When the wind blows just right, the distinct smell of hickory smoke wafts through Cahaba Heights, letting everyone know that the pits at Miss Myra’s Pit Bar-B-Q are going strong.
For 32 years, on what is now a busy corner of Cahaba Heights Road, the small restaurant has been serving up smoked meat with a side of Southern hospitality.
“Everybody in here is family,” co-owner Buck Wheat said. “We just try to make everybody feel welcome.”
In its three decades as part of the community, Miss Myra’s grew from a convenience store with a deli and a few barbecue options to a full-service smokehouse, serving everything from brisket, smoked chicken and pulled pork to famous chess pies and banana pudding.
Wheat has been affiliated with the operation since its beginning, but now makes sure that things continue to run smoothly day to day, working alongside his wife and Miss Myra’s daughter, Rennae.
Summertime being the season of barbecues, family picnics and outdoor events, Wheat said he and his team go nonstop from Memorial Day well into fall football tailgating season.
And to keep up with all the orders of smoked meat, Wheat said, he also has to make sure the restaurant has plenty of what he said has become a major favorite: white barbecue sauce.
Miss Myra, he said, was the first to bring white sauce to the area in 1985.
“Birmingham knew nothing about white sauce — it’s a north Alabama thing,” he said.
Now, the restaurant has to make it in 3-gallon batches to keep up.
“We’ve got some people coming in saying ‘Oh, I could drink that stuff,’” said 31-year Miss Myra’s veteran cook Pearl Foy, who makes gallons of the sauce every day.
Foy said she wasn’t sure about drinking it, but she does like it on smoked chicken or even fried catfish.
As for Wheat, he isn’t personally partial to putting sauce on his barbecue — he says it masks the taste of the hickory smoke — but he does use it every now and then. His wife and daughter, on the other hand, are on the “drink it” team.
The sauce itself is simple, Wheat said, and that’s the way Miss Myra liked it. While pitmasters in north Alabama add lemon juice or other spices to their white sauce to make it their own, Miss Myra’s is as close to the original as you can get.
Miss Myra’s OriginalWhite Barbecue Sauce:
(Note: This recipe makes three-quarters gallon of sauce. Wheat recommends halving the recipe if needed, with the most important thing being the 2-to-1 ratio of mayonnaise to vinegar.)
► 2 quarts high-quality mayonnaise
► 1 quart white vinegar
► 1 tablespoon salt
► 1 tablespoon pepper
1. Using a whisk to combine, slowly pour vinegar into mayonnaise.
2. While whisking, add salt and pepper.
3. Continue whisking until all lumps are gone.
4. Cover and place mixture into the refrigerator to thicken.