Wednesday, December 30, 2009

High Falls BBQ

Publish Post
High Falls BBQ. Talk about a pleasant surprise at truly a "q joint", High Falls BBQ is just that. As I travel up and down I-75 between Cumming and Cochran, I had seen the sign advertising this joint, and I'd had it on my "to do list" for some months. Most of the time I was too hurried to make the one mile detour down High Falls Road to check this joint out, but today (December 30, 2009) time was on my side. I'd been over a week without hitting a barbecue joint, and this one fit well in my time frame. I exited off I-75 and immediately was in what "the rest of Georgia" is like. The one mile trip off the interstate takes you through a nice mature stand of loblolly pines on each side of the road. About a mile down the road you approach High Falls and an area that is in some ways a "step back in time". When you pull up to this dive, you realize that life isn't always about glitz, glamour, and business. You can't help but to smile when you see the old rusty International tractor on the side of the joint along with the picnic tables out front.

Once inside, you walk right up to the counter and place your order. The menus is not expansive, but it is truly adequate and pretty much what you'd want to find at a small bbq joint. I got my first visit regular of a sandwich and Brunswick stew. I pre-tasted the two sauces available (Original and Carolina Red). Both were very good and similar in being deep red with a fairly thick consistency. My order came out rather quickly, and I first tasted the stew which was about as good as you'll find. It is thick, meaty, and not a form of vegetable soup. The barbecue was also right up there with any of the best joints I've covered. The meat was moist, clean, and quite full of pork flavor. The sauce really topped it off.

I struck up a conversation with a local living there at High Falls as he was having his 11:30 am Michelob Ultra, and he raved at how often he ate there and how much he liked it above even Fresh Air which is not too far away. The joint does not qualify as an icon or having a legendary status as it has only been opened for around 5 years or so. Run by Dean Huckabee and his wife, this is really a place that is worth visiting if you need a mental and physical departure from the hustle and bustle of the traditional dining establishments along I-75 or the metro Atlanta area. I can't wait to stop back by there so my bbq buddy and wife Debbie can join me for another pleasant visit to this somewhat quaint, retro joint that serves this little area quite well with good barbecue, friendly service, and a place to stretch and relax on our drives through Georgia. We'll give it a pretty good 4 out of 5 rating but frankly, you really won't find a lot of places doing a better job with their pulled pork bbq in Georgia.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

'Cue Barbecue- Milton/Alpharetta

'Cue in Milton. 'Cue Barbecue is a new joint having just opened in June of this year. 2009 was a tough year for people trying to open up a dining establishment, but if the quality of today's dining experience continues, this joint can be around for along time. We'd passed 'Cue a few times as we occasionally travel up and down Highway 9 between Cumming and Alpharetta and had seen 'Cue a few times. I still can't tell you where Milton begins and ends in relationship to Alpharetta, but I do know every barbecue joint from the mountains to downtown Atlanta! I'd gotten some pretty good recommendations on the place, so this afternoon led me and Debbie down to try this place out....and man, I am glad we did.

First, I've had to get over the bias against joints in "strip malls." 'Cue is located in a small strip mall, but once inside, you don't feel like you are in one. The joint is nicely decorated and even has a couple of televisions for watching sporting or other events. The place was really hopping, but we got in and were waited on by a very accommodating waitress named Jennifer. Jennifer gave us a good overview of the menu and knew the product quite well as she described the two sauces (one sweet and one thin and vinegar based) as well as the various meats and sides. Debbie decided on a pork salad and I got my traditional first visit order of a pork sandwich and brunswick stew. Now one thing that is unique about 'Cue is that EVERYTHING (except the cola's and other bottled beverages) is home made. Even the bread on my sandwich and the bread and butter pickles on the side were home made. Before getting to the barbecue review, I gotta tell you that the bread was to die for.

When our orders arrived in pretty quick time frame, we were pleased right off the bat. Debbie's pork salad was as beautiful of a salad as you would ever want to see. The barbecue on the top was well portioned, clean, pretty, and had just a slight mix of bark on a few pieces of the barbecue...just like we like it. He summation of the salad was that "it was the best bbq salad I've ever had (and she's had to have a number of them with me)." My barbecue sandwich was well portioned with barbecue between two pieces of home made bread (did I mention that it was to die for?). While I tend to like the pulled pork being not quite as chopped as this, the flavoring of the pork rivaled the best around!!! With the sauce being on the side (once again, just like we like), I was able to dress up my bbq to my liking. The brunswick stew was unique. A lot of folks' stew is similar to everyone elses, but there are a few places whose stew stands out as being different (like Scott's in Cochran). This stew was not a heavy tomato base but was more of a broth based that was very good. The meat base contained both pork and chicken (my philosophy too, throw in whatever ya got), and the vegetables in the mix included whole kernel corn and baby butterbeans. Insider information has it that the brunswick stew is made from a pork rib stock, and I will tell you, it is awesome. The stew with a piece of bread on a cold, rainy afternoon will leave you warmed all afternoon long!!! I really loved the stew, but next time I'm going to try out their collard greens which when described by Jennifer had me on the brink of wavering from my initial decision of a cup of stew.

