Rocket Drive Inn, Jacksonville, Alabama

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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