We’re Haley Laurence and Jared “Jay B” Boyd, and we ate at seven different steakhouses this month (guided by our readers’ nominations and votes) to find the best one in Alabama. We’ve done the same for Alabama’s best oyster bars and meat-and-three restaurants. (Spoiler alert: Alabama is really, really good at the food thing.) Every few months, we travel the state, writing and facilitating conversation around Southern food. We often find the most important story to tell isn't the flavor on the menu, but the stories of the people behind Alabama's restaurants.

About Haley: I'm Haley Laurence, and I travel across Alabama to find the best food the state has to offer. From frog legs to crocodile bites to deer stew, I've (probably) tried it all. I also have a blog about mac and cheese. (Seriously.) Find me on Twitter at @haleyleigh.

About Jared: My name is Jared Boyd. But, since we're friends now, you can call me "Jay B." I'm a Life and Culture Reporter for Alabama Media Group based in Mobile, Alabama. Most of my content is published on AL.com. Like many of my colleagues, my job is to highlight human interests in the corners of the state many people might overlook. My main focus is music, particularly Southern hip-hop and the the aspects of culture that revolve around it. I gained an affinity for the art form, growing up as an artist in Memphis, Tennessee. The best place to catch me is on a Twitter timeline @JaredJayBBoyd.

You can see some of our most recent adventures here.

And here's our announcement (published today) of our selection for Best Steakhouse in Alabama.

PROOF: Haley's Twitter announcement

Jared's Twitter announcement (with a nod to Seasick Records in Birmingham, Ala.)

Ask us anything!

UPDATE at 12:15 p.m. central:

Hey, guys! It looks like things are tapering off here, so we'd like to thank you for all the great questions and wonderful engagement. This is my first time using Reddit, and we'd love to thank the guys at Reddit who made this possible, as well as AL.com and our Rebecca Walker, who brought this to the table on our end.

Again - our reveal of our favorite steakhouses published this morning here: http://www.al.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2017/06/alabamas_best_steakhouse_is.html

Haley and I will likely pop in to this thread again later in the afternoon and evening if there are any other questions asked. But, if you'd love to talk more, we're always tweeting at @JaredJayBBoyd and @HaleyLeigh!

Thanks again, guys! This was a blast - JB

Comments: 424 • Responses: 114  • Date: 

janeetcetc69 karma

best veggies you had on your steak quest?

aldotcom86 karma

My grilled vegetables at George's in Sheffield (the town just adjacent to the legendary Muscle Shoals) were phenomenal.

I was surprised that so few of the places we went featured nice veggies. Most of them were big on fried green tomatoes and crab cakes and other snacky appetizers and sides. Bummed me out because I've been low carb since gaining weight on our last food tour.

  • JB

aldotcom36 karma

Yeah, not a lot of phenomenal veggies on this journey. (Although there was lots of great bread.) I liked the steamed broccoli at George's in Sheffield -- it was seasoned and a bit salty and they definitely put some thought into it.

For non-veggies, Nick's in Huntsville had a killer risotto side. -- Haley

All_Your_Base60 karma

Ok, I'll bite: Which one is the best?

aldotcom29 karma

We JUST published our findings, as soon as this AMA went live! http://www.al.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2017/06/alabamas_best_steakhouse_is.html#incart_river_home -JB

Carlajeanwhitley22 karma

How do you not get sick on these trips?

aldotcom34 karma

I just pace myself and don't eat too much too soon. Kinda like going to bars in my 30s. -- Haley

aldotcom23 karma

Our colleague, David Holloway, who has been writing food on the Gulf Coast for probably 40 years, always tells me when I head out on these tours, "You don't have to eat every bit. It is a marathon, not a race."

I never take his advice. I always end up eating as much as I can stand. And I usually pay the price in a few pounds when I return.

Honestly, it is hard to say no to these people who are so excited and so hospitable when we come to their restaurants. They want us to try everything that is popular on their menus.

I try to fill up on water as much as I can, whether I'm on tour or not. And I try to be mindful of carbs. I didn't eat much bread at all on this steak tour. Another dietary thing that is sorta unrelated - I don't eat pork. So, Haley handles anything pork-related that comes our way. The rest is just crossing our fingers and hoping we don't do too much damage. -JB

Kota-kota17 karma

How does your heart feel?

aldotcom22 karma

It's fine. I have monthly check-ups. It's good. -- Haley

aldotcom21 karma

We only did seven, in the span of two weeks. So, dunno. I'll go in for a check-up soon. I have noticed some changes in my digestion, if that isn't TMI. - JB

almondparfitt15 karma

Hi Haley and Jay B! Can you share some of the stories about the Alabama restaurant owners? I saw a recent article saying that some NYC food publications were moving their operations to Birmingham -- have you seen any impact of a foodie scene moving down south? Love the series, so fun.

aldotcom20 karma

I live in Northeast Alabama but drive down to BHAM all the time for work. And every time I'm there, there's always at least one new restaurant -- and that's just near the office. I can't even keep up with all the new stuff. The food scene is booming there. -- Haley

aldotcom11 karma

Thank you for reading! There have been a ton of interesting business owners who we've met on our encounters, usually for the better and not the worst.

