Smoked and pulled, rubbed and sauced, wet or dry, sweet or spicy … The Great Barbecue Debates will continue long past the last firefly of summer on into the next century while family recipes and secret ingredients are guarded close. Here in the Big Peach, the crossroads of the Deep South, we graciously make room for a little bit of everything at our tables. There’s no shortage of this sublime Southern summer staple served around Atlanta, but we’ve rounded up a list of smokin’ hot superstars.
(Note: Special thanks to our summer intern, Elizabeth Forestner, for her help with this list. Elizabeth is a rising junior at UGA and we’re thrilled to have her aboard the StyleBlueprint Atlanta team!)
BBQ 1 defines “local classic,” with pit-smoked goodness and five different sauces to entertain every type of taste bud. Owner/Pit-Master Sam Huff’s philosophy of ‘Q hints at the timeless quality of his methods: “What is really important, and what real barbecue is all about, is cooking that meat over a pit while your kids are looking up at you, and all of your family and friends are there smelling the smoke, slathering on the sauce, and pulling off bites of meat because they just can’t wait any longer. Afterwards, we watch the sun set behind the Georgia pines … ” Almost equally famous for an indulgent 1000-calorie mac n’ cheese, (worth every cent and calorie), BBQ1 serves it all up at two Cobb County locations, feeding everyone everyone from Senators to regular folk. Just to do his part to spread the gospel, Sam periodically offers Pork U, an all-day cooking tutorial for willing young Jedi ready to continue the tradition. www.bbq1.net
Bone Lick BBQ pride themselves on combining all of the different styles of barbecuing into one perfect harmony … as well as serving it with cold craft brews and 23 house-infused moonshine concoctions. Derived from one of Atlanta’s first pop-up restaurants, Bone Lick soon staked its claim on a prime Midtown location, plating up prime fixins while classic vinyl spins in the background. Adding to the fun, Bone Lick entertains the whole crew with weekly events, DJ’s and live music, stand-up comedy nights and the one & only Bar-B-Cade, featuring skee ball and classic arcade games. Maybe you’ll even be lucky enough to run into their “Pig Mob“… don’t be afraid of them, unless they’re hungry. www.bonelickbarbecue.com
D.B.A. Barbecue celebrates it’s 5th anniversary of authentic hickory-smoked barbecue perfection. True Southern comfort food situated in the heart of Virginia-Highland, D.B.A. slings a triple threat with drool-worthy food, stellar location and fantastic events — from sauce-making class to charity awareness nights. D.B.A. values it’s cozy neighborhood feel, keeping local craft brews on tap and firing up two huge smokers that handle 1700 pounds of meat. That’ll make a plate full! www.dbabarbecue.com
Daddy D’z BBQ Joynt
Don’t mind the rickety exterior of this bonafide shack near the tracks. Sit yourself down to pork rib tips smoked slowly for over eight hours till they fall off the bone, and slathered in sweet sauce that’ll stick to your smile. Pile on the sides and then try their Famous Que Wraps, little pieces of barbecue pork wrapped in dough and fried — soon you’ll be emotionally connected to their motto “We Aint’ Pretty, But We’re Good.” www.daddydz.com
The identical twin Fox Brothers made their way to Atlanta from Texas and we feel so sorry for the loss to the Lone Star State. These two transformed their talent for crowd-pleasing backyard barbecues into a wildly-successful catering business, then set-up shop in their own restaurant in 2007. The accolades have been rolling in ever since and their signature sauce has made it to market shelves at Kroger and Whole Foods. Head down to their Dekalb Avenue spot and see what’s Foxy. www.foxbrosbbq.com
Just joining the barbecue scene and making some BIG noise, SmokeBelly opened this month in Buckhead with an eclectic menu putting a new spin on some smokehouse standards. Executive Chef Darrell Rice (noted at Aria, Canoe, The Big Ketch & Mosaic) finds inspiration from all his culinary experiences, adding a little “haute” sauce on tradition. www.smokebelly.com
Sweet Auburn Barbecue has been a much-loved name around Atlanta for awhile, from a popular food truck to a retail counter at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Finally, this spring, the signature restaurant of Sweet Auburn’s Asian-Southern barbecue fusion fantasy settled into Poncey-Highlands. With Sweet Auburn BBQ’s first full-service destination, Howard and Ronald Hsu draw upon the influence of their childhood Malaysian-Chinese cuisine and subsequent Atlanta upbringing. Fresh, local ingredients with simple preparation brings their vision to our lips. Delicious! www.sweetauburnbbq.com
Known for their sauce, hefty platters and catering services, this fixture on the local barbecue scene kindles the fires at three locations in the metro area — Marietta, Canton, and Douglasville. Williamson Brothers have been cooking the Q on a traditional wood-burning pit for over 20 years and earned a legion of loyal fans along the way. Keep the cravings under control by stocking up on bottles of sauce at your local market … but don’t even think you can duplicate the full experience. (Maybe ordering up a whole hog for your next party would do the trick!) www.williamsonbros.com
Hungry now? Yep, we know the feeling. Get on out there and load up those plates … Oh, you might wanna pack a few wet-naps.