Culinary Travels

T-Town Day Trip

Private tour of Bama football facilities plus lunch at Dreamland Bar-B-Que

By Jan Walsh

Kev has been hosted, not once, but twice for Alabama fans dream day trip. And both times he and the guys finished the morning with lunch at Dreamland Bar-B-Que, which completed the full experience.

On the first trip, a few years ago, 25 guys, including our sons, Jordan and Ross took a bus to Tuscaloosa, where they toured the athletic tutoring center in the Paul Bryant Building. The Assistant Director showed them around, and answered questions about the program. From here they moved onto Coleman Colosseum for a tour of the entire building: basketball court, locker rooms, player meeting room, and practice gym. Next was the Mal Moore Athletic Building, where Coach Nick Saban was waiting at the top of the stairs. “He motioned us to come up, and greeted each person with a handshake,” Kev recalls. He proceeded to tell us what he had especially planned for us: 10-minute meeting with a defensive coach, 10 minutes with an offense coach. Then he told us to go all around that floor and see the trophies display, as well as the display of photos, championship rings, and more. The topper? “Coach Saban had to leave but beforehand he told his assistant to let us go in his office and try on his championship rings and even sit behind his desk and take pictures for this once in a lifetime experience. While trying on the rings, one got stuck on Ross’ finger. And he began to panic, while others left the office, fearing that Coach Saban would come back in the office. Fortunately for him, that did not happen before he pulled the ring loose. Next, they toured the rest of the complex: indoor practice field, weight room, and locker room.

Afterwards they went to the original, Tuscaloosa Dreamland. This is the location that started it all in 1958. Dreamland founder, John “Big Daddy” Bishop built the restaurant himself. This humble, local barbeque joint quickly became a favorite gathering spot for members of the Alabama football coaching staff to bring recruits before becoming THE game day destination in Tuscaloosa. License plates line the walls, Christmas lights hang above the bar, and they still prepare our ribs just like Big Daddy did.

But today it is not coaches or players sitting at the next table… “I was taking a bite of smoked sausage and looked up to see The Temptations eating ribs at the table beside us!” Jordan recalls. The musicians welcomed the recognition and even harmonized for their table. All enjoyed ribs, chicken, baked beans, coleslaw, mac and cheese, and iced tea. And they finished with Dreamland’s famous banana pudding and chocolate dream.

On the more recent trip the guys started with a tour of Bryant Denny Stadium, where a major renovation was just completed. Their guide started the tour with the football players’ cafeteria, before walking through the complex, including the players tunnel, filled with motivational statements and photos to inspire the team as they walk to the field. They came out, sat down in the stadium seats and heard all about the renovations—jumbotrons, new skyboxes, and capacity for more than 100,000 fans. “The field is Bermuda grass, cut like a putting green for speed. And it is flat, without a crown, also for speed, which wasn’t needed due to the incredible drainage system under the grass that drains water immediately.” Kev describes. Next was the Mal Moore Building. But this time they couldn’t visit the coaches’ offices due to the of Covid restrictions. They started on the second floor in an area, where the walls are covered with photos of past players. Here the group was wowed by the array of national championship trophies on display and a ring case with all championship rings, dating back to 1923. It has an automatic button to move the desired ring to a magnifying glass in the center in order to see every detail of the ring. On another hall are this year’s opponents’ logos on a rack. After each victory, the team nails that opponents’ logos on the section of wall designated for their year. For example, last year all 13 opponents’ logos were put under their year because they won every game. The tour ends with the new and incredible rehab, training area, weight room, indoor field, and locker rooms.

After the dream tour, the group again drives to the original Dreamland Bar-B-Que where they dive into scrumptious slabs of meaty ribs and all the fixings, along with Texas Pete’s hot sauce, as they reminisce about their twice in a life time tour.

Dreamland and Alabama Football go together just like Texas Pete and ribs. View Dreamland BBQ: A Texas Pete Film to learn the story of how the BBQ legend was built.

Copyright ©2021 Travel

Categories: Culinary Travels