Alabama Restaurant Hall of Fame
November 18, 2019
From Huntsville to Birmingham to Mobile, Tuscaloosa to Montgomery to Auburn, Alabama is blessed with an abundance of classic restaurants that have stood the test of time, including barbecue joints, fish camps, meat-and-threes and white-tablecloth dining rooms. We want to recognize some of those old favorites with our inaugural Alabama Restaurant Hall of Fame, a tribute to some of the restaurants that have been in business for 50 or more years. While this is not meant to be a comprehensive list, we do hope it is one that represents all corners of the state, including not just the big cities but some of the small towns, too. Please continue reading to see the inaugural members of our Alabama Restaurant Hall of Fame.
1. All Steak Restaurant, Cullman (1938)
In 1934, Millard Buchman opened a restaurant in Pulaski, Tenn., that he had planned to call All Steak Hamburgers, but, according to legend, when it came time to buy a sign, Buchman didn't have enough money to add "Hamburgers" to it, so it simply became All Steak. Four years later, he moved his restaurant to Cullman, and despite changes in locations and ownership in the 80 years since, the name has remained the same. While the steaks may be great, it's those sweet and sticky orange rolls for which All Steak is best known.
Address: 323 Third Ave. SE, Cullman.
More info: www.facebook.com/AllSteak
Read more: Year of Alabama Food: All Steak Restaurant, Cullman.
2. Archibald's BBQ, Northport (1962)
For barbecue lovers, this humble, soot-scorched, cinder-block building is a sacred place -- a shrine to real, pit-cooked Alabama 'cue. And while the low-and-slow method of smoking pork may be the favored technique of many a Southern barbecue cook, it's not the way they do it here at Archibald's. If you know what you're doing, 45 minutes over a bed of hot hickory is plenty of time, Tray Archibald, who helps carry on the tradition his late grandfather, George Archibald Sr., started in 1962, says. The ribs are grilled in a well-seasoned brick pit that's just behind the front counter of the cozy, five-stool shack, providing guests a front-row seat to watch the pitmasters at work. The "mixed plate," a favorite of regulars, comes with sliced pork, ribs and white bread, and it's served with a thin, atomic-orange sauce with just the perfect kick. While not much changes at Archibald's, the front porch was closed in about five years ago to add a few more few more tables and the menu has slightly expanded to include chicken, beans and slaw. Heck, they even have a website.
Address: 1211 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Northport.
Read more: Alabama's Best BBQ Ribs finalist: Archibald's Bar B.Q.
3. Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Decatur (1925)
Alabama's most legendary barbecue restaurant, Decatur's Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q has a well-earned reputation that extends far beyond the state's borders. Bob Gibson, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound railroad man started the tradition in 1925, selling barbecue that he smoked in a hand-dug pit in his backyard. Ninety-three years later, Gibson's grandson Don McLemore, and McLemore's son-in-law, Chris Lilly are the keepers of the flame. Lilly, who is widely regarded as one of the top pitmasters in America, has led Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que to a record five grand championship titles at the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, the Super Bowl of barbecue. The restaurant is most famous, though, for its peppery, mayonnaise-based white sauce, which Bob Gibson invented in the 1920s and into which every BBG chicken is ceremoniously dunked after it leaves the pit.
Address: 1715 Sixth Ave. South, Decatur.
Also: Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q has a second Decatur location at 2520 Danville Road SW; the phone is 256-350-0404.
Read more: Alabama's Best BBQ Ribs finalist: Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q.
4. Big Spring Cafe, Huntsville (1922)
A Huntsville favorite since 1922, Big Spring Cafe, which began as a little hole-in-the-wall diner, is the Rocket City's oldest restaurant and is famous for its hearty breakfasts and greasy burgers. In 2017, Big Spring Cafe moved into new digs on Governors Drive, but while the setting may be bigger and swankier, the menu that customers have come to know and love remains pretty much the same.
Address: 3507 Governors Drive, Huntsville.
Read more: Big Spring Cafe starts new chapter with bigger location in Huntsville.
