Pruett’s Bar-B-Q, Gadsden, Alabama

I decided to stop for the night in Gadsden on my way from DC to Tuscaloosa. I’d driven for 12 hours, thanks to the I-81 Truckers’ Traffic Obstruction Competition (see here), and it was getting dark, and I remembered that my friend and Gadsden native, Bob McCurley, had spoken highly of Pruett’s. So I checked in at the posh Gadsden Fairfield Inn (very friendly people) and headed to Pruett’s.

Pruett’s sits right off the water of Lake Neely Henry, which meanders through Gadsden. Pruett’s seems to have been around forever, although it “only” opened in 1976. The Pruett family ran restaurants in neighboring Calhoun County, and a sister still runs Betty’s in Anniston. Pruett’s certainly has won the love of Gadsden. When I walked in there was a short wait for a table, and a longer wait for carryout, despite the presence of a Lil’ Pruett’s, an affiliated drive through next door.

Actually, Pruett’s gets off to a strong start even before you enter. Their sign features the most anthropomorphic pig I can recall seeing.

I don’t know how well you can see that. The pig is dressed in cutoff overalls and a straw hat, smoking a pipe, and is strolling along with a fishing pole and a huge just-caught catfish. Once inside there’s a large room with a fireplace at one end

and lots of tables full of customers throughout.

The pig silhouettes above the windows encircled the entire room: pervasive but understated decor.

I ordered the pork plate with turnip greens and Brunswick stew ($9.95). And I plunked down another 85 cents for that big piece of cornbread.

Since it’s a catfish place and I hadn’t had any catfish in ages, I ordered catfish — just a sandwich ($5.25) rather than another platter ($8.50). Moderation in all things. Here’s the sandwich with some catfish exposed:

First the catfish. It was delicious, with a perfect cornmeal crust, the best possible crust of fried fish, tender within, and with a light, clean flavor. I didn’t even think of putting some hot sauce on it. That’s come-back catfish for sure.

But the barbecue is too good for you to go there for catfish alone. Pruett’s offers pork cooked over hickory and cut into rough chunk. My first bite actually startled me with the tenderness and flavor of the pork. That bite was an advertisement for Pruett’s. The sauce was thicker and sweeter than I like personally — I’m a vinegar and pepper guy — but the seasoning was balanced and I can see why people buy bottles to take home.

The corn bread was a hit. It had the crisp outer rim that says cast iron — I don’t know how else you get that — and a hint of butter. This is a classic country corn bread, just what I like.

I liked the turnip greens even more. Turnip greens have so much more flavor than collards, and these were seasoned with meat as all greens should be. Another hit. 

Pruett’s Brunswick stew is thick with pork and vegetables, notably corn and baby limas. Brunswick stew is much richer with pork than with chicken alone, and Pruett’s seasons the stew to bring out the flavors.  I did add some Texas Pete, but that was as much out of habit as need.

That was quite a meal, made all the better by the service. It was a delight. Everyone was Southern-sweet in the best possible way, from the server’s greeting to her chasing me down as I left to make sure I didn’t want some iced tea to take with me. The next time I’m in Gadsden, I definitely will go to Pruett’s for both barbecue and catfish plates. Maybe Nancy will help me with the sides, or I can just get containers for them. You should go to Pruett’s if you get the chance, but you really want to take someone with you and coordinate on your orders.


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10 thoughts on “Pruett’s Bar-B-Q, Gadsden, Alabama

  1. I trust you are either in or on your way to the mecca of meccas – Archibald’s!!!!

    Oh, it just hurts me to know you are that close. Please bring me a quart of their sauce. I will pay handsomely for it when you get back to DC.

    Harry Gilliam

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have tons of Dreamland’s bottles here are the BBQ Addiction Center! But Archibalds ribs and their sorta thin hybrid of NC and SC sauces is one of my favorites. I forgot about game days in Tusc. Arghhh…


  2. Man, John, you just continue to cause me great pain every day.

    Trip tip for you if you fight your way home on 81. Google the directions to Virginia Gold Orchard near Natural Bridge. It’s a quick dog-leg off the interstate. Checking out their website ahead of time would be useful. They grow and sell the most seriously delicious Asian pears I have ever had in my life. They’re pricey, but it is not likely you have ever tasted any such which are as sweet and delicious. My friend Jane tasted one, and declared “My God! They are unNATurally sweet!” Which I got a chuckle out of–because they really are. They are for sale in their barn in their refrigerators there.

    If they have Sunbursts, those suckers are the size of grapefruits–they are my personal faves. I only wish I had gotten an extra case when I was there a couple of weeks ago. Enjoy Archibald’s. mmmmm….


      1. It’s a slog. I worked in Columbus, MS a couple of years ago–2 weeks there, 2 weeks back here for 6 months. I know that drive well.

        FYI, have you gotten around to trying the ribs at Pit Stop BBQ at Gilberts Corner, VA (intersection of 15 and 50) on Saturday or Sunday? This is a weekend popup “branch” of their brick and mortar joint in Sterling. Best ribs I have had in Virginia, or really anywhere north of Alabama. Best to call and order ahead. The line can be formidable. Curiously, when they run out of ribs (usually 1-2ish pm), they switch to rib tips for the rest of the afternoon. I like them even better (sort of a burnt ends thing).

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey, next time you visit Pruetts try the fried chicken! Order 20 minutes ahead cause it’s cooked to order. Best fried chicken in the world.. I stand by that statement.

    Liked by 1 person

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