One of our favorite things is finding local restaurants, sounds easy, but it’s not always. What you find in most cities is chain restaurants, and lots of them. Now, I know there is a place for chain restaurants, they provide comfort because there are no surprises, you can get the same cheeseburger in Pocatello, Idaho as you can find in Gardendale, Alabama and almost all points in between and beyond. But, if you want innovation, if you want an experience, you have to find a local place for that.
One such place is Porky’s WagonWheel in Fultundale, Alabama. It’s a little bit out of the way, just behind the Chevron station, in fact, if you didn’t know better, you might not recognize it. The first time we went, we drove right past. The locals had told us about the Wagon Wheel, they hadn’t mentioned Porky’s. Porky’s is what we found first, it is a bbq place that has been around for awhile, they were closing in 15 minutes when we arrived the first time, “but the steakhouse is open for another hour,” the hostess pointed us through the swinging doors.
The steakhouse and Porky’s belong to Harry, the proprieter of this little gem. Porky’s has been around for awhile, the steakhouse was added eight months ago, and it is going great. The menu is simple, there are five kinds of steak…rib eye, tbone, New York, and two others that didn’t appeal to me. You pick your meat, pick the way you want it cooked and sit back and relax. Sounds familiar, right? Maybe not quite when you hear the rest. The salad bar and potato bar come with the steak, and the price is the same for each cut of beef. No haggling, no worrying about which is priced better, the weights will be what differentiates the different steaks, that is all.
The boys chose to continue this path and let Harry take care of their steaks, I chose to cook my own. You see, the grill is 8 foot by 6 foot and is right in the center of the room. As the patron, you can season it just the way you want and lay it out on the grill and cook your own. It was pretty awesome, I hung close to Harry, learning the tricks of the trade, obviously he had fixed more meat on that grill than I ever would, so I figured I could learn a thing or two.
Our ribeyes came out perfect, add a salad, an Idaho russet and some sweet-tea and it pretty much was the best meal I’ve had in a very long time. Good luck finding that experience in a chain restaurant.