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Mar 27, 2012 09:05 PM

What's up in Huntsville?

I'm travelling here a lot lately, and need some help with finding good eats. I've been here a few times in the last year, and have done some exploring. I've eaten at Cotton Row (my favorite so far), 801 Franklin (very good, if a little stuffy), Grille 29 (chain-like IMO, probably not going back, although I had a fine beer there), Surin (on Airport Rd, very good duck, nice martini), Thomas BBQ (love the pulled pork; ribs good, not great; people really nice), Ol' Heidelburg (zzzzzz......), Greenbriar (away from, not on 565; killer hushpuppies, OK BBQ), 1892 East (nice beer selection, food OK), Dreamland (good pulled pork, not writing home about it, when I have Andy Nelson's killer Q every few weeks back in Baltimore).

I gather I should check out Viet Huong and Charm Thai. I'll try to take care of that business this week.

Any recommendations about where to get a good beer and hear some music would be welcome as well. I've been to the Nook, which seems like a good find for this hop-head. I haven't seen anything yet that I'd call a club here.

So. What next? I can't afford to eat at Cotton Row every night!

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  1. bbq- chuck wagon, for a drive new market bbq
    soul/southern - mama annie's or g's country kitchen
    sandwiches - papa gyros, Stanlieo's Sub Villas
    Garam Korean Restaurant
    fine dining - watercress - downtown location

    1. This may help you with some ideas.

      I'm bound and determined to try everything. So far, I've done about half. You can read more about it here:

      For Cajun, Tim's Cajun Kitchen is quite good. Supposedly not quite authentic but I've had several tasty meals there.

      Tater's and Dawgs north of town on 231/431 has probably the best burgers in the area. One of the best I've had anywhere. Classic American style.

      The best Q I've had in the area is actually a short drive up to Fayetteville, Tn. A place called Chuck Wagon Diner. They only do Q Thurs - Sat but it's phenomenal. My SIL has raved about Chuckwagon in Madison. We also very much like little Paul's behind the hospital. He's a Gibson. Awesome turkey. David Gibson's BBQ is quite good. I'd say not as good as his daddy's place in Decatur (Big Bob Gibson's) but you don't need to drive. Stay away from Gibson's BBQ on Memorial Pkwy except for the pie. The Q is not good.

      For some cheap, great Mexican in a really cool atmosphere, check out "The Taco Bus." AKA El Cazador. It's at the corner of Govenors and 9th.

      The best southern/soul food is probably at G's Country Kitchen on Oakwood. Best catfish and Mac and Cheese I've had and they're meatloaf is legen (wait for it) dary.

      Happy eating.


      1. Cotton Row -- excellent lunch Wed-Fri. Pricier dinner. Large round table seats 8.

        Commerce Kitchen -- excellent experience overall.

        I Love Sushi: Kanpyo rolls too sweet. Gyoza too tough. Various foods in bento not separated. Vegetable tempura decent but lacking daikon dashi.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ipuwer

          Shinsegae (described elsewhere on this board as the Korean restaurant in the strip mall at the southeast corner of the intersection of Bob Wallace and Jordan). Ambiance not great (smallish room, plain furnishings, non-stop Korean TV blasting) but staff kind and welcoming, bulgogi a little thick and a little charred but tasty, mul man doo excellent, sides dishes nice including soy beans in house sauce.

          Same name as adjoining market.

          1. re: ipuwer

            I'm glad this thread is here, as I'm currently visiting Huntsville from Los Angeles and could use some more recs. Ate at Garam Korean, which I thought was pretty authentic and, while it's not LA, it's pretty solid. Tried Viet Huong--only had a hot pot, which seemed more Chinese than Vietnamese to me, though it was all right. Service was definitely very friendly and tried hard.

            Tried calling Charm Thai and got a disconnected number notice, which doesn't bode well (and being from LA, I hesitate to try Thai or Japanese here for fear of being disappointed). Sitar India's lunch buffet is ok, though I found it mostly underspiced (not in terms of heat but flavor), and for BBQ, I tried Dreamland and found the pork ribs were a bit on the chewy side. Super nice people, but just didn't rate against Memphis BBQ. Would love to experience better ribs somewhere.

            Also tried 1892 East, and while the food was solid again, just didn't find the flavors terribly assertive. Is there anywhere doing more adventurous cooking around here?

            1. re: ipuwer

              2nd visit to Shinsegae: was alone so noticed more just how grimy the floor was. Staff ignored the huge flies buzzing around.

              Tried Garam Korean which also had a TV on, but not as loud, and a much cleaner floor. Prices just slightly higher than Shinsegae, decent bibimbap.

              After a poor experience at I Love Sushi, tried Mikawa. Forbidding warehouse-like exterior on an industrial dead-end street, but the interior surprised with its spaciousness, cleanliness and authenticity. "Mikawa" was the feudal domain near Nagoya where Toyota is now headquartered. In 2000 the founders named it thus in honor of the upcoming 2003 opening of a Toyota engine plant nearby. Has a large tatami room. Furnishings show little wear after 12 years and the staff take justifiable pride in their Japanese cleanliness and maintenance ethic. Both of my waiters were friendly and were actual Japanese people speaking actual Japanese. Easy to see why this is the restaurant of preference for local Japanese (yes, I got the recommendation from a couple of businessmen speaking Japanese in Best Buy). Sushi lunch was decent. Karaage lunch was OK but not nearly as good as my neighbor used to make; unfortunately both side items were also fried, which was cloying. Will go back to try other things on the menu.

              Cotton Row lunches: tried my friend's fish & chips --- I hate this dish normally but the surprising delicacy of the ever-so-lightly fried fish was delicious. Mahi-mahi: very good too. Spare rib sandwich: so-so...lots of meat, flavor not so much.

              1892 East has a nice spread for bread. Can't remember what's in it...maybe beans and citrus.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. I'll add a couple more places we've tried over the last number of months.

              Bandito Burrito Company on Governors, west of the Parkway. It's a bit of a run down place but their fish tacos are on the "Tastes of Huntsvlle" list and are excellent. The whole place has been pretty surprising in that I thought it would be little more than a glorified Taco Bell. That said, the their enchiladas aren't very good. Steer clear. Tacos, burritos and their salsa are all fantastic.

              Mrs. Sippi finally got her way and we went to Wintzell's. It was good but no better. We were there for happy hour oysters and at $6.25 for Gulf oysters they were fine. Not very briney and the shucker left plenty of debris in them. Over all, worth the money but only on special.
              The special of the day was Low Country Shrimp Boil. Again, good, maybe even very good. The shrimp and corn were over cooked but the broth, sausage and potatoes (chopped up) with a bit of hot sauce made for a phenomenal soup to finish.


              PS, Tater's n Dawgs has changed hands. Not sure how the new place (Cowboy's) stacks up. Still waiting for a report.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Davwud

                PPS. Cowboys that took over the spot Taters n Dawgs occupied has failed and is now a Japanese Steak House.