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Dreamland lives up to its name
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, October 02, 2008

USA Today carries a story about one of the most iconic and best "college football joints" in the nation.
And it's arguably the best college football joint in the land. Indeed, doesn't every college town have one place where fans gather religiously for food and fellowship, football talk and adult beverages? Yet few, if any, can touch Dreamland.
I was first introduced to Dreamland 20+ years ago when I took over that territory and called on the Tuscaloosa News. We went out to dinner that night and with the local folks calling the shots, they insisted we head to Dreamland. We ended up off of Brown Jug Rd parked in front of a cinder block building with the smell of hickory smoke filling the air. We walked inside and I glanced around. The tables and chairs were old unmatched kitchen dinette pieces, license plates were nailed up all over the walls, and the place was packed. To the rafters.

This isn't any "fern bar" folks. And their menu is a limited one. Ribs, sauce, white bread, potato chips, tea, Pepsi or beer.

That's it. But trust me, that's all you'll ever want.

They've franchised a few places since then in Birmingham, Huntsville and Atlanta, and those places have a few more menu choices, but while the original Dreamland has been gussied up a bit since my first visit all those years ago, it remains true to its original menu.

And folks, it's the sauce that will drive your cravings and bring you back time and again. I've never had a better one.

My brother once visited while he was living in Kansas City and after the obligatory argument about who had the best BBQ I took him to Dreamland. We ended up buying 4 quarts of the sauce which he took home with him.

A few months later he called and said, "you've got to get me more of that sauce - I'm putting it on my cornflakes!"

I'm a bit tired of the bailout debate today and saw this little goodie in the paper. Thought I'd recommend it from personal experience, all good. If you're ever blasting through Tuscaloosa on I-20 at lunch or dinner time treat yourself. I believe the exit is McFarland Ave (Hwy 82) and it is about a mile from the interstate.

Take the time.

Have a favorite "college football joint" you like? Tell us about it in the comments.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

There was one in Montgomery AL when I moved away in 2006; don’t know if it’s still there. The.Best.Ribs.Ever.
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
Doh! Why didn’t you post this two weeks ago before I went to Huntsville?
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
Hm...I live in Huntsville and my daughter is in Tuscaloosa going to school. I guess I’m going to have to check this out, thanks!
Written By: Bob
URL: http://
I was there (at the original) in the early 90s when I was a grad student at Alabama, and I had their takeout a couple other times. It looks a lot nicer in the picture than it was then. It was basically a glorified shack in the woods. There was nothing on the menu but ribs. And I mean nothing else, no side dishes. There was no actual menu, they just asked how many racks of ribs you wanted. They did bring you some white bread to go with the ribs — plain Wonder bread, not homemade. The ribs were extremely good. Eating at that place was definitely an interesting experience. It’s a landmark in the Tuscaloosa area.
Written By: David C.
URL: http://
A Texas Roadhouse opened here last year. The decor is an exercise in cognitive dissonance — Steelers and Penn State banners alternating with cowboy boots and steer heads.
Written By: rightwingprof

Corner of University and Jordan just East of Shogun. Anyway, I am going to have to dissent. I think their ribs are terrible. Sauce is way too thin, and there is absolutely no heat to it. Banana pudding redeems them. My two cents...

Written By: Is
URL: http://
"We ended up buying 4 quarts of the sauce which he took home with him."

There used to be a place in Jax, Fla. where I did the same. Old, run down building with sloping floors, etc. They had their own pit,of course, and I bought sauce by the gallon jar to take back up north with me to educate the barbarians. It changed hands, with the usual consequences, and I have not been back to Jax. in several years, but I still think of it. One of my top ten best all time taste treats.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Well, here’s a great BBQ place to try. The Dinosaur.
Been a favorite of mine for years.

Used to work across from the Rochester site. The smell of the smoke always made me hungry. Still does...
Written By: Bithead
The Dixie Chicken in College Station, TX. Food: good, but not "The Dreamland". Beer: cold and served in pitchers, as it should be. Dominoes (the game, not the pizza): always available for a quick game of 42. Atmosphere: Best in the world, and I’d throw it against other college town joint.

