Tuesday, April 25, 2017

DAS Barbecue
"Atlanta's Hottest New Joint"!

In September 2016, I began working on the north side of downtown Atlanta.  Somewhere along the way, I had probably said "I'd never work in downtown Atlanta".  After a 7 year stint working in the Atlanta suburbs and getting to know "the lay of the land", working inside of "the perimeter, while never being desirable" became "acceptable" considering the opportunity to serve as the Executive Director of the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia.  I had figured that aside from leading one of the country's largest pension fund systems, there had to be some additional advantages that I had not discovered yet.  Today was one of those days where I found another reason to make working in Atlanta work despite a daily commute of 78 miles one way...DAS BBQ.

DAS is one of Atltanta's hottest new resturants.  Located on Collier Road which is just off Howell Mill Road, DAS has only been open a few months as of this post.  I'd first heard of DAS from a tweet or some other social media post by author Charles Martin who is a long time friend of owner Stephen Franklin.  I'd received another report or two that DAS was really good from colleagues who'd visited the place.  After reconnecting with long time friend and former Forsyth County Schools Human Resources Director, Candy Norton, and knowing of my incessant desire to experience good barbecue, Candy and I agreed to try it for lunch one day.  Of course, Candy had beaten me to the punch and had already visited DAS with friends.  She knew what she was getting me into!    

Dr. Norton picked me up at 2 Northside 75 in her high tech Tesla SUV, and Tessie, with her 5 gallon bucket sized display screen led us to the Collier Road address of DAS.  We arrived early, so we had no problem finding a good parking place.  I emphasize "arrived early".  If you wait until 12 to get there, you'll struggle to find parking plus you'll stand in line a bit.  We got out and since Candy had already visited joint on another occasion, she knew where to look around the side of the building in order to introduce me to "Poncho and Lefty."  Pictured below are the two, genuine 500 gallon wood fired smokers who have been named such.  Yes, genuine, no propane, etc. wood fired smokers that burn off of a mixture of 50% hickory and 50% pecan wood.  The elder Franklin would later explain why that mix is the one that works for DAS.

Candy introduced me to one of the most enthusiastic, extroverted BBQ pitmasters I've ever met.  Stephen Franklin grew up in the Atlanta area of Vinings.  His dad, among other things, was a professor at Emory and long time barbecue lover and judge.  When we met Steve, he was attending to the duties around the pit while getting ready for the lunch rush.  I told Stephen that I'd first heard about DAS through a tweet from Charles Martin.  He really liked that, and then told me "you've got to come inside and meet "Pops".  Pops, in addition to being Stephen's Dad (Steve) was somewhat of a mentor to Charles Martin who has written a number of books that include settings in the southeastern US.  The entire Evans clan has read ALL of the Martin books!  Stephen nor Pop's have ever met a stranger or so it seems, so we jumped into a conversation that lasted for at least an hour.  We talked barbecue, south Georgia, Texas and its barbecue, the success of the new venture as well as how this business came to be.  

We arrived early enough to get a seat with Pops, place our order, and then begin to watch the line begin to form.  By the time we had gotten our meal, the line was backed up to the entry of the door....a good sign for a barbecue joint.  DAS is one of those places where you walk up to the counter, place your order, have a seat, and then they'll call out your name and you come up and get your order.  While that service format may cut down on the presence of waitors and waitresses, there is something most gratifying about picking up your food from the counter and savoring it all the way back to the table.  This is what ours looked like.

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WOW!!!  We ordered the 3 meat plate that included ribs, sliced brisket, and pulled pork. The sides I ordered were Brunswick stew and collards.  I had already sampled the two types of sauces offered by DAS:  A sort of mild tomato based sauce that was infused with expresso (coffee) and their mustard based sauce that is about as much peach sauce as it is mustard. Both were wonderful on all 3 of the meats.

I really didn't know where to start on the meats.  All 3 had great appearance from the visible smoke rings, attractive coloring, and light bark.  I chose to start with the pulled pork.  Simply put, the best I've had in months.  They have their own secrets and strategies, but suffice it to say that the bbq is fresh, moist, and well taken care of from purchase, through the smoking, and to the table.  The brisket was tender, juicy, and full of that great, beefy flavor.  The ribs were totally to die for!!!  They were tender enough to be "fall off the bone", but they didn't! The taste on all 3 of these distinctive meat options were exceptional.  On the scale of 1 to 5, we are pushing the 5 limits on these.  

Normally I write about the Brunswick stew first simply to get it out of the way.  I suppose I was so excited about the meats I held back on the stew, but DAS's stew and other sides compliment their menu nicely.  The stew was meaty.  There was no effort to go light on the meat based stew.  There's a bit more corn in the stew along with the tomatoes, but it is light on the potatoes, and that's good for us low carb dieters.  The stew had great coloring and appearance.  It's taste was clean and flavorful.  In all reality, the stew could have been my meal for the day.  

Usually after a meal like this, I would not even think about dessert.  I had noticed that the desert option included a banana pudding and also a peanut butter/chocolate pudding. Steve Franklin said he really liked the banana pudding.  We opted for the Peanut Butter/Chocolate.  While I'm sure that either choice would have been great, there's something about this chocolate peanut butter dish that just makes you smile.

Atlanta continues to be home to some of the south's greatest barbecue joints.  I've been to about all of them.  DAS happens to be one of the hottest restaurants in Atlanta right now according to Atlanta Eater  http://atlanta.eater.com/maps/best-new-atlanta-restaurants-heatmap.  I can't wait for a return trip to this northwest Atlanta hotspot that's making working in Atlanta just a bit more exciting.  


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