5. Blue Gill Restaurant, Spanish Fort (1958)
A landmark on Battleship Parkway in Spanish Fort, the Blue Gill Restaurant has been battered by at least two hurricanes, but the venerable seafood establishment keeps coming back. Wallace and Evelyn Jonhston opened the Blue Gill in 1958, and the couple ran it for about 40 years. Fairhope businessman Harry Johnson (pictured above) later bought the Blue Gill from the original owners' daughter, Sandra Weekley, and ran it until he sold it in 2008. The Blue Gill was destroyed by Hurricane Frederic in 1979 but was later rebuilt, and in 2005, it was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina but reopened a year later. The menu features seafood fresh from the Gulf, including the Blue Gill's signature gumbo and crab claws.
Address: 3775 Battleship Parkway, Spanish Fort.
6. Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q, Bessemer (1957)
Bob and Maxine Sykes opened a hamburger and ice cream shop called the Ice Spot in Birmingham's Central Park neighborhood in 1957 and started selling barbecue soon thereafter. They later relocated to Bessemer, where Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q has operated at its current location since 1977. Both Bob and Maxine are now deceased, but their son, Van, and Van's nephew, Jason Jewell, keep the fires burning today.
An institution in Birmingham's Highland Park neighborhood, this Magic City classic has been dishing out breakfast and lunch since Pat and Mildred Bogue opened the original Bogue's diner in downtown Birmingham 80 years ago.
Address: 3028 Clairmont Ave. South, Birmingham.
8. Brenda's Bar-B-Q Pit, Montgomery (1942)
Open since 1942, Brenda's Bar-B-Q Pit is Montgomery's oldest barbecue joint, a small brick building with a take-out window where customers come from all around to order chopped pork, barbecue chicken and ribs. For adventurous eaters, Brenda's is one of the few places around that still serves pig ears, which are available as a sandwich or on a plate. Along with the ribs, the pig ears are the biggest seller at Brenda's.
Address: 1457 Mobile Road, Montgomery.
Read more: 6 BBQ sandwiches that will make you rethink your definition of barbecue.
9. Bright Star, Bessemer (1907)
Recognized as an "America's Classic" restaurant by the James Beard Foundation, Bessemer's Bright Star was founded by Greek immigrant Tom Bonduris in 1907, and 111 years later, his descendants, brothers Jimmy and Nicky Koikos, and their cousin, chef Andreas Anastassakis, carry on the family tradition.
Address: 304 19th St. North, Bessemer.
Read more: Bessemer's Bright Star honored by James Beard Foundation.
10. Brooks Barbecue, Muscle Shoals (1965)
The late Lucille and Sammie Brooks Sr. started Brooks Barbecue in Sheffield in 1965, and more than a half-century later, their surviving children and grandchildren carry on the family tradition at the restaurants current near location in neighboring Muscle Shoals. The menu features pork and chicken sandwiches and plates, as well as ribs, wings and chicken stew. The sandwiches are topped with Brooks' house-made slaw, a house specialty that is s available in regular, mild or hot. For dessert, choose from pecan, coconut, apple or sweet potato pies, all made from decades-old family recipes.
Address: 203 Union Ave., Muscle Shoals.
More information: www.facebook.com/Brooks-Barbeque.
11. Busy Bee Cafe, Cullman (1919)
Not even the deadly April 27, 2011, tornado outbreak that devastated much of downtown Cullman could shut down the Busy Bee Cafe for long. The cafe, which first opened in 1919 and is the oldest restaurant the city, was rebuilt and re-opened a year to the day after it was destroyed by the tornado. The name came about when customers started calling it the "Busy Bee Cafe" in reference to the bee hive in the oak tree near the front door of the cafe's original location. The Busy Bee is famous for its burgers, as well as its German schnitzels.
Address: 101 Fifth St. SE, Cullman.
Read more: Cullman's Busy Bee Cafe gets back menu it lost in April 27, 2011, tornado.
12. Chris' Hot Dogs, Montgomery (1917)
Montgomery's oldest family-owned and operated dining spot, Chris' Hot Dogs was founded by Greek immigrant Christopher Anastasios "Chris" Katechis, who opened his place on May 1, 1917. Some of Chris' Hot Dogs most celebrated customers have included Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Tallulah Bankhead, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, George W. Bush, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and every Alabama governor since Chris' opened more than a century ago. The famous chili sauce, which has been shipped all over the world, remains a closely guarded family secret.