All in all, I'm going to give 'Cue a great 4+ out of 5 rating. While I didn't get the opportunity to meet the owners/operators, I did learn a little about them which adds to the intrigue of 'Cue. 'Cue's half owners are former partners with Swallow at the Hollow just down the road in Roswell. With that in their background, you know these folks know a little about both barbecue and the restaurant business. You can find out more about 'Cue at their website at

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blue Creek BBQ, Cleveland, GA

Blue Creek BBQ, Cleveland, GA. What a wonderful surprise. After about 90 miles on North Georgia's most curvy mountain roads, Blue Creek was a fantastic respite from the cool North Georgia mountain air. I almost didn't stop here, but after passing by and seeing the sign ".99 cent 32 ounce iced tea", I figured it had to be a new addition to our collection. Deb and I gladly dismounted the Harley and went in to a join a combination of locals, tourists, and bikers looking for a good Q lunch. We were not disappointed. After ordering two drinks, a sandwich, stew, and a pork salad, I was only a little over 12 bucks lighter. The bbq sandwich was awesome both in size and taste. Blue Creek has but one sauce, and it is a fairly mid-range sauce that is pretty good in consistency and taste. The Brunswick Stew is really a pretty good stew. It isn't too thick nor is it too thin, but after a cool mountain ride, it sure hits the spot. The folks who work at Blue Creek are really hospitable, and unlike One Star BBQ in Alpharetta, you can fill your tea or coke glass up all you want for $.99...and yes, that makes a difference!!! So if you are headed to Helen or the Cleveland area, Blue Creek will not be a disappointment.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mickey Pigg's, Alto, GA

Mickey Pigg's BBQ, Alto, GA. When we started out this morning, I didn't have a clue which bbq joint I'd hit today, but I had it on my radar. We were headed up toward Mt. Airy, GA to pick up a new trailer to haul the Harley on, and I had Googled my projected route as well as searched my memory banks for possible joints. A q joint in Alto wasn't even on the radar. The only thing I knew about Alto was that there was a State Prison there, and that is one place I'd prefer to avoid!!!

After stopping and getting some apples at Jaemor, we headed on up GA Highway 365 toward Mt. Airy. We saw this joint on the right hand side of the road, and it had great curb appeal. After getting the trailer business taken care of, I asked the fellow who sold me the trailer if he could recommend a good bbq joint in the area. Mickey's was one of two he suggested.

MP's has been in business since around 1994. The Smith family, originally from New York, moved to Florida and then back up to the Helen area later on. That makes them "halfbacks" any way you look at it, but they recognized that being in GA, you gotta be a bbq lover.

When we got back down to Mickey Pigg's we headed up to the joint. They were doing some outside smoking probably for the luring effect, but the aroma was inviting. The ambiance of MP's is really cute. It isn't real big, but it has a good feel. It isn't anything like an old sawdust floor joint, but it does have a homey feel. Deb and I started off with some home fried potato chips, and they were very good. When our order came, and it came fairly quickly, Debbie's pork salad was very generous in portion size as was my bbq sandwich and cup of Brunswick stew.

The bbq was clean and somewhere between pulled and chipped, so it worked fine as far as consistency was concerned. The Brunswick stew was an interesting mix. It was a pork base which was not as tomato based as some stews which actually made it very good. They have two basic sauces: original and hot. The original is very much a good, smokey flavored sauce with good texture, taste, and consistency. The hot was very good as well.

One of the most impressive things about Mickey Pigg's is that they also have a thriving bakery. Their cakes are really beautifully decorated, and rumor has it that their cheesecake is about as good as you will ever have. While I can't put Mickey Pigg's into the "legendary" category yet, they are well on their way. If you are heading up toward Clayton, Dillard, or southern NC, don't be afraid to give MP's a try!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Killer Brunswick Stew

Killer Brunswick Stew!!!
My ventures to Georgia's greatest bbq joints has me often sampling Brunswick stew along with the bbq. Some folks get it right, and some folks simply have something more akin to a vegetable stew claiming to be Brunswick stew. It is said that the origin of Brunswick stew is debated between Brunswick, Virginia and Brunswick, GA. Despite the fact that I am a Georgian by birth and residence, I find more credibility in the Brunswick, VA origin. Sampling the stews from all of these joints along with the regular smoking on my Green Egg has put me in the position of being not only a serious barbecuer but also one that has now learned to fix up a Brunswick stew that can rival the work of any of the 'q joints that I've hit. Just this evening, I've fixed up a bit pot of stew using the following recipe.

I start the Brunswick Stew process with a 12 quart pot which is large enough to handle all of whatever I decide to throw into the mix.
  • Begin the stew with one chopped onion in the pot cooking it down for about 15 minutes.
  • Next, pour in two cans of diced tomatoes. If you grow and can your own tomatoes, that is even better, but two cans from the store work just as well.
  • Add one cup of Heinz catsup.
  • Add one green pepper or you can use red peppers if you wish.
  • Add your Boston Butt, turkey, ground beef, venison, or whatever meat base you wish to use. My grandmothers would have probably thrown in a squirrel or two into the mix, but I think I'll pass on that addition. I typically prefer the Boston Butt for the meat base as it gives it the perfect fat consistency to really bring the best flavor to the stew. Tonight's stew has me using a good portion of turkey breast that I had smoked on the Green Egg. Cook these ingredients for about 30 minutes.
  • The balance of the ingredients is what makes preparing Brunswick stew fun. Frankly, I'll add some staples, but I'll also search both the pantry and refrigerator for any ingredients that I think will add to the mix. You can empty any partial bottles of bbq sauce, wing sauce, a little Dale's, or whatever.
  • One teaspoon vinegar.
  • One teaspoon sugar.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • One can of cut okra.
  • One can of lima (butterbeans) beans.
  • One can of corn.
  • Stir the ingredients for a while and then cook for another 30 minutes.
You may need to add a little salt and black pepper if you prefer, but after a little cooling down, you've got meals for the next few days. This stew is realistically as good as you'll find in any of the bbq joints' I've found. Once again, the fun thing about this is that you can literally add most any ingredient to your liking to this mix.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pig-N-Chik on Windward Pkwy, Alpharetta

Pig-N-Chik. I had been wanting to do a Pig-N-Chik location for months. The 3 joint chain kept popping up on my radar, but for various reasons, I'd hit some more traditional, if you will, joints before finally getting to Pig-N-Chik's location on Windward Parkway. Now Windward Parkway ain't exactly the strip that you expect to find a good bbq joint on, but don't be fooled. The GA 400/Highway 9 corridors are home to some of Georgia's finest bbq joints. The Windward Parkway location is a bit tough to find, but if you happen to be shopping or working in this area, Pig-N-Chik is a good option for barbecue. Of course, there are the other fast food joints like Moe's, Mellow Mushroom, etc., in this area, but if barbecue is one your mind, there's no need to fight traffic getting over to the Alpharetta proper area to fill the urge. When Debbie and I got out of the car, we could immediately smell smoked pork in progress. That is always a good sign (don't matter who you are). Since this was our first trip to a Chik joint, we had to study the menu just a minute to see what the options are. Though we'd come for bbq, the fact is, you could choose other options like wings, ribs, and salmon. Too the cue.....

