hattie b’s hot chicken – birmingham, al

this past weekend, phillip and i made a swift drive west to visit my parents in birmingham for a couple of days.  it was a belated birthday celebration for my father as well as an early valentine’s day gathering for all four of us.

my mom was occupied at the school for a show choir event all day saturday, so phillip and i helped my dad run errands around town and then take kramer for a lovely afternoon walk over at heardmont park.  this place brings back countless memories of my brothers during the baseball days, and my father and i reminisced as we strolled from field to field.

the day crept into the evening, and i’d say all four of us had worked up quite an appetite for dinner.  so, we all hopped in phillip’s mazda and my dad navigated us to downtown birmingham where we joined the crowd in line at hattie b’s for some hot chicken.


future son-in-law with his future father-in-law. 🙂

we waited in line for about ten minutes, but it wasn’t so bad since that gave us time to look over the menu.  now, mom and dad have been here before, and both testified that the medium sauce made their heads sweat.  per their recommendation, i then knew that the mild would be the way to go.  in addition to choosing your heat level, you also have several chicken choices.  from breasts to wings to tenders, surely there’s something on this menu that can satisfy.

at seven o’clock on a saturday night, you can probably imagine how busy this place already was.  so, when a table opened up, i sprinted to claim it for us.  as i settled in and took a look around, it was clear by the simple atmosphere and the line out the door that tasty eating was awaiting us.

mom, dad, and phillip arrived with our number and our drinks and we chatted as we waited on our food.  i’m going to guess that they try to make everything fresh to order, because we had plenty of time to discuss wedding plans.  oh, did i mention phillip and i are engaged?  well, if you didn’t know before, you’re in the know now!  🙂  more on all that fun to come later.

in the end, the food was certainly worth the wait.  between the sides and the chicken, there was hardly anything left on our plates!  the pimento cheese mac’n’cheese was creamy with a little kick, the collard greens were well-cooked (and i’d recommend throwing some hot sauce on them to spice things up), and i heard the potato salad, fries, and coleslaw were also delicious.

my mild tenders were, first of all, humongous.  i actually needed help finishing them!  although delicious when dipped in either the honey mustard or bleu cheese, a bite on its own was quite flavorful.  i’m glad i went with the mild because although the heat may not be in-your-face at first, you definitely start feeling it after two or three tenders.  phillip also had the mild tenders and didn’t leave a single bite uneaten.  mom said her southern chicken tenders were wonderful and dad could not get enough of the mild wings he ordered.

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i’d say if i find myself back at hattie b’s (which i’m sure i will) i think i’ll go for the wings.  the tenders are awesome if that’s what you’re in the mood for, but the wings really looked like they might be this restaurant’s specialty.  i also don’t doubt i’d try the potato salad (it looked awesome on my mom’s plate) and i would certainly get an order of the banana pudding.  my mom says it is heavenly, and i don’t think i’ll forgive myself if i forget to get it next time.

“know the good people”

good peopleas my eyes surveyed the shelves of our upstairs refrigerator, i happened upon a can of beer that wasn’t miller lite, a strange sight in our house.  we are a miller family, thanks to mark and kathleen, and i promise i mean it in the best of ways, really!

back to the mysterious can of pale ale beer:  i plucked it from its spot and read “good people brewing company.”

“dad, isn’t good people a local birmingham place?”

“yes, somewhere downtown, i think.”

“cool.  can i give it a try?”

“of course!” he sweetly obliged.  i popped that can open and gave it a sip, immediately thrown, for no apparent reason, by its innate hoppy taste.  i typically know what i like and what i do not like, and pale ales tend to be on the latter list.  however, i am determined to like pale ales because they seem so cool and trendy, a real “beer drinker” beer.

not one to shy away and let something go to waste, i poured the beer into a frozen pint glass.  my hopes were that drinking it out of the can was my mistake, and to my pleasant surprise, it did go down much more smoothly out of the chilled vessel.

american pale ales are the game at good people, and they offer five varieties year-round.  apa’s are known for their generous quantities of american hops that distinguish them from european or british pale ales.  well, since i usually stray away from choices that are on the hoppier end of the spectrum, i took this chance to learn more about this particular beer and strive to find something i like in it.  things i like about it?  it’s on the lighter side and has subtle caramel tones that you can really taste if you really stop and think about it.

as i sit here writing to you, my adoring fan, i happily notice that my glass is nearly empty.  i’ve drunk an entire pale ale with nearly no complaint at all!  as i take the last few sips to finish it off, i pleasantly notice that it is not as hoppy as i thought.  it’s just that first taste you get, right on the middle of your tongue, that catches me off guard each time.  perhaps pale ales are one of those brews that you have to drink much of to really like it…?  am i reaching here?  perhaps, but at least i stuck with it, right?  right!  i’ll take a moment to pat myself on the back here.

if pale ales are your thing, and you live in alabama or tennessee, look in your local grocer for good people beer.  from what i gather on their site, the pale ale is the least bitter.  they’ve got a brown ale that looks like it could be a contender for me, but it might be one i try with someone else close by, so that i can kindly offer it to them in case it’s not for me.