Nothin’ Like Good Ol’ BBQ
Written by Written by the Editors of Points North and Contributing Writer Haley McNeal
The Points North staff shares its favorite BBQ joints in Georgia
One thing is for sure, true Southerners are passionate about their barbecue. Whether you hail from North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, or right here in the great state of Georgia, the process of smoking pork is more than just a skill, it’s an art form. So we’ve sniffed out the best lip-smacking barbecue joints around town. Each of our selections is locally owned and operated and smokes up some darn good pork and delicious sauces. And if by chance we missed your personal pork pick, let us know, as we will never turn down an excuse to eat barbecue.
Now as you can expect, a man named Bubba was born to make
barbecue. And he has the countless trophies to prove it! William “Bubba” Latimer opened his first restaurant, Bub-Ba-Q, in Jasper in 2005 and the following year entered his first professional barbecue contest where he proudly was awarded the Grand Champion prize. You could say he took to barbecue competitions like a pig to mud, and has been recognized time and time again for his now nationally known, award-winning flavors. In 2009, he opened his second location in Woodstock, and has since competed in enough competitions to fill the restaurant to the brim with trophies.
But you can’t eat a trophy, so let’s get to the main event — his popular pork plate. Bub-Ba-Q’s finely shredded pork is seasoned and smoked so well that you barely need one of the four sauces on the table. But despite that fact, I encourage you to dabble anyway with their delicious offerings — sweet, vinegar, mustard or hot and spicy. I personally can’t decide between sweet, vinegar, or hot and spicy, but for me, the mustard is an acquired taste that doesn’t suit my palate. And while South Carolinians may refute that opinion, that’s just fine, as that’s the beauty of barbecue — no one sauce is best, it’s whichever one you fancy.
As for other entrées, beef brisket, chicken, ribs and sausage are
available in an array of sandwich, plate or burger options. In the mood for a twist? How ‘bout the Hog-A-Chong-A — A Bubba original with a flour tortilla filled with meat, sauce, beans and pepper jack cheese, deep fried and then topped with Brunswick stew. If you like a tomato-based Brunswick stew, then this stew is for you! If not, never fear as the sides offer heaps of Southern favorites like baked beans, fried mac & cheese, collard greens, fried okra, corn fritters, potato salad and corn on the cob. Oh, and the daily selection of cakes, pies and cobblers will assuredly get you asking for a doggie bag, even if the dog ends up whining in the corner as you munch on it at home.
And as an added bonus the staff is as sweet as the tea on the table. Bubba, you’ve done good!
Photos courtesy of Rob Smith.
10020 Ga. 92, Woodstock and
1976 Hwy. 53 W., Jasper
As a general consensus, the more of a hole in the wall a
restaurant looks, the better the barbecue. However, ’Cue breaks the golden rule with a fun and comfy ambiance that smacks of sophistication. It feels as though you’ve walked into a Western drinking hole with its tin roof accents and charming scenic photos splashed on the walls.
’Cue Barbecue opened in Milton in 2009 by two local couples, Paul and Doreen Doster from Alpharetta and John and Beth Gray from Roswell, and has found such great success they’ve opened a second location in Cumming. This restaurant prides itself on the fact that everything is homemade, except for the ice cream that tops their scrumptious fruit cobblers. They even bake fresh bread each morning and cut the corn right off the cob!
The meat is slow cooked in a Southern Pride Smoker and seasoned with the smoke of hickory wood. They don’t sauce the meat in the kitchen, they leave that for their guests to decide at the table, whether it is the tomato-based Kansas City-style sweet sauce, the North Carolina-style vinegar-based sauce that’s both spicy and sweet, or a South Carolina-style mustard sauce. The barbecue pork can be enjoyed chopped or sliced, as a sandwich, or on a salad, nachos or pizza. The barbecue chicken is amazing, too, plump and juicy and begging to be devoured. ’Cue also serves up beef briskets, homemade sausage, grilled bologna and baby back ribs.
As for the accompaniments, if their mashed sweet potatoes with a splash of bourbon is on the specials board, then be sure to plop that on your plate. The seasonal fruit cobbler is always scrumptious, but The Bananas Doster, a fresh spin on Bananas Foster whipped up with their homemade vanilla pudding, puts this restaurant in the running for best dessert in the Northside, too!
Photo courtesy of Wayne Sloop.
13700 Hwy. 9, Milton and
1370 Buford Hwy., Cumming
Heirloom Market BBQ
In the shadow of the west side Perimeter nestled cozily next to
Akers Mill Food Store, Heirloom Market BBQ is certainly worthy of being passed along to future generations. Chef-owners Cody Taylor and Jiyeon Lee have created a sensation with their variety of barbecue offerings including the mustard-based South Carolina sandwich, which we sampled recently along with a few ribs and fried okra. Topped with an incredible Asian-style cole slaw and South Carolina sauce, this version of a barbecue sandwich will have you yearning for seconds. The meaty ribs were seasoned perfectly and easily could have been enjoyed without sauce, although the Tennessee-style “table” sauce added a bit of sweetness and smoky flavor.
