Jacksonville, Alabama, is a college town that sits between Anniston (off -I20) and Gadsden (off I-59). It’s worth your time to detour to the Rocket Drive Inn for some barbecue. It is a small place — they used to have carhops — on the east side of AL 21 on the south side of town. I had lunch there with Rena Comisac, a former DOJ colleague who has escaped to the small-city life. She gets to spend a lot of time with family, but I’m sure she misses the advantages of Washington: an abundance of traffic, high prices, and lots of self-important people.
Three generations of the Marbut family have been serving barbecue in the same location since the ’50s. They’re very friendly, and the Rocket does a good business.
And with good reason. The pork barbecue is tender and smoky and abundant. There are limited vegetable sides, but you can order a salad which comes topped with about a pound of pork. I saw a burger go by and it looked so good that I started to order one to go with my pork, but thought better of it Instead, I ordered fried okra, which was good, and fried macaroni and cheese. I had never had fried macaroni and cheese before, but it was quite good. They use real macaroni and cheese, rather than just pasta in a cheese sauce. I don’t know if frying is really necessary with macaroni and cheese, but you ought to try it at last once.
My lunch at the Rocket was a great. Rena is a treasure, a really good person. There was lots of good food, good company, and good service from a friendly staff. What more could you want?
If you’re driving between Atlanta and Birmingham and have a little extra time, why not head north to Jacksonville and check out the Rocket.
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