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Feb 19, 2012 06:48 PM

Best dinner eats in Huntsville?

I'm traveling to Huntsville, Alabama for a multi-day business trip and would love suggestions for good places for dinner. (Lunch-only places are out, unfortunately, as I'll have little choice for what to eat during the daytime.) On a previous shorter trip, I had a great meal at 1892 East, and would like to know what other new restaurants are out there that people are enjoying.

Also, if you've got thoughts on the list of recommended places that I've gotten from searching older posts on the Central South board, please weigh in:
- Tim's Cajun Kitchen
- Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur (I gather that I should avoid the one in Bob Wallace)
- Dreamland on University Drive
- Charm Thai
- Thai Garden
- 72 Pit Stop Cafe (for Delta-style hot tamales)

Oh--and Yelp reviews claim that Viet Huong and Po Boy Factory are good. Do y'all agree, or is this a case of Yelp reviewers not knowing what they're talking about?

Thanks so much for any suggestions. I'll post back after the trip with a report of what I liked!

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  1. If you are in the mood for BBQ, make the trip to Big Bob Gibson's in's the original and the staff that has earned all of the regional and national awards at all of the BBQ Cook-Off's (Memphis in May, etc. )in recent years. I always enjoy their brisket and I've heard the smoked turkey in excellent as well.

    Of the others on your list, I've only been to Thai Garden once or twice for lunch. Good but nothing terribly memorable.

    Thumbs up for Viet Huong for bun, pho or any of the clay pot dishes. My favorite is the bun with grilled pork and prawns. They get a bum rap in some of the online reviews for having a rude staff but, in my experience, nothing is farther from the truth. All of the waitresses are extremely nice and helpful. I suspect some of the online sour grapes may come from an experience with the restaurant manager. The lunch time crowd is so overwhelming most days, she appears from a distance to be the kitchen nazi. Luckily, she rarely deals with the customers directly except maybe while you are paying your bill and on the way out the door. Saigon (Vietnamese) restaurant in nearby Madison is also pretty good but I'll have to give Viet Huong a slight edge for being just a hair better.

    Also, Po Boy Factory is pretty good. This time of year, check and see if they have any Paul's King Cakes on the menu or for take-out or ordering. Paul's is a bakery just outside of New Orleans that specializes in Mardi Gras King Cakes. Po Boy Factory is one of the few places outside of the Gulf Coast that distributes their cakes.

    Lastly, a place I have discovered fairly recently, I Love Sushi on Cecil Ashburn in the Jones Valley area of town. Good quality sushi, a fairly full assortment of nigiri, sashimi and maki (more than just the usual Americanized California rolls and the like) as well as appetizers and full dinners. It's crammed into a little strip mall with one or two other restaurants and some retail shops so the parking is a little tight at times. I always go for an early lunch on Fridays when the fish seems to be the freshest.

    4 Replies
    1. re: autiger94

      I'm just a visitor myself, and so far my faves are Cotton Row for slightly upscale dining, and Thomas Pit BBQ for BBQ. I prefer it to Dreamland, both for food and atmosphere. I"ve been to Cotton Row three times, and haven't been disappointed yet.

      1. re: yummyummeatemup

        As I mentioned on another thread, I didn't care at all for Thomas.


      2. re: autiger94

        Thank you for the suggestions, autiger and yummy! I'll be arriving a little late for King Cakes, unfortunately, but will report back after my trip, which is next week.

        1. re: misochipotle

          I THINK those cakes are available year 'round (not just Mardi gras season). Traditional with the gold, green and purple frosting or "kicked up" with cream cheese filling and a variety of fruits.

          Edit: Not sure if the Po Boy Factory carries cakes all the time but they can be ordered from the bakery year 'round.

      3. And since you mentioned Thai, I had a very good red curry duck at Surin last week.

        1 Reply
        1. re: yummyummeatemup

          I second Cotton Row. It's outstanding.

        2. I've never been to NOLA so can't attest to how authentic Tim's is but have eaten there several times and very much like it. I've been told it's "Good Cajun" and a good solid meal.

