Memorial Day is approaching. For most of us, that means a long weekend spent remembering and celebrating the lives of those soldiers taken from us too soon. If you’re spending the holiday in Tuscaloosa this year we want to help you out by giving you some ideas to make your Memorial day the most memorable one yet!
Memorial Day Program at Veterans Memorial Park
Since this holiday is about remembering the late soldiers who fought for our freedom, Veterans Memorial Park will be hosting its annual Memorial Day Service on Monday morning. The service will feature guest speaker, Allison Spann, daughter of war hero, Johnny Spann. Spann was a captain in the Marine Corps. and became the first American casualty in Afghanistan while serving his country. Iraq war veteran, Colonel Duane Lamb, will also speak at the ceremony. The program will conclude with an Armed Forces Medley and tours of the Park’s military exhibit.
Van De Graaff Arboretum and Historic Bridge Park
Now, it’s summertime here in Tuscaloosa and whether you prefer a lake, pool, pond or just a backyard patio- this holiday is meant to be spent outside. Luckily in this city, we have numerous options for outdoor adventures. One of Tuscaloosa’s latest attractions is the Van De Graaff Arboretum and Historic Bridge Park. The park is still under development, but the fun has already begun. The hiking, biking, and walking trails have already been opened to the public and include a path across the historic 1882 King Bowstring Bridge. The camping sites are also up and running and each one includes a fire ring, water hook up for your RV and access to 33 acres of freshwater ponds for fishing. If that’s not enough, the park also offers porch-style swings, fire pits, a horseshoe pit, the Big Bat House and canoe and kayak rentals. This park is the one-stop shop for all your outdoor fun this Memorial Day.
Pontoon Rentals and Picnics at Lake Tuscaloosa
If you’d rather spend your holiday weekend in a boat on the river don’t worry, we’ve got that covered too. At Lake Tuscaloosa, you can rent pontoon boats for the whole family to enjoy. Float across the water all day while you take in the stunning views around you. Just be sure to pack a lunch because when it’s time for your mid-day meal, you’ll certainly want to indulge at one of the beautiful picnic areas along Lake Tuscaloosa.
Evening Cruise on the Bama Belle Riverboat
If an evening boat ride sounds better to you, Tuscaloosa is home to the Bama Belle Riverboat Cruise. The spectacular riverboat has been a part of Tuscaloosa for years and offers Sunset Cruises, BBQ Cruises, and Afternoon Cruises Friday through Sunday. The Bama Belle cruises along the Black Warrior River and offers snacks, drink, and cocktails available for purchase on board. A live band is also part of the journey and offers plenty of entertainment. This is the perfect excuse to unwind and take in the breathtaking views of the Black Warrior River.
Host a Cookout Catered by Dreamland
Lastly, if you volunteered to host the annual neighborhood cookout this year, but then realized you’re not in the mood to cook that much food let the experts at Dreamland Bar-B-Que help you out. You can focus on all the details like decorations, seating arrangements and activities while they take care of the rest. Take advantage of the scrumptious hickory smoked ribs, southern sides, and delicious desserts that only the professionals at Dreamland can cook up. Don’t waste your time slaving in the kitchen this holiday, get outside and enjoy your long weekend. The chefs at Dreamland Bar-B-Que will take great care of you, and your neighbors will love you for it.
Written By: Bailee Kennamer – Intern
Graduation is around the corner and that means it’s about to be a topsy-turvy world in many ways! One important part of that “weekend of all weekends” is that the parents visit the kids in their college town! So, expect to see tons of proud and excited parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles here in our one and only Tuscaloosa, to celebrate the success of their Graduates!
There are some important rules when it comes to treating and feeding the family in this unique situation, and we decided to focus on the most important aspect: Taking them to dinner. Or more precisely: Them taking you to dinner! As a Tuscaloosa local, the choice of the restaurant should be yours and you should choose wisely because the parents will probably be paying! Here are our top 5 places to have a family dinner at graduation weekend in Tuscaloosa!
