You can’t eat at Brenda’s. But if you have a hankering for BBQ in Montgomery, Alabama, come anyway. Eat in your car, in your hotel, on a park bench, anywhere; and you will be very happy you did. This is excellent traditional southern BBQ, the meats fully insinuated with the perfume of hickory smoke, the chopped pork fatty and full flavored, the ribs a joy to gnaw.
There even are pig ears — an acquired taste, no doubt. They’re so tender that they really do fall apart when touched; but they do not fall apart like the more familiar meaty parts of the pig. Ear tissue, which starts as cartilage, is rendered into something that reminds me of a sheet of pink, pig-flavored fat. Not that there’s anything wrong with fat, which is virtually all flavor; but I must admit that because ears really do look like ears, I tend to get a little squeamish eating them.
Side dishes are immemorial: egg-yellow potato salad, sweet bbq beans, cole slaw, French fries, even, on occasion, camp stew (the local variant of Brunswick stew, containing okra).
Located on the West Side near Washington Park, Brenda’s has been earning its reputation as a Montgomery culinary destination since 1942. Its location is not the happiest part of town. The staff and other customers waiting for their meals were nothing but hospitable and friendly, although I probably won’t be coming back for after-dark meals, which are available only on Friday and Saturday nights.