Address: 138 Dexter Ave., Montgomery.
Read more: 14 things you might not know about Chris' Hot Dogs.
13. City Cafe, Northport (1931)
City Cafe opened in downtown Northport in 1931, and over the years, it has become kind of a home away from home for University of Alabama students starved for some of their mamas' home cooking. The cafe seats about 165 guests, and during the lunch rush, there is typically a line of customers waiting outside the front door. The meat-and-three menu features hamburger steak, fried chicken, field peas, turnip greens, creamed corn and other meats and vegetables. City Cafe was also a favorite of Alabama coaching legend Paul "Bear" Bryant, who dropped in every month or so for breakfast or lunch and grabbed a seat at the counter -- turning heads when he did, of course.
14. Davenport's Pizza Palace, Mountain Brook (1964)
Not much has changed at Davenport's Pizza Palace since original owners Rex and Ardyce Hollis opened their family-friendly neighborhood pizzeria in Mountain Brook Village in 1964.
Address: 2837 Cahaba Road, Mountain Brook.
Read more: Davenport's Pizza Palace: Where tradition never goes out of style.
15. Dew Drop Inn, Mobile (1924)
A Mobile institution, the Dew Drop Inn was founded by George L. Widney in 1924 and relocated to its current location on Old Shell Road in 1937. The building was last remodeled a few decades ago, and the menu has remained pretty much unchanged. Although the Dew Drop Inn is best known for its hot dogs, musician and cheeseburger connoisseur Jimmy Buffett, who grew up in Mobile, wrote in his "Parrot Head Handbook" that his "burger lust was formulated" at the restaurant.
Address: 1808 Old Shell Road, Mobile.
Read more: Jimmy Buffett makes an impromptu visit to the Dew Drop Inn.
16. Dick Russell's Famous Bar-B-Q, Mobile (1954)
Dick Moore and his friend John Russell combined their first names to open the original Dick Russell's Bar-B-Q in Prichard in 1954. Brother and sister Jimmy Russell and Lois Peacock, John Russell's son and daughter, have carried on the family tradition at the restaurant's current location on U.S. 90 in Tillman's Corner. "We promised Daddy that we wouldn't change a thing for a year after he died in 1995," Peacock told food writer Annette Thompson for her 2014 book "Alabama Barbecue: Delicious Road Trips." "We found out that it wasn't broke, so we didn't fix it." The tried-and-true menu features barbecue pork, chicken and baby back ribs, as well as pit-cooked ribeye steaks. Breakfast at Dick Russell's is also legendary, with omelets, hotcakes and made-from-scratch biscuits.
Address: 5360 U.S. 90, Mobile.
17. Dobb's Famous Bar-B-Q, Dothan (1910)
Believed to be the second-oldest barbecue restaurant in Alabama, Dobb's Famous Bar-B-Que was founded in Tallassee in 1910 by Euell Lee Dobbs Sr., who moved his restaurant to Dothan in 1948. Dobbs' son, Euell Lee Dobbs Jr., who started working in the business when he was 5, continued the family tradition and was a fixture at the front counter until he died in 2017. "I didn't change much from Daddy's recipe," the younger Dobbs told Alabama author Annette Thompson for her 2014 book "Alabama Barbecue: Delicious Road Trips." "The camp stew is one dish that will never leave the menu."
Address: 2636 South Oates St., Dothan.
18. Dreamland Bar-B-Que, Tuscaloosa (1958)
Two things for which Tuscaloosa is most famous: Alabama football and Dreamland ribs. There ain't nothin' like 'em nowhere. John "Big Daddy" Bishop opened his Dreamland Café, as it was called back then, in Tuscaloosa's Jerusalem Heights community in 1958, and after Mr. Bishop passed away in 1997, his son, John Jr., and daughter, Jeanette, ran the business until Birmingham's Dreamland Holding Company bought it in 2000. While a few side items have been added to Dreamland's traditional menu of ribs, sauce and white bread, not much else has changed. Mr. Bishop's big red chair, where he held court with customers for four decades, still sits in the back near the pit, and the walls are covered with license plates and autographed photographs from guests who've come from all over the country to eat here.
