This past week when the rain slacked off and the skies cleared, friends and I hit the road heading west to Birmingham, Alabama to try the BBQ at SAW’S Soul Kitchen in Avondale. Why, you ask? It’s simple. 2 Reasons -this tiny hole in the wall joint has smoked meats, seafood and soul food that is lauded, loudly! And, the one little block where this soul food haven is located is a loaded little block. It has it ALL. From one corner to the other you have, elbow-to-elbow: SAW’S Soul Kitchen, Post Office Pies & Avondale Brewery.
Another hop skip and a jump and you’re at Good People Brewing Company, a favorite I will elaborate on in a later post.
By the time my friends and I arrive, the rain has let up, the sun is out and it is deceptively warm in the car. We drive around and park behind Avondale Brewery, thinking the walk will do us good, both coming and going.
But, it is frigid cold and when we get to SAW’S and wiggle through the front door, I realize we may be standing for lunch.
All the tables are full! I remember reading somewhere that because everything is prepared when it’s ordered that a short wait is to be expected. It works out well; by the time our food arrives we have claimed a table in the corner. Locals fill the place –you can tell by their demeanor that this is their local grazing hole. “Blues in the Night” plays on the radio. The laid back feel of the place worms its way into my psyche. Immediately, even before taking the first bite, I am hooked!
“My mama done tol’ me when I was in pigtails, My mama done tol’ me, “Hon a man’s gonna sweet talk and give ya the big eye…” Ella belts out those lyrics like she knows.
I order the Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich topped with slaw and a pile of fried onion rings.
My friends order the Carolina Burger. Lord what a burger! It arrives covered in chili and topped with slaw. It is unbelievable. I try a bite and really don’t want to hand it back over.
We foolishly order a Fried Green Tomato BLT too. It is good but I’m as funny about my fried green tomatoes as I am about my cowboy boots.
A man seated nearby is presented with a plate piled with cheese grits, greens and pulled pork. Again, I want another’s food. Thankfully, I am beyond full. I also pass on a deep bowl of Homemade Banana Pudding. Then comes the knowledge there is a cooler in my trunk… I could get a large container to go!
Had it been warmer, we would’ve ordered our food and had it delivered to Avondale Brewery just a couple of doors down and eaten out back under the hardwood trees. We notice as we walk up that the back patio is deserted.
Miss Fancy the Elephant, the brewery’s mascot, was a gift bestowed to the city back when Avondale Park was the original site of the Birmingham Zoo.
Raise a trunk!
The offerings are: the Spring Street Saison, a “Belgian-style farmhouse ale; Miss Fancy’s Triple, a Belgian ale; Battlefield IPA “hoppy citrus and floral”; Vanillaphant Porter, a light-bodied ale with “chocolate, roasted nut flavors & a vanilla twist”; and Mr. Todd’s Brown, a dark ale (Just say, hell yes!).
Now, back to the Post Office…
I’ve always been a huge fan of Eudora Welty and still smile when I think about the first time I read “Why I Live at the P.O.”
I know why I would live at the P.O. –because I am weak for wood-fired pizza!
Remember now, I am a Gadsden girl and therefore my heart will always belong to MATER’S on 3rd & Locust when it comes to my favorite pies.
But, this Swine Pie is something else! The crust is chewy, and while I like it this way too, I wish I’d asked for it to be charred. There is just something about the added smokiness when it is. Top the crust with marinara, sausage (made in house), pepperoni, bacon and fresh basil leaves –Voila!
Tell the world I am happy here at the P.O. seeking refuge, isolated and well fed.
@ElizabethMozley & @CentipedeYAread
And on Facebook – We Share the Same Sky, author Elizabeth Mozley
We Share the Same Sky, a memoir