          Big Bob's in Decatur is legendary. In N/C Alabama there is a thing called "White sauce." AKA White BBQ sauce or Alabama White sauce. Big Bob invented it and it's not often you get to visit the birth of something like that. The Q is very good. I like the ribs and turkey the best. Chris Lilly, the pit master does tons of competitions, has won tons of awards and is almost always featured on BBQ shows.

          We love Dreamland on University. The ribs aren't technically Q since they're not cooked (indirectly) with smoke but they're slow cooked over hickory. We go every trip down there. In literally dozens of visits Very good or better just about every time. They did have one period where the quality slipped. We happened to mention it to a guy with a Dreamland jacket on we saw at Costco. He said he was in town retraining people because there was too many complaints.

          We really like Po Boy Factory. They do good solid Cajun probably a bit above Tim's.

          (David) Gibson's (Grandson of Big Bob Gibson) on Bob Wallace has an excellent reputation. We have it on our "To do" list. The Gibson's you want to avoid is on Memorial Pkwy.

          72 PSC on 72 is new (ish). I called and asked about their tamales and was told the do "BBQ" tamales not delta style. Change?? Don't know. I want to give them a try. They seem to have a good rep too.

          I'll toss in a big rec. for Taters n Dawgs on 231/431 (Memorial Pkwy) in Meridianville (just north of HSV) for great burgers. "The Taco Bus" on Govenors by 9th for excellent Mexican. A Taco Truck that's actually a bus. Try the birria. Little Paul's BBQ (Paul is a grandson of Big Bob as well) does great Q as well. I love the turkey. We eat there a lot.

          Here's a fun list for you.
          I've been eating my way through and am a little over half way. Beauregards is closed now. I've also been to Big Ed's (Good pizza but the Big 8 is weighed down by toppings. Keep it simple), Big Spring Cafe (one of the dumpiest places I've been), Greenbrier (not the one near the interstate. Hushpuppies are indeed excellent) G's Country Kitchen (Really good fried chicken but not my style. Mac n Cheese is incredible), Stanleio's (Kitchen sink sub really is great), there are a few other places I can't quite remember off the top of my head.


          1. Everyone, thank you for the suggestions! I hope that nobody got hit by the tornadoes that came through on Friday -- it was a pretty scary day. But on to more cheerful topics . . .

            I went back to 1892 East and had a delicious time again. They've changed the menu since I was last there, so I had one of the new dishes: shrimp and mussels with long rice and grilled slices of bread. It was spicy and very nicely seasoned.

            Autiger, thanks for recommending Viet Huong! I had the shrimp clay pot, which was delicious. The coconut water was also quite good and was served with strips of coconut, which was a nice touch.

            For BBQ, I went to both Big Bob Gibson's (Decatur) and Dreamland. At Gibson's, it was definitely fun to be at the birthplace location, but I preferred the meat at Dreamland; both places had a nice crust and good texture, but I felt like Dreamland was better-seasoned and could stand on its own without sauce. The sides were better at Gibson's, though -- the slaw was particularly good.

            I went to both Tim's Cajun Kitchen and Po Boy Factory. Both were pretty good, but I actually preferred Tim's -- it had a more interesting beer selection and the etouffee was better than at Po Boy Factory. But I didn't dislike Po Boy Factory -- the crinkle fries were tasty and they made a good dressed shrimp po boy.

            Thanks again, and I'll make sure to try some of the other places suggested on the thread next time I'm down in Huntsville!

            1 Reply
            1. re: misochipotle

              A further update, based on my last trip to Huntsville:

              1892 East changed their menu for the summer, and it's not as good as it was earlier in the year. They seem to be running low on ideas or something.

              I've made it to Greenbrier's now and agree the hushpuppies are delicious!

              I Love Sushi was really good. The fish was nice and fresh, presented well, and the sushi chef was friendly and clearly proud of his work. Thanks for recommending it, Autiger!

              I went to the taco truck on 9th and Governor. It was good, solid Mexican. Not as good as what you can get in California or Texas, but better than most of what I can get up here in DC.

              I tried to go to 72 PSC, and saw a sign saying they'd recently moved to the Texaco Station on Ryland Pike, near the intersection with Delta Pine Rd. No hot tamales yet, although they should be getting those started next week sometime. They said the recipe is similar to the paper-wrapped style of Delta hot tamales but tweaked a bit. Hopefully I can make it there on my next trip!

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