I crossed over the Alabama border, and I was understandably proud. Proud that I was able to cobble Brett Favre's illiterate hometown, a stop in Hattiesburg, and a few billboards into enough material for four blogposts. I mean, if they made blogging an Olympic sport, what would the degree of difficulty be on that? Wouldn't that be like the Triple Lindy of blogging? I'll let you judge for yourself ... what is more difficult? Putting together my recent slew of blog posts on a nothin' happenin' backwater like Mississippi, or this ...
Yeah, I thought so. Screw you, MELLON!!
So when I put my trip out there publicly for our listener base to comment on/contribute to/ridicule, the one eatery that was designated as "can't miss" more than any other was the Dreamland BBQ in Tuscaloosa. So I pulled into Tuscaloosa late afternoon on Saturday, and knowing that I would be hitting the 'Bama campus on Sunday, and also starving from having not eaten in nearly three hours (gasp!), I made consuming those delectable ribs my priority. (That is after checking into the luxurious Fairfield Inn off of Skyland Avenue, complete with continental breakfast!)
I followed Mapquest's directions to the Dreamland, and as I was weaving up hills and along curvy rural backroads I started questioning why we trust any computers ever. (Yes, I'm looking right at you my sweet little laptop ... don't look at me like that ... ) As it turns out, my computer was being truthful; the Dreamland BBQ is off the beaten path, standing by its lonesome at the top of a hill in the middle of one of Tuscaloosa's, um, less affluent neighborhoods.
The first thing I noticed when you walk in is the "hole in the wall" feel to the place, and I don't mean that in a derogatory way. I mean it as the highest compliment. Old school booths, old school counter seats, and walls seemingly papered with autographed pictures of famous people who have consumed their ribs. And here is the best part ... I was the only person there! Total old school feel. I felt like Tony Soprano eating by himself in an empty Vesuvio's. Only replace "Tony" with a starving radio host, replace "mushroom tortellini" with slabs of ribs, and replace New Jersey with ... well, somewhere that most assuredly was not New Jersey.
The beauty in Dreamland was in its simplicity. I have said this many times about In N Out Burger -- there is a reason that they are so good. You go there, and they only do one thing. Hamburgers (well, and fries and shakes, but you get my drift). And they do it better than anyone. (Sorry, Whataburger loyalists.) Well, Dreamland BBQ is like the In N Out Burger of ribs. Their menu has ribs, a couple sides, and that's it. When I sat down and my waitress Faye came over to take my order, there was no indecisiveness on my part. There didn't need to be. All Faye had to say was "Wanna start off with half a slab?" and all I had to do was grunt, and it was on like Donkey Kong ... assuming Mario were a rib-devouring slob. Faye brought out a plate of white bread, a half slab of mouth watering ribs, and my large coke, and I went to work (Pendergast quirk you may not have been aware of -- when eating dinner, I'd much rather have a soda than a beer. Now when getting hammered, I'd much rather have beer, but for dinner, Coke is my drink of choice.). The sauce was the perfect combination of spicy, sweet and tangy. I think I mopped up every drop with the white bread sponges they gave me. Three plates of ribs later, they rolled me out of there like the Oompa Loompa's rolling out Violet Beauregard after she carelessly defied Wonka's orders to not eat the gum.
I mean look at these pics of the front of the building. When I pulled in, it was still light out. When I left, it was dark and they had to practically kick me out.
Needless to say, everything from the atmosphere to the food to the service equated out to the highest grade on the trip yet. And for good measure, the staff at the Dreamland dropped the double rods. Say "Hello" to Raymond, Faye, Carmen, and Rhonda!
DREAMLAND BBQ - TUSCALOOSA, AL
FOOD: SEVERAL SLABS OF RIBS AND LOAVES OF BREAD