Address: 5535 15th Ave. East, Tuscaloosa.
Read more: Alabama's Best BBQ Ribs finalist: Dreamland Bar-B-Que in Tuscaloosa.
19. Eagle's Restaurant, Birmingham (1951)
A small, cinder-block café with a menu that features oxtails, neckbones and collard greens, Eagle's Restaurant has served soul food in the shadows of the ACIPCO plant in north Birmingham since 1951. Eagle's emerged from relative obscurity when popular TV chef Andrew Zimmern featured it on his Travel Channel show in 2013.
Address: 2610 16th St. North, Birmingham.
20. Ezell's Fish Camp, Lavaca (1954)
Commercial fisherman Charles Agnew Ezell Jr. opened Ezell's Fish Camp in a dogtrot cabin on the banks of the Tombigbee River in 1954, and more than 60 years later, folks near and far flock to the little town of Lavaca in Choctaw County for fried catfish and hush puppies. The down-home décor features picnic tables and ladder back chairs, with deer heads mounted on the walls and relaxing views of the river on the back porch.
Address: 776 Ezell Road, Lavaca.
21. George's Steak Pit, Sheffield (1956)
A Sheffield staple for more than 60 years, George's Steak Pit was founded in 1956 by original owners George and Vangie Vafinis, and their son, Frank Vafinis, has carried on the family tradition. An old-school steakhouse with candles and white tablecloths, George's offers a selection of steaks, chops, chicken and fish, as well as appetizers such as fried calamari, Greek meatballs and oysters Rockefeller. The house favorite is George's Special Ribeye, a 12-ounce, hand-cut steak that is grilled over hickory wood in George's well-seasoned open pit.
Address: 1206 South Jackson Highway, Sheffield.
Read more: Alabama's Best Steakhouses: George's Steak Pit in Sheffield.
22. Gibson's Bar-B-Q, Huntsville (1956)
An extension of the legendary "Big Bob" Gibson barbecue family tree, Gibson's Bar-B-Q started in Huntsville in 1956, when Gibson's daughter, Velma, and her husband, Paul Hampton, branched out to open a place of their own. Now, more than 60 years later, co-owners Art Sanford and Paula Mabry, great-grandchildren of "Big Bob," keep the fires burning at Gibson's. In addition to its barbecue pork, chicken and ribs, Gibson's is also a popular breakfast spot in the Rocket City.
Address: 3319 Memorial Parkway, Huntsville.
23. Gilchrist, Mountain Brook (1928)
Marvin "Doc" Gilchrist opened Mountain Brook Apothecary in 1928, but not long after, the pharmacy became known by the name it still goes by today. Like many drug stores from that era, Gilchrist also had a soda fountain, and although the pharmacy moved out in the mid-1980s, the fountain and lunch counter still serve Gilchrist's famous fresh-squeezed limeade and hot beef sandwiches.
Address: 2805 Cahaba Road, Mountain Brook.
Read more: The Year of Alabama Food: Gilchrist Drug, Mountain Brook.
24. Golden Rule Bar-B-Q, Irondale (1891)
A Birmingham institution, Golden Rule Bar-B-Q began more than 125 years ago as a roadside pit stop for travelers on their way to Atlanta, not far from the restaurant's current Irondale location, which opened in the 1970s. The Hoover location of Golden Rule BBQ, at 1571 Montgomery Highway, goes back to 1974.
Address: 2504 Crestwood Blvd., Birmingham.
Read more: Year of Alabama Food: Golden Rule Bar-B-Q, Irondale.
25. Green Acres Cafe, Birmingham (1958)
Green Acres Café has been the place to be for finger-lickin', lip-smackin' fried chicken wings, chicken livers and gizzards since Charles Gratton opened his business across from Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1958. The café later moved to its present location on Fourth Avenue North, and in 1993, Greg Gratton moved back home to Birmingham from Los Angeles to help his father grow the family business, which now includes locations in Irondale, Center Point, Ensley and Hueytown.
Address: 1705 Fourth Ave. North, Birmingham.
Read more: Green Acres Café makes the final four for Steve Harvey's Hoodie Awards.
