The sun shone brightly in the window and beckoned me to roam the back roads around Northern Alabamee. I was in search of the illusive and wonderful regional specialty in this here part of the woods called... Well that depended on which restaurant you went to, but basically I was looking for the notorious SLUGBURGER aka Dubs Burger aka Breaded Burger aka Dough Burger aka Jumbo Burger.
I had planned the day trip out to leave Lebanon, TN around 8am and get to my first stop of the day around 10am as they opened. Traffic in and around Nashville was hectic as usual, but the inches err I mean miles seemd to disappear before me. (I actually forgot to get off and take the bypass or I would have been on time to my first stop, however I reached there at 10:20am.
204 S Jefferson St
Athens, AL 35611
Hours: M-F 10am to 4pm, Sa 10am to 2pm
Located in a strip mall in Athens, AL right noext to the Department of Corrections, Division of Family & Children, and Goodwill.
Established in 1961 and still going strong.
As i walked in the owner greeted me and offered any seat that was available, the waitstaff was made up of grumpy older women, who acted like you interupted their day. The grill person was johnny on the spot and knew her job well.
I placed my order and watched the magic begin, within 3 minutes my burger and onion rings were out in front of me and my un sweet tea was filled to the brim.
Dubs is a locals favorite and does a very steady customer flow during their hours of operation.
Here is a look at the menu board and the choices offered when it comes to how to dress your burger.
Now before we proceed let's talk about the regional specialty. In Alabamee they are more often called breaded burgers, dough burgers and sometimes slugburgers. The burger itself is a mix of beef and spices with some sort of filler. The filler ranges from bread cubes, to potato flakes or even now soy grits. There is usually more filler than meat quite often about 1/3 meat to 2/3 filler, which makes an interesting "burger" if you dont know what you are getting yourself into. The patty is most often "deep fried" in a custom made fryer that looks more like a grill with sides to hold oil than a deep fryer itself. Some places grill their burgers, but as stated before most "deep fry" or "boil" them in oil.
The process turns the patty into a wonderful combination of crunchy and chewy crust to a soft and creamy interior.
I have many times read funny reviews on yelp and urbanspoon exclaiming "WHAT THE HECK DID I JUST EAT???" Well you just sampled a regional specific (Only Northern AL, North Western MS, and Southern West Central KY call this wonder home) The heart of Slugburger territory is considered Corinth, MS (but Booneville, MS is the actual heart and soul and the "original")
Well folks around these parts grew up with them and cherish them and this is evident in EVERY single one of these places. The locals flock to them and order them by the sack.
Dubs is no different, in the time I spent there 44 different customers came and went most fothem getting to go orders and ALL of them served in under 5 minutes.
Dubs is the exception to the rule, yes they use a filler (bread cubes), yes these burgers are crunchy and creamy, but they are grilled on a flat grill, not deep fried.
As you can see there is a stack of almost done burgers on the grill waiting to be smashed and slapped on the awaiting bun. Served to the waiting customer wrapped in paper and that is it.
Here is the unwrapped thing of beauty
Beer battered Ore Ida Onion Rings
For dessert they have Chocolate Fried Pies
Here are my notes from the experience:
Clean, smal town cafe feel
Pleasant, excpet for the older lady who waited on me
Burger was crispy exterior and crispy interior
A little steep $3.00 for a cheeseburger smaller than a McD regular cheesburger
but the Onion Rings and other prices were good.
SMALL TOWN CAFES NEED TO DITCH their microwaves
(why?? cause once again a what could have been a good fried pie was brought out of the walk in cooler, placed in the microwave and DING DING served hot) which makes the pastry not flaky and kind of doughy
Cheeseburger all the way $2.98
Onion Rings $1.38
Unsweet Tea $1.38
Fried Pie $1.65
I set up a rating system so that I could compare apples to apples so..
Total Possible Points (100 +10 Bonus) (1 low - 10 high)
Restaurant Appearance 7
Food Appearance 8
Taste (worth double) 8
Fries/Onion Rings 7
Overall Value 8
Bonus Roadfood Worthiness 7
Total Score 83 / 110
I will post the other 4 burger stops and the bbq stop tomorrow, my back is hurting and the dog is telling me it is time to go to bed.