Choo Choo’s Burgers and BBQ a Letohatchee favorite too good to miss

Published 8:11 pm Thursday, November 10, 2022

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From what I’ve been told, Choo Choo’s Burgers and BBQ in Letohatchee is famous for its burgers. So, when a friend invited me to try the restaurant, I meant to order a burger.

I meant to, but I didn’t.

That day, Leesa Massey and I were on our way to the 56th Annual 45 Classic, a hometown challenge between county rivals The Calhoun School and Central High School in Hayneville.

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We discussed driving up to Letohatchee to try Choo Choo’s. Leesa knows how much I love a good burger.

I looked in vain to try and find it, missing the cozy restaurant more than once because it is nestled neatly inside the Mid-State Stockyards building. You almost need to know where it is when you go, and I didn’t.

But that afternoon, Leesa helped me find it, and although I meant to grab a quick burger, I ordered the brisket sandwich instead.

I’m so glad I did.

Pitmaster Choo Choo Herring smokes his brisket low and slow for 23 hours, sometimes more.

The sandwich comes with a thick slab of brisket between two pieces of buttered toast, smothered in his homemade tangy barbecue sauce and his own secret recipe dressing.

Just looking at it made my mouth water. It melted in my mouth, and it was so tender, I hardly even needed to chew.

“I enjoy seeing people enjoy their food,” Choo Choo said. “It’s taken me 30 years to get that brisket right. It’s such a mean piece of meat. Has a mind of its own.”

Choo Choo’s wife Barbara and daughter-in-law Heather co-own and manage the family-run restaurant with lots of help from his son Paul, Brunetta Talley, Shannon Ivy, and even his little grandson Dalton.

Choo Choo told me his love for food began with helping his dad cook at school and community events. After high school, he worked at Hamburger King on South Decatur Street in Montgomery.

He opened Choo Choo’s in Montgomery and eventually moved into the stockyard building in 2007, briefly relocating a few years ago before settling back to the current location in October 2021.

The Herrings know most diners by name. Locals come there again and again, and bring their friends to try it, too.

Wade Howard visited Choo Choo’s for the first time during my visit.

“My friend John Franklin called and asked if I wanted to come here,” he said. Afterward, he told me it was so good.

I agreed with him. The brisket sandwich was the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I can’t wait to try the Cowboy Burger, which comes with the brisket on it.

Get directions before going though, because Choo Choo’s is too good to miss.

Choo Choo’s opens from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each weekday and reopens on Friday to serve dinner from 5-8 p.m.