Gig’em Ags!
Written By: Warrior Needs Food Badly
URL: http://
Great idea, McQ.

Your post caused me to think of my college days back at the University of Oklahoma. And though the more sophisticated drinkers and hooligans that were my contemporaries back in the day drank at the bohemian watering hole – that has gone and come again – Liberty Drug, on game day there was only one place to be… O’Connell’s Irish Pub and Grille.

One might imagine that due to my ancestry and affinity for all things Irish, that O’Connell’s description alone would hold sway. Not so much. In fact, back in the day, the only thing “Irish” about this pub was a neon shamrock in the window and they dyed their Budweiser green on St. Paddy’s day. The owner at the time had never even heard of The Chieftains, so that’s an automatic disqualified... you lose. I’ve learned that since then, they have added Guinness and Harp on tap and serves a healthy Jamesons neat (no Bushmills for me, thanks). So good for them.

No, it wasn’t the “Irish”, it wasn’t the fare of typical pub grub, and it wasn’t even the fact that it was within stumbling distance of my roach infested apartment that made O’Connell’s the place to be on game day.

It was the ladies. OMG, the ladies!! A swarm of co-eds. A buffet of tasty morsels. A grove of sweet, ripened, drunken, low-hanging fruit.

Back then, my body was as formed as a Greek statue, now the only thing I have in common with a Greek statue is that I feel just as old and just as heavy. I’m older, heavier, ragged and traveled, but oh the dreams of youth, debaucheries, and shined Avaris.

I now know why so many older alumni of any particular school holds on to school spirit, enthusiasm, and loyalty. Especially on game day. It’s that Kung-Fu grip we have on our energetic, idealistic former selves that approached life, as we approached O’Connell’s, with an unquenchable thirst, and a rock hard erection.

Our old playgrounds where we would shout and stomp now holds royal nostalgia. O’Connell’s is a hole-in-the-wall dive, but I consider it a palace.

And now my Sooners are #1 in the polls. So eat sh!t and die, motherf*ckers. ;)

Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Gig’em Ags!

Texas A&M... Hah!! WNFB, you brave soul... What’s up with that dance you guys do? ;)
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
PS: It’s great on cornflakes
Written By: McQ2
URL: http://
Pogue is a Sooner fan!!??

Still smarting from 2003 I hope. Go LSU!!!

By the way Pogue, I went to OU for two years as well. Your description of O’Connell’s is right on, I’ll have to trust you on the rest.
Written By: Lance
Still smarting from 2003 I hope. Go LSU!!!
Indeed. I’ll never forget Stoops’ decision to go for the block punt rather than put a man back there for a return at the end. A risky move that didn’t pay off.
I hope for a rematch this year with your Tigers. That would be cool.
By the way Pogue, I went to OU for two years as well. Your description of O’Connell’s is right on, I’ll have to trust you on the rest.
I was there from ’91 to ’95. Did you ever hang out at Liberty Drug? Who knows, we may have crossed paths. I might have bought you a beer. What are the odds?

O’Connell’s... Yeah, Sooner girls rock.

Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://

Hung out all over, if there was beer. I liked the yards of beer at...Can’t remember the name.
Written By: Lance
Who would have thought that Pogue and Lance are Sooners. I grew up in OKC and, while I didn’t go there, I have always been a big OU fan. I made the mistake of trekking across country from California to the Orange Bowl in 2004 to watch a game that was over after 2 minutes.

Did either of you two ever have a Dinko’s Darlin in Norman? I think that place closed in the late 1980’s but I don’t know. It was pasta, with greasy chili and green goddess dressing. A really tasty gut bomb but you paid a price later on.
Written By: jt007
URL: http://
"The smell of the smoke always made me hungry. Still does..."

Ah, more memories. In Jax, Fla. (again) there was a BBQ establishment next to a major 4 lane highway. Every time they had their pit going, a huge cloud of smoke would roll over the highway like a thick fog. A definite traffic hazard, but absolutely intoxicating. They were cited several times for air pollution and finally had to go out of business, I think (it’s been a few years).
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
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Written By: 3

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