I wrote a story on our last food tour about how the tradition of Southern food is more about the people who partake in the intimate exchange of food than the food itself. You may like it: http://www.al.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2017/03/comfort_food_goes_beyond_the_t.html -JB

JMS44213 karma

If you had to wrestle Robert Bentley in BBQ sauce, which sauce would you use?

aldotcom8 karma

Definitely something with a low sugar content. I'd try Sweet Baby Ray's. - JB

Pyrophagist12 karma

What's your best recommendation for BBQ in Birmingham?

aldotcom22 karma

There are so many good options, but I LOVE Rusty's in Leeds. He cuts the pulled pork in larger pieces than most places, so you can really taste the smokiness. Also, Saw's pork and greens is never a bad answer to any question. -- Haley

P.S. -- I looked for Bama's best BBQ sandwich last year, and here's what I found: http://www.al.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2016/06/alabamas_best_bbq_sandwich_is.html

LuntiX10 karma

During your quest to find the best Steakhouse, did you discover if the price of the steak was related to the quality of the steak? Such as were the more expensive Steakhouses better than the cheaper ones or not really?

aldotcom14 karma

I found that the more expensive steaks we ate were more appropriate to the experience and atmosphere. We had three upscale places. The most expensive was in a casino in Wetumpka, AL. At that place, the service was state of the art. They hand out roses to guests, they had dynamic lighting, they had palate cleansers between courses - those kinds of touches made the steak even more worth the price.

The meat was pretty high quality, but I think the service and other amenities made the biggest difference. - JB

LuntiX8 karma

Thanks! That's like what I thought it would be. As a follow up, were there any expensive Steakhouses that did a poor job on the overall experience compared to some of cheaper places?

aldotcom8 karma

Yeah. I hate to throw them under the bus, though. We don't want to single anyone out or make them feel bad, because they all give an earnest try to making us feel comfortable, and they all have people in their town who love them.

But, yeah. We did eat at a place that was very much intending to provide an upscale experience, but the dessert was the only thing to write home about. And the ambiance ended up feeling very contrived, on the nose and, frankly, overbearing. That was the first time on these tours that I really wanted out of a place ASAP. - JB

AnimuuStew10 karma

What were your favorite spots in/around Huntsville?

aldotcom23 karma

I'm a huge fan of the breweries, because beer. I also love Viet Cuisine and the pizza place in Yellowhammer. I live in Scottsboro so I mostly spend time at home with my cats, Cat Benatar and Conway Kitty. (Y'all can definitely ask me questions about my cats. PLEASE.) -- Haley

AnimuuStew12 karma

now I have to ask questions about the cats

what kind of cats are they

aldotcom16 karma

Thank you for bringing up my cats! :)

Conway is a long-haired chubby ginger and is an outdoors cat. He's a natural hunter but also a sweetheart.

Cat Benatar is a short-haired black cat and lives inside and is scared of bugs but is a fan of cuddling. -- Haley

ElScreecho6 karma

You have mentioned your cats.

This incurs the "cat tax". You are now required to post a picture of your cats, like this one of my fatass.

aldotcom10 karma

Pip is ADORABLE.

This is Conway. He's a little chubs but I try not to shame him: http://imgur.com/bzvtw4q

And here's Cat Benatar. She's my bestie: http://imgur.com/a/KDvXI

-- Haley (Obviously not JB)

Carlajeanwhitley4 karma

How is Cat adjusting to Conway?

aldotcom5 karma

Cat Benatar does not like Conway Kitty. If she sees that he is getting her treats, she dislikes him more.

Conway is apathetic. He'd rather be hunting lizards. -- Haley

jgodwin153 karma

Huntsvillian here. Best steakhouse has to be Connors at Bridge Street. It's a chain, but you can't deny how amazing the food, service, and atmosphere is.

aldotcom2 karma

And the mac and cheese. -- Haley

aldotcom3 karma

Haley lives around Hunstville. I wasn't too crazy about the restaurant we ate there. It wasn't bad, at all. But, I think it could use a little more care and attention with a "less is more" kinda mentality. - JB

klacombe79 karma

I'm sorry if this has already been asked, but....

How did you land jobs like this?? I went to culinary school and love watching shows like what you've described... traveling to different spots, trying out places people recommend, giving your opinion.. that's literally my dream job! I would love to write about my experiences like you have!

Edit: thanks for your replies!

aldotcom10 karma

It's a pretty sweet job. My boss gave me the job a year-and-a-half ago because I eat pizza all the time and we were looking for Alabama's Best Pizza. So the key is: Like pizza. -- Haley

aldotcom8 karma

We get that question all the time from people who live and work around us. Funny enough, the people who work at the restaurants hear about what we do and wonder how the heck we can enjoy it.