1. Dreamland Barbeque
Let’s begin with the perfect place to impress your family with some authentic southern food: Barbeque! It’s one of the easiest things to fall in love with when you move to Alabama, and will likely crave it after they leave! Dreamland is the local hero among the Barbeque places in Tuscaloosa. The southern chain understands the Alabama spirit like no other and is known for its delicious ribs that literally fall off the bone! Grab your parents, grandparents, siblings and anyone else that will visit you for graduation and take them out for a fun dinner with some delicious ribs and white bread along with their famous homemade Dreamland BBQ sauce!
2. Cypress Inn
Parents visit = parents pay, right? Take that chance and let them take you out for a sartorial graduation dinner at the fabulous Cypress Inn! Of course, it will be your parent’s pleasure, too, because the Cypress Inn is one of the most scenic and impressive restaurants in town: Located directly on the Black Warrior River it provides a lovely view from the elevated restaurant and even terrace to sit outside! After dining you might take a walk through the gardens or down the steps and enjoy the wooden boat dock. Or just have another drink at the terrace, celebrate and watch the boats on the river.
3. Chuck’s Fish
It might be old fashioned, but fish is still considered to be a dish for special occasions. And what occasion could be more special than your graduation! So, take your family to the heart of downtown Tuscaloosa and enjoy delicious specialties at Chuck’s Fish! Their Sushi Bar is one of the best in town, always fresh and with tailor-made creations exactly for your taste! Or sit downstairs in the main restaurant and enjoy classics as well as novel dishes with fresh fish, caught around the corner in Florida! The seafood creations are also definitely worth trying – who could say no to crab cakes, oysters, and fish tacos? Finally, end a perfect evening with your favorite cocktails from their fantastic bar!
4. Southern Ale House
If you want to give your family an authentic southern dining experience without focusing on Barbeque too much, the Southern Ale House is a great place to take them! In a warm and inviting atmosphere, it serves both classic and contemporary interpretations of Southern cuisine. Besides amazing burgers and birds, you should order their variety of homemade biscuits – the ultimate southern side! Another highlight is – as the name says – the selection of beer! Alongside local brews from Birmingham and Gadsden, American classics as well as international specialties like French and German beer, the Southern Ale House has got more than ten different ales! That makes assuredly one favorite beer for everyone in the family!
Last but not least, we can’t help but recommend Evangeline’s, another lovely casual upscale restaurant. Located right across the bridge on McFarland in Northport, it is also close to campus. A little hidden in the alleys of Tuscaloosa Galleria, you walk past a beautiful fountain and the scenic white buildings with striped awnings before entering the restaurant. The atmosphere inside is almost magical, the interior and decorations with hundreds of little lights are very unique. They serve various gourmet dishes that come in surprisingly big portions – so don’t hesitate to bring the always-hungry dads or brothers! On a warm night, you might return to the outside again and enjoy a glass of wine in the alley, covered by more lights and listening to the fountain.
Written By: Katharina Horvath – Intern
Valentine’s Day can mean two things: romance and pressure. When you’re with someone, the 14th can be a bit of a nightmare. From fighting for a reservation to getting the right flowers it can become all too stressful for a day of love. This year, be ahead of the curve and follow some of our advice on how to turn the city of Tuscaloosa into the city of love!
For those unaware, this year V-Day falls on an all too dull Tuesday. Right after Monday, it’s hard to find time between work or school to really show your love beyond an early dinner cut short so you have time to finish that paper or turn in early before that 8 am meeting.
The weekend before or after Valentine’s Day, however, should not only give you more time to enjoy each others company but avoid the waits that give you gameday flashbacks at any of Tuscaloosa’s finest dining establishments.
The Classic Romantic
For a night out that spans over hours of fine dining, and excellent wine pairing, take the one you love to the one and only Evangeline’s. They have established themselves as some of the most elite in Tuscaloosa dining with extravagant courses and service that have made it a classic date night spot across the river.
R. Davidson Chophouse
Tuscaloosa’s new steakhouse has grown to be one of the latest in our refined dining scene, and there’s nothing more classic for dinner on Valentine’s than a prime slice of steak with some excellent lobster. The whole evening will be filling, and be sure to venture around their amazing appetizers and cocktails for a night of flame roasted passion.
Everyone knows Italy is for lovers, and we have our delicious slice of it right along University in downtown. Sure it’s a well-known date spot, but it rightfully earned that title. From decadent pasta to some of the best tiramisu around, it’s beyond worth the wait for a seat inside.