Our food came out quick even though we were the first patrons of the day :-). The pulled pork was just that.....not chipped to smitherines, not smothered in sauce to hide something the pitmaster was ashamed of, but good old pulled pork. The barbecue was clean as you'll ever find. A little burned ends along with some nice, almost fat free strips of barbecue. You have a choice of three sauces at Pig-N-Chik: Gold Label is mustard based; Red Label is hot, vinegary NC style, and the Blue Label is a mild, sweet sauce. Their Brunswick stew is certainly adequate and has a good mix of pork for the meat base with butterbeans and corn as two of the distinguishable vegetables other than the tomato base. Their french fries are crinkle cut and most likely from a frozen bag, but Debbie made hers disappear without a complaint. Of course, the Chik gets it right as they have a big roll of paper towels right there on the table for you.

We are going to give the Pig-N-Chick a 4 out of 5 ranking for the first visit, but I am planning to hit the original Roswell location before going any further. The bottom line, if you are on the East side of 400 around the Alpharetta area, you've got a few choices. If you don't want to drive over toward Highway 9, give the Chik a chance.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fresh Air Barbecue, Jackson, GA

Fresh Air, Jackson, GA. THE ORIGINAL and STANDARD for Georgia BBQ joints. It had been a number of years since I'd been to the "original" Fresh Air in Jackson, but I cured that deficit today with Debbie and mother-in-law in tow! There is a sign outside of Cochran that says "Flovilla 77". Probably few Georgians know where in the heck Flovilla is, but if you travel up Highway 23 going North, you'll run into GA 42. This is one of the more beautiful stretches of rural highway in Georgia, so it is worth the trip. About halfway between Flovilla and Jackson is Fresh Air. OMG, truly a step back in time. Though it was 4 pm, folks were in abundance at Fresh Air this Saturday afternoon. You walk up to this joint, and you can't help but to smile. It is truly a "step back in time". The dirt floor underneath the front covered section has several well worn picnic tables that offer outside dining if you prefer. When you step in, don't expect any Merlots, Cabernets, or Chardoneys...just bbq and true southern drinks like iced tea and Coca Cola. When you drive up to Fresh Air, you smell what you came for....fresh barbecued pork. When you walk in, you step into a place that looks just like it did in the 1940s when opened by Jackson veterinarian, Dr. Joel Watkins. I'd venture to say that with the outside picnic tables, smaller front dining room, and then the large dining room on the side, Fresh Air may well have served more plates of bbq than any joint in Georgia. Regarding the bbq, what can I say? They claim to have been voted "The Best in Georgia". When you step into the place (which used to have sawdust covered floors but health department folks cut that out), you step right up to the counter and place you an order for one of the most economical meals in the State of GA. Heck, I fed my wife and mother in law and myself for less that $14.00, and we don't even need anything else for supper. I can't say they have the best sauce I have ever had, but it isn't bad. The pulled pork has absolutely perfect consistency and the taste is phenomenal. Their stew puts a smile on your face as it evokes some kind of positive chemical response from your taste buds. While we were there I'll have to be honest and tell you that I thought it was geriatric happy hour, but of course, I did have my 85 year old mother in law with me. I don't care where you live, I want to impress upon you how critical it is that at some point, you detour off of I-75 and visit Fresh Air. If you can't get to the Jackson location, the Macon place has great barbecue, but it just can't match the character of the original "Fresh Air."

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Dogs and Hogs, Dawsonville, GA

Dogs and Hogs, Dawsonville, GA. Bikinis, Bikers, & Barbecue! Dogs and Hogs is a long time Dawsonville favorite. Sitting right on the corner of where everything (if anything) is happening in Dawsonville, is this place that surely qualifies as a "joint". On my couple of trips there, yep, there were bikers and even diner in bikinis. I promise I didn't look (long) though! This is Dawson Counties traditional joint. Stepping into D & H is like stepping back in time 50 years. It really appears that the place looks much like it did when it opened years ago. You step up to the counter, place your order, and in a few minutes they'll be out with a great Q joint meal. Of course, you've also got to try the Dawsonville Pool Room though for some of the most fattening, greasy food you will ever eat complete with a museum of old time NASCAR memorabilia honoring the sport in this county and especially Awesome Bill! While dining in Dogs and Hogs, you are sure to be entertained. Sitting right on a busy corner, for some reason this is a hot spot for antique cars to pass by every weekend. Our weekend trip there was no exception. The barbecue here is well worth the money, mainly cause the prices are very reasonable and the pulled pork is good. The stew is really a nice mix. It's a nice balance between vegetables and meat. So, my suggestion is that if you are headed up to the mountains or the Georgia 400 Outlet Mall, Dogs and Hogs is at least a do it once kind of place. You'll enjoy the barbecue, and you'll enjoy being entertained in one of Georgia's towns that is reminiscent of Mayberry!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Spiced Right, Roswell.

