It’s only in the Southern US states where the word barbeque is not an adjective. It’s a noun, and for some, it’s a world all its own. Walking into a true hole-in-the-wall barbeque such as SAW’s BBQ is more than just a place to get some really good food to go, or to sit and enjoy a leisurely meal. It’s an experience.
Restaurants that spend a lot of resources on high-end décor, large open spaces, overly comfortable furniture, glossy menus, overstaffing, may put these things as a priority. These might be the features that get people in the door in most establishments, but that is not the case with a stellar barbeque place. Locals, regulars, and people who will drive out of their way for good barbeque have come to expect the exact opposite. A place that focuses on great food and great value survives by word of mouth. SAW’s BBQ Restaurant on Oxmoor Road in Homewood, south Birmingham is case in point.
It’s small, so you might line up and wait for a table. It’s casual, so order at the counter so your food is made as you like it. It’s affordable, so take home what you can’t eat. And it’s to die for, so come back often.
Other favorites on the menu are typical of barbeque fare, but Mike puts his own spin on everything he cooks up. For sandwiches there’s a smoked chicken sandwich that is different from anything else. It’s pile high with a signature white barbeque sauce popular in the north part of the state. The baked taters are huge, a meal in themselves. Load them up with everything from cheese, pulled pork, green onion, broccoli, and smoked chicken. Ribs come with sides of your choice and there are many to choose from. They include southern regulars like macaroni and cheese and tangy coleslaw, to devilled eggs and potato salad. Even the hotdogs are graced with toppings like chili and slaw.
The combo platters are the best way to try things on your first visit. If you can get a table, usually during the non –peak hours, you can enjoy the real experience while eating with the grace that comes with plastic cutlery, disposable dishes and the eclectic décor reflecting a hodge-podge of sports teams, license plates and anything related to “pig art”!
There’s no doubt about it, Mike Wilson, is a self proclaimed barbeque guru. “Barbecue and Southern food, just because of where my roots are from, have always kind of been a passion of mine.” And behind every successful man…there’s a woman! Mike puts a lot of faith in his manager/hostess/ waitress/, and bona fide dessert mistress, Anastasia Nealy, aka Miss A, who keeps the show running while Mike is usually out back tending the meat.
Miss A’s cuisine compliment all that is southern barbeque, and her down home desserts are signature dishes all their own. She starts everyday with making up pans and pans of her sweet concoction: banana pudding, loaded with fruit, cream and nilla wafers. The sweet potato pie is as authentic as a southern belle, and the sour cream pound cake is loaded high with fresh berries. And…wash it all down with strong, sweet, home-brewed iced tea.
So typical of the best in all that is “barbeque”, the walls are adorned with sports paraphernalia, mostly football, and the clientele wear whatever…since many are on their way home from work, or have stopped in for lunch. And then there’s the growing collection of those who have travelled far, or out of their way, just to compare what they have heard about SAW’S with their favorites. SAW’S keeps rising to the top of their list. Visitors can attest to this by signing their name on the wall.
The pilgrimage for outstanding barbeque in the south ends at anything SAW’S!