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tory burch canvas tote From the starting field of 32, the 2014 Alabama Barbecue Bracket is down to the Final Four. Online voting ends at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 7. (Alabama Tourism Department graphic)

The 2014 Alabama Barbecue Bracket sponsored by the state tourism department is down to the Final Four, as online voters have selected their favorites for Alabama s best barbecue pork, chicken, ribs and sauce.

Final Four voting begins at 10 a.m. today and ends Monday, April 7, at 10 a.m., after which time one of the four will be named Alabama s Ultimate Barbecue Champion.

In somewhat of an upset, newcomer Smokin on the Boulevard in Florence defeated Alabama's iconic Dreamland Bar-B-Que, which began in Tuscaloosa and now has locations around the state, to win in the ribs category, while Bob Sykes BarB-Q in Bessemer also eliminated Dreamland to win best sauce.

Birmingham-based Jim N Nick s Bar-B-Q, which has multiple locations throughout the state, topped fellow Birmingham competitor Full Moon Bar-B-Q to win in both the pork and chicken categories.

Voters may go to the Alabama Food Facebook page at to vote for the overall state champion, but all four will be recognized as winners in their respective categories.

Smokin on the Boulevard, which operates out of a little roadside joint on Florence Boulevard, has been open just two years, but is already making a name for itself in barbecue circles for its ribs, which are covered in a dry rub and hickory-smoked for eight to 10 hours.

We started as a small roadside stand and people kept asking for more and we kept getting bigger and bigger, Jeff Carter, pit master and co-owner of Smokin on the Boulevard, said in a press release from the Alabama Tourism Department. As a more old-fashioned barbecue joint, we re just honored to be named best ribs in the state and thank our customers for their loyalty and our continued success.

Smokin on the Boulevard is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays only. To find out more, go to .

Bob Sykes BarB-Q, on the other hand, , when Bob Sykes and his wife, Maxine, began serving their slow-cooked pit barbecue at a little mom-and-pop joint called Bob s Hickory Bar-B-Q before they moved to the current location in Bessemer in 1977. Bob and Maxine s son, Van Sykes, now runs the family business.

We at Bob Sykes are honored to have been voted as the best barbecue sauce in the Alabama Barbecue Bracket, Van Sykes said. We were up against some tough competition and we want to thank all our fans for the votes.

For more about Bob Sykes BarB-Q, .

Founded by the father-and-son team of Jim and Nick Pihakis, Jim N Nick s Bar-B-Q and has since grown to include locations in seven states, including 14 restaurants here in Alabama.

Jim N Nick s is honored to have made it to the Final Four in the Alabama Barbecue Bracket, Nick Pihakis said in the tourism department release. We are thrilled that people in our state are so passionate about barbecue.

, defeating Montgomery s Sam s Bar-B-Q in the championship round.

For locations and more about Jim N Nick s Bar-B-Q, .

About 18,000 votes have been cast so far in the 2014 barbecue contest, according to the tourism department, which conducted a social media poll last fall to select .

We congratulate Smokin on the Boulevard, Jim N Nick s and Bob Sykes on winning the ribs, chicken, pork and sauce categories in the Alabama Barbecue Bracket, Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell said. Voters have determined which local restaurants define our state s best barbecue dishes and we look forward to seeing them go head-to-head in the Final Four. The passion behind this bracket is a testament to the allegiance and overwhelming pride that fans have for their favorite Alabama barbecue.

Find out more about the 2014 Alabama Barbecue Bracket at .


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