Spiced Right Ribhouse, Roswell. This is SRR's second location with the original site being in Lilburn. There is some good and mediocre about this joint, so here goes. The place has character inside and out. It's a little hard to get in and out off busy Highway 9, but once inside, it has character and charm as a good Q joint should. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights they do live blue's music, so I bet it can be fun. To the food. You get a good whiff of smoked pork when you walk in the door. I had a pulled pork sandwich and stew. They stew is honestly as good as anyone's I've had in Georgia. It is of perfect thickness, meatiness, and taste is superb. The pork was midrange. Great consistency, but I didn't get that oak or hickory taste or smell that I personally prefer, but the sauce was great. The sauce was thick and had a perfect sweetness. Debbie tried something a little different. She got the smoked turkey at the urging of the very nice and polite waitress (though you order at the counter). In all fairness, I am suspecting that SR focuses more on their ribs than their other dishes, but if you are downtown Roswell, want BBQ, and dont want to venture too far up 9 to a couple of other options, its a good visit. Additionally, being site number 2, I have sometimes found that the second and subsequent locations don't always live up to the reputation of their parent location. Meanwhile, this is this week's bbq review...until next time!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Williamson Brothers Barbecue, Marietta. Wow. The friend who suggested Williamson Brothers was spot on. We journeyed across East Cobb following the GPS directed navigation to Williamson Brothers. When Debbie and I pulled into the parking lot (not the door, etc., we were greeted with the fabulous aroma of pork on a "REAL" smoking operation. I mean we had not even let the windows down or gotten out of the truck! Upon opening the doors and moving toward the joint, which it truly is, we were enveloped in an cloud of smoke filled with flavors of oak and pork. We walked in the rather dark but welcoming place and were quickly seated and then waited on by one of the nicest young waitresses ever. She seated us next to three bikers who were well leathered and weathered. I promise one of them looked like Charlie Daniels. We placed our orders from the expansive menu and I wandered off the men's room where I got to walk right by the open, stacked brick smoker where I saw some of the best looking pork shoulders in various stages of their fate. By the time I got back to the table, the food was already there. Now that was fast. The barbecue sandwich was of two meal size, and man it was good! It was pulled style pork lightly sauced with their famous sauce. I started first with the stew which was a great sized, well spiced, and sufficiently meaty stew that would have been enough for lunch, but the barbecue was tops. Deb's fries were just so so, but we both gave the barbecue 5 stars. When done, the Charlie Daniels looking biker (whose picture I took without finding myself thrown through a plate glass window) told the waitresss, "mam, that was the best barbecue sandwich I ever had." He aint far from the truth. I'd bet he's never been to some of of my other joints like Scott's or the Smokin' Pig, but I bet he's got a few under his leathers that I haven't hit either. Thanks Leigh Ann for recommending this place! I even have Christmas ideas for a couple of my best friends! Oh, I forgot to mention one of the great character additions to this joint is a wonderful collection of mounted animals including a full sized wild turkey, fox, and other creatures that put my mind deeply into the woods of South Central Georgia.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Battlefield Bar-B-Q, Chickamauga, GA

Battlefield Bar-B-Q, Chickamauga, GA. "Oh I Wish I Were in the Land of Cotton....". There is a stretch of highway between Fort Oglethorpe, GA and Chickamauga, GA that every American should travel, and that is the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. That stretch of highway will put chill bumps all up and down your spine as you think about the loss of lives in the American Civit War. Just at the end of it in Chickamauga is Battlefield Bar-B-Q. Perhaps the best thing about this joint is the name. Of course, everything up there is named "Battlefield". The barbecue I had was actually surprisingly good. The joint is cute on the outside, but it really is not that impressive on the inside. The barbecue, though, is quite good with a good smokey, flavorful taste. The prices are great, and the menu contains enough even to suit the non-barbecue fanatic such as myself. Nonetheless, this gets me a good little joint posted in Georgia's Northwest corner. Visit the battlefield and feel your southern roots. Visit Battlefield Barbecue and feed your hunger. A great stop in this treasure spot of Northwest Georgia.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Fresh Air Barbecue, Macon. The Rolling Stones sang, "you might not get what you want, but if you try, sometimes, you just might get what you need!" Well on Friday, August 7, 2009 I needed some "Fresh Air." I'd been wanting to do Fresh Air again for some months. Actually, I was hoping to do the Jackson (original) location, but time was pressing us to keep moving and to stop in Macon at their site on Riverside Drive. When you drive up to their joint there in the strip mall behind Longhorn Steakhouse, you are not impressed. It is a "characterless" corner of a strip mall with a little adornment letting you know it is a bbq joint. When you open the door, though, you get a good smell of what you came for. It gets better from there. Their barbecue, once voted best in Georgia, ranks right up there with anyone's. Its pulled pork with perhaps a touch of sauce. You get two choices of sauce on the tables. There is the mild which is pretty much a traditional sauce. Then, there is the hot, which will make your forehead break out in a good sweat. To fix that, though, is the fact that their drinks start with, oh yeah, crushed ice. Debbie likes that and I do too. Their barbecue sandwich is one that won't have you leaving the place hungry. It's not the largest ever had (Dreamland), but it does the job. Their stew is a pretty traditional stew. It is not too thin and not too thick. You kind of have to hunt for the meat in it, but you can taste it whether you can see it or not.

What leaves you impressed with Fresh Air in Macon is that the folks there are friendly. The barbecue leaves a very pleasant taste on your palate for hours to come. Conveniently located, if you are driving 75 south through Macon and want barbecue, you have two choices: Pig in a Pit and Fresh Air. My suggestion? Catch one going one way, and catch the other one going back. You won't be disappointed in either.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rolling Bones, Atlanta

Rolling Bones in Atlanta. Rolling Bones has character, charm, and good bbq. Located just east of downtown on Edgewood, RB's has been in business about 6 years and has just been purchased by a new company. The place is a nicely converted old gas station. Tried a wonderful bbq sandwich and mustard greens. Certain to leave you filled as its enough for two meals. The bbq is clean, tastes great, and is a great downtown place to eat. The menu, though not too broad, also has some good options including salmon, trout, and duck. Try it, you'll like it!

