In 1805 revolutionary war vet John Hunt, lured by plentiful game and fresh water, settled on a bluff overlooking what the indigenous population had named “Big Spring.” The name Twickenham was soon imposed after LeRoy Pope purchased the land from underneath Hunt. Named after the home town of Pope’s distant relative and renowned poet, Alexander Pope. It would be less than a decade later that Twickenham was renamed Huntsville when anti British sentiment ran high. The town would grow slowly until the second world war when Redstone Arsenal opened. The population began to explode as Redstone evolved into a missile development site after the war. Eventually, with the arrival of German scientist Wernher von Braun, the arsenal would be the first home of NASA. The opening of the new main artery Memorial Parkway saw an increasing population and many businesses move west, away from the courthouse and spring.
One of the businesses to head west was the little diner opened in 1928 by Troy Baucom, Big Spring Café. Initially the café was located in an old boxcar by Big Spring Canal it would move to a brick and mortar home on Jefferson Ave. Baucom would operate the restaurant until the mid 40’s when it was sold to Hazel Beene. The restaurant has remained in the family through 2 generations and the move west in 1970 to it’s current location on Governors Dr. Another move to a newer location is in the works but as of the end of 2010 has yet to happen. Beene’s niece, Pam Milam is intent on keeping the feel of the old place.
Well, enough of the chit chat.
First off let me say I loved this place. The polite way to describe it would be to say it has “Character.” It’s a little grimy inside and out and it’s literally falling apart. There’s actually places where the brick is pulling away from the sheathing. You really do get a feeling of respect and nostalgia though. It just seems like this is the kind of place that’s seen what history can throw at it and it’s weathered the storm. Still standing, a little worse for wear but hasn’t lost it’s heart.
So on with the goods.
The slaw dog was interesting. A sweet ketchup and cabbage slaw with a Vienna style dog on a steamed bun. Not bad but nothing special outside of the uniqueness to it. It's on the list of "100 Things to Eat in Alabama."
I really liked the chili burger. Their regular burger topped with a ladle of their chili. The chili was more like taco meat in texture and flavour. All in all, quite tasty. It too is on the list of "100 Things to Eat in Alabama."
It’s not a cheeseburger, it’s a hamburger with cheese. If you order a cheese burger you get something different. Their burgers are cooked and then held in an au jus until serving. Bunned up and a quick trip to the sandwich press before serving. Very tasty and juicy. The standard is pickle and mustard. It’s slider sized and if you added mustard would be very much like a Krystal burger but much better. It ranks #5 on the list of "Huntsville's 20 Most Distinctive Dishes."
The double cola is pretty interesting. You could probably replicate the taste by combining 3 parts Coca-Cola with 1 part root beer. (maybe 4 or 5 to 1 but you get the idea).
You can find Big Spring Café at 2906 Governors Drive SW in Huntsville, Al.
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Well that’s all for now sports fans. See ya next time.