Nothing like a strong community to get you back on your feet
After a less-than-stellar choice for last month’s meeting, the Brothers-in-Slaw went to the ol’ top of the list to try and redeem ourselves. Fortunately, we still had Community BBQ in Decatur up our sleeve, and they saved the day in fine fashion. If they aren’t at the very top of the “Best BBQ in Atlanta” list, they are in the top 3. The entire brotherhood was there, including new, officially sworn in brothers Nomad and Porkfat. Wiping away tears as they donned their pewter meat cleaver lapel pins, the new brothers choked out the Brothers-in-Slaw pledge as best they could. I’m not sure which new brother it was, but one of them was said to have gushed, “I haven’t been this overwhelmed with emotion since I changed the seals on my green egg!” A new pledge joined us as well – he’s so new he doesn’t even have a name yet!
All said, as you will see below, the 8 of us pulled ourselves together and were soon slinging Q and sides all over the place. Everyone left happy – and stuffed. An unprecedented 4.5 cleavers from the brotherhood!!!!!!
The brotherhood is really beginning to marinate with this, our 4th meeting. A good time was had by all when we met recently and pinned two new pledges at Community BBQ on Clairmont Road in Decatur GA. A tricky location to get to from Marietta GA but well worth the effort. We arrived about 11:40 which put us at the front of the line and allowed us to snag the only large table in the joint.
Ordering is like a lot of other BBQ places where you stand in line and call out your order from a big menu board. The board was a little confusing for a first-timer so don’t bring your wife and kids at lunchtime on your first visit. You may have trouble getting decisions on paper and anger the line of 40 behind you.
I ordered the rib and pulled pork combo which I believe they officially call the 1/4 slab plate. This combo also includes a side and a drink. For the side I went with something I didn’t think anyone else in our group would order… the rosemary black-eyed peas. My only mistake.
I’m a big a fan as anyone of black-eyed peas but not many restaurants can pull them off. Usually they have been cooking too long and seasoned unnecessarily heavy. That was indeed the case here. Short of it, just don’t order the black-eyed peas unless you like heavy rosemary flavored paste.
Now that the worst is behind us, let’s hit all the good!
Ribs. Generally, if a rib is delectable without sauce I’d declare it’s the best I’ve ever had. Community got to the 1 yard line in that measure. So very good straight from the kitchen but I found the vinegar based sauce the secret to turning the ribs into a “best I ever ate” moment. The molasses based sauce still left the ribs at 4th and goal. Not a complaint and I would eat a truckload if it were in front of me but we’re critiquing based on personal experiences here. You will not be disappointed in choosing the ribs.
Pulled pork. Community BBQ served up a generous portion of pulled pork and complimented that with 2, yes 2, pieces of heavily buttered and perfectly browned Texas toast. I’m a “dipper” so a lake of sauce on my tray and tiny bites of toast and pulled pork kept me busy for the remainder of our meeting. Again, the vinegar based sauce won out here. It must be the fact that Community adds another sprinkle of rub after the meat is done that makes the vinegar sauce more pungent and satisfying than drowning it in molasses.
My only suggestion for Community BBQ is to use a thicker paper on their serving trays. By the time I laid out sauce twice my paper was tearing and that’s just real worry for a germaphobe like myself. Otherwise, the only thing Community BBQ is missing is a better drink selection or make it a BYOB option. Soda, tea and water isn’t enough to satisfy those looking for a complete BBQ dining experience.
Sum total, I’ll be back and I’ll bring friends. Community BBQ is a place for great BBQ, good times and it’s worth sharing with someone you want to show what good BBQ is all about.
Cleaver Rating: 4.5
My experience with was awesome with a capital “Q”!!! I had a half rack of their St. Louis style ribs, mac n cheese and brunswick stew.
The ribs were phenomenal! They were smoked, but not over smoked. They were also just lightly dusted with dry rub after they had been basted with sauce. This really adds flavor in my eyes (or mouth). Community has 2 sauces – one vinegar based and one tomato based. They are both delicious although I focused on the tomato based. It tends to stick to the ribs a bit better for the perfect bite.
The brunswick stew was good. They don’t over trivialize the ingredients, but it had great meat flavor. I “accidentally” spilled it on my mac n cheese more than once and ate them together in a few bites.
The mac n cheese is the literally the best I have ever eaten and I consider myself a mac n cheese connoisseur. It is made with rigatoni I believe, covered in multiple different cheeses and a lot of it! You can buy it in a family size by the pan full if you are looking to feed a number of people. I seriously considered buying more to take home.
All in all, Community was and is one of my favorite BBQ joints in Atlanta! They do all the staples right and don’t try to be anything other than what they are. I still haven’t washed my clothes from that day. I just laid them on my chair in my bedroom and let them perfume the room with the sweet smell of BBQ smoke! 5 cleavers!!!!
Till next time – Brother Nomad
My order consisted of a brisket/chicken combo meat plate with potato salad and macaroni and cheese as the sides. I really liked the chicken as it was lightly smoked with somewhat crispy skin. The brisket was slightly dry but had good flavor and was fine with a few drops of sauce, it wasn’t the quality of Fox Brothers, although that’s a difficult task.
