A date with twins – A review of Twin Smokers BBQ in Atlanta

After what seems like a long summer off, the brothers have re-energized and re-committed to their duty to pig-eaters and country. Our job as we see it is to provide an unbiased and (somewhat) unfiltered opinion of the BBQ joints in the ATL. From OTP to ITP (that’s outside the perimeter and inside the perimeter for you newbies), since our quest began we have hit some of the best known BBQ temples in the area. This Friday in August took us to a relatively new establishment: Twin Smokers in the booming Marietta Street neighborhood of Atlanta. Right around the corner from Brother Squishy’s office, he was excited to introduce us to his local fave.

Pledge Squishy's Sentiments

Pledge Squishy’s Sentiments

The Twin Smokers BBQ review was to be the big day. This was the location that I insisted the Brothers had to try. I’d had lunch here a couple of times before with Daddy-O and was impressed. The concept is pretty cool; find a hip, downtown location, haul in two industrial-sized rotisserie smokers, add lots of wood, and lots of meat. Over time, the 200 degree heat and smoky atmosphere would prepare the ribs, chicken and brisket into a delightful BBQ experience.

Unfortunately, it was a very busy Friday for the restaurant. Tourists were flocking in for who knows what, the day was hot, the staff was stressed out, and the kitchen was running in the red. Our able server was as nice as he could be, but it was clear we were one of many tables he had to take care of. After the pork rinds and Bud Light came, the stress let down a bit.

200 - 250 degrees put a beautiful char and smoke ring on the meats!

200 – 250 degrees put a beautiful char and smoke ring on the meats!

I ordered my usual: brisket, ribs, collards and (this time) corn pudding. Our plates took about 15 minutes to arrive, but not without confusion. Our server made a lot of errors but had them quickly resolved, except forgetting the smoked wings.

Rant: Are servers trying to win style points by not writing down orders? I’m not going to be so impressed that I provide you and your amazing memory a windfall gratuity if you can perfectly deliver all eight of our orders. It’s not a rookie move to use a pen and paper. Use them.

Anyway, my order of brisket was tender, very smoky, perfect color and a nice portion. Accompanied with a touch of sweet and spicy sauces, it was delicious. The meaty ribs were sticking to the bone a little tighter than I care for, but they were equally well-prepared with a nice smoke flavor. Somebody in the kitchen knows a thing or two about southern side dishes. I loved the savory collard greens which were cooked firmly and had a hint of sweetness. The decent portion of corn pudding was warm, buttery-sweet and enjoyable as well. Brother Fixin’s insisted I try his mac ‘n cheese. Although I rarely order this side dish, I was quite impressed with its sharp cheddar punch.

The manager next to the smoker named Matthew

The manager next to the smoker named Matthew

Toward the end of our meal the manager came by to check on us. He was aware that things had not gone smoothly and was willing to make up for it (bonus points) by offering an order of wings on the house. He then took us on a tour around the massive smokers which was a cool move since some of the brothers are meat smokers themselves.

I love this restaurant and I really wanted the Brotherhood to feel the same. But I believe that the service this time was the downfall.

Overall I was very pleased with Twin Smoker’s BBQ.  Four cleavers!

4 Cleavers

Brother Pork Fat

Brother Pork Fat’s Pontifications

I ordered the combo meat plate consisting of the following items:  Brisket, St. Louis Ribs, collard greens and pinto beans.

Here is what I liked about Twin Smokers:

  1. Brisket- I asked for the fatty brisket and it was pretty good.  It had good smoke flavor and wasn’t dry so it didn’t require any sauce.  Nothing compares to the standard bearer of brisket in Atlanta, Fox Bros. but I would definitely put this brisket in my top 5 of Atlanta BBQ establishments.
  2. Collard Greens- they were flavorful and had an appealing texture.  I tend to order this as my side whenever available even though some places tend to cook their greens too long where the texture becomes too soft.

