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Apr 9, 2003 04:46 PM

Athens, GA area BBQ

  • p

Does anyone have any recommendations for barbecue in the Athens, Georgia area?

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  1. The barbecue in Athens proper isn't very good. Hot Thomas in Watkinsville and the place on route 78 in downtown Lexington are excellent and in easy driving distance. (Sorry, the name of the latter escapes me, but you can't miss it: small town.)

    Somewhere on this site there is, or at least was, a report that covered northeast Georgia barbecue, perhaps among other topics. It wasn't a post to this board, but a self-contained write-up with photographs. Not sure how many tips that had, but it's probably worth doing a search.

    Let me know if you discover anything else around Athens. Thanks.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Derek

      Paul's is the name of the place in Lexington & pigfan is correct, Lexington is not very big so it will be hard to miss. If memory serves it is only open on Sat mornings.
      I am racking my brain to think of any good barbecue places in Athens proper & nothing comes to mind. There are so many other great eating places in Athens I never even consider barbecue when there.

      1. re: Lan4Dawg

        I haven't been in years and years but are the Swamp Guinea and the Pinecrest Lodge still open?

        1. re: Joe H.

          Just checked the yellow pages (I live in Athens) and there is a listing for "Charlie Williams Pinecrest Lodge" but nothing for Swamp Guinea. Is this Pinecrest place worth checking out?

          One more comes to mind since my last post, also not in Athens. A place on route 29 in Danielsville (past the circle if you're coming from Athens) -- just a roadside cart, really, but pretty good product.

          1. re: Derek

            The Swamp Guinea was virtually identical to the Pinecrest Lodge which, yes, is most definitely worth checking out. Not just food but the overall experience which was one of the most unique in America.

          2. re: Joe H.

            alas, the Swamp Guinea is no more but Charlie Williams' Pinecrest Lodge is still packing them in. It is an experience. The food is good, not great, but there is so much of it!

            There is a place called the Barbecue Shack that some one mentioned to me. It is out on Lexington Rd and supposedly a hit w/ some folks. The place is only open on Fr/Sat & I think the place in Danielsville is Zeb Dean's.

            1. re: Lan4Dawg

              I'm not a big fan of Barbecue Shack on Lexington (which is across the street from Walmart on the east side, if you're interested in trying it yourself).

              The pork shoulder is reasonably good but not distinctive. And the ribs taste heavily charred -- not unpleasant, but not proper barbecue either.

              It does get crowded, though, so maybe my take is idiosyncratic.

              1. re: Lan4Dawg

                Old post I know, but are we talking the Swamp Guinea that was somewhere out in "the boonies," that I went to in the mid-70's when I was at Supply Corps School in Athens? I remember long tables, VERY sweet iced tea, and great hush puppies and fried catfish. Was there another one more recently?

                1. re: njmarshall55

                  It was in Colbert,Ga. My aunts workedvthere and we are there every weekend. I grew up in Hull,Ga.

              2. re: Joe H.

                was just up there yesterday & found out that Charlie William's Pine Crest Lodge is still open but only for banquets. For now, anyway, they are not serving the public.

                1. re: Lan4Dawg
                  athena (Mary Anne O'Neal)

                  JB's on Broad has good barbecue. The hot is very hot. Get it to go, not a place you'd want to linger.

          3. It's been a few years, but I recall that Hart's in Commerce was pretty good. If you take the exit to Athens from I-85 (441) and make a right on Elm St to head over to Commerce its about a mile or so on the left.

            Maybe somebody else has a more current report on the place.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Brent Kulman

              Hart's was excellent the last time I was able to get by there. However, it was at least three years ago. Worth a try.

            2. Ahhhh.....Barbecue.

              Here are a few in the area from my master list to get you started. I've been to some, some are better than others and some may have been already mentioned.

              As usual, call first. And let us know....Enjoy.


              Barbeque Shack - 4320 Lexington Rd - 706/613-6752 - BBQ - Chicken, pork and ribs served with a variety of sides such as baked beans and cole slaw - Homemade banana pudding or cake - Drive-through window - Th-Sat L&D

              Charlie Williams Pinecrest - Locations: 473 Hwy 29N, 706/354-7900; 2020 Timothy Rd, 706/549-6552 - BBQ - Catfish, shrimp, chicken, steak, hamburgers and sandwiches with fries, hushpuppies, sides and home-style desserts - Different setup than original Pinecrest Lodge, but same food - Drive-through service at both locations - 7d L&D

              Charlie Williams Pinecrest Lodge - 1 Pinecrest Lodge Rd - 706/353-2606 - Southern foods - Barbecue, catfish, seafood, greens, hushpuppies - All-you-can-eat seafood, steak and barbecue buffet on F and Sat and an all-you-can eat country-style buffet with catfish, fried chicken, barbecue, macaroni and cheese, collards, desserts and more for Sunday lunch - Original location - F-Sat L&D, Sun L

              Fresh Air Barbeque - 1110 Hull Rd - 706/546-6060 - BBQ - Spinoff from Jackson (Flovilla) and Macon GA locations

              Bogart (NE, ~5 mis W of Athens)

              Fresh Air Barbeque - 5170 Atlanta Hwy - 770/725-5227 - BBQ - Spinoff from Flovilla

              Danielsville (NE, ~15 mis NNE of Athens, on US 29)

              Dean Zeb Bar-B-Que (aka Zebs Bar B Que) - Royston Rd (US 29) - 706/795-2701 - BBQ with pepper-vinegar sauce - Tu-Sun L, Tu-Sat D

              Franklin Springs (far NE, ~25 mis NE of Athens, ~2 mis E of Royston)

