Don't worry if you get lost looking for Archibald's Bar-B-Q in Northport, AL. If you are anywhere nearby, just roll down your window and follow the powerful aroma of smoke and barbecuing meat. In no time at all, you will be pulling into their driveway. This is one restaurant you will smell long before you actually see it.
The building itself is, shall we say, charmingly rustic. The painted white exterior is covered in black smoke stains. But, considering this is a barbecue parlor, the looks of the place hardly matter. What does matter is the pile of hickory wood out back, the constant pouring of smoke out the chimney and that intoxicating smell. The inside is tiny and immaculately clean, with four stools at the counter. Most customers get their 'que to take home or eat at one of the outside picnic tables. I recommend eating inside, where you get a view into the impressive pit, with rows of racks of ribs cooking over flames.
The menu consists of nothing more than ribs (you can order a whole slab, a large plate or a small plate) and the pork barbecue sandwich. The ribs are long, meaty with serious smoky flavor and just the right amount of chew. The pork on the sandwiches comes in thick, tender slices. Both are greatly augmented by the addictive barbecue sauce. It is more vinegar than tomato, with enough kick to leave your lips tingling. There are no sides, just bags of chips.
Archibald's started in 1962 and is now in the hands of second generation owner George Archibald, Jr. The service here is quick and friendly. One note of warning: if you are making a special trip, call ahead to make sure that they have what you want. On my most recent visit, they were out of ribs and wouldn't have more for another hour. After all, you don't rush great barbecue!