Here is what I did not like:

  1. Ribs- This might have been the consensus at our table based on what I overheard but they seemed to need a lot more cooking time.  They use a St. Louis rib which I prefer, however they apparently only smoke them for around 3 hours which is not enough time at a low temperature.  I prefer my ribs to have some chew as opposed to falling off the bone but they need to be tender.
  2. Pinto Beans- they were bland but the blame probably falls on my for ordering them at a BBQ joint outside of Texas.
  3. Overall value- the restaurant is in a high rent area, close to Philips Arena and the Dome which inflates the prices to begin with.  My overall cost was above $25 which is a lot for a barbecue plate considering I didn’t order a beer.
Behind the scenes with the smokers

Behind the scenes with the smokers

All things considered I would give them 3 cleavers since the brisket was solid which is not always easy and the fact that they gave us a tour of the smokers.  I prefer my bbq joints to be in hole in the wall type of places or lower rent areas, that way if the food is sub-par at least you don’t have to spend a lot of cash.

3 Cleavers

Brother Cracklin'

Brother Cracklin’s thoughts

I was late to the monthly meeting and feeling a little tapped from fighting traffic from the north side of town just to be there for lunch.  45 minutes late and everyone else had their food.  Surprisingly, the waiter took notice and came right over in an attentive manner.  I decided that playing it safe with what should be the house standard would be the way to go.  Pulled pork, side of slaw and just a touch of adventure with the corn casserole.

It took a while and I had to remind the waiter to check on my meal but I did get it in about 15 minutes.  The pulled pork was a generous portion, moist and of good gradated color.  First bite is always no sauce of course to see if this is potentially the best BBQ I’ve ever eaten… it was not.  6 sauces to choose from representing almost all states east of Texas were available.  I found myself sampling all of them and finally setting on the “Kansas City Spiced and Sweet” sauce to be the best pairing with this pulled pork.  Things were better now but not great.  I just couldn’t find the meat and sauce combo that gave me the “oh wow” moment.

Lots of sauces to choose from

Lots of sauces to choose from

For the slaw and corn casserole, I’m not going into huge detail.  The slaw was a little flat and the corn casserole was like candy corn.  I would choose different sides next time.

The establishment itself is a great venue and I really liked seeing a majority of the food prep going on in the middle of the restaurant.  The proprietors have done a really great job in creating a BBQ experience visually.  It’s the flavor that could use another look.

I’m going to keep in mind that I personally didn’t have the best attitude when I arrived and that may have affected my review.  Once you’ve had the dining experience though it’s hard to go back and mentally change it.  To be fair, I will definitely return and probably next time it will be for dinner.  I would anticipate a solid 4 cleavers NEXT time but this time 3.5 attributed mostly to presentation and not the Q.

3.5 Cleavers

3.5 Cleavers

Brother Fixin's

Brother Fixin’s’ Review

Twin Smokers has the right idea. A great location sandwiched in between a German biergarten, a pizza place, and a sports bar. Short walk to the Georgia Dome, World Congress Center, etc. A great menu with everything you could want to order. And they start you off with fresh pork skins like nachos at a Mexican restaurant. But they ran into some issues when we started ordering, and that was a bummer.

Brother Squishy was so excited about introducing the brotherhood to Twin Smokers. I have gone safe lately with my orders, sticking with ribs and pulled pork these days. I struggled with which sides to order, so I went Mac & Cheese and one of today’s specials, corn soufflé.  My first bite, though, was to reach across and try Brother Porkfat’s brisket and I was impressed. Some of the best I have had in a while. So this left me baffled when I tried my ribs and they were so stinkin’ tough! I probably left half of the meat on the bone. I certainly don’t mind pull on my ribs, but this chewed more like a pork chop than a St. Louis style rib. The flavor was extremely good though, so I ate what I could and chalked it up to a bad batch.

The pulled pork was good – nothing exciting but I dove in and had no trouble finishing it off, especially after adding the Texas sauce. The mac & cheese was actually the highlight of my meal – it was unbelievable. Tons of cheese, but not too buttery/greasy. I offered some to Brother Squishy and immediately regretted it – I wish I had that bite back. And the corn soufflé was good too, although it could have used a little more flavor.

I can’t ignore my disappointment with the service as there were several errors and miscues. They totally forgot our order of smoked wings and even charged us for cornbread that they offered to give us. Little things like that were adding up leaving me a little bummed. The manager was very gracious and apologetic trying to make up for it, so I certainly appreciated that.

I know Brother Squishy knows his bbq – no doubt in my mind. So I can only assume we caught them on a bad day. 3 cleavers for me.

3 Cleavers