The same old thing can be tiring, but Valentine’s day offers you a chance to break out of the rut and celebrate with something new or different.
Step outside the limits of southern cuisine and enter the tasty territory of Thailand above the strip inside the charming little house of Thai. Delight in fried rice served in a pineapple, or in watching each other turn red when you try some of their authenticly seasoned dishes. The experience will lead to memories you can’t find at your standard dim light dinner.
How did this make the adventure list? Simple. Dare to defy the fashion gods and wear your whitest shirts and test your abilities to not drip some of that all-too-delectable sauce on them. While everyone clutters up their feeds on Instagram with the same red rose and white plate dinners, share your story with your messy shirts and big grins from the filling sensation of some of the best ribs in Bama.
Walk inside this Chinese market, and find yourself in a hole in the wall that is stuffed with flavor. Go beyond your standard Chinese delivery order and explore the east in the cozy space with your loved one. You can even save your fortune cookies as a memento of Valentine’s Day gone right.
We are well into the golden era of food across America and Tuscaloosa is making strides to include itself in the growth. Sample some of our newest additions and make a break from the Italian and steak.
While the interior is completely contemporary, nothing is more of a classic night on the town than trying the latest and greatest on the foodie scene in town. Watch the moonlight dance on the Black Warrior while enjoying their modern cuisine and twists on classic cocktails. Be sure to take home one of their oatmeal pies for a sweet treat after the food coma wears off.
Under the romantic lights of the giant gasolier, and the renovated grand hall of the L&N Station, you can find “Tuscaloosa fusion” which combines the food culture of the world with the traditions of this southern college town. From Reuben spring rolls to the classic bread pudding it’ll be heaven on a fork for sure.
Side by Side
Come enjoy some modern southern cuisine under the dome of the Embassy Suites in downtown. They offer a selection of some southern staples reimagined with modern tastes to make for a delectable night out in the city.
If the weekend doesn’t work because of your schedule or your partner said it’s Valentine’s or bust, there’s still plenty of ways to spice up this Tuesday. From full days worth of excitement to an evening well spent, here’s how to do this holiday right.
The Classic Night
You’re not shaken by the Tuesday date of this year’s night of romance. You’re treating this night like the last Friday of your life, and with that, you’re willing to go out and paint the town red. If none of the classics on the list above sound like your ideal date, here are a few more ideas.
Mood lighting is far from absent inside Five, with their eclectic collection of chandeliers, the setting is ready for romance. Perfect for those indecisive couples with their simple rule of only offering five items each night.
Shoals Kitchen and Bar
Hidden inside the Hotel Indigo lobby, you can find some comfy seating and comfort food waiting for you. Shoals Kitchen might surprise you with its bold flavors and delicious cocktails.
Yes, it’s a great idea for both the weekend and the day of. Aside from its excellent moody atmosphere of yesteryear, and the modern cuisine flowing out of the kitchen, this year they have an exclusive menu for V-Day featuring appetizers and entrées not seen typically at the bistro.
Grab a delicious bottle pinot noir and enjoy the perfect Valentine’s ambiance in Tuscaloosa’s little downtown wine shop. They don’t have food, but you can bring it in from your favorite one and only spot!
The Low-Key Night
There aren’t rules and laws for Valentine’s day, and just because a night spent eating overpriced shrimp is customary, doesn’t mean its right for you. Here are some unconventional ways to enjoy the romantic Tuesday
Rooming the Druid City you can find their food truck with their daily updates, or the smell of locally sourced goodness wafting over the air. While everyone waits in line or crowd the hostess, why not skip the whole process and grab a seriously delicious food.
Sometimes all you need to express your love is a lofty slice of pizza. You can find that cheesy delicacy with all its golden goodness in Little Italy. Relax in a warm booth and relieve yourself of having to pretend that goat cheese infused kale actually sounded good for a whole meal with a true pie of love.
Stay in, Taste T-Town
You can get all dressed up, and feel uncomfortable in that suit or dress you haven’t worn since pre-holiday binge eating or slap on some sweats and order in. You’re not in 1990, so don’t feel limited to pizza or Chinese. It’s 2017 and Tuscaloosa has several sites that offer delivery covering all of the best restaurants in town beyond the standard food fare that would normally offer delivery.
