By Haley Laurence
When you think of notable Alabama restaurants, chances are you’ll immediately think of a Black-owned restaurant.
After all, many of the state’s oldest and most cherished restaurants are Black-owned. From Brenda’s Bar-B-Que Pit (opened in 1942) in Montgomery to Lannie’s Bar-B-Que Spot (1946) in Selma, many Black-owned restaurants have stood the test of time.
There are also many new Black-owned restaurants making waves and experimenting with all types of cuisine. Southern National not only has put Mobile on the culinary food map, but it’s also gotten attention from the James Beard Awards. Eugene’s Hot Chicken went from a food truck to a Magic City food treasure. Funnel Cake Queen in Decatur not only has hours-long waits at its drive-thru; the owner, Kenya Congress, has also paid some of her customers’ outstanding bills. And have we mentioned Drexel & Honeybees, the Brewton restaurant that has caught national attention for being donation only?
OK, you get the point: There are many Black-owned restaurants in Alabama you need to try. But we narrowed it down to five, just so you’ll have somewhere nearby to stop and feast during your next Alabama road trip.
Now, let’s get to eating.
2115 Minter Ave., Selma
The late Lannie and Will Travis began cooking up barbecue in 1944 in a pit right next to their home. Now, generations of the family have worked at Lannie’s Bar-B-Que Spot, one of the state’s most legendary barbecue joints.
People from all over come to Lannie’s for their delicious pork (and the pork skins they sprinkle on their barbecue sandwiches), but the family admits that their sauce is the absolute star – and a family secret. The recipe to their vinegar-based red sauce is hidden under lock and key.
And when we say people from all over have been to Lannie’s, we mean it. Everyone from David Letterman to the late Georgia Congressman John Lewis have stopped by.
(The video below is from the second location of Lannie’s in Selma.)
2610 16th St. N. #1204, Birmingham
Eagle’s Restaurant has been a Magic City staple since 1951. Located just outside downtown and a block from American Cast Iron Pipe Co., Eagle’s has been a lunch fixture for workers for decades.
The family-owned soul food joint is known for its oxtails and neckbones, but it also serves more familiar fare like baked chicken and dressing and beef tips and rice. Eagle’s received attention from foodies all over the world when it was featured on a 2013 episode of Andrew Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods America.”
Right now, the restaurant is offering online ordering. Simply go to their website, pick your carryout time and select the meat and two veggies you’d like, then go to the pickup window to pick it up.
360 Dauphin St., Mobile
Southern National is pretty new compared to the rest of the restaurants on this list, but it’s already made a big name for itself.
The Mobile eatery, owned by chef Duane Nutter and Reggie Washington, opened in late 2017 to much fanfare. So much fanfare, in fact, that in 2018 Southern National was named a semifinalist for a James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant. And, in 2020, Nutter was named a finalist for a James Beard Award for Best Chef: South.
But how about the food? It’s delicious. With a current menu consisting of smoked pork belly mac and cheese, smoked chicken risotto and jerk-seared flat-iron steak, you won’t be disappointed.
1211 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Northport
You can’t have an Alabama food list without mentioning a lot of barbecue, and you can’t mention Alabama barbecue without mentioning Archibald’s. In 1961, George Archibald Sr. and his wife, Betty, started to sell barbecue in a tiny building right outside their home, and Archibald’s was born.
Now, the hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint is run by George Sr. and Betty’s grandkids, and it’s as authentic as it’s ever been. There’s nothing fancy about it. There’s very little seating. And the food is phenomenal. Make sure to try the ribs, which are coated with an orange barbecue sauce that has a bite of spice to it.
2501 Oakwood Ave. N.W. #5, Huntsville
Ask any Rocket City local to recommend some soul food, and they’re sure to mention G’s Country Kitchen. The restaurant has been a staple in Huntsville for a while now, and for good reason: They serve food you would have sworn your grandma cooked.
The restaurant, which is pretty easy to overlook in a strip mall, is especially known for its meatloaf, which was named one of the 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama by Alabama Tourism. But don’t just stop there. The catfish is top notch, and do not leave without some dessert. Life’s too short to live with those types of regrets.