Running due north out of Huntsville, Alabama is US 231/431. This artery strings together a series of small towns all the way up to Fayetteville, Tennessee, including Meridianville, Alabama. Not much more than a gas stop for most people it just happens to be where my in-laws live.
I get to spend a good deal of time in this area and one thing that I've always found intriguing is the two smokers out front of the Raceway gas station. The very thought of having fire located not 20 feet from a gas pump always seemed rather puzzling. I don't make the rules though and am not one to question.
In the early 90's Allen Rawls left Kalamazoo, Michigan chasing a comedy dream. He got no further than northern Alabama when family responsibilities dictated his road days were over. Ever the entrepreneur, Allen dabbled in the car wash and gas businesses but food was always his passion. Now 6 days a week he puts smoke to meat and serves it up inside in what is known as "Raceway Cafe." A counter in the back of the station with a stove and microwave. There's also a large communal table and a couple singles.
It's also worth checking out the "70 Hemi 'Cuda in the store.
Allen serves up a variety of southern style BBQ as well as some "Caribbean style" or "Jerk" chicken for those who are familiar with it. The menu changes daily but there are some constants like BBQ chicken and Polish sausage. The latter being a store bought, spicy Polish sausage that's smoked to perfection. So good I'm gonna have to try it at home. On occasion he'll even smoke a whole baloney. If you're a fan of baloney, you'll like it. The smokey element really works well.
Most of the food is either made from scratch or semi homemade. Take the beans for example. They're standard Bush's baked beans but are "Doctored" to taste even better. This is something that a lot of pitmasters will do. Especially with BBQ sauce.
It's good enough to keep a steady stream of customers flowing. I went by at dinner one night and they only had a bit of chicken and some sausage left. This was at 5:30. I wait another day and had lunch.
Allen continues with show biz gigs but it's more of a hobby now. You can catch him from time to time in and around Huntsville, Alabama.
For your consideration.
For lunch we had the chicken two ways. Naked and sauced.
The naked chicken was very simply done. Smoked to juicy perfection.
The sauced chicken was the above sauced and then grilled. It was tastier with the addition of the sauce but the extra cooking time dried it out slightly. It wasn't the dribble down your arm juicy like the naked but not bone dry either.
The beans were very good. I can't quite tell what Allan did to them but you could tell they had that special little "ju ne sais quoi."
The green beans were very good. Chunks of yesterdays sausage and some pulled pork were added to some canned beans to kick them up several notches.
When you boast about being the 3 time state cornbread champion, I take it as a personal challenge. It better be lights out good.
This is very different than the cornbread you're gonna find almost anywhere. It's more of a "Yankee" style in that it's much more moist and cakey. Allen adds onion to the mix and something I've never seen before. Country sausage. The meaty "Jimmy Dean" style sausage made for an excellent cornbread. I'm not sure I'd call it the best I'd had, being so different but it was absolutely terrific.
Check out Raceway Cafe at 11525 Hwy 231 - 431N. Meridianville, Alabama.
View Larger Map
Well that's all for now. Catch ya later.