26. Gus's Hot Dogs, Birmingham (1947)
One of the last of the downtown Birmingham hot dog joints, Gus 's Hot Dogs was founded by Greek immigrant Gus Alexander in 1947, and it is now under the care of Lee Pantazis, a young restaurateur who bought Gus's in 2017 from longtime owner George Nasiakos.
Address: 1915 Fourth Ave. North, Birmingham.
Read more: Preserving a Birmingham hot dog tradition at Gus's downtown.
27. Guthrie's, Haleyville (1965)
In 1965 in the Winston County town of Haleyville, Hal Guthrie opened a little drive-in restaurant that served hamburgers, barbecue, fried chicken, shrimp and other favorites. But it wasn't until several years later, in 1978, that Guthrie began serving the fried chicken fingers and signature dipping sauce for which his family would become famous. These days, the Guthrie's restaurant chain has more than 25 locations in Alabama and around the Southeast, and in 2015, the Guthrie family celebrated their 50th year in business. "Fifty years, it's hard to believe sometime," Joe Kelly Guthrie, the president of Guthrie's and the third of Hal and Melissa Guthrie's four children, said in an interview with AL.com that year. "We're just honored and blessed and flattered that the Good Lord has allowed us to remain here for 50 years." And so are Guthrie's long-time customers.
Locations throughout Alabama, including two in Guthrie's hometown of Haleyville.
Read more: 50 years of Guthrie's golden fried chicken.
28. Hilltop Grill, Union Springs (1949)
The Hilltop Grill has been serving its hickory- and oak-smoked barbecue to folks in Bullock County since 1949, and three years ago, "The Grill," as locals call it, was among the inaugural inductees into the Alabama Tourism Department's Alabama Barbecue Hall of Fame.
Address: 18627 U.S. 82, Union Springs.
29. The Historic Waysider Restaurant, Tuscaloosa (1951)
This little red house on Greensboro Avenue has been serving what none other than Southern Living calls the best breakfast in Tuscaloosa since the building, which dates to 1906, was converted into a restaurant in 1951. Inside, the walls are covered with photos and other memorabilia from Alabama sports legends past and present, including Crimson Tide coaching legend Paul "Bear" Bryant, who was a big fan of The Waysider's country ham. Although it's best known for such Southern breakfast favorites as cheese grits and biscuits with red-eye gravy, The Waysider also serves lunch Tuesdays through Fridays.
Address: 1512 Greensboro Ave., Tuscaloosa.
More info: www.facebook.com/TheWaysider.
Read more: Tuscaloosa's oldest restaurants: From Nick's in the Sticks to The Waysider.
30. Hunt's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar, Dothan (early 1960s)
One of the oldest restaurants in Alabama's Wiregrass Region, Hunt's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar started out in the 1960s as a three-stool oyster bar. Fifty or so years later, after several renovations and additions, it has grown into a full-service restaurant that seats about 200 guests. In addition to oysters, the menu features grouper, salmon, crab cakes and steaks.
Address: 177 Campbellton Highway, Dothan.
31. Irondale Cafe, Irondale (1928)
Made famous by Alabama author Fannie Flagg in her 1987 novel "Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café" and the subsequent Oscar-nominated movie, the Irondale Café goes back 90 years. The original café was torn down in 1980, but a bigger restaurant was built on the same spot, directly across from the railroad tracks in downtown Irondale.
32. Jack's, Homewood (1960)
Alabamians have been going back, back, back to Jack, Jack, Jack's for more, more, more since founder Jack Caddell, inspired by the growth of the McDonald's chain, opened the first Jack's Hamburgers in downtown Homewood in 1960. Now known as Jack's Family Restaurant, the fast-food chain, which is still based in Homewood, has grown to about 150 locations around the Southeast.
Multiple locations throughout Alabama.
33. Jim's Restaurant, Prattville (1958)
A family owned restaurant that's known for such daily specials as fried chicken, meatloaf, salmon cakes and baked chicken and dressing, Jim's Restaurant has been serving the Prattville community for 60 years.
Address: 1504 South Memorial Drive, Prattville.
