Despite its fame, I had no idea what to expect when I stepped off the sidewalk and into Aleck's Barbecue Heaven. The place was a dive. In front of the small open "kitchen" - actually a grill and deep-fryer - was a small raised counter with a peeling Formica top and, behind that, a few stools with rips in their red plastic upholstery. A skinny aisle of cheap tile floor separated the stools from four or five ragtag booths along the wall. A small black-and-white TV with a crack running diagonally across it sat on the near end of the coun-ter, tuned to a talk show. There was no air conditioning, and it was hot inside because it was hot outside. The air in the joint was heavy and greasy.
Anyone who appreciates a great dive knows exactly what I'm about to say next: It was love at first sight.
I took a seat at the counter and ordered: ribs, yams, greens, and a side of Brunswick stew, a thick flavorful concoction of lima beans, corn, tomatoes, and chicken. I looked around while waiting for my plate and noticed that one of the booths, the far one, had a wreath in it and was dedicated to the memory of Dr. King. It occurred to me that I was sitting where King or Miles Davis may have sat, and I felt humbled.