Porkers, Allentown

Porkers in Allentown. Certainly off the beaten path is Porkers Barbecue Shack. Porkers has the makings to be a good joint cause its got some good things going for it, but honestly, the bbq is not our favored style. The good makings are the fact it has an outdoor cooking area, rolls of paper towels on the tables, and decorated very attractively with pig stuff and various collectibles a part of the decor. The fries were quite good, and the fried pickle spears were both good an unique in being length cut. The bbq, while generously served, seemed to be heavily sauce laced making the consistency and quality not as we particularly favor. Best of all was the great company with both kids and Shanna as a part of our Fathers Day Weekend.... Did I mention Debbie paid? :-)

Sowbellies, Hawkinsville, GA

Sow Bellies in Hawkinsville. Sow Bellies hasn't been around real long, but Tony Floyd reached a fine level of bbq proficiency in barbecue competitions. The first (and last) time I had one of their Boston butts, I swore it was the best I had ever eaten. Honestly, order one up for the holidays, and you won't be disappointed. Today it was too hot to fish, too hot for golf, and too hot to cut grass by lunchtime, but it wasn't too hot for me and Larry B to ease down to have lunch at SB's. Hadn't been there in over a couple of years, and not much has changed. BS's bbq is good and smokey flavored, but if I were being picky, I'd say it was too finely chopped for one who really prefers pulled pork. The sauces were good, and the brunswick stew was adequate. LB got a a chili dog to go along with his bbq sandwich (he takes Lipitor I am pretty sure). Now this was one serious chili dog. While the food was pretty decent, sometimes the best part is catching up with friends....and that was today's bbq tip for the day.

Fox Brothers Barbecue, Atlanta

Fox Brothers Barbecue, Atlanta. FOX Rocks...that's the quick version. Dropped DE off at the ATL airport this am and then plugged 1238 Dekalb Avenue in the GPS to explore a "new" bbq place. Fox has only been open for a couple of years, but this is one cool place with good food. The Fox Brothers got their start by doing the barbecue for Smith's Olde Bar in Atlanta (according to Mary Beth my waitress). The staff is a little bit metro trendy, but that's not all bad. My experience with the food went like this: the brunswick stew as good, but not the very "best" I've had. The fried okra was absolutely the best I've had. Cut lengthways you didn't have to chase the little circle cuts. Now the bbq? Well, I arrived early and got to sit outside a few and smell the smoke coming off the smokers. The pork was pulled (like I like it), and the sauce was on the side and slightly sweet (like I like it). Located in the Little Five Points area, it is a bit tough to find without my electronic friend, but I look forward to a return visit to try out the brisket...yep, one more place that gives you choices between pork, chicken, beef, etc.

Smokin Gold, Dahlonega

Smokin Gold owned by Dan and Laurie Dieterle. I almost didn't go in and eat at Smokin Gold in Dahlonega, but I'm glad I did. Before heading out on a cycle ride in the mountains, I had Googled bbq joints around Dahlonega and picked Smokin Gold out cause I liked the name. When I pulled up to SG, I sort of was disappointed. It is located off one side of a convenience store in a mini strip mall, and that basically means the appearance has no "character". It may lack character in appearance, but seriously, this is the real deal. The barbecue is simply dang good. The sause is pretty near the perfect sweetness if you like it slightly sweet. The Brunswick stew can hold its own with about anyones. The stew has a great combination of meat, vegetables, and sauce to make it a winner. After meeting Dan, who is really a delight, and telling him what I was up to and that he'd be on my facebook page by nightfall, he invited me back in to taste his brisket. Yep, he's got that down right as well. The thing, though, that impressed me most is that Dan cooks everything, including the stew and baked beans, (except the butts that are cooked in an indoor smoker), on Green Eggs. Dan and Laurie, then, are accomplished eggheads that have a great place to stop in if you are in Dahlonega. If there is a negative, and you'll just have to get over it, is they don't do french fries. Deb had the cole slaw (which is a lot healthier), and she gave it fine ratings too. BTW, Dan does brisket "burnt ends" on Fridays and reports that he has folks lined up out the door.

Amos BBQ & Biscuits, Ball Ground

Amos BBQ and Biscuits on 369 near Ball Ground. This Amos aint famous, but the visit won't be our last. Debbie and I eased up there on the Low Rider this pm to check it out. Here's the run down. The bowl of Brunswick stew that the waitress brought me first was as good as you'll find anywhere. I probably should have stopped with that, but of course, I had to do the bbq sandwich just to be able to critique the pork. The pulled pork was quite good, but I will say the sauce was a little on the sweet side. I'd rather have had the sauce on the side. Now the second sauce called "liquid fire" was exactly that. If you stop in, you'll have to at least dip your finger in the sauce and give it a taste. It will keep you remembering that you stopped there for at least the next couple of hours. Debbie said that the hand cut french fries ranked high on her list, and she's a pretty strong critic of french fries at out bbq places. Anyway, Amos' isn't really what you consider a dine in type of bbq joint, but if you are by that way and have the bbq craving, you'll enjoy visiting with these friendly folks.

Smoke Jack, Alpharetta, GA

I never cease to be amazed that all throughout the metro Atlanta area, you can find some outstanding BBQ joints. Smoke Jack in Alpharetta is one of those. Great bbq right on Main Street. The place smells like a bbq joint from the street and when you walk in the door. The pulled pork has great flavor and consistency. The NC style sauce is good even if you are not a mustard base fan. I had collard greens as a side, and they are seasoned up good and have a little kick to them. I tried their "burnt ends" which are cubes of well done gotta try them. The meal is advanced by a basket of corn kernel corn muffins which are fantastic. One warning, if you order baby back ribs, go ahead and get a take out box. The serving size is enough for 3 people. Thanks NGMR's for the experience.