It is definitely a grind to eat and travel and eat and travel - and then find time to write about it. On the last two tours, Haley and I both ended up on the road, away from our friends and families in hotels on our birthdays.

I'm not poo-pooing on the experience. We enjoy it! But, I don't think people realize it isn't the bulk of what we do. Haley and I write full-time, year-round about things we think are cool in Alabama and the South. These food projects are two-week, little adventures we take every 4-6 months, or so. - JB

the_schmeez9 karma

Alright, I gotta make sure that you know what you are talking about in terms of steak when tasting it. How do you each like your steak prepared (including sides and seasoning)?

aldotcom16 karma

How I get it prepared, depends on the cut that I get. And the cut that I get depends on how much of an appetite I have and whether or not we are eating again later in the day.

Honestly, when you are eating in these remote Alabama towns, sometimes you have to use discretion when it comes to trusting someone to cook rare for you. I only did rare once on this trip. That was at the Wind Creek Casino in Wetumpka at a restaurant called FIRE.

But, by no stretch of the imagination are we "food experts". I think that our colloquial approach to reviewing restaurants is important. We, much like our readership, are just looking for a tasty meal. Many of them are going on dates or have families. They just want to know what Alabama has to offer because they are either from these communities, or may be travelling through some day.

So, we aren't necessarily sticklers for every detail. We just want to let people know what's out there and tell the stories about how these restaurants make Alabama better.

  • JB

aldotcom11 karma

Yeah, I also ordered based on cut and what the servers suggested -- usually medium rare. I try to always listen to the servers -- they know what's up. -- Haley

akjkakjk6 karma

Hi Jay B and Haley! What kind of music did you listen to in order to pump yourself up to eat the steaks, was it like a "Lose Yourself" type situation? Jay B -- favorite artist and upcoming artists we should check out?

aldotcom13 karma

I don't know that I have any particular hype songs when we eat. Haley loves to listen to podcasts on the road. More often than not, her podcasts are about food.

As far as artists back in Memphis, Marco Pave and Xavierwulf are two guys who are friends that I have watched come a long way. There are tons, though. I write about Southern hip-hop and southern soul a ton. Sometimes, I even get deep into jazz.

Thanks for the Q!

  • JB

akjkakjk1 karma

Which food podcasts? Will definitely check out your artist recs. Thanks!

aldotcom4 karma

I love Gravy by the Southern Foodways Alliance. Also Tyler Florence has a podcast where he just travels and talks to restaurant owners. Both are good stuff! -- Haley

Scrode3 karma

No really a podcast but Mark Weins YouTube channel is great if you like Asian food. His reactions are great.

aldotcom2 karma

Making a note of this RIGHT NOW. Thanks! -- Haley

jpropaganda6 karma

I know it's not a steakhouse but did you drop by big Bob Gibson's? Some of the best meat I've ever had was there

aldotcom7 karma

I went to Big Bob Gibson's during the Alabama's Best BBQ Sandwich journey. Great place! (Also white sauce forever.) -- Haley http://www.al.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2016/06/alabamas_best_bbq_sandwich_5_t_19.html

aldotcom4 karma

I've not been to Big Bob's. What town is it in? Thanks for the recommendation. When I'm comfortable eating large portions of meat again, I'll check it out. - JB

jpropaganda4 karma

Talk to haley. It's in Decatur and it's a national bbq institution.

aldotcom5 karma

Will do. I've been in Alabama a little over a year-and-a-half, after moving from Memphis. So, I still have quite a bit to see. I think Haley enjoys having relatively fresh eyes on board with her when she tours. I learn more about the state every time we go out.

But, of course, I'm sure you can deduce that BBQ gets me excited; Memphis boy that I am. - JB

T-Money936 karma

In your opinion, what makes the perfect steak? Also, Alabama or Auburn?

aldotcom38 karma

I want a steak that melts in my mouth.

War Eagle always. --Haley

T-Money9310 karma

War Eagle!

aldotcom5 karma

Back atcha! -- Haley

DotE-Throwaway3 karma

Roll Tide.

aldotcom17 karma

That's rude. :) -- Haley

aldotcom20 karma

I went to Ole Miss, so neither.

I think Big Mike's in Thomasville had an incredibly tasty ribeye. It had a delicate crunch on its exterior. It was tender when we cut into it. Just fell off the knife. It was juicy. And it had a lil' buttery undertone. I truly dug it! But, again, we're no experts. And I think that goes over well with our readers. We are here to give them a layman's perspective. - JB

DotE-Throwaway6 karma

Roll Tide.

whoreallyknowsanymor13 karma

So fitting that a throwaway account is for Bama. How are your uncle dad and aunt mom doing?

