Situated on Westhaven Drive, just across the street from the Westport Marina, Aloha Alabama BBQ is hard to miss. The bright blue sign and orange trim make the building feel inviting and the employees inside only emphasize this feeling. “We get a lot of customer feedback on our friendly staff,” says Patricia Bonina, who serves both as executive chef and general manager. “We want everyone to be treated like they’re family.”

Chef Bonina has been a part of Aloha Alabama since the establishment opened on the weekend of the 2015 Rusty Scuppers Pirate Daze Festival. Originally from Oklahoma, she’s been cooking barbecue for most of her life. “My dad and I did competitions back home. We would do lots of rib cookouts and make brisket and chili,” Bonina reminisces.

Photo : Katie McGregor

 Enter Aloha Alabama owners Brook and Jarl Priest, who respectively hail from Hawaii and Alabama. The three ended up being the perfect combination of knowledge and experience to bring genuine barbecue to Grays Harbor. Brook and Jarl had already been conceptualizing the idea of Aloha Alabama for several years when they met Bonina through work. Once the right building became available, they immediately began turning their ideas into reality. “The hospitality in the South and Hawaii is very similar, so she (Brook) wanted to keep that going by founding the Aloha,” says Bonina. The hospitality is just as central to the Aloha Alabama experience as the barbecue is.

Aloha’s menu currently boasts a large selection of mouthwatering barbecue dishes ranging from the Kalua Pork Poke Bowl to the Garlic Chicken Platter. Shortly after opening, the menu expanded beyond barbecue and now includes seafood options like Aloha’s bestselling Crispy Fish Tacos.

“I actually didn’t know much about seafood when I came to Washington. Razor clams were new to me,” chef Bonina says with a laugh. She recommends that new customers try the juicy Pulled Pork Sandwich first because it showcases the special smoking process Aloha uses. “We specialize in making traditional southern BBQ, cooked low and slow over a mix of applewood and kiawe wood smoke,” Brook Priest writes on Aloha’s website. The Hawaiian mesquite wood used in the dishes isn’t as harsh as traditional smoked wood. Bonina says that the rub isn’t the only secret to good barbecue. “The wood is a huge part of it and just letting it smoke really slow and giving it time. Sometimes it’s 12 hours, sometimes it’s 14.”

Though meat is at the forefront of the menu, Aloha Alabama also offers a vegan burger, gluten-free options, and a series of fun cocktails to try. Right next to the counter inside the restaurant are several large fridges with Aloha Market products. During Covid-19 shutdowns, Aloha started offering picnic packages grab-and-go style. These meals work well for families camping in Westport and fishermen who spend weeks out on their boats. The food is fully cooked and can be eaten cold or heated up. They always have smoked pork and garlic chicken in these fridges along with a variety of side dishes such as coleslaw, Asian slaw, and mac and cheese.

A fun feature for those who dine-in is the “hot sauce wall” nestled in near the back left corner of the dining room. The shelves here display about two dozen unique hot sauce bottles ranging in heat level. Customers are welcome to help themselves to one that appeals to their tastes.

Many customers are surprised to find a barbecue restaurant in a small beach town. Aloha’s owners prioritize sourcing their meat locally and it is all smoked in the large smoker built into the back of the kitchen. The result is mouthwatering and the extensive options on the menu make it impossible to visit Aloha Alabama just once.

Inside, the cozy surfboard-adorned eating area is a great place to enjoy a meal and the picnic tables under Aloha’s large outdoor tent are perfect for a warm summer day. Catering is also an option for Grays Harbor residents. “We specialize in rustic beach weddings,” Bonina says. “A lot of people pick barbecue for weddings. It’s comforting and everyone likes it.”

Aloha Alabama is currently open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. It gets busy, especially in the summer. Between local fishermen and traveling tourists the restaurant serves a steady stream of hungry customers.  “Even when we’re not open and working, we do a lot of volunteering. It’s not just about being a profitable restaurant. Nonprofit and charity (work) is important to us,” Bonina says. Aloha Alabama is currently working with South Beach Christian Outreach to serve food to those in need. Right now they serve food one Tuesday per month to about 250 people. The restaurant also sponsors several local sports teams. “It’s definitely the best part of what we do. Giving back to the community is our number one goal and making this a great place for our families and employee’s families,” Bonina says.

During the summer, a lot of younger people, including Bonina’s and the Priests’ own kids, join the Aloha team. The adults make sure to help them out when they need it. “We’ll mentor them if they’re getting their driver’s license or need help with academics. We make sure they can achieve their goals outside of work,” Bonina explains. Between stellar service, comforting barbecue, and locally sourced seafood Aloha Alabama has something for everyone. “Our goal is to always give excellent customer service with a touch of Aloha,” Bonina says.

More information about Aloha Alabama BBQ can be found online at: and on Facebook and Instagram.