Curtis’ Ninth Wonder of the World Barbeque in Putney Vermont. It has been covered in the New York Times and the Montreal Gazette. Here is an excerpt from my friend Don Lesser’s 2008 blog post on the place. “Putney is just north of Brattleboro at Exit 4 of Route 91. Curtis’ Ninth Wonder of the World Barbeque (802-387-5474) is located on Route 5 north right next to the Mobil station. Curtis Tuff came to Putney about 50 years ago and started working at the Green Mountain Orchards. Some teachers at the Putney School asked him to help barbecue a pig for one of their events and one thing led to another. In 1978, he opened the Ninth Wonder Barbeque, housed in two blue school buses that he used to take his ‘que on the road. The pit is off one of the buses and the ribs and chicken are passed inside to be portioned out. Once you get your meal, you take it to a picnic table. Sides include corn muffins, baked beans, collard greens, cole slaw and potato salad. There is no beer or wine, but there is a line of Curtis’ bottled sodas.” All of this is still the case five years later and we had a great meal. Curtis says he cooks Georgia BBQ so we are still dealing with Southern cue here. You can see him cooking below, along with the place and his food.
The next is Peck’s BBQ in Staunton VA. It is owned by Swoope resident Samuel A. Thomas III, otherwise known as "Peck." "Everything they serve is made from scratch. This includes the sauces and dips, French fries and hush puppies. Even the cole slaw. We had great ribs with crispy hush puppies. Using a vinegar-based sauce, the meat is cooked for long periods of time at low temperatures with smoke from a hickory wood fire. We also had wonderful chopped pork with nice cole slaw and interesting homemade fries that were extra crispy. The ribs were really meaty as you can see in the close up. It is located at 477 Lee Jackson Highway - Staunton, VA 24401 - 540.886.HOGS (886.4647) or 886.4648.
The third place had the best ribs of the trip. Several North Carolina remained tops for pulled pork. The rib winner was Dreamland BBQ in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The first version opened by John “Big Daddy” Bishop in 1958. There is multiple locations now but we went to the original Dreamland Café, located about two miles from the intersection of Hwy 82 and Interstate 59 just south of Tuscaloosa in an area known as Jerusalem Heights. In the beginning, it wasn’t just ribs and white bread. But these items became so well known they decided to primarily focus on their specialties. We had a full slab of ribs but also some wonderful sausage. As their web site says, “Dreamland is still eminently known for bar-b-que ribs. The décor inside the original café is warm and inviting with a big bar, a few tables and booths and a pot bellied stove. It feels like you are attending a family picnic indoors and the ribs are delicious, cooked the same way for over 50 years.”
It was also full of Alabama football stuff and license plates from all over the country. You can see the inside below. The motto is "Ain’t Nothing Like ‘Em, Nowhere!" We had a lot of good ribs on our trip but these were the best so I guess I can agree, for now at least. There is more research to be done.
We also saw evidence of barbecue up North in Quebec, as well as northern Maine and Vermont but did not stop on this trip as the timing was not right. One Maine option offered lobster rolls. It reminded us of the Louisiana BBQ place that also provided boiled crawfish. The Bottomless Pit BBQ in Jeffersonville, VT is at the very bottom of the photos. We talked with the owner but we were leaving town and he had not yet fired up his cooker.