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.