I was excited to try Betty’s Bar-B-Q, mainly because it was a chance to reconnect with Rena Comisac, a friend and former boss when I was at Justice. She’s a wonderful person, and very tolerant. (On the day I became eligible for my big fat pension, I told another former supervisor, Steve Rosenbaum, that having passed my “Go to hell” birthday, I was going to start becoming a difficult employee. He shouted, “Start?” and fainted dead away. Well, almost.) Also, I was looking for a good barbecue place for those times hunger strikes on the 2 1/2 hour drive between Birmingham and Atlanta. I used to be able to count on Gershon Weinberg’s Old Original Smokehouse Barbecue, but it, alas, is no more. Could Betty’s fill the gap?
Betty’s is hard to find. Its right there in plain sight on South Quintard Avenue (AL21), a short drive from the interstate, but if you’re not from Anniston, I guarantee you’ll drive right by it. And this is the reason:
Yes, the big neon sign for Betty’s Barbecue says Goal Post Barbecue. It’s a great sign, especially at night when it’s lit up. The kicker’s leg moves and the ball tumbles through the goalposts and beyond. It’s not a sign you tear down just because it isn’t the name of your restaurant.
It seems that Betty’s parents owned the Goal Post Barbecue — I’m sure I ate there a couple of times back in the day — but the family sold it and opened Betty’s a mile or three closer to the interstate. The Goal Post itself has fallen under the wrecking ball. The Betty’s folks bought it and moved it to their current location, where it overshadows the modest sign that correctly identifies the place as Betty’s.
Forewarned, I found Betty’s. As an extra treat, Rena brought along her children, Kelcie (13) and Parker (16). I was aware of their many and various triumphs from Facebook, but I like to verify (or disregard) everything I see on Facebook. But let’s get to the barbecue.
I ordered a pork plate with three sides: greens, black eyed peas, and macaroni and cheese. It came with a huge chunk of cornbread.
Looks good, doesn’t it? Nice rough chop.
Rena got a small barbecue plate with green beans and fried green tomatoes with Barbecue Bread (Texas Toast-like), the alternative to cornbread.
Parker and Kelcie got grilled cheese sandwiches with vegetable sides. I was hoping to get a picture of them in an awkward eating pose,
but they both turned out to be poised, interesting and, really, charming, so I was distracted and missed my chance.
The food was pretty good. The barbecue had a nice flavor, and while it’s not in the top rank in Alabama, it would be the best in town if it were in DC, or within 100 miles. It got an honorable mention in The Best Barbecue Place in Every Alabama County. (Anniston is in Calhoun County.) The greens and blackeyed peas were good, but the cornbread was on the dry side. It would have been okay if there had been a lot more pot likker with the greens. The macaroni and cheese was average.
All in all, if I got hungry passing through Anniston on a more leisurely trip, and Rena and family weren’t available, I probably would head on up the road to try Cooter Brown’s Rib Shack (rated the best in Calhoun County), or take a second run at the Rocket Drive-In, home of the fried macaroni and cheese. Both are in Jacksonville, just north of Anniston.
But Betty’s is worth a stop. It’s just a couple of minutes off the interstate. It’s really as much a meat and three as a barbecue place, and it has a homey, old-fashioned feel.
Betty’s full of all sorts of people at lunch. It’s a great place to get together with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. And ultimately, the meal mattered less than seeing Rena, who is a lovely person, and meeting Kelcie and Parker, both of whom exceeded their Facebook billings — which is oh so rare. I’d have been happy to eat with them at McDonald’s … although I probably would have countered with a bid for Chick-fil-A.