written & photographed by CHRISTINE KIRK

GOOD BARBECUE IS A LABOR OF LOVE AND OFTEN A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE. Polarizing opinions on the best sauce, rub or cooking technique are widespread, but when it comes to pit masters, their way is usually the only way. One thing we can all agree on is that the end result had better be tasty. In the noble quest to find my favorite local BBQ, I ended up at The Greater Good — and now I’m a regular.

You know you’re in for some lip-smacking BBQ when there’s a roll of paper towels on the table. A friend brought me to The Greater Good BBQ a few years ago, specifically for the smoked wings, which she described as “slap-yo-momma good.” Now when I come here (which is often), I usually order the Lil Smokey, a platter of mixed meats and sides. I’m crazy for the brisket and hot links, but every time I’ve switched it up, I’m never disappointed. My main dishes are paired with their signature mac-n-cheese, plus some savory baked beans. On a whim, I recently ordered the Brunswick stew and discovered what I’ve been missing out on this whole time.

The man behind the scenes and responsible for all this goodness is Don Cobbs. His day begins well before 7 a.m. The brisket and pork butt slow cook over hickory in Southern Pride smokers for more than 13 hours, and prep goes on throughout the day. His talent was apparent to his son-in-law, who approached him 5 years ago with the idea to open a BBQ restaurant. “As a kid, I was always at my mother’s side watching her cook,” said Cobbs. “We grew our own vegetables. It was old-style cooking and I learned a lot that way.” Thus, the Greater Good was born in Tucker, where it got its name. 

“We wanted to have something that people could hang their hat on,” Cobbs remembered. “Families could come and it could be a place where people could enjoy, congregate. So we said, ‘let’s do this for the greater good of Tucker.’” With a focus on southern-style home cooking and hospitality, the venture was a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Now the team has brought The Good to Buckhead in a little place off of Roswell Road, snug between a dry cleaner and its sister ventures, Fellini’s and La Fonda Latina.

Their style doesn’t adhere to a particular region or school of thought. Instead, a variety of influences, tried and true, come together with the simple goal of deliciousness. So, what is it that makes The Greater Good stand out among the litany of BBQ joints around Atlanta? It’s the personality and history that go into the food.

Their spice rubs and sauces are developed in-house, so that it’s “The Greater Good’s flavor,” Cobbs pointed out. Most of the side dishes come from old family recipes, and in that sense they are uniquely their own. “The mac-n-cheese and the potato salad are my mother and grandmother’s recipes,” said Cobbs. He hails from Carolina roots (which you’ll find represented in the stew), but was born and raised in Atlanta.

There’s no elitism here. Next to the paper towels on each table, you’ll find a sauce caddy of hand labeled bottles denoting their flavors — Hot, Sweet, Carolina and House. “We always wanted people to mix and match and whatever they wanted to do with their sauces,” he said. “It makes it unique for their flavor and their tastes.” However you prefer it – chopped or sliced, tangy or sweet – the food is just plain good.