Sure, Austin, Kansas City, and Memphis may hog (get it?!) the barbecue spotlight, but here in Atlanta, we're home to more than just the country's best strip clubs: we've also got some of the country's best BBQ, as evidenced by Bone Lick, Thompson Brothers, and so many other places, it's hard to make a bad decision. Here are the 11 best...
Best use of beef: Community Q BBQ
In Atlanta’s pork-saturated marketplace, it’s refreshing to find people who take pride in the bovine side of barbecue: served with a perfect “bark” of smoky, crunchy meat, their bones aren't just giant, they're also better than that episode where Booth and Dr. Brennan find so... err, well, better than any episode of Bones
Best place to eat outside: Heirloom Market BBQ
With no real seating, and almost no parking, you’re going to order at the counter, and may have to wait
outside too, but their Korean-Southern hybrid Q is worth it... and the hassle of eating it while perched on the hood of your car, or sitting on one of the piles of hickory stacked outside, or wherever.
Best place to visit during the day: Mustard Seed BBQ
Attached to an auto shop in a part of town you, frankly, probably don’t frequent, Mustard Seed is an in-town meat mecca in the shadow of our fair capital. You’ll probably see owner Bert McCray obsessing over his giant pit, carefully turning chicken and ribs before slicing them up for you to take back to the parts of town you do
Best ribs: Grand Champion BBQ
The “criticism” of GCB’s meat is that it is sometimes “too” delectable. Yeah, like when you tell your boss you’re “too hard of a worker”. But don’t worry, once you make it past the smoker by the door, if the ribs you order actually fall off the bone, you’ll have some of the city’s creamiest mac and cheese to help catch it.
Best juke joint
: The Swallow at the Hollow
The live music and Antebellum look will make you want to order a jug of ‘shine to go with the meats they've pit-smoked over hickory and fruitwood, but... sigh
... you'll have to settle for pairing their glorious wings, baby backs, sausages, etc., with beer.
Best BBQ “burger”
: Fox Bros Bar-B-Q
The Bros Fox are renowned for their meat-smoking prowess, but their more creative takes on meat include chicken-fried ribs, a Brunswick stew version of mac and cheese, and a “burger” made with brisket they've sliced, covered with bacon, and drenched in melted pimento cheese.
Best newcomer: Bone Lick BBQ
Not even 2yrs-old, this Mike LaSage-helmed, and David Cross (yes, Tobias Funke)-backed spot isn't screwing around when it comes to smoking, frying, or all-out ‘cueing, and while the meat is spectacular, the introduction of things like fresh, fried pork rinds, their pork belly BLT, and next-level pork-n-pork-n-beans to Atlanta's BBQ scene is a welcome
Best place to go when you don’t care what you look like
: Daddy Dz BBQ Joynt
This impressively rundown "shacktstaurant
" has won s-loads of awards, principally on the strength of some killer ribs, which happen to provide a nice “meat plate” on which you're encouraged to pile on some Polish sausage, or half a chicken, or a few of their Famous Que Wraps -- BBQ pork wrapped in bite-sized bits of dough and then deep-fried.
Best bologna: Thompson Brothers BBQ
There's so much BBQ pork, chicken, and beef in this city, it's easy to miss out on 'cue's red-headed step-child: bologna, unless you're at Thompson Bros., where they'll banish all those terrible memories of lunch boxes past by piling a mass of the sweet, smoky sliced "meat" on a bun, creating a sandwich that only an idiot'd trade for Tyson Codwell's Lunchable.
Best-looking waitstaff: Hottie Hawgs BBQ
Hottie Hawgs may outwardly advertise their good-lookingness, but their servers aren't the only thing that’s smoking: their wings (slow-smoked for at least 3hrs) and brisket sandwiches are so good, you'll forget all about the fact tha... sorry, the waitress walked by and we got distracted. Where were we?
Best change of pace
: Waikikie Hawaiian BBQ
Not all ATL barbecue is pit-smoked and covered with somebody’s trusty sauce, to wit: Waikikie, where they're serving up short ribs, pork, and Japanese-/Hawaiian-style fried chicken (katsu), in addition to islander classics like Spam sushi, which may sound strange, but just like that hilarious "hog" joke above, we urge you to get it.