DotE-Throwaway21 karma

Sadly this has gone from being a throwaway to my work account and it has more karma now than my main account...lol.

Unclepa and Auntyma are doing fine. I'd ask about your family, but we both know you're alone.

aldotcom12 karma

Be nice, y'all. -- Haley

TripleGorgon35 karma

Did y'all go to 82 west in union spring? If so how was it?

aldotcom3 karma

I don't think it got a nomination for the best. We make a list based on nominations. Make sure to follow AL.com on Facebook so you can keep up with the journeys. (I swear, that's not supposed to be a shameless plug.) -- Haley

aldotcom3 karma

We didn't. Haley is more hands on with the voting aspect of our trips. Maybe she can give you a better idea of how well it was voted for while we were in the nominations stage of figuring out where we'll eat. - JB

BakerCompany5 karma

Did each of you get the same cut at every steakhouse? I think it would be difficult to compare two different cuts at two different steakhouses.

aldotcom6 karma

We were asked by our content director for the two of us to each get a different cut, along with an appetizer and dessert at every place we went.

So, between the two of us, we usually had a ribeye and something else to try. We leaned toward getting a ribeye and whatever seemed to be unique or a specialty at that particular restaurant. - JB

aldotcom6 karma

We mostly got ribeyes and filets at most places, but made an exception if they had a different cut that was a specialty. -- Haley

SouljazzNerd4 karma

What's the best cut of meat for the best steak?

aldotcom7 karma

Agreed. Ribeyes. -- Haley

aldotcom7 karma

The ribeyes we had on the trip were always better than whatever other cut we ordered, between the two of us. - JB

croppybhoy4 karma

I find steak very boring and basically a fallback option when there's nothing good on a menu. So with that in mind what was the best side/sauce or general way the steak was served rather than the steak quality itself?

aldotcom7 karma

We didn't do much sauce, at all, on the trip. Everyone offered either A1 or Heinz. Meh. We wanted to taste the meat, not some sauce we all can get at a Publix.

To an extent, you are correct, steak was a bit more mundane than the other food tours we've done. That's why we tend to title these competitions after the kinds of restaurants we are looking for, rather than specific food items. We did "Alabama's Best Oyster Bar", rather than "Alabama's Best Oyster". "Alabama's Best Steakhouse" rather than "Alabama's Best Steak".

That way, people get a better idea that we are paying attention to the entirety of what these restaurants are. It also helps keep the nominations focused. Otherwise, we'd end up getting nominations for "the best steak", but we'd be eating at some pizza parlor somewhere - just because that place happens to have a steak people like. - JB

PauseItPlease2 karma

So no Alabama white sauce? I know it's more a BBQ thing than steak thing but it's still delicious and great for dipping fries in.

aldotcom2 karma

I remember going into this trip, Haley said to expect white sauce at one of the restaurants. I don't remember which it was, but I never saw any on our tour. -JB

croppybhoy2 karma

Everyone offered either A1 or Heinz

Whoah whoah.. I'm not American here so going to have to check.. do you mean like... HP brown sauce or ketchup? With a steak?

aldotcom4 karma

No. Heinz makes a steak sauce, too. It's known as Heinz 57. http://www.heinz57.com/

Thanks for visiting our AMA! Where are you located? - JB

Pikmints3 karma

Which steak would you say was the best value for your dollar? I like good steaks, I like large steaks, but I find myself very wary expensive steaks because even though it may be the best on their menu, it may not be worth the price discrepancy.

aldotcom6 karma

Big Mike's ribeye in Thomasville, AL. It was our best steak and it was very reasonably priced. I can't remember the exact price, but if I were willing to bet it's probably shockingly cheap, not shockingly expensive. - JB

aldotcom4 karma

At Big Mike's, we both ordered a steak (which came with two sides), an app and a dessert and got out of there for about $70, including tip. There was a lot more food than I could eat, and I skipped lunch that day. -- Haley

Whippersnapper-getit3 karma

I'm sure someone asked but if not, is this a state by state endeavor?

aldotcom5 karma

No, it isn't. We write full-time arts and entertainment across the entire state of Alabama. Every few months, we pick a certain category of restaurant to travel and try. - JB

donnavan3 karma

How can you argue any of your findings to be legitimate when you claim you can still fit into your guys' pants? You're asking us to trust you but it's a big red flag.

aldotcom7 karma

My metabolism is the best thing about me. It certainly isn't my personality. -- Haley

aldotcom4 karma

My waistline has actually gotten smaller, here recently. I dunno, we all have our trust issues. - JB

UnusualSoup3 karma

What kind of steak cut do you think is the best cut?

aldotcom5 karma

The ribeye became my favorite on this tour. I don't know if it is inherently the best. It was just cooked well everywhere we went. - JB

bpgigty3 karma

is this accurate https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/15/travel/what-to-do-36-hours-in-birmingham-alabama.html

Food or drinks places to def check out in Alabama? Thx for doing this!

aldotcom3 karma

Yes, that's super accurate. There are lots of great things happening in Alabama. If you plan on a trip to Alabama, let me know where you're going and I can give you PLENTY of recommendations! -- Haley

RegularSpaceJoe3 karma

What do you recommend to reset your taste buds between eating some of the most delicious things Alabama has to offer?

