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A Golden Rule And A Bar-B-Que 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die

The BBQ Plate at Golden Rule Bar-B-Que in Irondale was the 87th dish that I have tasted on my quest to eat all of the 100 Dishes To Eat In Alabama Before You Die, (or the 14th on the countdown.)

Irondale Alabama is a suburb of Birmingham, located just a short drive to the North and East of the city.

I wondered why this location and chain restaurant was chosen for honors on the “100 Dishes” list?   After my visit, I dug in and I learned that the Golden Rule Irondale location was established in 1891 making it the “oldest continuous running restaurant in Alabama.” It is also the 16th oldest continuous running restaurant in the country. The Irondale store is near the original location and is no longer owned by the original founding family. [1]

Located just off I-20 and just before a merge with I-59,  Golden Rule BBQ is still located in a corridor that is heavily traveled.

Traveling from a visit to my sister’s home in Tennessee on one of those rare Alabama January icy-rainy days, we had the roads to ourselves and the restaurant was also pretty empty.  Here are some things that I love about the Irondale Golden Rule Bar-B-Q


The Golden Rule Irondale

The staff was super friendly and concerned that we were driving in the rain. This location is large with two main dining areas.  It has a 50’s diner feel with checkered floors, paintings of the former buildings with old cars, sports memorabilia, and accolades on the wall.

golden rule front

The Golden Rule Irondale

I found the restaurant to be clean and cheerful on a dreary day.    And, I was tempted by this yummy pie case.


The dessert case at Golden Rule, Irondale Alabama

I LOVE looking at the Bar-B-Q pits in all of the Golden Rule locations.  There is something about watching the cooks tend the food on the pit.  I have been to two others and this pit is the largest and the cleanest that I have observed.  I did not catch the name of the cook in the photo and after my visit, I noticed in the photos of reviews and loyal customers, that he has been expertly tending the pit for many years.  I love that.


The Bar-B-Q pit at The Golden Rule Bar-B-Que in Irondale, Alabama

Since the 100 Dishes was Bar-B-Q and baked beans and having eaten only pulled pork at the other locations, I chose beef.  I will go out on a limb and say that pork is the king of Alabama BBQ, and beef is not always easy to find at an Alabama Bar-B-Q establishment.   I like that, I mean my husband likes that.   I like that there were buns instead of a slab of cheap white bread.  The beans tasted pretty good, average by my standards as did the fries.  To note, with a BBQ plate, one has a choice of sides.  Fries were also my husband’s choice.  We both liked the beef.


Bar-B-Que and Baked beans at Golden Rule Bar-B-Que

 I liked the cole slaw shown in the next photo with my turkey sandwich.  It didn’t have as much of a smoke BBQ flavor as I have had elsewhere but I love that they have turkey as an option.


Turkey Sandwich at Golden Rule Bar-B-Que

Overall, my visit was an above average experience. A great location, clean restaurant and friendly staff.  My meal was overall average but I would tell my readers to stop in and try this Irondale Golden Rule Bar-B-Q.  *See MEGatips below.

MEGastars 3.5     ***.5


“With a motto of If there’s one thing we’ve learned in all that time, it’s how to BBQ. There’s is only one rule… The Golden Rule!”   [2]

I had wondered why this restaurant was named as such? Was it because this restaurant was established when equine travel was still the norm and was located on a well-established travel route to Atlanta? Travelers would stop for smokes, a beer, and some barbecue. I like to imagine that the owners treated the travelers, as they too would want to be treated.

Or, perhaps it is simply because of the end rhyme?

I would like to think that 1891 was a simpler time, a happier time, and a more peaceful time. I was curious to see what events looked like in 1891.

  • I learned that in 1891, a mob killed 11 Italian immigrants because they were found not guilty of a crime. [3]
  • An 8-year-old Jewish tailor’s daughter disappears in Greece, rumor spreads that she was a Christian girl ritually killed by Jews. [4]
  • Jews are expelled from Moscow Russia. [5]

The world event and the United States changes of  January 2016, I realize that we as a civilization still are not progressing towards a higher awakening in the realization that we are one people and are our brother’s keeper.   Each religion has a variation of this most simple rule.

I never did solve this question and pondering this question has led me to think a lot about the meaning of The Golden Rule. I know that I will be thinking of this rule as I move about my daily tasks.


  1. Golden Rule has a strong presence in Alabama. Serving Alabama with many BBQ restaurants, express locations, a food truck, and catering.
  2. For travelers of I-65 and I-20, there are several locations to choose from. The website will be helpful in planning. [6] [1]  [2] Golden Rule Bar-B-Q Website
  3. After my visit, I read reviews and I cannot tell you how many people recommend the hamburger steak. I would also give this dish a closer look. Let me know if you like it?

Further Sources

[3]  How A Mass Lynching Tried To Make America Great Again*Note there are several sources for this event.  However, I like this article for provoking thought and discourse.

[4] [5] On This Day 1891

Something that I love. Art Work in The United Nations is a mosaic fro a Norman Rockwell painting of The Golden Rule. United Nations and Art   Some things change, and some things remain the same.  Be The Change!


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, 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.
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