Do you have a hankering for a half-slab slathered in thick, sticky-sweet barbecue sauce? Atlanta is a melting pot of cultures and just about every style of ‘cue can be found here. Atlanta Eats presents our list of down and dirty neighborhood barbecue joints, from traditional to upgraded favorites, around the metro Atlanta area.
Chopped judge, Chef Aaron Sanchez, knows food. In a sauce-centric episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate, he admits that he can’t get enough of the sauce at Daddy D’z BBQ Joynt. Located about a mile east of 75/85 on Memorial Drive, Daddy D’s has the motto “We ain’t pretty, but we’re good,” and it more than lives up to expectations. From the outside it definitely ain’t pretty, but once your plate arrives, you’ll forget everything else until you run out of napkins.
On Dekalb Avenue, where Little Five Points meets Candler Park, Fox Bros BBQ has become a prominent brand of barbecue with many successes over the past few years. From getting bottles of their delicious BBQ sauce onto the shelves of local Kroger stores, to a feature on last season’s Diners, Drive Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. The founders of Fox Bros call their style of BBQ a mixture of “where we are from and where we are at” — Texas with a southern influence, and began selling their ‘cue as a catering business, and then out of Smith’s Olde Bar, before moving to their own home on Dekalb Avenue.
D.B.A Barbecue is a gem of a barbecue joint. Stuck behind the VaHi USPS Office on North Highland, it’s one of those places that you kind of have to know it’s there to know it’s there. But it’s absolutely worth taking the time to go to experience their spacious dining room (for a BBQ place), great hospitality, insanely delicious smoked wings and moonshine or bourbon cocktails.
One of the best places in Decatur to get barbecue — actually in the whole of Atlanta — is Community Q on Clairmont north of N. Decatur Road. Here you’ll find all the plates you’d expect at a BBQ restaurant: St. Louis style ribs, brisket, half-chicken…the usual meaty suspects. But where Community Q blows away the competition is in the sides- Brunswick stew, baked beans, and arguably the best straight-up mac n cheese in the city.
A local favorite spot in Historic Roswell, Swallow at the Hollow has a well-earned reputation as one of the best BBQ restaurants outside the perimeter. In the summer, the rocking chair porch makes for a great spot to sit and listen to the live band inside most nights of the week. Don’t forget to get their banana chocolate chip pudding for dessert!
While you’ll find several bottles of traditional and Southern BBQ sauces on the tables at most ‘cue joints, Heirloom Market BBQ in Cobb County (a bone’s throw from the 75/285 interchange) includes KB sauce — Korean Barbecue. BBQ vaults are shipped in from Houston, Texas, and they use locally sourced hardwoods for the smoker. Keeping the footprint small, as many of the ingredients as possible are also sourced locally from Georgia farmers.
Following the footsteps of Fox Bros, Bone Lick BBQ started life as a Monday night special at P’Cheen in the Old Fourth Ward. After winning accolades all for his BBQ, Mike LaSage moved his operation to a full-time Q-spot in West Midtown in the summer of 2012, and continues to knock it out of the park. Did I say that Bone Lick has a “barcade” with classic 80s coin-op video games? And that it has skee ball lanes? No? Well I should have. My bad.
Over the years, Fat Matt’s Rib Shack on Piedmont has become something of a local institution. On his show, The Layover, Anthony Bourdain admits that Fat Matt’s doesn’t serve “real” barbecue, but what it does is great utilitarian pork and beef smothered in sticky sauce. And he’s right. He is, after all, Anthony Bourdain, so of course he’s right.
Greater Good BBQ in Buckhead/Sandy Springs is one of those hole-in-the-wall spots that everyone seems to know about. There isn’t a bad item on their entire menu, but we definitely have our favorites. Their specialty potato skins topped with pimento cheese, coleslaw, brisket and BBQ sauce are certainly one of a kind. We can’t drive past GG without ordering a rack of ribs and a cup of mac n’ cheese, so take that into consideration.
Twin Smokers BBQ may be new to the game of BBQ in Atlanta, but they show no signs of inexperience. In fact, there was so much research done before opening the restaurant, they decided to include key flavors of North Carolina, Kansas City and Memphis barbecue. There is something for everyone here, but make sure not to skip the double trouble bourbon milkshake, the brisket or the jalapeno mac n cheese.
A restaurant that has outlasted a decade in downtown Alpharetta, SmokeJack, is no easy feat. They attribute the success to using the freshest ingredients and making every item from scratch, but there is something about SmokeJack we can’t get out of our minds. It may be an off-the-menu item, but we had their brisket sandwich topped with a heap of pimento cheese and homemade pickles at the Alpharetta food trucks and we’ve been craving another ever since.
Like many other slab-and-sauce spots, Hometown BBQ goes with the “converted house” look — and makes it work. The meat here is southern traditional with sauces on the side, and there’s nothing you won’t enjoy about the food — be warned, though: Hometown doesn’t accept cards but there’s an ATM in the restaurant.
Boasting that it has “the best butts in town,” the Tipsy Pig operates out of a gas station in Lilburn. If you can get over that, stop in for some great ‘cue.
The kings of “low and slow”, Pig-N-Chik is known for incredible classic barbecue and a couple non-traditional menu items (i.e. smoked salmon, fried okra, hushpuppies…etc). The craziest concoction they offer? Redneck Nachos! Fries are loaded with Cheddar cheese, chunks of pork and barbecue sauce.
Dave Poe’s BBQ serves award winning pit cooked BBQ in Marietta. It says so right there on the Web site. All the meats and sides you want at a barbecue place, and three sauces to drown your smoked meat in, but this place has something…unexpected. Redneck Lasagna: mac n cheese covered with Brunswick stew – why didn’t anyone think of this before?
Off Peachtree Industrial at Jones Mill Road, JR’s Log House celebrated 30 years in 2013. If you’re hungry for ribs, JR’s has ALL YOU CAN EAT St. Louis ribs, served all day (well, until 30 minutes before closing). And the price for gorging yourself on ribs the whole day? Less than $14.
Hungry for more barbecue inspiration? Check out barbecue spots around Atlanta here. Be sure to catch Atlanta Eats on Peachtree TV every Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 10:30 a.m.!