As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am working on a story about new barbecue traditions and joints near my hometown for a neat little local magazine called Discover St. Clair. I started my tour of small town barbecue in the tiny city of Springville, Alabama at a mighty fine hole-in-the-wall called The Shack Barbecue and Burgers.
While the place was fabulous -best ribs I’ve ever had - I was still hungry. So, I got back in the pick-‘em-up truck and set out for the small town of Leeds, Alabama, the hometown of NBA legend Charles Barkley and where barbecue enthusiasts will find this neat joint, . -Q
Housed in what used to be a Jack’s Hamburgers, Jonathan “Rusty” Tucker opened up his namesake barbecue joint in 2009 - at the age of 24! While that may make many of us feel like lazy sacks of garbage, talking to Rusty will make you feel much better about yourself. The dude is so low-key you’d swear he was a recovering narcoleptic.
Regardless, the dude can cook some ‘cue. If you’re looking for beef, however, you’re out of luck. This is Alabama and the main items are strictly pork. However, you will find one interesting item on his menu - smoked turkey. Rusty smokes these birds on the pit out back and recommends slathering on a little of his white barbecue sauce, one of five varieties he makes from scratch.
The place also reflects his personality in a big way. While he has a few pieces of memorabilia from Alabama and Auburn on the walls, he admits he’s not a huge sports fan. He does have a handful of old guitars hung on the walls as well as a bunch of old rock and blues posters for artists such as Led Zeppelin, The Doors and the Allman Brothers. My favorite is an enormous poster of Stevie Ray Vaughn located in the alcove outside the restrooms. I was tempted to steal it but thought better of it.
If you ever find yourself in Leeds, Alabama, and are hungry for some barbecue, you can’t go wrong with Rusty’s. Otherwise, you can read the full story in Discover St. Clair in February.