Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dreamland Barbecue (5/10) - 5535 15th Avenue, East Tuscaloosa, AL 35405

I departed New Orleans on a Monday in hopes of trying four new barbecue restaurants before I arrived back in Atlanta later that night.  I first arrived at Que Korner only to realize that the restaurant had not only been permanently closed, but also wasn't located anywhere near a corner.  I left Foxworth, MS (where I past a few baptist churches that proudly hung Confederate flags) and headed towards Leatha's Barbecue in Hattiesburg, MS (birthplace of John DeLeon).  

Leatha's has an impressive reputation for a restaurant located behind an RV lot.  I have read rave reviews about its ribs and the waitresses' have an uncanny ability to memorize entire parties worth of orders on the fly.  More importantly, Leatha's was a big inspiration to mega-lesbian Iron Chef - Cat Cora.  
Leatha's was also closed so I headed towards Tuscaloosa to try the original location of Dreamland Barbecue.

Dreamland is a Tuscaloosa institution.  John Bishop, deceased since 1997, founded the restaurant over 50 years ago. After his wife passed away a few months after Mr. Bishop, the restaurant was passed down to their children.  I walked in at 4pm to a "make yourself feel at home" from behind the counter.  The restaurant was completely empty, except for the two of us, and exceptionally dark.  I can imagine being a student and going to Dreamland to watch an away game on their tvs.  Ribs, beers, and no indication of what time of day it is.  Spending the day in Dreamland without seeing a stitch of daylight could easily become a lifestyle.

I walked around the place taking pictures from every angle imaginable.  Even before I asked, the employee offered to show me the open-pit where they cook the ribs.  The fire and coals were glowing red-hot.  He informs me that they cook their ribs for 45 minutes to an hour over burning hickory logs.  Traditional barbecue restaurants typically smoke ribs from anytime between 4 to 12 hours.  Grilled ribs at Dreamland?  Nothing better to do than order a full slab since ribs are the only thing on the menu.  

All the fat in the tip of the spare rib was still intact and impossible to chew through.  Although I was definitely disappointed in the quality of the ribs (grilled rather than smoked), I still love how distinct and incredible its sauce is.

Dreamland Bar B Que on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Don't worry - you didn't miss anything at Leathas...


Ratings and Reviews

In order to provide a consistent grading standard across each restaurant/region, I order a barbecue pork sandwich (and other meats/sides if a restaurant/region specializes in another specialty). In addition to comparing the quality of food, I will also take into consideration other intangibles (ambiance, atmosphere, service, authenticity, etc.) in my ratings as I deem appropriate.

Basically, a 10/10 represents an incredible meal, while a 6/10 score indicates a decent dining experience but a substantial number of dishes fell short of great. Lower scores indicate unpleasant experiences which I would most likely not even recommend to my worst enemy (Jonas Singer).

I reserve the right to continuously edit/update previous posts and to change rating scores as I see fit.