34. Johnny's Bar-B-Q, Cullman (1949)
Johnny's Bar-B-Q goes way back -- nearly 70 years, in fact, to when a fellow by the name of Johnny Graves started the business in 1949. Troy Wiggins, who had been a partner in the Rebel Drive-In, convinced Graves to his namesake restaurant in 1963, and he kept the Johnny's name. (According to local legend, Graves had second thoughts about selling his place immediately thereafter, but Wiggins refused to sell the restaurant back to him.) As their business grew, Troy and his wife, Aleata, moved into Johnny's current location in 1976. Their only son, Gary, took over the business a few years later, and he brought in his cousin Ronald Dunn as a partner. Gary's son, Josh, joined the team after he graduated from Samford University in 2006, becoming the third generation to help carry on the family's barbecue tradition. The parking lot at Johnny's is typically packed at lunchtime, and for good reason. On our visit, we were plenty pleased -- and sufficiently stuffed -- with the pulled pork sandwich plate, which comes with french fries, baked beans and coleslaw. We also highly recommend the smoked chicken.
Address: 1401 Fourth St. SW, Cullman.
35. Julwin's Restaurant, Fairhope (1945)
Recognized as the oldest restaurant in Baldwin County, Julwin's Restaurant has been serving breakfast and lunch to Fairhope residents and guests for nearly 75 years.
Address: 411 Fairhope Ave., Fairhope.
Read more: www.facebook.com/Julwins.
36. Lannie's Bar-B-Q Spot, Selma (1944)
Four generations of family members have stoked the fire at Lannie's Bar-B-Q Spot, where the late Lannie and Will Travis started barbecuing hogs in a cinder-block pit next to their house back in 1944.More than 70 years later, the cooking methodology may have grown more advanced, but the real secret to Lannie's barbecue is the same as it ever was. "It's the sauce," "Alfonsa Hatcher, one of Lannie and Will's grandchildren, says. "My grandmother developed it, and everybody is crazy about it." And they are especially crazy about those pulled-pork sandwiches, which are soaked in that fiery sauce, topped with crispy barks of pork skin, and served between slices of white bread.
Address: 2115 Minter Ave., Selma.
Read more: Preserving a family barbecue tradition at Lannie's Bar-B-Q Spot.
37. Leo & Susie's Famous Green Top Bar-B-Que, Dora (1951)
In 1951, the Green Top Cafe was one of the first businesses to open along what was then known as "the new" U.S. 78. Strategically located in western Jefferson County near the Walker County line, the concrete-block building was one of the last places along the highway that sold beer, as Walker and the counties west to Mississippi were dry back in those days. So it was better known as a beer joint than a barbecue place. That changed in 1973, when coal miner Leo Headrick and his wife, Susie, bought the Green Top for $25,000. At the time, Susie Headrick thought her husband had lost his mind. She grew to love it, though. "My husband made two good decisions in his life," Susie Headrick told Southern Foodways Alliance oral historian Amy Evans in 2006. "The first one was marrying me, and then the next one was buying the Green Top." Leo & Susie's Famous Green Top Bar-B-Que, as the Headricks started calling their place, soon became renowned for miles around for its pit barbecue and spicy, vinegar-tomato sauce, which their son Richard Headrick made from scratch on top of the stove.
Address: 7530 U.S. 78, Dora.
Read more: Year of Alabama Food: Leo & Susie's Famous Green Top Bar-B-Q, Dora.
38. Lloyd's Restaurant, Birmingham (1937)
Lloyd Chesser opened the original Lloyd's Restaurant in Chelsea on the old U.S. 280 highway in 1937, and Eli Stevens bought the restaurant when Chesser retired in 1971. After the first phase of the U.S. 280 corridor was completed, Stevens moved Lloyd's to its current location in 1978.
Address: 5301 U.S. 280, Birmingham.
Read more: The Year of Alabama Food: Lloyd's Restaurant, Birmingham.
39. Martin's Restaurant, Montgomery (1930)
Alice Martin started Martin's Restaurant in the early 1930s at the corner of Pine Leaf and Carter Hill Road in Montgomery. In 1939, with a loan of $100 from Dr. Farris Martin, David Smith bought the restaurant and kept the name "Martin's" in honor of his doctor benefactor. After a few location changes, the restaurant settled into its current home on Carter Hill Road. Smith's daughter, Maryanne Merritt, now owns the restaurant. Famous for its golden-fried chicken -- especially its pulley bones -- Martin's is open for lunch and dinner Mondays through Fridays and for lunch on Sundays. -- Haley Laurence
Milo Carlton worked as a mess cook during World War II, and in 1946, he and his wife, Bea, opened the first Milo's Hamburger Shop in a small, cinder-block building in north Birmingham. He spent that first summer perfecting Milo's secret sauce. The first Milo's franchise location opened in 1983 near UAB on Birmingham's Southside, and today, Milo's has 20 locations across Alabama.