Smoke Jack is also opening up a location on Post Road in western Forsyth County in 2009, and we can't wait!

Oinkers, Clayton, GA

Oinkers in Clayton, GA was highly anticipated. Best thing about it was the friendly service by a great waitress. Honestly, the bbq was best described as OK (or at least that was my impression). The brunswick stew was very good and rates highly. Google the Youtube on the statement that the owner, who is a former farrier, says "hams don't kick".

Hawg Wild BBQ & Catfish House, Clarkesville, GA

Hawg Wild BBQ & Catfish in Clarkesville, GA's "got it right." The pulled pork is as good as you'll find in GA. The menu of sides are totally fantastic. They get you going with some of the most awesome hushpuppies you've ever had. Only being open since the first of the year, this is certainly a "must do" if you are in the Clarkesville area.

Smokin Pig, Valdosta

Oh my goodness. Folks, this gets my best rating for any bbq joint visited south of Macon at worst. The Smokin Pig is HOT, HOT, HOT!!! Located off I-75 outside of Valdosta, its pork is great. Their sides of stew, fries, okra (and others I didn't try) will leave you stuffed all the way back to Atlanta (if headed north). Anyway, got to do the SP after Laura's graduation from VSU. Truth is, anything would have been great on that day, but Smokin Pig Rocks, and I highly recommend it as your last great bbq joint headed south. BTW, pick up a good sized bottle of their bbq sauce for just $3.99. It's worth at least twice that. For Father's Day, daughter Laura brought me home a whole case of the sauce. Truly my favorite daughter!

Three Li'l Pigs, Pine Mountain

Three Li'l Pigs in Pine Mountain. Did this one as a late lunch, and it was not a disappointment. The portion size was generous, the bbq and sauce ranked up with anyone's, and the price didn't leave you feeling you'd been hijacked. There is at least one other bbq joint in Pine Mountain. I'll get it next time.

AB's in Hawkinsville

AB's in Hawkinsville. A great return after nearly 2 years. 2 "Big Smoky's", sides, and drinks for $10.81, now that is one thing I miss about middle GA! Would have taken pic of the outside but it was pouring rain. Great bbq in the Harness Racing City.

Dreamland, Roswell/Alpharetta

D and I did Dreamland in Roswell today. OK, I really don't know where Roswell ends and Alpharetta starts, but one thing for sure, this is one more awesome bbq joint. The Big Daddy Sandwich is enough for 3 meals. As an added bonus, their indoor pit is totally observable from the dining area of the joint. You can see the pork being cooked right there while you eat. The pit has wood firing from the bottom and smoke pumped down from the top. Pick up a bottle of sauce when you leave for just $5 and get a plastic "to go" cup when you leave, and you can remember Dreamland for weeks and "dream of good bbq" without adding calories. It truly is one of Georgia's best bbq joints in the city.

OB's, McDonough, GA

OB's in McDonough has been a long time favorite. I can't believe it took me this long to get it on there, but it had been a couple of years since going. The bbq is very good, and you get to put on the sauce you want. The brunswick stew ranks up there with anyone's. One of the real treats is they have some wonderful fried dill pickles and fried green tomatoes. This day (March 1, 2009) was a great day for a stop. It was 34 degrees and snowing heavily.

Davis Brothers, Jasper, GA

The Bargain Barn isn't the only "must do" in Jasper, GA. Davis Brothers Bbq is a bit of a challenge to find (unless you stop and ask a local), but it is worth the stop. Really doesn't look like a bbq joint on the outside, but the inside is so neatly decorated. The bbq is good, but I suggest getting the sauce on the side. It is strong Worchestire. French fries rank right up there as good as any you will find. Debbie and I did this for Valentine's lunch...what a wife.

Rib Country, Cleveland, GA

Rib Country with Paul Shaw and Will Schofield. Neat place just south of Cleveland, GA. Good typical bbq joint with the aura of old time bbq. Have to admit that I only did the salad with pulled pork on it, but if in the area it is a good choice.

Sticky Fingers, Macon, GA

Sticky Fingers. 3 Different bbq joints in one week!!! May be a record. Sticky fingers is on OK franchise with a really good overall menu. I had to do salad and wings on this visit, but did have a taste of rib which was A+ as we celebrated Laura's 22'nd birthday. This location is in Macon. Still tough for a chain to have the character of an old, established joint.

Daddy DZ's, Atlanta

Daddy DZ's. Their motto "we aint pretty...but we are good." Perfectly fits this description of the little joint just east of downtown Atlanta. Awesome bbq and very good, meaty brunswick stew. You could use a body guard or two, but the risk is worth the reward.

Pig In A Pit, Macon

Pig in a Pit. Great bbq and the best french fries of all these bbq joints. Strip mall storefron bbq places lack character, but Pig In A Pit rivals any bbq resturant around. Located in Macon across from Bass Pro more reason to exit I-75 at Bass Road. Jed and Brando got a meal on me...and it was worth it!

Jim 'n Nicks, Cumming, GA

Had said before you couldn't franchise a good bbq joint. Jim "N Nicks has proved me wrong. Located at the Avenues south of Cumming, you won't leave hungry or disappointed as Debbie and Laura prove in the pic. While Jim 'N Nicks may be a bit on the pricey side as far as bbq joints are concerned, this place has class. Owner/Manager Brian is such an awesome guy. They start you off with cheese biscuits to die for. The portion size is good for a couple of folks. I've never been there when there wasn't a good crowd. Show up early and hungry for a best experience.

Swallow at the Hollow, Roswell, GA.

