Thursday, September 3, 2009

Phil's BBQ "The Best Butts in Alabama" (6/10) - 34. S. Randolph Ave., Eufaula, AL

Atlanta private high school students take their Easter Break vacations down in Destin. Eufaula, located in on the eastern border of Alabama on route 431, is one of the rural towns you have to pass through on the way. I always remembered travelling through Historic Eufaula passing the large Antebellum houses as they lined both sides of the street. Most of the homes have wrap-around front porches and large wooden columns that most people would associate with southern plantation homes.

I entered Phil's Barbecue already slightly prejudiced by my love for Eufaula. A large friendly black woman by the name of Lucy was manning the counter. Directly over her shoulder was Ray, a gentleman manning the pork shoulders cooking over the open-pit with a long metal spatula that slightly resembled a wooden pizza peel. Ray waved me back to give me a first-hand demonstration of his art of smoking meat. I snap a quick picture and Ray yelled over his shoulder, "Ay! Why you want a picture of that raw pork? Let me flip them over so you getta better shot." I peak my head inside the pit and make a quick observation that the fire's felt quite hot to be smoking over. The outside bark of the recently-flipped shoulders were bubbling from the heat of the fire, furthering my suspicion. I give Ray a high-five and returned to Lucy to order some sliced pork and St. Louis style spare ribs.

A waitress who was not previously behind the counter emerged from the back cradling 3 different bottles of sauce. She was proud of the restaurant's wide-variety. With a plate of sliced pork and a few spare ribs, I had to sample some sauces before diving into my lunch: Dennis Sauce, Super Hot, Hot, Medium, Mild, Sweet Lucy Sauce, and a mysterious bottle of Matina Sauce.

The meat was served dry, providing a nice change of pace from what I had eaten earlier that morning at Macon Road. To state that the meat was moist/juicy would be quite the understatement. The pork had the faintest taste of ham in it, and the ribs had a great flavor as well -- nice dry crust on the outside with a good amount of rendered fat underneath from the smoke over the open-pit. I discovered that Phil's sauces were mustard-based and the level of heat was directly determinant by the correlated concentration of cayenne pepper. Hot was perfect for my liking.
Ray and Lucy made a memorable impression and they couldn't have been nicer hosts. They made a few trips to my table during my meal to make sure everything was to my liking. I bought a bottle of medium sauce and will doctor the level of heat to best approximate what was in their bottle of Hot.

Phils Bar B Que Of Eufaula on Urbanspoon

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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.