Multiple locations throughout Alabama.
Read more: The Year of Alabama Food: Milo's Hamburgers, Birmingham.
41. Mud Creek Fish Camp & Bar-B-Que, Hollywood (1946)
Founded in 1946, Mud Creek Fish Camp & Bar-B-Que was among the original inductees into the Alabama Tourism Department's Alabama Barbecue Hall of Fame. As its name suggests, though, it is as well known around Jackson County for its fried catfish as it is its smoked meat. The barbecue side of the menu includes ribs and smoked chicken, but the main attraction is the chopped pork sandwich, which is served with a yellow coleslaw and a vinegar-based sauce.
Address: 844 County Road 213, Hollywood.
42. Nick's Original Filet House, Tuscaloosa (1955)
Nick's Original Filet House -- or "Nick's in the Sticks'' as it is more affectionately known to generations of University of Alabama students -- opened in its current location on Culver Road in 1955, after moving from its original spot just across the Greene County line. Named for founder Nick Delgado, the venerable Tuscaloosa restaurant is best known for its steaks and baked potatoes, as well as such specialty drinks as the Zombie and the Nicodemus.
Address: 4018 Culver Road, Tuscaloosa.
More info: www.facebook.com/Nicks-in-the-Sticks.
Read more: Tuscaloosa's oldest restaurants: From Nick's in the Sticks to The Waysider.
43. Niki's West, Birmingham (1957)
The mothership of Magic City meat-and-threes, Niki's West has been serving Birmingham since 1957, when the restaurant opened on Finley Avenue near the Alabama Farmers Market. Gus Hontzas, who came to America from Greece and worked with his uncle, John Hontzas, in Jackson, Miss., moved to Birmingham in the 1950s and ran Niki's West for decades. Gus' sons, Pete and Teddy, took over the family business after their father died in 2001. (Prior to opening Niki's West, the Hontzas family opened Niki's Restaurant at 1101 Second Ave. North downtown in 1951 but sold that restaurant in the late 1980s.)
William Henry Payne opened the original Payne's Drug Store in Scottsboro in 1869, and the soda fountain and sandwich shop moved into its current location on the Scottsboro town square in 1891. In addition to milk shakes, malts and ice-cream sundaes, the menu includes a Reuben, BLT, grilled cheese, chicken croissant and barbecue ham sliders.
Address: 101 East Laurel St., Scottsboro.
More info: www.facebook.com/PaynesontheSquare.
45. The Rocket Drive Inn, Jacksonville (1958)
A Calhoun County favorite since 1958, Jacksonville's Rocket Drive Inn -- or "The Rocket," as regulars call it -- is as famous for its hand-pattied burgers as it is its hickory-smoked barbecue. In 2015, the Rocket Drive Inn was inducted into the Alabama Tourism Department's Alabama Barbecue Hall of Fame.
Address: 1508 Pelham Road South, Jacksonville.
46. Stacey's Rexall Drugs, Foley (1929)
Also known as Stacey's Old Tyme Soda Fountain, this nostalgic ice cream and sandwich shop has been a must-stop for vacationers on their way to Gulf Shores since Stacey's opened its doors in 1929. In addition to ice cream treats, the menu features burgers and hot dogs, as well as chicken salad and pimento cheese sandwiches. Be sure to order Stacey's signature key lime milkshake and see why it's on the list of "100 Dishes To Eat in Alabama Before You Die."
Address: 121 West Laurel Ave., Foley.
More info: www.facebook.com/Staceys-Rexall-Drugs.
