BBQ throughout the South and Midwest varies from place to plate. Depending on where you are, you’ll find brisket, pork or even mutton. Some prefer a thick opaque red sauce or a thin marinade of vinegar and pepper, while others would find it an atrocity to serve your smoked meat with any sauce at all. Everything from the sides that are served to the wood being used are endless debates of minutiae.
Northern Alabama is no exception for it’s regional contribution to BBQ. In the suburbs of Birmingham, as soon as you approach the standalone building of Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q, the odoriferous essence of smoke permeates the parking lot and your senses alert you that you’re in for something unique. Entering the restaurant, you are greeted by happy pig figurines. Order at the counter and afterwards, when your meal is ready, bring your tray to any of the available tables in two separate rooms.
Miss Myra’s, like most Alabama BBQ shacks, serves pork, ribs, brisket and even sausage. However, it’s the hickory smoked chicken that Miss Myra’s is most famous for. Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel describes it as the best smoked chicken he’s ever had. You have the option of ordering a quarter or half a bird and for those with a light appetite, a sandwich. Although squirt bottles of traditional red sauce are readily available at the table, you want Miss Myra’s famous white sauce; a mayo based marinade with vinegary undertones. Tearing into my smoked bird, the taut crispy skin yielded to a juicy explosion of smoky flavor which is only enhanced by the creamy, white marinade.
Sides include slaw, potato salad and chips. However, the baked beans are a standout; thick and creamy and reminiscent of Boston style baked beans, but without the sweet molasses flavor. Unique to many Alabama BBQ shacks, the homemade deviled eggs would make any southern mamaw proud.
Don’t forget dessert: the cool lemon ice box pie or better yet, the magnificent creamy and custardy banana pudding, loaded with chunks of banana and vanilla wafers, whose consistency is more cake than cookie. It is without hesitation, that I loudly proclaim this the best banana pudding that I’ve ever had.
Overall, although there are several BBQ restaurants between Huntsville and Birmingham that offer smoked chicken with white sauce, there is a “je ne sais quoi” that makes Miss Myra’s extra special.