From Bone Lick to Thompson Bros: the best BBQ in Atlanta

Sebastian Davis

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...

Community Q bbq
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, actually.
Heirloom Market
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. 
Sebastian Davis
Best place to visit during the day: Mustard Seed BBQ
West End
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 frequent.
Grand Champion BBQ
Best ribs: Grand Champion BBQ
East Cobb
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.

The Swallow at the Hollow
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.
Fox Bros Bar-B-Q
Best BBQ “burger”: Fox Bros Bar-B-Q 
Candler Park
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. 
Bone Lick BBQ
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 Arrested Development.
Sebastian Davis
Best place to go when you don’t care what you look like: Daddy Dz BBQ Joynt 
Grant Park
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.

Thompson Brothers BBQ
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. 
Hottie Hawgs BBQ
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?
Flickr User punctuated
Best change of pace: Waikikie Hawaiian BBQ
Druid Hills
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.
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1. Grand Champion BBQ 4401 Shallowford Rd, Roswell, GA 30075

You’ll walk by the smoker as you come in the front door of this East Cobb BBQ joint where they're serving some of the city's sweetest ribs. Don’t worry, if your rib meat actually falls off the bone, you’ll have some of the city’s creamiest mac and cheese to help catch it.

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2. Thompson Brothers BBQ 2445 Cobb Pkwy SE, Smyrna, GA 30080

Thompson's claims, "their secret is in the smoke," but we say it's in their brisket, sliced bork, and famous bologna sandwiches.

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3. Daddy D'z 264 Memorial Dr SE, Atlanta, GA 30312

You can spot Daddy’s by the giant metal pig on top of their “patio”: plates of Southern staples can always be washed down by a few beers before, during, or after a Braves game.

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4. Hottie Hawg's BBQ 2061 Main St, Atlanta, GA 30318

Indulge your cravings for sweet, sweet meat at Hottie Hawg's. Plates 'n platters include house-cured sausage, beer can chicken, pulled pork, and sliced or chopped brisket.

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5. Fox Bros Bar-B-Q 1238 Dekalb Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

An Atlanta institution serving up solid BBQ fare like pulled pork and beef brisket sandwiches, Frito pie, and burnt ends.

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6. Bone Lick BBQ 1133 Huff Rd, Atlanta, GA 30318

Bone Lick's a saucy meat mecca with a recycled wood bar and skee-ball pointed out by a gigantic lit-up carnival arrow.

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7. Mustard Seed BBQ 826 Westmont Drive, Atlanta, GA 30311

Attached to an auto shop, Mustard Seed is an in-town meat mecca serving up sweet BBQ eats. Stop in and catch a glimpse of owner Bert McCray obsessing over his giant pit, carefully turning chicken and ribs before slicing them up for you to take back to the office.

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8. Heirloom Market BBQ 2243 Akers Mill Rd, Atlanta, GA 30339

From a duo originally repping TN and South Korea, Heirloom's a down-homey, natural-wood-surrounded 'cue house with Texas-sourced pecan, red oak, hickory & fruitwood ready to be tossed into two custom BBQ vaults where GA-farmed meats're slow-smoked. Get down with a variety of dinners & sammies (sliced brisket, stuffed turkey, baby back/St. Louis-style ribs...), sides like pork belly & Tabasco vinegar collards, grass-fed burgers, and smoked sausages including kielbasa, chaurice, and hot Italian.

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9. Community Q BBQ 1361 Clairmont Rd, Decatur, GA 30033

Deftly plating locally-sourced BBQ bites, Q's from two ATL natives who leverage their grilling experience (one was part-owner at Marietta's Sam & Dave's BBQ) to turn the Emory-area joint into a true neighborhood spot; that homey feel's accomplished by leaps and bounds with comforting classics like pulled pork and ribs.

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10. Swallow at the Hollow 1072 Green St, Atlanta, GA 30318

With live music and an Antebellum look, Swallow will make you want to order a jug of ‘shine to go with your Southern-smoked chicken. The carnivore in you will be as pleased as with the other menu items on offer, like banana pudding and plenty of booze.

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11. Waikikie Hawaiian BBQ 2160 Briarcliff Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30329

Not all barbecue has to be pit-smoked and drenched with sauce, case in point, this Hawaiian BBQ joint. Waikikie does short ribs, pork, and even the Hawaiian version of fried chicken, (katsu). While you’re there, you might as well go full-island and open with a “Spam musubi”, (which is just fancy-talk for big-ass Spam sushi).

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