With the widest offers from DePalma’s to Auntie Annes, you’re hard pressed to not find something you’ve been craving. It allows you to select from any restaurant open when you order so there’s no fighting over what to get if you both want something different!
With some cross over on offers like crimson to go, Waitr also covers local and chains.
Our great state of Alabama is home to several icons, with the invention of white sauce at Big Bob Gibson’s, to the array of infamous ribs that continue to prove our place in the world of Barbeque. Tuscaloosa has more than their fair share of BBQ legends in town, with iconic institutions that have continued the proud tradition of Alabama BBQ being some of the best in the world. From the dynamic decade of the 60s to the decadent 80s, the druid city has hosted several wizards of the BBQ pit.
John “Big Daddy” Bishop grew up in a turbulent time for the south but came to rise from his job as a cement finisher to the face of his own dream. There was a brief moment where his iconic institution wouldn’t have existed, as he debated on how to provide better for his family with either his restaurant dream or opening a mortuary. Luckily one night, the legend goes; he dreamed about running a restaurant and never could get the dream out of his mind. He then opened up Dreamland the same year Paul Bryant started his coaching career at Alabama. Originally he served classic American staples like burgers but found he had a talent with barbecue. His success leads to the other items being removed from his menu and focused on his ribs. The crowd would grow with a racial diversity in a time where there was plenty of division. Students from the University of Alabama in town would mix in with the black residents who first came to dreamland. Leading to its city-wide popularity. It wasn’t just excellent ribs people came back for, Big Daddy ensured his customers felt like family at his establishment by encouraging his staff and family who worked beside him to create a welcoming atmosphere. People. This combination of legendary ribs and excellent service allowed his dream to grow beyond city limits. Today his success has lead to a franchise that extends across Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Dreamland continues to grow, with his friendly face gracing the logo of their rib empire.
Tuscaloosa spot on the BBQ map wouldn’t have happened if the Archibald family didn’t open across the Black Warrior in Northport for business. Today, they have several locations around town, but the original house of ribs history starts back in 1962. The husband and wife duo of George and Betty Archibald quit their jobs and along with their son George Jr. opened the BBQ joint. While its location was hard to find at first, many were determined to find the source of the scented hickory smoke. Once inside people were greeted with a small menu packed with flavor with pork shoulder and slabs of ribs alongside white bread and the potato chip of the south, Golden Flake. The tiny house only offers three seats at the counter, six in a small dining room, but plenty of picnic tables to enjoy the long warm Alabama days outside. Archibald’s iconic status in Tuscaloosa wouldn’t be complete without a tie to the legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Considered to be one of his favorite spots to eat, many more people have since followed the coaches footsteps to find its hardly changed since his era. Today, the success of the Archibald family has grown into three other locations under the name Archibald & Woodrow’s BBQ, and serves the classic ribs, alongside wings, pulled pork sandwiches, and several sides. The sweet hickory smoke now wafts across the city, but its source will always be the charming little house that is packed with over 50 years of a well-smoked pit and some of the best ribs of the south.
The established barbecue scene around town had become well understood by the 80s, with Dreamland growing and Archibald’s smoke wafting over the city, locals and tourists alike came to understand the flavor found in the college town along the Black Warrior. Three university students, from Athens, Huntsville, and Tuscaloosa became close friends united in their love of southern cuisine and culture. It was in 88’ the boys met Moses Day to learn the ways of fire roasting meat. Moses had a pit set up in his backyard that grew to be well known around town. The boys would leave their southern state for the Rockies in Vail Colorado to refine their cooking skills. Eventually opening up something they came to find was lacking in the mountainside state. They boys would use the skills and pit mastery they learned from Moses to open up Moe’s Original BBQ bringing Alabama style barbecue to the North. Their popularity allowed them to come back to Bama with locations across the state, and eventually to the place where it all started. Opening their Tuscaloosa location in 2010, nine years since they began their own dream of contributing to the legacy of barbecue in Alabama.
Today, any visitor to this college town can find more than enough barbecue to satisfy their savory desires. From local legends and icons to the city’s ability to inspire the future generation of pit masters to a national level of success, it’s easy to see why we are well marked on any BBQ map.