TIGERS AND BOOTSIE'S IN ATTALLA
As you know, I've been scouring North Alabama to check out places for my upcoming book "100 Things to Do in Huntsville and North Alabama Before You Die." Well, I have 2 of those "things to do" to recommend and share with you today. One is a few miles out of Attalla, Alabama, and the other is smackdab in the middle of the historic downtown.
TIGERS FOR TOMORROW on Untamed Mountain
My first thought, as I walked around Tigers for Tomorrow, being the wife of a veterinarian, was "Where did all of these animals come from?" Years ago, I got a call from Steve one day suggesting that I come down to the clinic quickly if I could and bring the kids. A client had brought in a baby tiger that he knew we'd want to see. It was beautiful. Steve continued to care for that amazing animal as it grew to maturity. But, as you might expect, cute cuddly baby tigers grow into something much more demanding and potentially alarming. That owner, sadly, did not build a proper enclosure for his tiger, but instead allowed it to live in his mobile home. Yes. His mobile home. Not too surprisingly, the man's wife was not happy with the arrangement and moved out. One day Steve got a call from the distraught man. The tiger had gotten out of the mobile home, bolted for the road, and was struck by a truck. The tiger was gravely injured and had to be put down.
Twenty-five or thirty years ago, the laws were very relaxed regarding owning exotic animals, so many people thought it would be a good idea to have one for a pet . . . not really thinking through the long-term consequences.
Some of the animals at Tigers for Tomorrow came from such situations. Others came from zoos, circuses, wildlife parks, or other facilities that were shut down because they didn't care for the animals properly. The good news is that Tigers for Tomorrow is an exotic rescue preserve. When an animal reaches this 140-acre property, the staff is committed to providing proper care for the rest of its life. It is a wonderful educational center with a primary focus on the well-being of the animals. That explains the hours it is open to the public and the rules posted prominently.
No running, yelling, talking on cellphones, taunting or teasing the animals, or venturing past the marked walkways. Visitors have an opportunity to see 150 predators, small mammals, birds, and farm animals. There are more tigers than I have ever seen in one place! And you'll also find wolves, bears, lions, and porcupines.
Admission is $15 for adults and $7.50 for children 4-11. Currently, they are open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
About 15 minutes away from Tigers for Tomorrow, you can sit down to some of the best food Steve and I have ever eaten in an environment that will make you feel good about the world.
Bootsie's in the heart of downtown Attalla opened in November of 2020 and was quickly embraced by the people of Attalla, who told their friends, who told their friends, etc. etc. You get the idea. Word of mouth, once the incredible barbecue was sampled, spread the good news like wildfire.
We tried the ribs and the pulled pork. Both got an A+.
For sides, we tried the grilled cabbage and the mac and cheese. Also A+. There's no slaw on the menu because Bootsie and his wife couldn't agree on a recipe. They wanted only items they both could enthusiastically recommend to be included on the menu. Don't be skeptical about the grilled cabbage. It is way above boiled cabbage. I promise.
Bootsie mans the grill (and the kitchen). His wife Jacqueline manages the overall operation with the help of daughters Jada and Meleah. Maleah makes the desserts, which consist of banana pudding, Key Lime pie, and lemon meringue pie. May I just say, though, that the grilled buttered bread served with the rib platter was as heavenly as any dessert! Oh my!
Bootsie's is open Wednesday through Saturday for dinner, and on Saturday for lunch. You're out of luck if you get hungry on Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday. This family who owns and operates Bootsie's is busy with their "day jobs" on those days. Bootsie works for the City of Attalla, Jacqueline works via internet for several doctors' clinics, Meleah works at Wal-Mart, and Jada is a student at Gadsden State. Somehow, they (along with some friends they occasionally recruit) are making everything work, and the results are truly delicious.
(This is Meleah, the dessert maker).
The service is top-notch, and the smiles convey a genuine love for Jesus in their hearts. I can't wait to return, and Steve and I give it our highest recommendation. This is not a white tablecloth place. This is a happy, hometown, great food place.