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Thursday, March 15, 2012
The SEC guide to Alabama's home turf

By Edward Aschoff

We continue our "Home Turf" series and we're headed to Tuscaloosa, Ala.

We've already heard from the new guys, so Alabama kicks things off for the usual SEC suspects.

SEC guides:
I've been to Tuscaloosa plenty of times, so I think I know my way around town, but for those who haven't, here's what the Alabama faithful had to say:

Dave in Tuscaloosa, Ala., writes: Things to do in Tuscaloosa - Breakfast at Waysider. Archibald's or original Dreamland for BBQ. Oasis for burgers (take a weapon). Evangeline's for fine dining. Chuck's for Sushi/Seafood. Five is best restaurant in town, best combo food/atmosphere. Sunday brunch at Five is great. DePalma's is a good casual Italian restaurant. Bryant Museum is a must for football fans. Tuscaloosa Museum of Art in the headquarters of the Westervelt Corporation. Tuscaloosa Riverwalk for runners. Shows at Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. Bama Belle Riverboat. Alabama Museum of Natural History. Moundville Archaeological Park. Lake Tuscaloosa and the Black Warrior River are beautiful. Tons of historic homes including the President's Mansion, Gorgas House, Van de Graf-Jemison Mansion, Battle-Searcy Home, etc. We also have a brand new Federal Courthouse with specially commissioned artwork depicting the history of Tuscaloosa, tours are offered during the week. Need to see devastation from the April 27 tornado. Unfortunately that's still very visible.

My thoughts: Seeing the tornado damage up close was absolutely surreal. I get chills every time I look at it and I never know exactly what to say when I'm around it.

Conner in Tuscaloosa writes: Fans need to eat a bacon cheeseburger at Hooligan's in Tuscaloosa for Friday lunch the day before the game. The mint tea is incredible too. Friday night, eat Archibald's BBQ. Before the game on Saturday, tour the Bryant Museum. Hit up the quad for some tailgating. Enjoy your beating in Bryant Denny.

Morgan in Signal Mountain, Tenn., writes: Dreamland, enough said. If you didn't know you were in the heart of Tide-Nation, Dreamland will let you know. It doesn't look that impressive on the outside (and might be a bit confusing to find if you've never been to Tuscaloosa) but the ribs are incredible, and well worth the detour. And when I say incredible, I mean some of the best ribs you've ever eaten. Great atmosphere, great people, and best of all, great food.

My thoughts: I went the last time I was in Tuscaloosa and fell in love. I crushed a plate of ribs, a bowl of coleslaw, some toast and another bowl of banana pudding before finishing off some sweet tea.

Samuel writes: Hey Aggies and Mizzou fans.... here's the deal when you come to Ttown: Friday night start out on "The Strip" at the most popular bar in town, The Houndstooth (voted #1 college sports bar in the country by Sports Illustrated). Alabama tradition is EVERYWHERE. Next, head downtown to my home away from home, Speakeasy! Great little bar run by one of the staples of Tuscaloosa nightlife, Andy Caldwell. It's got HOT lady bartenders with southern class and style, patrons dogs roaming around and the owner on the grill popping out burgers and chicken, grilled veggies, etc. Saturday, wake up early! 'Bama folks get the tailgating started around 8 a.m. Take in the quad with all the Crimson and White, toss your beer in a red solo and walk around the beautiful campus. Be sure to spend some time outside the stadium, one of the most gorgeous sporting venues you'll ever see. Once again, hit up The Houndstooth. This time for the BBQ nachos from Big Bad Wolves. Every game day they set up shop right there in The Houndstooth. Pulled pork BBQ nachos drenched in sweet BBQ sauce, nacho cheese and jalapenos! A MUST! If you don't have tickets to the game, stick around The 'Tooth. It'll be packed with fans from both teams. 'Bama fans will be respectful and there are tons of big screen HD TV's to keep up with all the games.

Jenny in Tuscaloosa, Ala., writes: When in Tuscaloosa there are so many places to check out. You'll have to visit multiple times to see all the key places. Most people flock to Dreamland and Rama Jamas -- both will leave you drooling and are must eats. In addition, for dinner, Nicks, aka Nicks in the Sticks to us -- which is where you go to find the place -- is a hidden treasure. The menu is small, but ranges from chick gizzards to steaks. Be prepared for a wait, but you won't even notice because you'll be sipping on their famous beverage -- the Nickademus. If you arrive in time for lunch on Friday, City Cafe nestled in downtown Northport is a winner with its meat, plus whatever veggies you'd like. For a little historical football sightseeing, be sure you check out the Bryant Museum across from the practice facility and hit up Denny Chimes on the Quad. Surrounding the chimes are hand and footprints from permanent captains, such as Joe Namath and Shaun Alexander.

My thoughts: I'm all about food when it comes to college towns, but I also like history and sightseeing. Great suggestions. You should totally be a tour guide!

Laken in Opp, Ala., writes: You haven't truly made a trip to Tuscaloosa until you have managed to find your way to Nick's in the Sticks. There are 8 tables inside, so there is always a wait. Don't worry, though, grab a couple of Nickademuses (the secret house drink), and you will forget that you are waiting. Then, just in the "nick" of time, your table will be ready. The food is all wonderful, but the bacon wrapped filet and the beer battered onion rings will always keep you coming back for more.

My take: All I got from this was bacon. Everything is better with bacon!

Alex in Mobile, Ala., writes: If you forgot to pack your polo shirt, costa del mars and Northface jacket, Egans bar is the place for you. It's right on the strip within walking distance to the stadium. A really unassuming dive that takes its beer selection and football very seriously. It even has it's own "abandon all hope ye who enter here" slogan. "thick smoke, dim lights, loud music"

James in Northport, Ala., writes: I know Texas and Missouri do barbecue well, too, but it's worth checking out Archibald's in downtown Northport (just on the other side of the Black Warrior River from Tuscaloosa, for those not in the know.) The ribs are on par with Dreamland's, and you don't have the fight the crowd. Slightly more adventurous visitors should drive to the western edge of Tuscaloosa and try Nick's Filet House (Nick's in the Sticks, as it's colloquially know). They serve up a mean bacon-wrapped filet -- for about $10. If you're in town on a Friday and want a good beer, try the Alcove in downtown Tuscaloosa. It's a little small, but they serve lots of good beer, including a few awesome brewed-in-state selections (I recommend Good People and Avondale).

Daniel in Huntsville, Ala., writes: For anyone newcomers to the SEC that decide to visit Tuscaloosa I would definitely take a walk around the quad, grab one of the best burgers at Mugshots, and finish it off with a drink at Rounders or Houndstooth. If you can get your hands on Big Bad Wolves nachos...You're golden.

Taylor in Tuscaloosa writes: I know many people are going to give the classic answers of where to eat in Tuscaloosa such as Dreamland or Rama Jamas. However a local favorite for Friday afternoons, or any afternoon, is right across the river in Historic Downtown Northport. City Cafe is a must for any visitor to try at some point on an Alabama road trip. It's your classic meat and three and they knows how to cater to its customers. And its prices can't be beat. Anyone can walk out feeling completely full for only $5. But get there early because they close at 3 and on weekends. I know BBQ is king but you can't forget to eat your veggies too. Roll Tide.