Shoals Barbecue Trail stop #14
Back in 1976, Jim Lindsey moved to the Shoals area and opened his first Southern Bar-BQ restaurant at 425 W. Avalon Ave in Sheffield. Business was good and by 1988 he had sold his first franchise to be located in Decatur, in 1992 he sold his second location in Muscle Shoals and eventually another location in Florence. Although Lindsey passed away recently his barbecue legacy lives on with three of the four locations still in operation today. We have previously visited and reviewed the Southern Bar BQ locations in Sheffield and Muscle Shoals and those reviews are here and here. Also, as far as we’ve been able to discover all three locations are independently owned and operated.
Recently we visited the Florence location to sample their barbecue plate and see how it measures up to the other Southern BarBQ locations as well as other local barbecue eateries. On this particular day we arrived after the lunch rush so we can’t speak as to the volume of customers they may have but from having passed by the location through the years they have a steady local following.
We walked in the and the first thing we heard was “whop, whop, whop, whop,” the sound of meat being chopped up and we were hoping it wasn’t the barbecue they were butchering. The lady behind the counter greeted us and took our order and since we were the only ones who had ordered anything, the meal came out quickly and we picked it up at the counter.
I had ordered the barbecue plate and the first thing I noticed was that the plate was too small for the amount of food they served. It was a 3 compartment plate, but with beans, slaw, barbecue and fries plus two fried veggie sticks it was over loaded. In fact, they had to pile the fries on top of the meat, and that presented the first dilemma, how to get to the barbecue. I finally un-stacked the fries and placed them on a napkin so that I could at least get my fork in the barbecue. Then, horror stuck, my barbecue came with pre-installed sauce on it so there was no way to tell if the meat had legs to stand on by itself or not. I also realized that the “whop, whop” noise was the meat being beat into submission with a big knife. I still don’t understand why folks chop barbecue meat instead of just hand pulling and shredding it, maybe it just old fashion of me to think that way.
I sampled the beans and my first sense of taste registered what I think was a liberal amount of chili powder in the beans, and after a couple of more bites I’m 99% certain that was the underlying taste, but then again I could be wrong. To Southern Bar BQ’s credit they had added some chopped pork to the beans that improved the consistence and taste to some extent. I then moved on to the slaw which from the color I could tell it had had some mustard mixed into it, I thought great, I love mustard slaw or at least the first two bites I did. I left the rest on the plate after it reminded me that I’ve never been a big fan of any of the Southern BarBQ locations mustard slaw. Then, I moved on to the fries, now we were getting somewhere, the fries were crispy, well salted and hot out of the fryer, kudos on that.
After sampling the sides I then took my first bite of barbecue with the pre-installed sauce and I could barely perceive a bit of smoke underneath the sauce. I immediately wished I had told them to give me sauce on the side because in my opinion the sauce was lacking something and actually covered up too much of the taste of the meat.
I had ordered unsweetened tea to drink with the meal and it took me a couple of swallows to get accustomed to the flavor of the tea they are using. After the first two swallows it wasn’t bad and I wound up drinking the whole cup full.
The barbecue itself may have been good but I couldn’t tell with all the pre-installed sauce on it, I’m making an assumption that it was average and then downgrading it because of the pre-saucing. The beans were alright, nothing to write mamma about and the slaw, well moving on, the fries were very good and along with the veggie sticks were the highlight of the meal.
If and when you go to try out the barbecue yourself, get the sauce on the side so you can taste the meat. Also, if you are getting just a sandwich and want to taste the meat without anything added, then ask for both the sauce and the slaw on the side. As to myself, I would opt for the nekid BBQ sandwich, carry my own favorite bbq sauce and then give it a try. Just my opinion. So, the total cost of a standard issue barbecue plate and tea came to $10.61, not a budget meal but not a budget buster either.
The Brown Bag Review’s Recommendation…
I’ll also acknowledge that there are lots of barbecue joints in Florence and each has their own following for whatever reason, the folks that dine at Southern Bar BQ regularly may think it is the best they’ve ever eaten and I’m not trying to convince them otherwise. So go by Southern Bar BQ and give them a taste test for yourself and form your own opinion as to whether you like it or not. They are nice local folk who would appreciate your business.
Credit cards: NO – CASH ONLY
Catering Service Available: ASK
Recommendations: Smoked Chicken
Suggestions: Fried Veggie Sticks
Ambiance: Small town Q-restaurant
Service: Country friendly
Vegetarian Friendly: Ugh, it’s a q-restaurant, you figure it out
Price Range: $$
Health Score: 97 (05-13-2015)
Smoke Free: Yes
Soft Drink Brand: Pepsi, fountain and tea