The Blogger Enjoys The Word’s Best Ribs At Alabama’s Legendary Restaurant
One of the classic aspects about college campuses are not just the fun (and cheap) bars, but also classic food joints that help define the town and, in some cases, the entire university.
They are the iconic symbols of the small towns, the equivalent of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge or the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles.
In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, that place is Dreamland Ribs. And, naturally, that was one of my first stops during my “back to campus” weekend for the Bama-Ole Miss game.
Dreamland ribs are so good that I won’t have ribs anywhere else because nothing else can measure up to them.
My host took me to the original Dreamland, which is a tin roof shack next to a church with smoke billowing out of a smokestack that you can see as soon as you come around the corner. They have a sign but don’t need it. You can just follow the traffic, too.
Inside, the place is basic with licensee plates covering the walls. I don’t think anyone pays much attention to the decor anyway, because they are too focused on the ribs.
We sat at the bar, were served by a lady with a deep Southern accent (though her husband is from Palm Spring, CA) and were immediately brought a plate of white bread and sauce. For years, all Dreamland served was ribs with its sauce and white bread, but now it has gotten “fancy” with sides of cole slaw, baked beans and potato salad.
We ordered a half a slab or ribs and WOW!!! Not only is the sauce fantastic, but the ribs themselves are flat-out delicious. Big ribs, thick and lots of perfectly cooked. I mean these things are awesome!
Sure, the sauce is great – it’s spicy and bursting full of flavor the way T.J. Yeldon bursts through a hole on the football field and it’s a darker red than the Crimson Tide’s jerseys – but it’s the ribs themselves that are the star.
Perhaps because ribs have been sitting on this well-used grill for several decades, they taste just a tad better at the original than the sister location in Northport, and other locations in the state in Birmingham and Mobile.
I ate about eight ribs, went through 10 paper towels and washed ’em down with good ‘ol Southern iced tea (well, sort of Southern iced tea; I take my unsweetened). They do serve beer at Dreamland, but I had just gone for a run – by Nick Saban’s house, no less – and we’ll be drinking plenty of brews later in the night, so I opted for the tea.
The cost for this feast for the two of us was a more-than-reasonable $29.
Fully satisfied, we then drove around campus and saw dozens of tents in place on the Quad for the next day’s tailgate party. We went by Bryant-Denny Stadium, down Paul Bryant Drive and, of course, circled Sorority Row.
Next up: Friday night in downtown T-town and then game day!
Dreamland Ribs Address:
5535 15th Avenue, East
Tuscaloosa, AL 35405
Phone: (205) 758-8135