Last Ride at the Stagecoach Cafe

Each year motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country make the “last ride” of the year to tiny Stockton, Alabama to lunch together at the Stagecoach Cafe. Last year I was able to tag along with a group of Third Coast riders from Biloxi, MS to witness this event for myself. They are quite the culture these 21st Century bikers. These easy riders are less Dennis Hopper and more Albert Brooks.  Most of them are professionals but don’t call them yuppies.

The predominant motorcycle for these shindigs is the classic Harley but they don’t discriminate.  If you prefer a “rice rocket” you’re still welcome just be prepared for a little good-natured ribbing.  This was the 14th year that the Stagecoach has hosted the annual last ride and it’s hard to say just how many made the trip but when we arrived there were better than a hundred motorcycles filling the gravel parking lot.  An impressive site to be sure.

The Stagecoach Cafe is a classic Southern eatery, the type that makes living on the Third Coast a treasure.  It’s located less than an hour drive north of Gulf Shores and the whole Redneck Riviera and just a mile or so from the site of the Fort Mims Massacre which sparked the Creek Indian War (1813–1814).  It is truly an area steeped in history.  The cafe is known for great Southern comfort food and they are famous for their fried chicken and their fried oysters.

On our visit a special buffet was set up featuring BBQ pulled pork, meatloaf and fried chicken with plenty of country sides and delicious desserts.  The meatloaf was low on filler and high on meat, a welcome relief from typical diner meatloaf which tends to be more loaf than meat.  The pulled pork was tender with a sweet smokey BBQ sauce.  I also sampled the fried okra which was crisp and well seasoned and some very good mashed potatoes and gravy.

I made a point of trying the fried chicken as well.  I mean, they are famous for it.  It was really, really good.  Like most Southerners I love fried chicken but I rarely enjoy fried chicken from restaurants. I prefer Southern Fried (cooked slowly in an iron skillet with just a touch of oil) to deep fried (fully immersed in hot oil).  Restaurants tend to opt for deep frying because it is so much quicker but for some reason they fail to season it properly which is crucial for this method to have flavor.  The Stagecoach gets it right.  Some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had.  Worth the 3000 mile ride from Washington State?  Apparently since someone actually made the trip.

The Stagecoach is planning something big for next year’s 15th anniversary.  Perhaps adding those famous oysters to the buffet?  Only time will tell.  Of course you can sample the world renowned oysters and chicken on their weekly seafood buffet each weekend.  The Stagecoach Cafe is located at 52860 Hwy 59 in Stockton, AL. (251) 580-0608.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less
Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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