Saturday, October 3, 2009
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."