If you’re anything like me, there is probably a small portion of your home state that you know little about. For me, that would be northwest Alabama. I think I could count on one hand how many times I have been to this part of the state. However, a couple of years ago I read an article titled “10 Places to Eat in Alabama.” Ever since then, Rattlesnake Saloon in Tuscumbia has been on my to-do list. So, on Thursday I loaded up and headed that way.
All my life, I’ve heard northwest Alabama referred to as Tri-Cities. The three towns that brought about this name are Florence, Tuscumbia, and Sheffield – all in close proximity and each having its own claim to fame: University of North Alabama, Helen Keller’s Birthplace, and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, respectively. Greats like The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cher, Willie Nelson, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, and many others recorded at this studio in the 1970s. Fast-forward many years, and we see now that Muscle Shoals has grown tremendously and “connected” with the other 3 cities. Some of the locals sometimes say Quad-Cities, but for most the new name for the area is The Shoals, which is way cooler and much more sophisticated sounding.
Rattlesnake Saloon is in Tuscumbia, but it is not in town. In fact, it is so “in the middle of nowhere” that going there is definitely intentional. You are not going to just happen up on it. When I pulled in, my first thought was farm. The parking lot is a big field with three large grain silos. I found out later that two of the silos are guest rooms for lodging and the other is the bath house. How quaint is that? Taking a look at the website, you can see that these round rooms are so cute, with a country/western flair. Now, to get to the actual restaurant, we were shuttled in the back of a dually with metal steps on the back for easy access. The ride down to the restaurant is short and scenic. Then we arrived at the most interesting place to eat that I have ever seen. A huge rock shelf provides the roof for the tables, chairs, and a stage for their packed karaoke and live music nights. Even on that 93 degree day, it was very comfortable in this cave-type setting. The old-timey saloon is a small building under the rock overhang that houses the kitchen and the bar.
Where do I begin on the food at Rattlesnake Saloon? Let me preface by saying that this restaurant is considered a hamburger joint, but the menu is varied enough to please anyone. As with any new-to-me place to eat, I had no idea what to order. My eyes were drawn to The Duke, so I asked the waitress about it. Little did I know that it is ranked #2 hamburger in the state of Alabama. I had to give it a try. Let me give you just a little of my hamburger history. I love a good hamburger, but I was never able to finish a whole one until in my 20s, I never mixed meats, and all hamburgers to me were just “good.” I was floored with The Duke! It was not just good, it was amazing! It was a delicious beef patty, with bacon, cheese, onion, tomato, pickle, lettuce, snake eyes, and an onion Kaiser bun that was so good. If you just googled snake eyes, don’t worry, I didn’t know either. It’s two slices of jalapeno, which of course, you can take off, but the burger is so big, they add just a hint of flavor. Some of you may not get this but,”I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” and just writing about it makes me ready to go back. Everything was good – the sweet tea, the fries, the onion rings! I think I need to just make reservations for one of those cozy, little rooms and then try everything on the menu while I’m there.
Want to check out this area of Alabama? Helen Keller’s Birthplace provides a play entitled “The Miracle Worker” on the grounds of the birthplace. Muscle Shoals Sound Studio is now a museum that is a must-see for music lovers. However, do not dare go there without taking a meal at Rattlesnake Saloon. Enjoy the scenic beauty, the great atmosphere, and the delicious food. You may even see me at a table enjoying another The Duke!
Keep Piper Peachin’ and Wander with Wonder
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” -John Muir