47. Tally-Ho Restaurant, Selma (1940s)
Tucked away in a residential neighborhood in the historic Civil War and Civil Rights battleground city of Selma, the Tally-Ho is one of those destination restaurants that you probably can't find with benefit of a GPS or a friendly resident to show you the way. Believed to date back as far as the 1940s, the Tally-Ho still has its original log cabin entrance, and favorites on the surf-and-turf menu include French onion soup, fried Gulf crab claws and chargrilled ribeye steak.
Address: 509 Mangum Ave., Selma.
48. Toomer's Drugs, Auburn (1896)
An Auburn institution, Toomers Drug's goes all the way back to 1896, when Sheldon "Shel" Toomer, who played halfback on Auburn University's first football team, took out a $500 loan to start the business with his stepfather. At the time, Toomer's was "just a little beacon of a business on a mostly deserted street," according to the drugstore's website. Over the ensuing generations, though, the intersection of Magnolia Avenue and College Street came to be known as Toomer's Corner, the place where, on football Saturdays, thirsty Tiger fans gathered to grab a cold lemonade at Toomer's Drugs before the game and converged to roll the famous Toomer's oak trees after a big victory. As David Housel, the former Auburn athletic director, once told The Birmingham News: "If you really want to see the Auburn spirit, get a lemonade at Toomer's." In addition to its legendary lemonade, Toomer's Drugs also serves pimento cheese, tuna salad, turkey, ham and BLT sandwiches, as well soda fountain favorites such as banana splits, hot fudge brownies, milk shakes and ice cream sodas.
49. Top Hat Barbecue, Blount Springs (1952)
One of a dwindling breed of old-school barbecue pitmasters, Dale Pettit started working the pits at Top Hat Barbecue in Blount Springs after he came home from the Navy in 1971, four years after his father bought the place from its previous owner. Good barbecue is hard work and requires constant attention, Pettit says, but his labor is much appreciated by customers near and far. "We get people who are bringing their grandchildren in, and they tell us their grandparents brought them for the first time when they were kids," Pettit told AL.com in 2017.
Address: 8725 U.S. 31, Blount Springs.
Read more: Top Hat Barbecue celebrates 50 years.
50. Trowbridge's, Florence (1918)
A fixture in downtown Florence for 100 years, Trowbridge's is an old-fashioned sandwich shop and soda fountain with a nostalgic vibe that includes a checkerboard-pattern floor and green vinyl chairs and booths. The blast-from-the-past menu features ham, chicken salad, pimento cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches, as well as such frozen treats as milk shakes, malts, sundaes and ice cream sodas. Don't leave without treating yourself to a scoop of Trowbridge's orange-pineapple ice cream, which is featured on the Alabama Tourism Department's list of "100 Dishes To Eat in Alabama Before You Die."
Address: 316 North Court St., Florence.
Read more: This old-fashioned Alabama ice cream shop is a must-try for every Southerner.
51. Whitt's Barbecue, Athens (1966)
Although it has grown to include about 30 locations in three states, Whitt's Barbecue began when Tennessee Valley bricklayer Floyd Whitt started smoking meat low and slow in one of his custom-built barbecue pits, which he made as a hobby. He opened his first location of Whitt's at the end of a dirt road outside Athens in 1966, Mark Whitt, one of Floyd and Laura Whitt's four children, said in a 2005 interview with The Decatur Daily. The famous Whitt's Barbecue pork sandwich, which is served with a sweet coleslaw and a choice of sauces, was named "Alabama's Best BBQ Sandwich" in AL.com's statewide barbecue hunt in 2016. Whitt's now has two locations in Athens.
Address and phone: 1397 Elm. St., Athens. 256-232-7928.
Address and phone: 1 South Marion St. A, Athens. 256-232-3385.
Read more: 15 things you might not know about Whitt's Barbecue.
52. Wintzell's Oyster House, Mobile (1938)
Founded by J. Oliver Wintzell, Wintzell's Oyster House began as a small, six-stool oyster bar and has been open in its original location on Mobile's Dauphin Street since 1938. In the 80 years since, the Wintzell's brand has grown to include six more locations throughout Alabama. In addition to "fried, stewed and nude" oysters, the Wintzell's menu features such regional favorites as gumbo, crab cakes, crawfish etouffee, fried crab claws and West Indies Salad, a favorite of Oprah Winfrey.
Address: 605 Dauphin St., Mobile.