I was impressed by the quality of the sides I ordered. The macaroni and cheese was as advertised and I think everyone at our table ordered it. The potato salad was unique in texture as there were whole pieces of potatoes as opposed to something resembling mashed potatoes, but it worked well.
I did try one of Brother Nomad’s ribs which made me wish I had an entire order. Overall, I was impressed with Community and hope to be back soon. 4 cleavers.
– Brother PorkFat
I was looking forward to Community BBQ. There has been a lot of buzz about this place. I was actually disappointed when I came into the parking lot because one of my favorite Indian restaurants in Decatur (located next door) had closed. But once in through the double doors and in line, my mood changed. The order line was already getting long, but just enough for me to be able to read the menu board. About that time, Brother Fixins comes over to offer menu advice since a few BIS members had already put their orders in.
It was obvious that the restaurant was a bit new since it was pretty clean, but the aromas were intoxicating. This means the brisket was definitely worth considering. The assortment of seating options was good. The BIS crew had already claimed the extra large picnic table in the corner. Excellent. The walls were filled with folk art and knickknacks. One hand painted plaque won my favor that said “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” The place was busy but it was comfortable. When the weather warms, I will be sure to come back and sit outside.
I stepped up to the friendly cashier who was knowledgeable of the menu and ordered a rib-brisket combo. I asked what would make me happier (something I commonly ask restaurant staff), the collards or the black-eyed peas. He suggested the BEPs. I also got mac and cheese. I was a little surprised by the price. $19! And then on my card receipt there’s a spot for a tip… For what? It’s almost like you are pressured to add a tip so that you get good service instead of the staff earning their tip. And what kind of tip would they deserve? I’M going through the line, making my order and making my drink. Sorry, but it seems backwards. Anyway, the food came out in a reasonable amount of time (and strangely they yell out the name from your payment card instead of asking – not the way to remain incognito). Included on the paper-lined metal tray were four meaty ribs resting on top of a generous pile of brisket slices all in-between two pieces of texas toast. Little styrofoam cups held the peas and the mac and cheese. All were hot. Two choices of BBQ sauce were on the table along with pepper sauce and a couple of mild commercial hot sauces.
I first tried a rib. DAMN. It was excellent. Tender, fresh, not cooked too much, smoky, tangy, sweet, perfect. I quickly sent one over to Brother Fixin’s for him to try. No sauce needed. This is why we were here. The purpose of the day. Why I am alive. The brisket was outstanding too. Perfectly cooked, tender, delicious brisket that took to the red BBQ sauce on the table really well. But after having that first rib, it made everything else pale by comparison. The black-eyed peas were fresh, properly seasoned, firm (not mushy) and satisfying. The mac and cheese though – everyone else was talking it up but I was a little disappointed for its smushed, overcooked appearance and greasy, separated cheese sauce. Kinda bland. But I had just eaten one of the best ribs I’d ever had. Nothing else is ever going to be that great again.
Pluses – great location (for me!), good comfortable vibe, superior food
Minuses – no beer, tip line on the receipt, and mediocre mac n cheese
4.5 meat cleavers!
– Pledge Squishy
Them boys ain’t lying! Those ribs were incredible! As you know, I am on a quest for the Holy Rib. And I may have actually found it, only 4 months in to my journey. I’ll come back to it in just a sec.
I loved the aroma when I walked in – and when I walked out. My shirt smelled like smoky heaven hours after I left, which means that these Community BBQ folks know what they are doing! I was at the front of the line without much time to study the menu. I felt the impatient patrons behind me breathing down my neck, willing me to hurry the deuce up! I panicked, and ordered the 2 meat plate with chicken and brisket, with mac-n-cheese and brunswick stew for my sides.
I paused before ordering my drink. Then I paused some more. NO BEER!!!!!! I panicked again and said “give me a cup, I’ll find something . . . ” I sulked/stomped over to the sweet tea and sighed as loudly as possible as I poured. Then after a VERY short wait, my food arrived and I forgot all about this first-world problem I had encountered.
I dove right into the brisket, as it looked and smelled just like the incomparable Fox Brothers brisket. Unfortunately, Fox Brothers is incomparable. Not sure if it was a bad day, a bad piece of meat, or just setting my expectations too high. I mean, it tasted pretty good, but it was dry and didn’t quite work for me.
I did like the chicken, nice and tender dark meat 1/4 piece. Lightly doused in vinegar sauce, it was well-flavored and quite tender. The brunswick stew was very good in my opinion, and the mac n cheese reminded me of Dave Poe’s which is right down the street from me.
Out of the corner of my eye I spotted and unguarded rib on pledge Squishy’s plate and I swiped it faster than you can say “he’s got two coconuts and he’s bangin’ ’em together!” WHOA!!!!! It blew me away! Angels sang – I actually heard angels singing!!!!! I choked back tears as I tore into the meat. It was so freakin’ good! No sauce necessary – NONE I TELL YOU!!! Just for fun I did throw some tomato-based sauce on there and it was delicious, but it didn’t need it.
