100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die – Saws Pork-Stuffed Tater
The Pork-Stuffed Tater at Saws in Homewood is the 82cnd dish that I have eaten on my quest to try each of the 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die.(19th, if I am counting down.)
Said to be modeled in theory after an old-fashioned Mom and Pop BBQ, once inside of this self-professed “upscale-dive” or “hole-in-the-wall,” I found a casual eatery filled with lunch patrons. Like the majority of BBQ places that I have visited, the walls are lined with football memorabilia, accolades,a handwritten menu on a chalkboard, and anything pig related. I read that that a core principle of this establishment places an emphasis on quality food instead of decor, staffing, advertising and the like.
THE STORY-Chef Mike Wilson a.k.a. “Saw.” This North Carolina native and chef graduated from the University of Alabama and Culinary School. In 2009, serendipity called with an opportunity to purchase a restaurant when Broadway BBQ closed its doors.
“Saw” created his BBQ sauce over a period of years. Said to be a sweet tangy, vinegar based sauce with a few secret ingredients; this sauce has now earned a large following. The meat and chicken at SAW’S are cooked pit style, low and slow over sweet hickory wood. The restaurant has now grown and diversified to a group of three Birmingham area restaurants. SAW’S BBQ in Homewood, SAW’S Soul Kitchen in Avondale and Saw’s Juke Joint in Crestline.
I wondered why a chef who had previously cooked in the test kitchen of Cooking Light magazine would have a dish that would make this former cardiac-care Registered Nurse’s arteries quiver. I learned that when Chef Wilson bought Broadway BBQ this dish had been on their menu and remained so for patron familiarity.
I also wondered what would a $10.50 potato taste like? When I saw it, I was literally startled by the size of this behemoth creation. I remember wondering how on earth anyone could eat this portion size and then I looked around a saw quite a few on customer plates.
I liked the potato although I found a bit spicy which overwhelmed the flavors of the individual flavors. I could not find the sour cream on my potato and the cheese was light. I think had that balanced, I would have gone between a 4-5 star dish. Did I love it? No. Did I like it? Eh. Was it something that I can get anywhere else? Well, I live in Alabama where this dish is sold in many a BBQ-Joint and I have my favorites. This was one of those stops that I found difficult to rate. I needed to use my worksheet to come up with my rating and included it into this write.
I give this potato 3.5 MEGastars: *** .5
For the .5 *
Having said this I ABSOLUTELY agree that this tater belongs on the “100 Dishes” list. The restaurant and the sauce has a huge following with accolades by the likes of The New York Times. The food has excellent customer ratings on social media and I have no doubt that many BBQ lovers would give this dish a 5 star. Will I return to SAW’S? YES! Would I bring my out of state friends and family to SAW’S? YES, I absolutely loved my visit to SAW’S Soul Kitchen in Avondale . Co-owned with another who is chef-trained, I would love to try several of the options on that menu. SAW’S Juke Joint is also co-owned with two others including American Idol winner and local Taylor Hick’s. I have not yet visited this location for their live music and would love to do so.
Service – 3/5 *counter service, Styrofoam plates, and plastic utensils.
Decor – 3/5 * Alabama football and swine. Loved the license plates and I would lovingly agree with the self-professed “upscale dive.” However, I certainly do take note that the owner (s) use a philosophy to spend money on the food and not service or décor. I prefer the casual and agree with this principle.
Food – 3/5 ( only because it had too much sauce) The food on SAW’S menu looked fantastic. **I could easily see returning for this potato and giving it a higher score.
Price –2 /5 $10.50 for a lunch potato is a bit high vs $7.50 for my favorite (thus far.) And yet, this potato was an experience.
Location –3 /5 or N/A for me since I do not live in Birmingham.
Who else would love this dish?
- I recommend any BBQ lover put this restaurant on their list.
- Follower’s of Saw’s BBQ sauce must taste this dish.
- Stomach’s that are completely empty or
- Hearty appetites
Who would not like this dish?
- Vegetarians and Vegans
- Cardiologists and Cardiac Care Nurses
- The American Heart Association
- If you are a BBQ lover, order the potato as is. When I return I would ask for lighter sauce on this dish. Get some on the side. Perhaps, I was simply served a larger amount of sauce than average?
- Bring a friend and share this blimp-sized tater.
- This dish may also be found at the other two locations. Saw’s Juke Joint and Saw’s Soul Kitchen.
- Saw’s restaurant has a nice website that includes their wonderful story and links to the three locations including hours and menu. Saw’s BBQ Website
- SAW’s also has a food truck aka street kitchen with Facebook and Twitter account. Right on!
- SAW’s has a chicken sandwich with white sauce that I am super excited to put in my belly!
- Love this sauce? Bring it home, gift it. It may be found at the restaurant locations and many grocery stores in Alabama.
This MEGabites and MEGastars description is found at the bottom of each post. If you are new to my 100 Dishes in Alabama escapade, this may be helpful information.
ABOUT: *100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die,” is a compilation of food to chow down on “Bama style.” Thanks to Tourism Alabama, www.alabama.travel my Alabama bucket list just became a little easier. I am going to have some food fun while making my way like Ms. Pacman, in yet another state that I call home. From the little old diner to the white cloth setting, this journey is an opportunity for me to explore my new state and experience pride in food from restaurateurs who are dedicated to local food, with some Alabama style. From the local BBQ smoker to James Beard recipients, you too will take a culinary trip across scenic and historical Alabama. From this list, I select stops based upon convenience of location and they are in no particular order (but I already have a few favorites.) Perhaps when I finish this list, I will rank my favorite dishes. You too may pick up the brochure at Alabama Tourism stops or download the alphabetical brochure that begins in Abbeville and ends in York.
I use a 5 MEGastar system. For the most part, I am traveling a distance to try these dishes and these places get one shot at how I view the food and experience. I will not be taking an average of three visit experiences and I factor this in when I give my star rating. That said, I’m very easy to please, I can overlook quite a bit and have worked in the food service industry. I am not a paid food critic, just Meg, a curious traveler, with an interest in trying different foods and sharing my two cents on the experience. I try to follow my own star system so that I may be fair to the wonderful dishes on this list.
- *meh food. Just wasn’t good. Maybe the food came from a can? or, the place was not one that I would want to send someone to show pride in Alabama. This has happened to me a few times and is a difficult write.
- ** passable – the food was “ok” but the place was not “ok” or vice versa.
- *** good but not outstanding or unique.
- **** Very tasty dish AND meets one of the definitions set forth by Alabama Foods/Tourism, of local food and/or truly highlights Alabama Pride.
- ***** I actually died, went to heaven and came back when I ate the dish. And/Or, something is very unique, something you cannot get anywhere else.