5 Barbecue Joints to Feed Your Soul in the Shoals
Pulled pork, hot slaw, white BBQ sauce—if you’ve ever wondered what Alabama barbecue was all about, step into one of these lunch spots for an education.
Located at the north end of Court Street, 306 has been serving up Southern-style favorites since 2011. Stop by for smoked brisket available Tuesday, Thursday or Sunday; it’s an unbeatable combo paired with vinegary baked beans and rough-chopped spicy mustard slaw. Enjoy with friends in the restaurant’s large booths and tables while listening to Southern rock tunes for an authentic Alabama barbecue experience.
Just off 2nd Street in a small, unassuming building is where you’ll find this member of the Alabama Barbecue Hall of Fame. Since 1965, the Brooks family has been slinging hard-to-beat sweet and savory pork, slaw dogs and mustard-heavy potato salad. The smoky aroma, cozy counter and a wall of Golden Flake chips create a textbook small-town barbecue vibe. Brooks is takeout only currently due to Covid.
A staple in the area since 1972, Bunyan’s Bar-B-Q is a stone’s throw from downtown Florence. Bunyan’s may not look like much on the outside, but like most barbecue places in this region, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Locals come here for the pork barbecue but stay for the legendary hot slaw (watch out—it’s actually really spicy). While indoor seating is limited, a few retro tables outside allow you to enjoy this taste of the South in the warm Alabama sunshine.
Step into an institution at Dick Howell’s Barbecue, one of the most historic and affordable spots on the list. Generations of Shoals residents have feasted upon this family-owned spot’s slow-smoked pulled and hot slaw, both recipes that date back to the icon’s opening in 1947. To add an extra kick to the meat, they offer a spicy, vinegar-based red sauce, a flavorful departure from traditional barbecue sauce.
With four locations in the Shoals, Ricks’ Barbecue first came to the area in 1988 after beginning their barbecue journey in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. Rick’s offers the usual suspects such as smoked pork and ribs, but the standouts are the nachos and the loaded baked potatoes. Piled high with your choice of meat (we recommend the smoked chicken), cheese, sour cream and bacon, these taters are a full meal.