Words and Photographs by Seth Birkenmeyer
The first thing I noticed after parking my car across the street from The Alamo, a barbeque joint located in Church Hill, is its charming outdoor setup. It seems to radiate southern hospitality as much as its slow cooker exudes smoke out back. A closer inspection of the restaurant, however, reveals overflowing trashcans and flies galore. That is hardly unexpected for a small dining experience out in the open such as this, but it is off-putting nonetheless.
The pungent scent of pork in the air makes the potentially daunting task of perusing the menu fairly simple. Most of the options are classics and have merit.
The Texas Train Wreck stands out, and I have heard many good things about the dish with its Casserole of Beans, Mac and Cheese, Cornbread and your meat of choice. The Barbeque Platter, Loaded Quesadilla and a variety of sandwiches all sound tempting. But nothing beats a fat rack of ribs.
There is a decent selection of sides as well, with items like Texas Caviar, Cowboy Beans and Collard Greens. I opt for the Potato Salad along with the Jalapeno Mac and Cheese. Both can be easy to make, but difficult to make exceptional; this seems like a good test.
A glass bottle of Mexican Coke, with its absurd amount of sugar, seems like the perfect drink to accompany this heart attack-inducing meal. The restaurant also offers a pleasant array of homemade drinks like Sweet Tea, Limeade and Arnold Palmer’s, so there is plenty to quench your thirst after whatever inferno you might ingest.
The ribs were delicious, not too saucy and not too plentiful. The portions in general were respectable but not overwhelming, at least given the fact that it’s a barbecue place. We southerners are not exactly subtle with out portion sizes.
The Potato Salad was average. Nothing about it stood out, but it complimented the main dish well enough. The Jalapeno Mac and Cheese was a disappointment, however. Perhaps it’s just my affinity for classic mac, but the peppers took away from the experience. They were not spicy or strong enough to add any real zest, but they did overshadow the cheese aspect of the mac and cheese. Messing up anything cheese-related is a borderline travesty in my book.
For those not interested in indiscriminate meats, The Alamo offers vegetarian options as well, like Barbeque Portabella, the Big Grilled Burrito and the Loaded Quesadilla. One of those and some sweet tea sound like a good combo.
Another popular and competing barbeque restaurant is Buzz and Ned’s, located on North Boulevard. The Alamo is cheaper and offers takeout, but is a less convenient location combined with a smaller menu. If you’re in the mood for something different and you have a ride, The Alamo a decent, if not extraordinary alternative.
If it’s a nice day outside and you’re in the mood for some Texas style barbeque, The Alamo is a decent choice for Richmond residents with its enticing entrees and welcoming atmosphere. But if it is going to be any trouble getting there or if you obsess over cleanliness, you will find plenty of better alternatives closer to home.
The Alamo is open Sunday- Thursday 11:00-9:00pm, Friday- Saturday 11:00-9:30pm, and closed on Mondays