Swallow at the Hollow in Roswell. My SGA buds will not believe that Atlanta has some great BBQ, but it does. Swallow has some really awesome bbq. The stew is OK, but what makes Swallow so cool is they bring in Nashville songwriters to perform top hits that they've written. Surely worth the stop if you are in the area. Skip the high dollar highbrow dining and stop off at Swallow at the Hollow. A canoe filled with whatever you want to drink (we had diet coke for the record), but you'll enjoy the stop.

Wolf Creek Canyon, Ellijay

Very good bbq and brunswick stew. Great stop in if downtown Elljay. Not much inside but the bbq is as good as you'll find anywhere.

Pink Pig, Cherry Log, GA

Holloway's Pink Pig in Cherry Log is worth the stop. Of course, Poole's is just down the highway in Ellijay, but Pink Pig has options Poole's just doesn't have. The fried green tomatoes, sweet potatoe fries, and other sides round out a great choice of bbq meats. The good collection of folk pottery makes the visit even more enjoyable.Holloway's Pink Pig in Cherry Log is worth the stop. Of course, Poole's is just down the highway in Ellijay, but Pink Pig has options Poole's just doesn't have. The fried green tomatoes, sweet potatoe fries, and other sides round out a great choice of bbq meats. The good collection of folk pottery makes the visit even more enjoyable. The story is that where Poole's down the road is a bastion of conservative republican politics, the Pink Pig is the joint where those of the more democratic persuasion hang out. To me, I can eat bbq with either Republicans or Conservative Southern Democrats...if there are any more of them.

Slopes, Cumming, GA

Here is Slopes in Cumming. To me, the best thing about Slopes isn't the bbq. It is ok. It isn't the stew or fried okra, which are good enough. Best thing is location. It is just down the mountain from where we live. Convenient, but honestly, only ranks somewhere midways on the lists of bests. Frankly, though, I have to credit Slopes as being one of the things that helped us to transition into living in Cumming after 13 years living in Cochran. Scotts BBQ in Cochran had been a favorite, so finding a BBQ place to occasionally visit seemed sort of natural. During our first year in Cumming, we ate at Slopes quite frequently. Since I'm scoping out a number of other joints in Georgia, I don't get back to Slopes very often. It is very convenient, though, when I have visitors come in town and want to do lunch. There is also a Slopes down toward the north end of Alpharetta for those who don't venture up toward the base of Sawnee Mountain in Cumming.

One Star Ranch, Alpharetta

One Star in Alpharetta is worth a stop. It features Texas Style BBQ with beef brisket being a menu option. You don't get that everywhere. I'll try that when I am not on "cutback". Meanwhile, the BBQ sandwich had there is honestly one of the best I"ve ever had. There is also a One Star in Buckhead, but I've never hit that joint. If it is as good as the Alpharetta location, my Atlanta friends should certainly put it on their list of places to dine.

Old South BBQ, Valdosta

Old South Barbue on Highway 84 in Valdosta. Truly some great barbecue with traditional southern hospitality. Really good stew and they have awesome fried okra as one of their sides. Took Laura there when we were getting her settled in for Fall 08 semester.

Scott's BBQ, Cochran, GA

Scott's BBQ in Cochran. I've eaten here more than any bbq joint. It is a family favorite. The bbq is great if you like vinegar based pork. If we spend more than 1 day in Cochran on our trips back "home", Scotts will get a visit. My favorite is when Doug has pulled pork available on Mondays and Thursdays. Best cheeseburgers anywhere. Debbie particularly loves Scotts because of their crushed ice. Let me also tell you about the tea. OMG!!! The sweetest tea in Georgia. The recipe for the Brunswick stew is a bit different than any I've found anywhere which makes it quite distinct. In the stew, you'll find an occasional spaghetti noodle in this quite creamy stew. Doug does up some mighty find ribs as well on this open pit joint. Folks in Cochran are loyal to no end to Scotts BBQ. Truly a central Georgia favorite among anyone who ever eats there once.

Two Brothers

Two Brothers in Ball Ground is off the beaten path so it is easy to miss. Relics of the past including those of hunting, trout fishing, and rural artifacts make you feel like you've stepped back in time. The barbecue is good north Georgia bbq, and the folks there are friendly as can be. It takes a little effort to find Two Brothers as it is off the beaten path, but that's what makes it that much more special.

Poole's BBQ, East Ellijay

Poole's in East Ellijay has the most awesome barbecue and is a museum of conservative Georgia politics. When you drive up to Poole's, you get a sense of the personality of Colonel Poole. There is the famous Pig Hill of Fame containing literally hundreds of wood cutouts of pigs. When you walk in the door, you place your order. Don't linger long or you'll hold up a line of folks who, like you, have made their way to Poole's. When you enter the place you'll begin to see pictures of all the many politicians who were salivating to have some bbq and to have their mug posted on the wall somewhere as they attempted to feed their egos while feeding their selves with some of Georgia's great bbq. More likely, though, you are sure to see a number of bikers navigating the mountains of Georgia mixed in with locals as well as tourists who've pulled off 515 to experience nostalgia at its best in North GA. No bbq lover should miss the experience. Lord willing, we'll be back at Poole's some day while antiquing North GA.

Harold's BBQ, Atlanta

Harolds in Atlanta. An experience you should try. BBQ is really good but best brunswick stew of the bunch. That's Candy Norton pointing to the sign. Could not have found it without her! This joint is the only bbq place in Atlanta with an open bbq pit as they were grandfathered into local codes some years back. You can't ever tell who you might see in Harold's as politicians, state officials, and high powered corporate types may wonder through the otherwise transitioned section of town southeast of Turner field to dine in a truly great place. Doesn't matter what you get at Harold's, you'll get plenty of it and you won't leave the place hungry.

