Alabama Gameday Tradition: The BBQ Nachos at Big Bad Wolves' BBQ in Tuscaloosa


[Photograph: Annie Agnone]

When I moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for graduate school, I had no idea that my weekends in the fall would be completely run by gameday. Football was not something on my radar. Now that I've been here a while, I consider "roll tide" a standard greeting/totally acceptable email sign off. And yet, I am one of those people who can't really get into watching the sport.

What I can get into is the atmosphere. I like the crowd and I'll definitely wear my Bama shirt, but mostly I'm in it for the snacks.

During every home football game, a pop-up BBQ joint known as Big Bad Wolves' BBQ opens on University Boulevard, right down the street from Bryant-Denny Stadium. Big Bad Wolves does not have a permanent storefront, but they do cater events year-round. They have a couple items on the menu: sandwiches, sausages and whatnot. But really, everyone is just waiting all year for the BBQ nachos. Of course, the seasonal aspect of the nachos generates a lot of hype, but let me tell you, they're actually delicious.

These pulled pork nachos ($9) are pretty much the quintessential gameday snack. The tortilla chips are nothing special but they make an ideal host for the slathering of pulled pork, nacho cheese, homemade BBQ sauce and pickled jalapeños. The jalapeños are optional, but I'm always glad they're there. However, the really outstanding layer is the homemade barbecue sauce. It's pretty thin compared to something you would find in a supermarket and not nearly as sweet. In fact, it's barely sweet at all; it's slightly spicy. And when the nacho cheese combines with the barbecue sauce, it truly is a thing greater than the sum of its parts.

One of the winning aspects of Big Bad Wolves is that they do not put the sauce on for you. They leave that up to the customer. My motto is douse the nachos, and when you think you've got enough sauce, keep going. You don't want to end up with dry chips when you get to the bottom.

Big Bad Wolves' BBQ

University Boulevard and Red Drew Ave. (map)