Also does the sky really shine so blue?

aldotcom3 karma

Greens. Lots of greens and veggies. -- Haley

Paradiddle133 karma

How did you approach the different restaurant owners about doing a story? Did you just walk in or schedule a time to come?

aldotcom3 karma

We put out on AL.com that we are doing an "Alabama's Best" and our readers from all over the state comment on the article to nominate their favorite places that serve the type of food we designated when announcing.

Then they vote on their favorites of those nominees.

After that, we will announce the finalists, like we did here: http://www.al.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2017/06/these_are_your_favorite_alabam_3.html

By then, most restaurants know they are involved in this process, but Haley calls ahead to let them know when we are coming. - JB

faintpremonition3 karma

As a fellow initial-name person, I wonder why you chose Jay B instead of JB or J.B. for writing your name? Do you fill out forms with Jared, and then briefly wonder who that is?

aldotcom3 karma

Yeah. The initials thing is hard. I actually rejected it until a girl named Kaella started calling me "JB" in 6th grade. It stuck. And she's still a good friend today.

When I started recording rhymes at 12-years-old, I wanted something distinct. So, I started stylizing it that way. I kinda think it is silly as an adult, but, for now, I'm married to it. There's actually one other instance of a "Jay B.", he's the villain, portrayed by Richard Gant, in the Russell Simmons-inspired movie "Krush Groove." I didn't realize it 'til many years later. So, that's one reason I still kinda like it. - JB

faintpremonition4 karma

I like how you've styled it. It's interesting how initial names tend to cluster around certain letter pairings. For example, I have never encountered a person called ND. Thanks for the great answer!

K_Murphy2 karma

I went to school with a girl called N.D. It was the initials of her first and middle name. Of course that is probably still a rare combo, but there you go.

aldotcom4 karma

Similarly, I knew a girl in college named Mary Claire Hamner, so everyone called her "MC Hamner", which we still get a kick out of. - JB

true_spokes3 karma

What types of attributes make a restaurant a true Alabama eatery? (Signature dishes, decor, ambiance, etc)

aldotcom8 karma

I'm big on ambiance. The fact that the restaurants we try have made it to be finalists, typically speaks to their quality, as far as food is concerned. I'd never really tasted a restaurant I didn't like until we did steakhouses. There were two I felt maybe got by in our nomination/voting round on personality, rather than quality.

I think the best ambiance we ever had was Capital Oyster Bar in Montgomery. It's essentially a juke joint on a marina. Throw in solid seafood and I don't know what more anyone could ask for. That Southern as all get-out. And I put it up above a restaurant that blew me away with the quality of their food, just because I care that much about rewarding people for the experience they build around their food. - JB

aldotcom3 karma

Fried green tomatoes. I feel like there's always fried green tomatoes. -- Haley

Newnewhuman3 karma

There must be tons of the similar restaurants like stakehouses. How did you guys decide which one to go? I don't understand the concept of try out seven stakehouses and that cover the whole state.

aldotcom7 karma

Our process for each Alabama's Best is the same. 1) Announce to our readers on AL.com the type of restaurant we are doing 2) Have our readers nominate their favorite restaurants of that type 3) Have our readers vote on the best of those nominations 4) Then we choose the top choices, based on votes, relative to a representation of the entire state. For instance, we realize Birmingham may have more voting power, as a large city who supports our website very well, than a smaller town somewhere more remote. So, we weigh things out and figure the best way to make it out to parts of the entire state.

Typically, we are reviewing closer to 15 or 20 restaurants on these tours. We'll eat lunch and dinner. Steakhouses were a little tougher because there were not a ton to choose from, being that we only review locally-owned eateries. Another issue with steakhouses that we didn't necessarily have on previous tours was hours. Many of them were only open for dinner on the weekends. So, doing two meals a day was a greater challenge.

We decided to pick seven. We did three our first week, took a break for the Father's Day weekend, then finished up with four.

You're right, with steakhouses, the food was fairly similar. More than the two previous tours we did together, it was hard to choose a clear-cut winner.

We managed.

Oddly enough, our top three restaurants appeared in the order in which we ate them. The first restaurant we ate was our winner. The second was runner up. And the third came in third.