Heirloom is closed on Sunday and Monday, but if you are planning to stop for lunch anytime soon, we suggest arriving as soon as the doors swing open at 11 a.m., or after 2 p.m. when the crowd subsides in the cramped space. Best of all, Heirloom offers rather swift takeaway service and catering for parties of 10 or more. If you need some tasty morsels for your tailgate party this football season, Heirloom offers per-pound prices that will put a smile on your face just like the barbecue itself.
Photo courtesy of Carl Danbury, Jr.
Heirloom Market BBQ
2243 Akers Mill Rd., Atlanta
Smokejack Southern Grill and BBQ
Sure, any restaurant can provide you with food that fills you up,
but if you find one that fills your stomach and your heart, you’ve found a real treasure. I found my treasure at Smokejack.
With its original location in historic Alpharetta, and a second in Cumming, this eatery boasts the best in Southern food that stretches far from the reach of your simple pulled pork sandwiches. Their succulent menu is the product of owner Dave Filipowicz’s long Southeast journey from Kansas City to Georgia, stopping at 28 barbecue places along the way to experience the many styles of this smoked sensation. And fortunately for us, his road trip paid off as he has really created something great. It’s a restaurant that takes the flavors of various styles of barbecue, tweaks them a little to make them their own, and dishes out extraordinary cuisine daily.
“Barbecue is so particular. It’s a matter of what you grew up on and where you feel comfortable — it’s a personal thing,” Filipowicz said.
For this reason, Smokejack doesn’t focus on a particular style, but instead he provides diners with multiple twists. For instance, as I indulged in a “Baby Zilla,” as he calls it (a pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw, pickle relish and Carolina sauce), he also brought two ramekins of the Kansas City sauce, one with Pacia peppers and one without, just so I could try it. It’s true, all the flavors are unique and each is satisfying. I believe he has found a way to tickle the taste buds of barbecue enthusiasts from all over the South.
Along with my smaller version of the Pork-Zilla sandwich, I also tried the macaroni and cheese, corn pudding and the restaurant’s famous fried pickles. Each one has a taste that played with my heartstrings and took me back to my childhood. I also tested out the baked beans, locally grown Gouda cheese grits and collard greens (which, of course, are not complete if not accompanied with in-house jarred pepper sauce).
With turkey, brisket, chicken, seafood and pork, which are paired with an array of vegetables including the Southern staples of sweet potatoes and “maters ‘n cukes,” (that’s tomatoes and cucumbers), it’s clear barbecue enthusiasts will be satisfied by one dish or another.
Photo courtesy of Robin Harrison.
Smokejack Southern Grill and BBQ
29 S. Main St., Alpharetta and
5063 Post Road, Cumming
Colonel Poole’s Bar-B-Q
No story about Georgia’s homegrown barbecue is complete
without making a pilgrimage to the “Pig Hall of Fame” in Ellijay in the North Georgia Mountains. Colonel Poole is as legendary as the “pigs on the hill” that put his little barbecue joint on the map. Oscar and Edna Poole borrowed $3,500 and opened their pork shack more than 20 years ago. When state authorities would not allow him to put a sign by the highway, he just planted pigs on the steep hill behind his restaurant. First it was just family, then customers wanted to join in the fun and add their John Hancocks to the archives of barbecue history, and now there are more than 3,000 pigs on that dang hill! And while the old shack is long gone, a
wood cabin with rooms called Taj-ma-hog and Hog-Rock-Café
welcome guests, as does the Colonel’s famous “Pig-Moby-il,”
a converted 1976 Plymouth Volare with some pig-tastic
As you step inside, heaps of Southern hospitality are served
alongside chopped pork, fried pies and a Brunswick Stew my husband decreed the best in Georgia. Oh, and their mac n’ cheese and homemade desserts will make you squeal in delight. Just one caveat: The barbecue comes out sauced with Cattleman Smoky sauce, but I suggest you ask for no sauce and choose at the table, where the peppery Colonel Poole’s Original Recipe BBQ Sauce and his sweet barbecue concoction await.
Even at the age of 81, this “Colonel Sanders of Pork” still acts like a spring chicken and pops in regularly to chat with customers. So, if you haven’t visited this little slice of Americana, holy smokes, it’s time for a road trip. And if you want to live high on the hog and plant your own pig in the hill, the Colonel has only three conditions — “An honest face, good intentions and five dollars.”
Photos courtesy of Julie Hostetter.
Colonel Poole’s BBQ
164 Craig St., East Ellijay
Sauces of the South
In the world of barbecue connoisseurs, the sauce is as important as the pork it slathers. And since Georgia doesn’t appear to pick favorites — it’s clear we like em’ all — check out our quick cheat sheet on the Sauces of the South.
Memphis: Similar to the Kansas City style, this sauce typically tops the list of pleasing the most palates with its sweet taste combined with vinegar and tomato, as well as a splash of brown sugar, molasses and mustard thrown in for good measure.
North Carolina: A tangy vinegar base reigns supreme in this region with a dash of red pepper flakes or cayenne as well as salt and pepper to add a little spice to each bite.
South Carolina: The folks in this area break with tradition and create a yellow mustard- and vinegar-based sauce with sugar and spices.
Texas: Adding in some ingredients such as chili peppers, black pepper and onions, it’s clear these Southern spitfires like a little kick to their barbecue.
Alabama: What makes these folks stand out from the crowd is the South’s one and only white barbecue sauce with a mayonnaise base.