Southern Culture: Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q of Decatur, Alabama

Last week my friend Sean and I drove down Mooresville Road through Belle Mina, made a detour into the streets of Mooresville itself, then cut over across the Tennessee to Decatur. The fall drive itself was worth the outing–antebellum homes and churches, autumn leaves and fields of snow white cotton bolls. Despite the Southern beauty of the journey, we had a clear destination: Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q.

Situated on the main drag in Decatur, Big Bob’s has the right barbecue vibe. It’s a big place, attesting to its great local popularity. We arrived after the main lunch rush, and were seated quickly.

Big Bob had my immediate respect with his five foot tall trophies from Memphis in May, which included the 2003 grand champion trophy. No meat smoker with one of those can ever be dismissed when it comes to barbecue.

I ordered a quarter chicken and pulled pork plate with beans as a side (and a bag of Golden Flake barbecue chips). Although I’ve mostly been a skeptic of barbecued chicken, Alabama white sauce has made me a quick convert. Sean ordered the barbecue potato with brisket.

Memphis in May Overall Champion 2003

The food came promptly; no need to wait at Bob’s. The verdict, though, wasn’t quite up to expectations. I found the chicken a little dry and, oddly, the pulled pork a little too wet, bordering on soggy. The taste was good, but not great. I did like Bob’s white sauce, and his regular barbecue sauce was solid.

A weak spot was the beans. I took a bite or two, but in my opinion it doesn’t take too much effort to crank up the taste of beans. Bob’s hadn’t put the effort in.

With Bob’s local popularity and Memphis in May success, I owe them another shot. I would like to try their ribs, and wish they would let you add one or two to the sampler.

If you’re driving through Decatur give Bob’s a try. The locals love it. You’ll certainly have some good barbecue, and maybe some great barbecue if I was simply the victim of bad timing.


Update: Sean has reminded me that Big Bob’s chicken and white sauce is on the 100 Alabama Foods list. You can read about how Big Bob invented white sauce for chicken.

Another update: Be sure to read my follow-up: Decatur’s Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q: Another Look

One thought on “Southern Culture: Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q of Decatur, Alabama

  1. As a native of Decatur, I have to tell you that Big Bob has been coasting on his laurels. The food hasn’t been as good the past few years. The best BBQ in Decatur is actually found at Whit’s Barbecue down the street. Take out only.

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