Saw’s website describes the restaurant’s amenities as “plastic cutlery, disposable dishes and eclectic décor reflecting a hodge-podge of sports teams, license plates and anything related to ‘pig art!” In other words, it is a well-crafted dive, located on a strip of respectable businesses in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood.
The formula works, mostly because the barbecue Saw’s makes is very good. It’s the real deal, bold and smoky, including white-sauced chicken, pulled pork, and meat-heavy spare ribs. Side dishes are southern classics, too: mac ‘n’ cheese, clumpy sweet/tart greens, Brunswick stew, and, of course, banana pudding for dessert.
Chicken is a best dish, the bird impossibly tender with burnished mahogany skin from its extended smoke bath. It comes adorned with Alabama white sauce — a thick mix of mayonnaise, vinegar, and pepper that is chicken’s best friend. (But not pork’s; for that, there is tangy red sauce.)
In addition to its traditional meat menu, Saw’s serves what has become a popular item at local BBQ parlors: stuffed baked potatoes. They come as basic bakers with butter, sour cream, and cheddar cheese, and in a variety of configurations such as chili-stuffed, pork-stuffed, chicken-stuffed, and strictly vegetable-stuffed. Another non BBQ item worth a taste is Saw’s Carolina Dog. It’s what’s known in some places as a Dixie Dog, meaning topped with spicy chili and sweet cole slaw. The hot dog itself is very good: a dense, spicy sausage with crisp skin that snaps when bitten.
Note: Check the Saw’s website for its three other locations in and around town.