The Green Top was among the first barbecue places inducted into the Alabama Barbecue Hall of Fame during the Year of Alabama Barbecue. It was chosen by virtue of having been in business for over 50 years. I remember stopping at the original Green Top in Dora back in the day. Leo and Susie were still working and it was a good place — very good. I hadn’t been back in years, though. Green Top is out on US 78 in Walker County, in coal country out the other side, of Birmingham from all the growth and attractions. It was out of the way, and getting moreso, especially with a new interstate bypassing 78. But I made it a point to try it when was in Birmingham last year.
GPS, alas, steered me to another Green Top, a Leo and Susie’s outpost in Jasper. It was pretty bad. That happens a lot with chains: the branches can’t match the original; thus my preference for the original of any barbecue chain.
Nancy and I were back in town for a bat mitzvah at Temple Beth-El, and I figured it was unlikely there would be barbecue at the dinner. Unlikely, but in barbecue-centric Birmingham, you never can tell.
Just to be on the safe side and, undaunted by my Jasper experience, I went to the Leo and Susie mother ship in Dora with Nancy and my younger brother, David.
The Green Top looks promising. It’s in a plain, cinderblock building covered with lots of coats of paint and patching. There are some cracks in the upholstery, which is nice. Each table is adorned with bottles of Tabasco Sauce, Louisiana Hot Sauce, Crystal, and Texas Pete’s. Impressive.
We ordered — smoked chicken, cole slaw, and ice water for Nancy.
David ordered a sliced pork sandwich with sweet potato fries and a Coke.
Green Top sells Pepsi, which we don’t drink in our family, so he had a Mountain Dew, of all things.
I ordered a chopped pork plate with greens and macaroni and cheese, and a Dr. Pepper.
Let’s start with my plate. The pork tasted as if it had been sitting around for a while, perhaps since the day before. It wasn’t like the barbecue Leo and Susie used to serve. The greens had been cooked with sugar, which is about as bad as cooking cornbread with sugar. Once I added lashings of Crystal, the greens were okay, and the macaroni and cheese was good, although not quite as good as I remembered from the Jasper location.
Nancy thought her smoked chicken was moist and smoky, and that it was actually turkey. I don’t know how much difference there is, although turkey is a lot easier to smoke. From the appearance, it was a turkey breast that had been sliced and then chopped. Or it may have come from a Dolly Parton chicken.
David liked his sliced pork sandwich, his taste buds having been Mountain Done. He also enjoyed his sweet potato fries.
To its credit, Leo and Susie’s serves a good looking hamburger. You also can get a hamburger topped with barbecue, which could be good. If you’re in Dora, there really aren’t a lot of other options, and coal country could use some love these days. So stop in and get a hamburger. And some macaroni and cheese.
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