2 year lookback – the best in Atlanta

Well folks, to all of you who rely on our bbq opinions, I’m afraid we simply haven’t had much good to report over our last few months. Since summer, we have struck out with some very average (some downright awful) bbq, and it’s just hard to get motivated to write about average. So instead, I will focus on the great . . . albeit few and far between.

We have been at this for 2 years now, and have had a great time. We have reviewed close to 20 bbq restaurants as a brotherhood, and have probably sampled at least 10 more joints on our own. Atlanta is certainly a hotbed for bbq restaurants, but that doesn’t mean they are all good. In fact, it has been rather eye-opening. If every restaurant had average meat, I would say “I get it. The process does not lend itself to a restaurant because it takes so long to prepare, you have to prepare it in bulk, etc.” Well phooey to that! I say, if one restaurant can do it, then they all can. If they care . . .

Here is our top 5 in Atlanta, after 2 years of sampling pork, brisket, and chicken. And mac & cheese. and Brunswick stew. You get the picture . . .

  1. DAS BBQ. Located on Collier road south of Howell Mill Road, we have been 3 times and every time was outstanding. That is commitment – that is effort. The best rib in Atlanta, hands down. Stephen Franklin simply gets it. Last time we were there, he talked about his method, his passion, and how he wants his bbq to be unique. Well it is – because it is good every single time. And I would be irresponsible if I didn’t mention Justus, the pit master at DAS. He’s the magician making it all happen – a true master.
  2. Fox Brothers. You can tell by the impossible parking situation that Fox Brothers has set the standard in Atlanta BBQ for years. But the wait is always worth it. And it’s not just the standard fare, but the creativity of how they work their brisket chili into some of their dishes that shows what they can do. Probably the best brisket we had in 2 years . . .
  3. B’s Cracklin. A close 2nd in the best ribs in Atlanta contest, B’s has a cool feel, and smells delicious in the parking lot! Everything tasted and was cooked just right, except, oddly enough, the pulled pork. Even so, it was a consensus favorite for those of us who ordered ribs and brisket, so they go in the top 5.
  4. Dave Poe’s. Another Atlanta staple, Dave Poe has taught most of the Atlanta BBQ how to smoke meats. I wish more of them had continued his methods, because they have trouble stacking up to the original master.  You can always count on great pulled pork, awesome ribs, and his coup de grace, redneck lasagna (Brunswick stew poured over his mac & cheese). We had our biggest turnout at Dave Poe’s, and everyone stuffed their faces. Don’t miss the opportunity to dine here . . .
  5. Going outside the perimeter a bit, I’m going to take some liberties and round out the top 5 with 2 places that we didn’t go as a brotherhood because they are simply too far away. ‘Cue in Milton, and Smokejack in Alpharetta. I’ll say that ‘Cue is probably a little more “new school”, and Smokejack a little more traditional. But both have outstanding bbq, Smokejack has incredible smoked wings and brisket, and ‘Cue has outstanding ribs. If you head north, head to one of these great finds.

Honorable mention – Community BBQ in Decatur (might have made top 5 but the 2nd time I went the ribs were not near as good as the first time. You see how hard it is to be consistent and how it alters a patron’s opinion?!?!), Righteous Que in East Cobb (great ribs) and Heirloom Market BBQ in Atlanta (crowd pleaser).

There aren’t many places left to try, but after we hit them all, our list of the places to try for a second time will be very short. You see, we made the mistake of going back to a place that wasn’t good the first time because it consistently makes the list of one of Atlanta’s best. It had high scores from Zagat’s, and great write-ups. But it was absolutely horrible the second time, too. I MEAN HORRIBLE!!! I have no idea what the jacklegs who wrote those articles were eating, but it wasn’t from that restaurant. So I’m following my own taste buds and not some list in a magazine or some bloggers opinion. Unless, of course, that blogger is a brother-in-slaw.