Mary’s Pit Barbecue – Still Smokin after 56 Years

Mary’s Pit Barbecue, Maysville, Alabama

What was once a sleepy little unincorporated community in eastern Madison County that was know for its broad cotton and corn fields is now a bedroom community to Huntsville.  This was brought on by the high-tech boom created by NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, the Missile Defense Agency and more recently the  BRAC initiatives. *(source: Wikipedia)  There are several large single family homes sub-divisions in the area with more being added.  However, Maysville has also been the home to Mary’s Pit Barbecue since 1958.

Mary’s Pit Barbecue History

Mary Toney, the Barbecue joint’s namesake, helped open it in 1958 along with her husband Clinton.  At the time the building was built by Brick-Mason Friday Woodard, it was hard to find a good barbecue restaurant in the Maysville area. Mary’s Pit Barbecue’s original pit was constructed in late 1957 and then the building was built around it.

Mary’s Pit Barbecue’s building having been built in the era of segregation had two front doors, the door on the left was for black folks and the one on the right for white folks.   On the right side, there were stoolsmarys-bbq-1268 installed for the white folks to sit on while waiting for their orders, and on the other side their black customers weren’t afforded that luxury.  But that was then and now all of their customers are welcome to come in the door on the right, place your order and have a seat on the stools.  This unique feature of two front entrances still remain today, with the left door going into the office area.

(source:  Huntsville Times news clippings on the wall)

If the Walls and Ceiling could Talk

The small waiting area is decorated with graffiti having been applied through the years by customers signing the ceilings and the walls or adding snarky comments while waiting on their order.  In addition, there are several framed newspaper articles that related a lot of the history of the place.

Our Visit to Mary’s Pit Barbecue

The day we visited Mary’s Pit Barbecue was on a Thursday and business was slow.  While we were waiting a couple of customers came in to pickup to-go orders they had called in, but traffic was light that day.  We placed our orders, I got my usual barbecue plate ($9.95) which came with potato salad, beans, and slaw, and my dining partner also ordered the same.  Since one of the recommendations I received was to try the ribs I ordered a half of a rack ($9.95) of those.marys-bbq-1281

[Tweet “Mary’s Pit BBQ smokin for 56 years, #foodreview #foodporn #nomnom #huntsville #foodbloggers “]

It took a little while to get our orders, but we were in no hurry anyway.  When we opened the to-go trays, the first thing we noticed was the absence of barbecue sauce on the meat, which if you read some of my other blog posts on barbecue is a good thing.  The barbecue sauce was also absent from the entire to-go box and bag itself, however, when asked the young lady did offer two one ounce containers of a thick red sauce.  I asked for a couple of more since my buddy didn’t get any sauce either.

marys-bbq-1279Dreaded “Spork” Attack

I then unwrapped the ribs and found that the sauce had been pre-installed by the kitchen and that disappointed me.  I would have loved to judged the taste of the ribs without the thick syrupy overly sweet commercial sauce laddled heavily over them .  We were further disappointed when we tried to separate the ribs with the utensil that came with the meal which was a “Spork.”  I hate sporks and would love to meet the guy that invented them and give him a swift kick in the nether regions of his front lower body. It was near impossible to break them apart with that plastic aberration, but I finally manage to get part of them separated.

We then sampled the naked pork barbecue, notable absence was the presence of a smoky smell or taste.  While the meat was tender and somewhat moist, the absence of the smoke flavoring made it taste more like roast pork than barbecue.  It left us wondering if this hog meat had ever been exposed to any hickory smoke.  We then moved on to the sides items, the potato salad was a cheap commercial offering and tasted like it, the beans started life as Pork-n-Beans and should have been left that way, whatever Mary’s Pit Barbecue put into them they need to stop now.  The coleslaw was a coarsely ground cabbage with a vinegar/sugar/watery dressing mixed in, not my favorite kind of slaw.

The ribs did fare a little better, again they would have gotten a better score if the sauce had been left off of them.  The half rack was a full half and the ribs were meaty.  I did notice that they had not removed the skirt on the back side of the ribs though and the ribs in this area reflected it.  While the first two or three bones on the rack came loose fairly easy, the ribs on the skirt end were under-cooked and tough.

The Other Certified Barbecue Judge Renders His Verdict

These are the conclusions from my dining partner who also is a certified barbecue judge:

“Ribs tasted very good and were not overcooked to my taste, definitely worth having again.  The pulled pork was about average but a lot light on smoke for my taste.  The slaw, beans and potato salad were really weak.  The beans appeared to be Pork and Beans with little added to them.  The slaw was chopped cabbage with vinegar and sugar added and the potato salad was of the bland institutional variety.  Sauce was weak and needed help also.”

The Brown Bag’s Recommendations

Our conclusions and recommendations about Mary’s Pit Barbecue is that if you decide to visit them, we would recommend you to carry your favorite barbecue sauce, order the sandwich and forget about the side items, they’re just not worth the $5.00 extra cost.  If you opt for the ribs, then tell them to hold the sauce and install your own sauce of preference.

Mary's Pit Bar Bq on Urbanspoon
So, let’s do the numbers:


J#1-Ribs:7.0 Stars (7.0 / 9)
J#1-Barbecue-Pork:6 Stars (6 / 9)
J#1-Slaw:6 Stars (6 / 9)
J#1-Beans:5 Stars (5 / 9)
J#1-Potato-Salad:5 Stars (5 / 9)
J#1-Sauce:6 Stars (6 / 9)
J#2-Ribs:6.0 Stars (6.0 / 9)
J#2-Barbecue-Pork:5 Stars (5 / 9)
J#2-Slaw:4 Stars (4 / 9)
J#2-Beans:5 Stars (5 / 9)
J#2-Potato-Salad:3 Stars (3 / 9)
J#2-Sauce:5 Stars (5 / 9)
Staff-Friendliness:6 Stars (6 / 9)
Atmosphere:7 Stars (7 / 9)
Cleanliness:6 Stars (6 / 9)
Value:6 Stars (6 / 9)

Credit cards: Yes
Catering Service Available: Call
Recommendations: Ribs hold the sauce
Suggestions: BBQ sandwich
Alcohol: No
Ambiance: Ole time Q-Shack
Service: Small town friendly
Vegetarian Friendly: Ugh – It’s a Q-joint
Price Range: $$
Health Score: 94
Smoke Free: Yes
Soft Drink Brand: Coke, cans

(Click on any image for larger view and the gallery)


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this review are the honest opinions of the author and/or guest or guests who dined at this particular meal, and the BrownBag Review is solely responsible for its content. This opinion was not influence by any third party whatsoever. If and when you visit the reviewed restaurant your opinion may vary greatly. So as always YMMV! (Your Mileage May Vary) ALL IMAGES ARE COPYRIGHT OF THE BROWN BAG REVIEW unless otherwise noted, Use is by written permission only!