Tuesday, July 27, 2010

JL's Barbecue, Macon, GA.

JL's Barbecue, Macon.
The barbecue itch had hit as it had been at least a couple of weeks since I'd last had any slow cooked pork. I had been wanting to try JL's in Macon for a couple of reasons. First, I am always looking for a barbecue place I haven't tried. Second, JL's is only a couple of miles away from where I grew up. Third, I'd driven by the place dozens of times over the past half a dozen years and had never eaten there.

JL's is located in what appears to be a converted Sonny's (not a plus in my book). It is conveniently located off of I-475 and Highway 80, and its customer base is a pretty representative noontime meal of blue collar workers, older couples who appear to be mostly travelers, and a few business types. The marquee on the outside does catch your eye. Located right next door to a Chick Fillet, their sign boasts something like "Save a Chicken, Eat Some Pork". Frankly, that may be the best thing about JL's. Another thing that JL's has going for it is it has three American flags out front. American flags and bbq joints are a good mix.

I joined a professional colleague on this HOT summer day. I got there a bit early, so I had time to thoroughly study the menu. The menus is another good thing going for JL's. While they don't try to serve everything, their variety of both meats and sides is impressive. With sides like Brunswick Stew, fried okra, slaw, bbq beans, mac and cheese, and fried sweet potatoes, they just about have everything except collard greens or turnips.

I ordered my typical first visit meal of a bbq sandwich and Brunswick stew. While the stew looked good, had a good aroma, and was of good portion size, the taste left something to be desired. It had all the right ingredients of potatoes, corn, green beens, and a generous and visible presence of pulled pork, but it really was not ranked somewhere around a 2 out of 5. The barbecue was better, but nothing to necessarily write home about. My friend and I ordered pulled pork. It had the appearance of having been "pre-sauced". The two sauces we tried were mild and honey. Both were actually pretty good sauces. The bun that came with the bbq sandwich also seemed rather stale.

Oh well. All in all I am glad that I tried JL's. My general recommendation would be that based on my visit here on this particular day, both Fresh Air and Pig In A Pit off of I-75 in the Riverside and Bass Road areas would be much better choices. Of course, if you want to visit Macon's seedier side, you can always try Fincher's...home of the First BBQ in outer space.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Aunt Bea's BBQ, Mt. Airy, NC

Aunt Bea's BBQ, Mt. Airy, NC. Another bucket list experience. I always wanted to visit the hometown of Andy Griffith. I could not pass up Aunt Bea's BBQ. The place is more like a converted Dairy Queen, and they even serve ice cream! The BBQ tray consisted of some really fine bbq, bbq slaw, and the way they seem to do it in NC, with hush ... See Morepuppies. It wasn't that the bbq was really that awesome, but the moist meat topped with the vinegar based Aunt Bea's Hot and Spicy Sauce added joy to the trip. I don't know that Aunt Bea's is the best of Mt. Airy's 3 q joints, but it had to beat Goobers 52 Diner. Nonetheless, Mt. Airy is really a lot like you'd expect to find Mayberry some 50 years later. Tomorrow we'll do the Bluebird Diner.

Dreamland, Norcross, GA

Dreamland BBQ, Norcross, GA. One of my favorite places to occasionally shop (actually to wait on Debbie while she shops!) is The Forum on 141 in Norcross. With a Trader Joes, Ted's Montana Grill on the premises and a Dreamland across the road, even I can find some joy in the trip.This Dreamland is located in what was an old bank. The BBQ pit sits where the drive in window used to be.Like the Roswell Dreamland, this is seriously fine BBQ. On this visit I departed from the usual pulled pork and went for baby back ribs. Oh my, were they forever good. Of course one of the neatest things about Dreamland is the open pits visible from the dining area. Every time I've been to DL I've enjoyed admiring the racks full of Boston butts and ribs being slow cooked over real wood with smoke circulating over the tops of the meat. Debbie ordered up one of their pulled pork salads. We were still eating off of that salad for the next 3 meals.All in all, Dreamland remains one of my favorite Atlanta area q joints. With six joints i Alabama and 2 in the Atlanta area, Dreamland ranks as one of my top 5 any way you slice it, pull it, or chop it up. Of course, one of the best things you can do on the way out the door is to pick up a jar of their sauce. "Ain't none like 'em nowhere!"

Johnny Harris, Savannah, GA

Johnny Harris, Savannah, GA. Savannah has some of the best dining establishments in GA. With Johnny Harris now on the list I've got another one to recommend. JH is a little different place found on Victory Drive in Savannah. When Rick Gunn who grew up in Savannah was donning a "let's cook some butt" apron at the FCSS central office picnic a couple weeks ago it got it's first recommendation. Then Ray Jordan from Ashburn gave it a nod, I knew I had to hit it while in Savannah last week. Deb and I hit it on Friday on our way out of town. The place looks more like a cathedral or Shriners hall than a q joint. Once in you still sort of have a mix between one part that looks like a BBQ joint and the other side looking like a church auditorium.
Two thumbs up on the stew. It really was some of the best stew I've had. The appearance was good. It was thick with the only visible veggies being corn and tomatoes. The flavor was divine.
The BBQ sandwich is served on toasted white bread. Portion size was more than adequate. The bbq was very clean. Johnny Harris ia perhaps best known for it's sauces. I picked up a three pack of regular, mustard, and sweet and spicy.
Though seafood may be tops on my list while in Savannah, I'd suggest JH to anyone wanting bbq while in Savannah.