That's never happened before. - JB

aldotcom4 karma

Readers nominate their favorites and then we divide their nominations into regions. They vote for their favorites by regions, and we visit their top picks. -- Haley

ZenbyOmission3 karma

I'm a big crimson tide fan, and recently lost a bet to a war eagle. I owe him dinner. What is the worst place I could take him?

aldotcom5 karma

Be nice to your Auburn friends. :) -- Haley

aldotcom2 karma

Hahahahaha. I'm staying out of this one. #HottyToddy - JB

DotE-Throwaway2 karma

Just kind of glossed over the article because i'm at work, but:

Is there a list of restaurants you went to?

Did you go to Nick's in the Sticks in Tuscaloosa?

aldotcom5 karma

No, Nick's in the Sticks didn't get enough votes. But I've heard enough about their drinks that I'm gonna make sure to visit soon.

Here's a list of the places we visited: http://www.al.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2017/06/here_are_the_places_were_visit_1.html#incart_river_index

-- Haley

MuricanTragedy52 karma

Steak is one of the most environmentally unfriendly foods we can eat. I'm not much of a meat eater in general, but I do enjoy the occasional steak. Do you think a change of diet in American culture will be inevitable with the times ahead of us?

aldotcom3 karma

I definitely think we'd be better off being more mindful of the food we eat. I think food deserts are a huge issue in America. I think poor nutrition is an institutional issue that should be addressed. I think a lot about food, as it relates to politics and our environment.

Definitely something I'd like to write about some day. But, right now we're writing about how small businesses who serve food help build community in Alabama. - JB

TheWestPointer2 karma

As someone from the Wiregrass area, I always feel that we get neglected anytime anything cool about Alabama is mentioned. Just a few weeks ago there was a lady from AL.com who did reports on "supernatural" occurrences in Alabama and of course we didn't get any kind of mention. So I have to ask:

Did you guys venture to our corner of Alabama? What was the best steak here? And any idea why we always get left out? Are we really that uninteresting?

Thanks!

aldotcom2 karma

We named Zack's Alabama's Best Meat-and-Three just a few months ago and frequently travel down there for the Best competitions: http://www.al.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2017/02/alabamas_best_meat-and-three_i.html

But I'm the first to admit that I don't know as much about the area as I should, so sent me story suggestions and tips from that area. I always have a ball when I go down there. (And I always get up early to go to Loyless Donuts.) -- Haley

denali422 karma

Living in Chattanooga, TN, I'm curious... What's the best BBQ in NE Bama? (Note -- I've been to Austin, TX; Kansas City; Raleigh, NC and Memphis, TN -- I'm looking for GOOD 'Q).

aldotcom3 karma

I'm a big fan of Tate's in Scottsboro. It doesn't look like much -- it just has one tiny drive-up window -- but the 'cue is really awesome. I also love Ole Hickory BBQ in New Market -- it's in the sticks but it's some good BBQ. -- Haley

JMS4422 karma

Who had the cleanest bathrooms?

aldotcom3 karma

The FIRE Steakhouse at the Wind Creek Casino in Wetumpka had that Dyson Airblad thing in their sink. That blew my mind. I wonder how much it cost to get one for my own bathroom. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tw_N71HFxlk - JB

SuperSmith_2 karma

You might be surprised to know, but the air dryers harbor a lot of bacteria due to the moisture in them. Paper towels aren't a very suitable environment for bacteria, so they're more sterile.

aldotcom2 karma

That's interesting. I'll look into that. - JB

Vovochka_Lenin2 karma

Which is more important? The cook or the cut of meat?

aldotcom2 karma

The cook. A few weeks ago, I had bites of two ribeyes -- one cooked on a grill and one in a cast-iron. Good Lord, there was a big difference. -- Haley

brianfsanford2 karma

As someone from Alabama, why didn't you go to Texas to find the best steak? :P

aldotcom9 karma

All my exes live in Texas. - JB

pen_and_inc2 karma

Did you swing down to the Gulf while you were here!?

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I wish. I could have used a temporary beach vacation. -- Haley

aldotcom5 karma

I live in Mobile. But, no. We didn't. South Alabama doesn't seem to be very enthusiastic when we are holding nominations and voting. That is one big reason why we did "Alabama's Best Oyster Bar", in order to get enthusiasm from the Coastal community.

The furthest South we got, this time is Thomasville.

But, my favorite steaks on the Alabama Gulf Coast are at The Royal Scam in Downtown Mobile and the Tin Top in Bon Secour, which is more of an oyster restaurant, but they'll pour oysters fenton over a mean NY Strip. Lord, it's good! - JB

pen_and_inc2 karma

Tin top is my go to! Great food. Glad to have someone shining a good light on lower Alabama ☺️

aldotcom2 karma

Proud to serve you guys. - JB

ramseyarchibald2 karma

What has been your favorite Alabama's Best journey so far?

aldotcom2 karma

Oysters were easiest to eat in quick succession because they aren't super heavy.