              Bar H Barbecue - 1380 E. Main St - 706/245-0022 - BBQ - Casual - Eat in or takeaway - No res - $, MC/V

              Hull (NE, ~8 mis NE of Athens on SR 72)

              Bills Bar B Que - Danielsville Rd (10010 Fortson Store Rd, off US 29) - 706/549-4949 - BBQ - Chopped pork or beef, FFs, hushpuppies, fish strips, shrimp, chicken strips, sandwiches, hamburgers, hamburger steaks - L&D

              Lexington (NE, ~10 mis E of Athens, along US 78)

              Paul's Barbecue - US 78 (downtown) - 706/743-8254 (listed as Paul George, Elberton Rd, Carlton, GA) - BBQ - Hickory- and red oak-smoked pork, Brunswick stew, Bunny brand white bread - Meats are cooked on his farm then brought to little store on Sat AMs where meat is pulled and sauced - Tables and folding chairs - Open Fourth of July and Sats from ~0900h til stew and meat is gone (~1400h)

              Watkinsville (NE mid, ~10 mis S of Athens, along US 129)

              Thomas Barbecue (aka Hot Thomas Barbeque & Peach Orchard) - 3753 Greensboro Hwy - 706/769-6550 - BBQ - Pork barbecue, ribs, chicken (Sat only), Brunswick stew, chili dogs, burgers, homemade desserts - Platter with large heap of hickory-cooked pork, good sweet-pickle cole slaw, Brunswick stew and white bread - Dark red, vinegary sauce (order hot) - M-Sat from 0800h, but maybe as late as 1045h

              2 Replies
              1. re: SBCochran

                should have read your post first

                1. re: SBCochran

                  Fresh Air and Hot Thomas' are both very good. I've tried to find Zeb's before--it has a legendary status--but I've never been able to find the damn place!

                2. 'tis no more, but the only answer to a question about Athens BBQ used to be Poss's.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: wabbitslayer

                    Could someone please describe Poss's sauce for me? Thanks,

                    1. re: dvreed

                      My mother's best friend dated one of the Poss boys in high school, and managed to get her hands on the family recipe. Nothing special - smoke a big chunk of pork and then simmer it in a vinegar-tabasco sauce. I can get the details if you are interested.

                      We grew up on Poss's; fresh when it was available, canned and homemade when we moved north.

                      1. re: billfolk

                        PLEASE post the Poss's sauce recipe -- we're talkiing about my childhood here [my cousins worked there], but also the important fact that it was not a thick red sauce. [see our book about NC BBQ, Holy Smoke -- sorry, couldn't resist the plug]

                        Holy Smokes
                        1944 Braselton Hwy Ste 109, Buford, GA 30519

                        1. re: dvreed

                          OK, disclaimer: I got this recipe from my mother, who got if from her best friend, who said she got it from Bobby Poss in high school. It has been passed down on 3x5 recipe cards for the last, oh, 50 years or so. So it may or may not bear any resemblance to the Poss' s from our childhood, but it tastes good anyway.

                          Get a 3 or 4 lb pork butt, or if you can't find that, shoulder. Score it deeply and rub it with rock salt. Smoke it, or if you don't have a smoker, soak it with half a bottle of hickory liquid smoke and roast covered it in a very low oven until it is falling off the bone.

                          Pull the meat off the bone, break it up, remove any fatty, gristly bits, and strain off the cooking liquid. In my mother's recipe it appears that the cooking liquid is discarded, which seems a waste. I de-fat it and use in in place of some of the water for the sauce that follows.

                          Sauce: mix 2 cups cider vinegar and 2 cups water, 1 tsp thyme, 3 cloves garlic, 1/2 onion - whole with skin, 1 bay leaf, lots of cracked black pepper to taste (according to mom the black pepper flavor should be fairly prominent for this style of barbecue), and 6 or 7 small red chilis (she used red chili flakes or Tabasco when these were not available). Simmer the sauce for about half an hour, strain, and pour over the meat in a casserole. Return the meat to a low oven for at least half an hour or so.

                          This is a little hotter and has a more prominent vinegar taste than I remember, but it was a long time ago so I can't be sure, The canned Poss's seemed to have a slight sweetness to it, but I could be confusing the BBQ with the Brunswick stew - it was so long ago and I was just a little kid.

                          1. re: billfolk

                            Sounds right to me --- my cousin, who used to work there, remembered the onions and of course the vinegar. I like it because it's clearly an old recipe and clearly related to the ur-recipe in North Carolina, central Tennessee, and other odd places like Blytheville, Arkansas. Thank you very much for taking the trouble to post it.

                            1. re: dvreed

                              I should mention that the sauce recipe is for TWO pork butts, so if your are just cooking one as I described, you would make half as much sauce.

                          2. re: dvreed

                            Well I got around to buying your book, and I really enjoyed it. It got me motivated to pick up a smoker and start doing it right. The recipe was good made in the oven with liquid smoke, but real wood smoke takes it to a whole new level. I highly recommend your book to anyone who is serious about barbeque. Under the influence of your book, I have committed the heresy of adding ketchup to my sauce (and slaw), and I have to say, it's not half bad!

                            1. re: billfolk

                              Thanks -- I certainly didn't expect to sell a book when we got into this conversation -- that's a bonus. I like that Lexington NC style with ketchup myself -- and because it's shoulders rather than whole hog, it's a little smokier, which I also like. There's very little BBQ I don't like, however. Have fun. We've just gotten a new smoker ourselves and are having a great time branching out, even unto brisket.

                    2. My friends and I really dig Zeb Dean's and Jot 'Em Down - Zebs is a little drive from Athens, but Jot 'Em Down is out on the east side.