Alabama’s BBQ Restaurants, Sauces and Competitions.

August 2021

One thing Alabamians know is barbecue, and we’re not talking about the kind where you throw hot dogs and hamburgers on a grill. No, we mean truly authentic, cooked-to-precision barbecue pork, ribs and chicken: the kind you’d travel miles to eat. We take our barbecue so seriously that there are a number of festivals where the best of the best pitmasters compete to be the best of the best. Alabama also has world-renowned barbecue restaurants, some of which began from holes dug in a backyard during the 1920s. Then, there’s the sauce, whether it is vinegar-based red or Alabama white, the sauce is just as important as the meat itself. Whichever Alabama town you visit, eating at the local barbecue restaurant or attending the local barbecue festival should most definitely be on your list of things to do. 

A Shortlist of Alabama’s Barbecue Restaurants

As we said earlier, some of Alabama’s restaurants are world renowned and award winning. People visit from all over the world to eat at these barbecue establishments. 

Big Bob Gibson’s

Decatur, Alabama

From its humble beginnings, Big Bob Gibson’s made a name for themselves in this north-central Alabama town. “Big Bob,” as he was known to locals, started selling the barbecue he cooked over a hand-dug pit on his farm outside Decatur, Alabama. Today, the restaurant is known for its hickory-smoked chicken, pork and turkey. Gibson’s white BBQ sauce and red BBQ sauce are both award winning. Big Bob Gibson's pitmasters compete annually and often bring home trophies as the best in the country. 

Dreamland Bar-B-Que

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Everyone in Alabama knows to order ribs, white bread and a side of sauce for dipping when eating at Dreamland. In 1958, Big Daddy, who founded Dreamland in Tuscaloosa, says that God told him in a dream to start the restaurant. The hickory-smoked ribs quickly became a local favorite, and rumor has it that Coach Paul Bear Bryant took recruits to eat at Dreamland anytime they were in town visiting the University of Alabama. Today, the restaurant also offers pulled pork and chicken sandwiches with a number of sides. And for dessert, the homemade banana pudding hits the spot. 

Leo & Susie's Green Top Bar-B-Que

Dora, Alabama

Edith Corey took over as owner of this famous Alabama Bar-B-Que restaurant in 1951. She then sold it to Leo and Susie Headrick in 1973 for $25,000. She told someone that she thought the Headricks would fail, and she would buy back the restaurant after taking a vacation. The restaurant didn’t fail; it thrived and is now known for its slow-cooked pork cooked over hickory coals. 

Lannie's Bar-B-Q Spot

Selma, Alabama

Lannie’s Bar-B-Q Spot on Minter in Selma, Alabama, is best known for their barbecue pork sandwich on white bread with a fried pork skin on top. Their smoked meat is topped with a spicy red sauce. If you go, it is takeout only; there is no dining in at Lannie’s. 

Cotton State BBQ

Mobile, Alabama

The Cotton State Barbeque in downtown Mobile, Alabama was opened by Tillman brothers in 2009. They put a spin on the traditional barbecue by combining smoked meats in new dishes. Their mother prepares Moon Drop Banana Pudding from scratch every morning.

Upcoming Alabama Barbecue Festivals

Aug. 7

Smoke in the Park

Glencoe, Alabama

A backyard barbecue competition. Pitmasters will compete for $6000 in prizes. This is a Kansas City BBQ Society sanctioned competition. 

Aug. 13-14

Whistle Stop Weekend and Rocket City BBQ Festival

Huntsville, Alabama

A music festival and a Kansas City BBQ Society sanctioned event: the largest fundraiser for The Early Works Family of Museums. 

Aug. 20-21 

Cocky Cookoff, Jacksonville State University

Jacksonville, Alabama

Amateur BBQ cookoff competition on the campus of Jacksonville State University.  Teams will compete for the title of Grand Champion and cash prizes. 

Aug. 27-28

Riverfest BBQ & Music Festival

Decatur, Alabama

Annual music and barbecue cookoff that raises money for the Mosaic Mentoring of North Alabama. Competitors from all over the country participate in this barbecue cookoff. 

Aug. 28

4th Annual Hog Days of Summer

Montgomery, Alabama

Robert Earl Keen will headline this BBQ and music festival at Montgomery’s Union Station. Experience some of the best barbecue restaurants under one roof. Full Moon, Dreamland, Brenda’s and many more have signed up to participate in this annual event. 

For more information on Alabama’s world-famous BBQ, visit:

We use cookies on our website to enhance your experience. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. Learn more in our Privacy Policy.