Barbecue & Cajun Cuisine Road Trip and Foodie Tour of the South: Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana & Texas

It’s not often someone asks me for help.

So naturally when an expat buddy working in China reached out for a favor back home, I didn’t hesitate to say YES! I’ll write more about the actual Road Trip in another post, but a major deciding factor for me was all the foodie opportunities I’ll get to experience along the way driving a car from Pennsylvania to Texas. And let me tell you that out of the 1,500+ miles driven, I basically planned my pit stops based on foodie options along the way.

The first truly notable foodie stop was in Tennessee:

The place: Dead End B.B.Q. in Knoxville. I had searched ahead for good places to chow down while passing through town and this joint came up highly recommended. Boy am I glad I stopped in. The bartender recommended Burnt Ends, and I got a box to-go to eat while I drive further South…

It was a great choice for a meal. The burnt ends were not burnt at all, and very tender and juicy to go along with well seasoned fries and sweet corn bread. I later pulled over to chow down the beans and sausage soupy thing. It was a nice chaser.

BBQ was to be the theme of the first full day of the road trip, because the next stop for my overnight layover in Tuscaloosa, Alabama was Dreamland BBQ.

This place was amazing. And being that I was a bit hungry I ordered way too much food for me to possibly finish in one evening, so it became my breakfast and lunch for the next day.

I ordered a half a rack of ribs and a link of sausage along with their delicious BBQ beans that are especially tasty because of caramelized onions in the mix. Finger lickin’ good!

The size of the ribs was scary big… it wasn’t from a pig but rather from a dinosaur… way more than I had expected. But oh so tasty!

In the end all that was left was a bunch of big bones…

Rolling into Louisiana I was greeted with some “Community” Coffee at the Welcome Center. That coffee was delicious. Interestingly enough the name sounded familiar, and on my flight home I found out exactly why… Community coffee is served on Southwest flights.

Going through the Bayou’s I started seeing signs for Bugs… Not the ones splashed all over the windshield but the seafood variety instead. Crawfish is a staple in Southern Louisiana and I was tempted to try it but knew how messy that food would be so I sort of ordered it disguised in other food…

But first I stopped for an appetizer… bite size fried catfish from Crawfish Town USA

Went through their Drive Thru to order it and it was ridiculously good. But next stop was even better:

Billy’s Boudin and Cracklins were highly recommended in all the Internet searches, and when I went in I found out exactly why. The line was huge to order food. I basically got one of each on the menu.

You know it’s a good place when fellow customers shout out recommendations as you’re placing your order!

Luckily they labelled everything so I knew exactly what each thing I was eating is called:

As tempted as I was to eat the food laid out on the trunk of the car, I was on a schedule so decision was made to multitast, eat and drive at the same time…

The balls were a familiar concept. I had pigged out on boulin’s on a visit to Liege, Belgium last year. But these were not just meat, they were filled with cajun rice and other fixin’s that were delicious! The crawfish filled ones were especially my favorite.

I saved the best for last, the boudin sausage filled with a mix of rice and meat was excellent and very tasty!

I thought I missed out on having Crawfish but after arriving in Houston, Texas it was obvious that the Louisiana delicacy is well established there. So my buddy Wes and I hit a local spot to get all messy eating these delicious cajun bugs.

I only ordered 1lb to sample, the bare minimum they sell. But it was enough to get completely covered in that seasoning to the point I felt I needed a shower after this lunch.

All that was left in the end was a big messy pile of heads and tails.

From Houston we drove up to Dallas area for a car event… and while there tried something different… a few taco’s at Taco Bueno. But I gotta say that it didn’t even compare to the BBQ and Cajun Seafood theme I was following on this trip.

Luckily back at the event, some fellow enthusiasts had a smoker going, with home-cooked and extremely fresh Ribs and Sausage smokin’ hot!

Sid, the master chef, didn’t disappoint… his ribs, hot venison sausage and dry venison sausage were the highlight of this foodie trip for me:

So there you have it folks. If you get an opportunity to go on a road trip, I would encourage you to jump on it. Think of all the foodie opportunities that will present themselves along the way. And if you can find a good redneck cookout at a car event in Texas, be sure to check it out because chances are it will be the best food you’ve ever tasted! I sure know that was the case for me…

On the drive back to the airport in Dallas we stopped by for one final Cajun meal where I had some fried shimp and catfish. Boy that hit the spot too… I can’t wait to go back to the South for more.