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Meat-Up in Memphis 2021

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Dreamland Bar-b-que in Montgomery, Alabama

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  • Jim White
    Club Member
    • Sep 2019
    • 455
    • Gainesville, FL

    Dreamland Bar-b-que in Montgomery, Alabama

    Recent travel took me to Montgomery, Alabama and I had the opportunity to make the pilgrimage to Dreamland. Dreamland got its start in Tuscaloosa (yeah, it's hard for a Gator fan to praise anything from there, but it's that good) in 1958 with John Big Daddy Bishop as the proprietor. There are now nine locations in Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

    Approaching the Montgomery location, there's almost a feel of a small speak-easy on a side street, but the incredible smell says that barbecue is underway.

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    The vibe inside is a blend of several barbecue traditions. Food is ordered through table service rather than at the counter Texas-style, but there are both individual tables and communal tables. The joint is lively and there's a nice selection of beers available.

    I had the combo platter with ribs and sausage.

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    It was a little disappointing to smell so much smoke walking up to the restaurant and find little to no smoke ring on the ribs. The meat was far from falling off the bones and had a substantial tug. The ribs were moist and tasty. The sauce is fairly thin and has a great vinegar tang to it. Serving it on the side is a plus in my book, too. The sausage was also very juicy; they didn't scrimp on the fat going into the meat blend. The sides were just average. Slaw was okay and the beans had no meat at all, just a bit of brown sugar flavor.

    Overall, the ribs and sausage were very good, but maybe hanging out here has raised my standards to the point I'd like a much heavier smoke ring and more bark (bark was minimal on the ribs, the one in the pic not on its side had the most bark of the three).

    The banana pudding was outstanding!

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  • tbob4
    Charter Member
    • Nov 2014
    • 2258
    • Chico, CA
    • BBQ's
      California Custom Smokers Intensive Cooking Unit
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      Santa Maria Grill
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      Sierra Nevada IPA


    Great review.


    • LA Pork Butt
      Charter Member
      • Dec 2014
      • 5189
      • Grew up in New Orleans, lived in Texas for 20 years, lived in Mandeville, LA for 22 years. I now liv

      If I remember correctly Dreamland grills their ribs. I had them years ago at a location in Louisiana and was disappointed, too.


      • Jim White
        Jim White commented
        Editing a comment
        That wouldn't surprise me. I didn't look around closely enough to see if the cooking setup was on display.

      • au4stree
        au4stree commented
        Editing a comment
        They cook their ribs hot/fast over direct heat, definitely not the low/slow method most think of when ordering ribs. But, they're delicious in their own way.

      • LA Pork Butt
        LA Pork Butt commented
        Editing a comment
        au4stree that method is similar to that of Rendezvous’s Baby Backs in Memphis. I have had threm cooked hot and fast at other places, and they are good in their own way, but if you are expecting smokey low and slow they are a disappointment.
        Last edited by LA Pork Butt; February 18th, 2020, 08:55 AM.
    • fzxdoc
      Founding Member
      • Jul 2014
      • 4896
      • My toys:
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      I love their sauce. Especially on pulled pork.



      • Jim White
        Jim White commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes! Vinegary sauces are just so good on pulled pork. I often make up a batch of vinegar with pepper flakes and a few other types of pepper when I smoke butts. My wife, from Kansas City, does not approve when I do that...
    • Byrang
      Club Member
      • Nov 2019
      • 41
      • Keller, TX

      Love that place! Grew up in Mississippi, and it was a treat to head over and get some Dreamland! That was 25 years ago, so glad to see it's still doing great!


      • HawkerXP
        Club Member
        • Jul 2016
        • 5160
        • Northern Virginia
        • 3 Weber kettles, and a PBC
          Dot w two probes
          Slo n Sear
          Cold beer

        Thanks for the write up!


        • jfmorris
          Club Member
          • Nov 2017
          • 2816
          • Huntsville, Alabama
          • Jim Morris

            • Camp Chef FTG900 Flat Top Grill (2020)
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          The Dreamland here in Huntsville is definitely not as good as the original in Tuscaloosa, but my wife LOVES their bbq sauce for some reason, so if we are out around lunch on a Saturday afternoon in that part of town, invariably end up at Dreamland. I've tried their ribs exactly once, and was not impressed, so tend to stay with the pulled pork, or their chicken wings, which are very good - smokey and spicy on the wings.


          • fracmeister
            Founding Member
            • Jul 2014
            • 1157
            • Sprang, TX
            • Dances with lemmings

              (and smokes on a Yoder 640, raises bees and shoots a .408 WIndrunner) "come la notte i furti miei seconda"

            Great story about the original Tuscaloosa location. In the old days on game days you drove up and held out however many 20 dollar bills you wanted and they put a corresponding mark on the window...and you'd drive on and they'd hand you that number of Styrofoam coolers of Q, white bread, etc. On game day there was no futzing around with individual orders.. Now that was a long time ago when 20 bucks would buy a decent amount of Q. Well, on a broadcast of college football (I don't know, could have been Roone Arledge or Frank Broyles or somebody of that vintage did a special and showed the operation... wll, an IRS agent watching wondered if they were accounting for the cash properly and it turns out they weren't even filing. Fines and settlements followed and one provision of the settlement included them providing free Q to some local charitable groups on some occasions for some number of years. I seem to recall the "lighthouse for the blind" was one recipient. Anyway they did that and continued on past their obligation dates doing it. I'm willing to wager that if you pay cash today you WILL get a receipt.

            As to the Q I have always found it acceptable but fails the "is it as good as Rudy's?" test. It often makes the "top 25 bbq restaurants in America" type lists only because it is famous. it wouldn't make the top 25 in Houston but hey, I go there when I am visiting LA (lower Alabama).

            Anyway that's the story the way I recall it but maybe someone has better memory


            • Jim White
              Jim White commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks. That's a great story. That and other similar stories make it clear that Big Daddy was a really caring guy. I'm pretty sure that contributed a lot to the dedicated following that Dreamland has.



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