Meat & Three probably had the best stories, though. The people we met were most unique. - JB

aldotcom1 karma

Alabama's Best Pizza. Because you can never get tired of pizza. -- Haley

beyerch2 karma

At which point do you evaluate heart bypass doctors?

aldotcom3 karma

We're cool. We exercise daily and eat our greens and stuff. We're good. -- Haley

jmichele572 karma

Will you be taking a temporary 'beef moratorium'?

aldotcom4 karma

I should say yes, right? But I ate pork ribs last night, so ... -- Haley

aldotcom3 karma

Haley!!! How could you do such a thing?! - JB

aldotcom2 karma

Definitely. My diet changes drastically after doing these projects. I go heavy veg, low carb, low dairy. I also drink a gallon (or close to it) of water a day if I can find the time. - JB

30footfall2 karma

Hey Haley! I love your posts and your witty commentary. One question: is the judging for the best steak or best carrot cake? I wouldn't let the accouterments sway your decision. To clarify: are you judging the best steak or steakhouse? Those are two separate things.

P.s. tell dude friend to up his steak grilling game.

aldotcom4 karma

We're judging best steakhouse.

P.S. I'll let Dudefriend know.

-- Haley

quietude382 karma

What lessons have you learned from MLive's "Michigan's Best" series?

aldotcom3 karma

I look at what everyone in the company -- NJ.com, Mlive, etc. -- is doing and see if they have any good ideas we can incorporate to Alabama and make our own.

It's a good thing about working in a talented company -- there are so many places to get ideas! -- Haley

aldotcom2 karma

I'm personally not familiar with MLive or their Best Series, but Haley just confirmed when Alabama's Best first began there was some inspiration there.

  • JB

jmichele572 karma

Will there be any more 'food tours', in the near future? #CheckingInFromMemphis

aldotcom4 karma

Who knows? It's according to what readers want next. -- Haley

aldotcom4 karma

We had several ideas swirling around before this tour, including: best fried chicken, best burger & fries, best hot dog, best catfish, etc. I think best cobbler would be a good one (although, I don't necessarily want to eat a ton of them in quick succession).

Haley mentioned Best Breakfast might be a good winter project, but that would include a lot of early mornings and likely a lot of pork (which I do not eat). - JB

SirSamuel112 karma

Serious food question. Did you ever eat the steak off of one another's naked bodies. Follow up question or engage in any under the table activity to alleviate the boredom of going to one steak house after another? Xoxo your pal Janis-

aldotcom12 karma

In the words of Jeff Sessions, "(This) makes me nervous." - JB

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Janis, your IT department definitely knows what you're looking at at work. -- Haley

Experimentzz2 karma

Alabama or the cow college?

aldotcom12 karma

Moo all the way. -- Haley

Experimentzz2 karma

Best food, Auburn or Tuscaloosa?

aldotcom5 karma

Oh man. Both have plenty of great places for the freshman 15. For barbecue, Tuscaloosa. (Archibald's makes me almost want to yell "Roll Tide." ALMOST.) For nice sit-down Southern meals, Auburn -- the Hound and Acre are so good. -- Haley

JMS4420 karma

How does it feel to eat your mascot?

aldotcom1 karma

We all destroy the things we love most. -- Haley

GPsnakehandler2 karma

Did y'all consider visiting Caldera within The Furnace? Best hangers in Birmingham

aldotcom1 karma

You got a VIP card? -- Haley

faintpremonition1 karma

Who are the Haley and Jay B of Florida?

aldotcom3 karma

Dunno. I'd love to meet them. Florida is one state I really want to explore the length, even if food isn't the vehicle to make it happen. It just seems like such a diverse landscape with tons of attractions. - JB

MartyVanB1 karma

Who won the best oyster bar?

aldotcom1 karma

Capital Oyster Bar in Montgomery won. We chose it because you can't beat the ambiance and the food was pretty good, too.

If you are looking for the best food we had on that tour, though, our number two was Tin Top in Bon Secour. I've been back since we went there on the tour. It was around Thanksgiving. WOW! It had gotten even better. They had baked oysters with holiday stuffing on them. Oh, man. You're making me hungry again. It's about an hour drive from where I'm sitting right now, but I'm tempted to make that trip for lunch. http://www.al.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2016/11/alabamas_best_oyster_bar_is.html - JB

a_terrible_sound1 karma

Why do you think anyone cares?

aldotcom1 karma

You cared enough to comment. - JB

aldotcom1 karma

You're sweet. -- Haley

Liljagare1 karma

Has Wagyu become a big thing yet in Us steakhouses?

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I didn't see any at any of the restaurants we went to. -- Haley

SwigidySwagPooInABag1 karma

Jay B, are you a Killer Mike fan?

aldotcom2 karma

For sure. I like his solo stuff more than I like Run the Jewels. Same for El-P. I really dig his solo stuff from his days as the head of Def Jux Records.

The RTJ stuff is very expertly crafted, but it isn't my favorite in that bombastic, industrial, experimental hip-hop style that was pioneered by guys like Kool Keith. I dig Shabazz Palaces, a lot, which is similar, but doesn't have the same message as the RTJ stuff.