I literally cannot wait to go back. Why are these awesome BBQ joints so far from my house!?!?!?!? 3.5 cleavers for me. Minus .5 for the brisket, minus .25 for no beer, and minus .25 because I ate half of the paper liner in my tray because it was so thin and cheap it kept tearing when I cut my chicken. 4 cleavers.
– Brother Fixin’s
Pledge Ol’ Smoke’s musings
Last Friday I finally was able to visit Community BBQ. It had been on my to-do list for quite some time now, but it seems like life kept getting in the way of making the trip. Well, I finally made it, and it was worth the wait.
Community BBQ is set up the way many of the newer (last 15 years) BBQ restaurants in the Atlanta area are; customers place their orders at the counter and then find a seat. This works great for lunch, but I sometime miss the old family places where they still have servers. Having said that, the line moved fast, and the food came out quickly with polite service.
I ordered a rib/brisket plate with macaroni & cheese and Brunswick stew as side items. I’ll begin with the brisket. The brisket was okay, but not exceptional. It looked great on the plate and had the appearance of tenderness and juiciness; however, it did not live up to my expectations. It was a little dry. Having said this, my expectations may have been a little too high. I also think that if I were to return and order it again that I may have a totally different experience. Good but not great. Tasted best with the tomato-based sauce.
The ribs were worth the drive from Mableton to Decatur, especially since someone else did the driving. I prefer my ribs to be served dry, so I can add sauce if I want it. These came out with a fine rub that was both cooked in and also seemed to be dusted with after coming out of the smoke. They were tender, but they still maintained enough pull so you knew they were attached to the bone. I tried both the vinegar and the tomato sauce with the ribs, and I thought they were best with just a little of the vinegar-based sauce drizzled on top.
The macaroni & cheese was exceptional. Community uses rigatoni noodles similar to Sam’s BBQ-1 and Dave Poe’s in Marietta, but they add a little something extra to them. It may be parmesan, but I’m not sure. If I had only ordered the mac ‘n’ cheese, I would have left fully satisfied. In my humble and 100% correct opinion, their mac ‘n’ cheese is second only OK Café’s in the Atlanta area.
I’m probably not the best person to give a review of Brunswick stew. I enjoy the thick-and-meaty type, and I enjoy the run-it-through-the-blender type with a good splash of mustard hot sauce. Usually, the best bowl of stew I’ve eaten is the last bowl of stew I’ve eaten. Community’s is the thick-and-meaty style where you’re able to pick out all of the different ingredients and it had a little peppery kick. It was the last bowl of stew I’ve eaten, so, for now, it is the best bowl of stew I’ve eaten.
There are many BBQ joints in Metro Atlanta, and I would drive past 90% of them to eat at Community BBQ. 4 cleavers.
– Ol’ Smoke
Pledge Taters’ Take
I had a good feeling pulling up to Community Q in Decatur. It had all the signs of a good BBQ place; it was in an unimpressive location, there was a line out the door, and you could smell smoke from the parking lot. As I walked in, it had the look and feel of a great BBQ joint too. Nothing trendy or flashy, just a bunch of tables with paper towels and people carrying trays of meat.
The menu covered all the basics that you’d want (pulled pork, smoked chicken, ribs, and brisket) plus a couple other items like smoked sausage and sloppy joe’s. We all stuck to the basics since this was our first time here and we wanted to see how they handle the essentials. I got the pulled pork sandwich with sides of Brunswick stew and collards (Brother Fixin’s told me to get something green). The sandwich was a pile of pork on two slices of grilled white bread. the meat looked great. slight pink smoky coloring, and a nice bark which was absent from the last place we went. The table contained two types of BBQ sauces, a traditional tomato and molasses BBQ sauce that I felt was just a touch too sweet. Perhaps I should have mixed it with the Tabasco sauce they provided. The other sauce was a more vinegar based sauce that everyone agreed was great on the brisket. The pork was cooked perfectly, with just the right amount of natural smoke flavoring. The bark still had the taste of the rub which was a nice blend of sweet and spicy.
The best meat on the menu may have been the ribs. I didn’t order an but in true Brothers-in-Slaw nature, another member saved me one. This was also cooked perfectly. It was a tender piece of pork without much fat except for the traces of fat holding it together, leaving a nice tug to each bite. The sweet and tangy BBQ sauce worked great on this meat.
As far as the sides go, they were good but not great. I traded some of my collards to Fixin’s for some mac and cheese, and i definitely got the better of that deal. the mac and cheese was thick and creamy without being overly rich and heavy. The brunswick stew had a great vinegar stock to it. Tangy and complex and not too spicy. However, the meat left me a bit disappointed. Instead of large chunks of meat or stringy pulled pork, it seemed to have the size and consistency of ground beef.
Overall, i think this place was very good. They executed on all the important menu items and everyone was more than satisfied. The only complaint we had was that they don’t serve beer, but that’s probably an indictment of us more than them. 4 cleavers!
– Pledge Taters