Blue Ridge Mountain Barbecue, Blue Ridge, GA: We snaked up through north GA on the cycle up Old Federal Highway, throught Tate, Jasper, and Ellijay to wind up at BRMB. This was a buzzing little joint with a small dining room but rockers and tables on the front porch. It was a pretty easy selection as they had the daily special for $4.99 that included a sandwich, home fried chips, and a drink, but we both upgraded our sides to Brunswick stew and home cut fries. While you wait for just a short time, you can munch on a smoked chicken spread and crackers that is good enough for a meal if you wanted. The sandwich was one of those jumbo things with bbq spilling out all sides of an already oversized bun. The stew was a bit on the small side, and it was a good traditional stew that hit the spot. Debbie right off the bat gave 'em high marks for some of the best fries around, and they also gave you a pickle spear in the basket which is always a nice addition to a bbq lunch. The barbecue, once again generous in proportion was chipped, but not too finely which is about like we like it. We had to try out 3 of the sauces: mustard based, sweet, and hot. Having the sauce "on the side" gives us a good chance to taste the quality of the bbq before it gets smothered in sauce, and it was good even without the sauce. All of the sauces were winners. No telling how many folks came in while we were there. There were at least 5 other biker types, families, girly groups, and old guys (like Clyde) who came in and out while we were there. All in all, a good joint to visit sitting on East First Street right across from "Sue's Best Burger in Town." We highly encourage the stop, but frankly, you can eat BBQ all up Highway 515 from Jasper to Hiawassee. Haven't found a bad one on that stretch of road yet!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Shug's Barbecue, Eastman, GA

Shug's BBQ in Eastman. We lived in Eastman for about 7 years, and I always wondered why there was no good bbq joint there. Tommy Green has fixed that problem. Tommy, like every bbq joint owner I know, is such a super guy, and he does up good bbq too barbecuing right there on Oak Street across from the Bank of Eastman. For a mere $4 you can get a sandwich, chips, and drink. Tommy will also cater for your event, and his bbq is quite good. Most of all, I am glad that Eastman finally has a good BBQplace. Not much to the overhead, but heck, for a $4 meal, this may be the value of this whole bbq review inventory. Best thing is, stop by and see Tommy, and you'll have a fine new frined!

Twin Oaks in Brunswick, GA. You know this one is going to be special when you drive up to it. Don't think seafood is the only option on the coast, this long time establishment, nicely settled beneath the majestic, moss laden Live Oak trees on Norwich Street will fix your bbq craving. We arrived at 11 am, and early arrivers were already going in the door. Deb and I walked in and were greeted with the pleasant smell of smoked pork! This joint has been in business at this location since 1943. It's had several owners, and one thing that made this one so special is that for a time it was managed by our great friend Diane Giddens' father (John Studstill). Debbie was excited further after sitting down and could hear the distinct sound of "crushed" ice being scooped...and yes, it was "crushed". The drinks came out in "big old" glasses that nearly took two hands to hold. The pork sandwich was a good looking fixin, but the fries get the top billing just like John promised. These "batter dipped" fries are not matched in many places. I also had a side of bbq beans that had a nice mixture of pork in them. Oh my were they good. Honestly, the bbq was good, but I don't know that it get's but somewhere between a 3 and 4 on the q scale. It was clean and of good consistency, and it the sauce wasn't used to "hide" whatever the pork tasted like. No kidding, though, it was an ample sized meal brought to us by a waitress who had worked at this place for 34 years. Now that is loyalty. The character and historic content of the inside of the place was phenomenal. No doubt, there's been many a ton of smoked barbecue served in this great little joint deep in southeast Georgia.

Big D's Barbecue, Dawsonville, GA

Big D's in Dawsonville. Though long time folks from Dawsonville will probably favor little joints like Dogs and Hogs and the Dawsonville Pool Room, Big D's just across 400 from the outlet mall give you a good quick bbq meal break away from shopping. Big D's is actually pretty good, and though I didn't try them, they have some of the best looking ribs you'll find anywhere! It's only marginally applealing in character as it is hooked to the side of Sanky's, but when you walk into the small place, you are greeted with the great smell of smoked bbq pork and chicken. You walk right up to the counter and place your order. Their "stimulus package" is a good buy, but I had the sandwich and stew. The sandwich was pretty good but not particularly distinctive in portion size, but you won't leave hungry! The stew, though on the small side (which is not bad for me these days), it is packed with flavor. The fries were good even if they did resemble something that came out of a frozen plastic bag. They do get good marks for having a variety of good sauces including Memphis Sweet, NC vinegar based, SC mustard based, and some hot stuff that friends like BM would savor. All in all, not a bad close stop if you are around the outlet mall area of 400 in Dawson County. BTW, they do have one of the better slogans on the wall and on their t-shirts: "Put Some South in Yo Mouth." We did and can recommend it as a place to try! If in Cumming though, you still can't beat my friends at Jim 'n Nicks!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fat Matt's Rib Shack, Atlanta

Fat Matt's is a "world famous" little bbq joint that rib lovers will love in particular. Debbie and I checked it out on July 5, 2009 on our way back to Cumming after a long weekend in middle Georgia. Fat Matt's is a small little joint with tons of character. Located on Piedmont Road right at the entrance to the historic Morningside area, you can either eat in the small dining room or out front getting a little bit of the magic of the neighborhood. Honestly, the ribs and chicken that I ordered were very good. Oh, the ribs were so tender. Dipping them in their sauce left me using up at least a half dozen napkins. I tried a bit of Debbie's bbq sandwich, and while good, I won't rank their pork sandwich among the best, but still quite good despite the fact that the good quality pork comes heavily adorned with their sauce. The sauce is good, and it is nicely enough priced you'll want to pick up a bottle or two for home use. Of additional appreciation is that their prices don't leave you departing feeling like you've been robbed by one of the Georgia Tech bandits that lurk just a few miles away.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Great BBQ Joints in Georgia

Coming soon!!! I will be transferring all of my bbq joint reviews to this site for greater access.