Mike is super talented, though. My favorite songs by him are "God in the Building" and "Can You Hear Me" from his I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind III mixtape. He's on a really dope song on Big Boi's new album that came out last week, too. - JB

jaywjay030 karma

Would you consider going places other then Alabama, say taking a recommendation for the best stakehouses, one from each US state, then finding the best stakehouse in the whole of the States?

aldotcom2 karma

Our company likely wouldn't expense the entire U.S. And steak isn't our specialty. We are full-time arts/entertainment/features reporters who service the entire state of Alabama. Every few months we get together and do one of these traveling food tours with a new type of food/restaurant. In the past, Haley has done several, but as a duo, we've done Oyster Bar, Meat & Three, and now Steakhouses.

We could conceivably travel into neighboring states for a story here or there, but if it doesn't celebrate Alabama or the Southeast, as a whole, we likely wouldn't do the content. - JB

aldotcom1 karma

I would totally do that, but I don't think I could get away with expensing that for work. -- Haley

writessmutforaliving0 karma

Don't you think it's disingenuous to be reviewing food if you aren't food experts? How can I trust your opinion if you aren't knowledgeable exactly about what makes good food. Are you swayed because a place just uses a lot more butter, and your taste buds happen to love butter? This reminds me of people that leave yelp reviews saying "oh I met my long lost cousin here, it was so amazing to see him again, 5 stars!" that's great and all, but I want to know about the food, not how much fun you had at the bar that night.

aldotcom2 karma

If you read our articles, they are almost always more about the place, the people and how they represent Alabama and the Southern community. We aren't food experts, no. But we ARE full-time journalists. We tell stories. And we write about Alabama.

It isn't disingenuous in any way, because we do not present ourselves to be some high-powered food reviewers. EVERYBODY has got to eat. And you've got an opinion on what you like, just like I do. If your spouse or cousin told you what they felt about their meal would your response be, "You don't know anything about food, you're not an expert on food?"

We have the privilege to travel and tell people what we experienced. Simple as that. We're just reporting what we saw, heard, felt and tasted. - JB

aldotcom1 karma

In no way am I a food expert, but most people aren't food experts, either. And they're the people eating at this restaurants. -- Haley

GPsnakehandler0 karma

Have either of you puked and rallied going from restaurant to restaurant?

Haley - how many steaks can your man friend stuff in his steak locker?

aldotcom2 karma

The first tour we did together (Haley did a few before I came on board to help her out) was Alabama's Best Oyster Bar.

On the very first day, at lunch, I overate... I puked at check-in at the hotel. Took a nap. Thought I felt better and rallied to meet Haley and our colleague Ike Morgan for dinner at the next place.

The food looked better there, but as soon as our appetizer got to our table and I smelled seafood, I almost hurled again. Haley told me, "We need you for the rest of the tour. If you need to go home, go home." So, I did. The rest of the tour went smoothly. I learned my limit with oysters.

  • JB

aldotcom2 karma

I haven't puked, but I felt like it once -- when we ate at two steakhouses in one night. Before we went to the second steakhouse I knew I was gonna hurl, but I made it through. Attending an SEC school taught me how to rally.

Also -- rude.

-- Haley

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aldotcom3 karma

Couldn't tell ya, homie! -JB

slumdog-millionaire-2 karma

Why Alabama? I feel like this would be more useful in a mjor city, New York where there are likely an abundance of steak houses and good food.

aldotcom4 karma

We live in separate parts of Alabama, writing for a statewide news company, Alabama Media Group (AL.com).

We've got a large audience of people who live in Alabama and people who are curious about Alabama. I don't mean to be snarky at all when I say there are enough people people writing about food in all those wonderful places we think of when we think of food. But, people down here have to eat, too. And, even more important, they want to feel good about the place that they live. The spotlight doesn't shine as bright on them as often.

It makes us feel good to share the stories of the people who prepare the food and the people who patronize these restaurants. When we come to town, they feel special. They feel important. They feel like stars. They express sincere gratitude. They think that we are there for their food. Not quite. We are there for THEM. Those people are the heart and soul of Alabama and they express what is unique about the Southern United States. - JB

aldotcom4 karma

Are you kidding? Alabama and the South are better at food than pretty much anything else. I hate the notion that you can only get great food in a big city. I've had the best food I've ever eaten in my granny's kitchen in rural Alabama. -- Haley

ArtemisXIII-5 karma

Have you ever thought of doing something meaningful with your life? Good luck with your cholesterol!

aldotcom4 karma

Thanks for the advice! -- Haley

aldotcom3 karma

We aren't marathon eating for the sake of stuffing our faces.

We really aren't marathon eating at all. We are traveling through the state our well-trafficked statewide news website services in order to highlight small businesses and the communities that support them. -JB