Southern Savor: Nick’s in the Sticks

For my birthday dinner Friday, I chose Nick’s Original Filet House, or to those in Tuscaloosa, Nick’s in the Sticks.

It was my first time, and a few other friends first time as well. To have lived in Tuscaloosa for 12 years and never eaten here was a terrible misstep on my part.

It’s almost a hole-in-the-wall restaurant located in the west end of Tuscaloosa. It doesn’t even classify as a hole in the wall because it’s more like half a hole.

I had no idea where it was, so my friend Isaac drove. After driving on a dark, sleepy road for a few minutes Isaac pointed to our right and casually pointed at this small building covered with cars.

The cars were parked in a haphazard, yet functional way outside the restaurant. Similarly, that’s how Nick’s works.

Because of it’s limited number of seating, patrons should arrive around 5:30 p.m. If you have a larger party, you may want to consider an earlier time. When we arrived at roughly 5:45 p.m. our wait time was roughly “awhile.”

The small setting creates a controlled chaos, yet enjoyable atmosphere. Dollar bills cover the ceiling. Alabama memorabilia adorns the walls.

Despite the hustle the waiters are doing, the patrons don’t appear to mind the business. The waiters are constantly moving, sending drink order to the bartender. He’s busy constantly mixing Nickademus’s. It’s one of the two mixed drinks Nick’s offers. It’s also the most well known, and word around town is one is all that is necessary.

Alcoholic beverages are served in white Styrofoam cups, the rest in red Solo cups. I imagine this makes life a lot easier for the waiters, and the rest of the small staff.

There’s nothing special about the food on Nick’s menu. It consists of the usual American staples: beef, fish and chicken.  (That includes chicken livers.) The difference in Nick’s is that the food is prepared perfectly.

We started with the homemade fried onion rings for an appetizer. The rings were huge. And heavily breaded. And hot. And delicious.

Between the onion rings and the side salad that comes with every entrée, I was concerned about how much room my stomach had left.

I would say I bore through the fish dinner I ordered, but that would be a lie. Once my plate was in front of me, I realized what I had to do. Eat all of it.

I was treated to some of the best catfish I’ve ever had. The breading was just right. Not too thin, but not thick enough to ruin the fish flavor. There was some type of seasoning on it that included sea salt. Something I appreciated.

The fries are thick and perfect for dipping in ketchup. Where it lacks in saltiness, it makes up in thickness.

While I enjoyed the catfish, the others had beef. One friend had a cheeseburger, the rest the steak.

The bacon-wrapped steak won the majority of the group. When I asked one friend, Isaac, what made it so delicious he said, “I’d say a secret recipe and thick bacon.”

Savanna, who ordered the cheeseburger, said it was tender, juicy and super cheesy.

After about 20 minutes, everyone’s plate was completely clean. We continued to sit there in our gluttony discussing the error of our ways in never eating at Nick’s. We also said we would eat there everyday.

While that hasn’t quite panned out, I do plan on frequenting there. It was a relatively cheap meal, making it even more enjoyable.

It was a delicious meal spent with good friends. And if you’re ever passing through Tuscaloosa, strongly consider put visiting Nick’s at the very top of your list. You won’t be disappointed.

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2 thoughts on “Southern Savor: Nick’s in the Sticks

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