Eateries find top spots

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 17, 2004

REGION – It has been said there are only two things for certain in life – death and taxes, but whoever said that did not read the Alabama Bureau of Tourism&Travel’s newest brochure, “100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die.”

In it is a list of places in Alabama one certainly must try before departing this life. Included in that list are the Cotton Patch in Eutaw, Ca-John’s Faunsdale Bar and Grill in Faunsdale, Mennonites Touch of Home Bakery in Livingston, and Demopolis’ own Red Barn and Kora’s Place.

“There’s probably a few more than 100 on the list,” a representative from the bureau said. “But we started out with about 300 names.”

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The list is part of a several-year marketing campaign, marking each year with a theme that touches a different part of Alabama.

“This year was the Year of Gardens, next year is the Year of Food and the year after that will be the Year of Outdoors,” the representative said. She said each theme is aimed at a different genre, and tries to focus on the smaller, out-of-the-way places rather than the obvious tourist attractions of the beaches, the mountains or the space center.

As for how the list was generated, the representative said a mass email was sent out to the Tourism Departments and Chambers of Commerce throughout the state asking for submissions.

“Or someone on our staff had been there and put the name in,” she said.

Out of the more than 300 names submitted, the representative said, the list was narrowed down to just over 100 by a selection process that would leave a list with variety of location and type of food.

Red Barn was noted for its steak and chicken, though owner Roger Roberts said he hears more about his shrimp.

“I’ve had a lot of people say it’s better than what you get on the Gulf Coast,” he said. However, he said, the menu at Red Barn is very diverse and to pinpoint one signature dish would be difficult.

“We have something for everyone,” he said.

He said he did not know about the listing, but said it did not come as a surprise, as he has kept the business booming for 24 years.

“It tells me someone’s been doing their homework,” he laughed.

Clinton Dirks, owner of Touch of Home Bakery in Livingston, had a similar reaction.

“We have just about any kind of cake or pie you like,” he said, but he said the caramel cake and chocolate delight – a four-layer chocolate cake – are probably the most popular of their desserts.

The 11-year-old bakery was listed for its desserts and its sandwiches, which also offers a wide selection.

“We have turkey, ham and Cajun-style roast beef,” Dirks said. “They can get it on white, wheat or whole wheat. We also have chicken salad that’s real good,” he said.

The deli is a family-owned business, with Dirks and wife, Linda, having taken over the business from Linda’s parents.

Also listed were Cotton Patch in Eutaw, noted not only for its drop biscuits, but also recognized as one of the oldest restaurants in Alabama, having been established in 1937.

Kora’s Place in Demopolis was listed for its soul food and The Ca’Johns Faunsdale Bar and Grill in Faunsdale was noted for its crawfish pie.