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"BBQ in Atlanta?" a Canadian asks

I'll be coming to Atlanta for a conference in a few months and am beginning to think of places to eat (I imagine this takes some serious research). Can someone offer a primer (with suggestions of places) about Atlanta dining, specifically is their a local BBQ speciality? Are there noteworthy places I should visit?

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  1. Fat Matt's Rib Shack is good in Atl. I know more about bbq in Chattanooga-- a very cool, smaller town if you have a chance to get there (1.5 hrs north). Way Crazy's is amazing for bbq. And the trip up Signal Mountain on the "W" road is an unexpected bit of topo in southern TN. I think pulled pork is the thing to get in the South. And brunswick stew and cobbler, of course.

    1. Despite the flood of recent posts to the contrary, Fatt Matt's Rib Shack is distinctly, unambiguously NOT good. How many times do we Atlanta hounds have to warn visitors away from this place?

      Check out this recent thread:
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

      4 Replies
      1. re: pastramiking

        Good grief. I didn't say it was amazing, but I hardly think it's NOT good. It's totally acceptable bbq, if you ask me. Why don't you suggest something better?

        1. re: Procrastibaker

          I think people go to Fat Matt's more for the "atmosphere" or maybe the nostalgia than the bbq. When the place is packed and a band is playing and you're having a beer on the porch, it can be fun and oddly charming. That said the pulled pork is very different from other local places (too much sauce and it seems to be shredded not chopped) and a lot of people don't like it. BBQ is not really Atlanta's thing.

          1. re: Procrastibaker

            I wholeheartely agree with Therese and amy elizabeth's posts below: Atlanta just isn't a BBQ town.

            But all my friends and family who visit from out of town want me to lead them to quality smoked pork, so I perfectly understand the nature of duckliver's quest.

            Fox Brothers BBQ (at Smith's Olde Bar) is probably the most consistent place for ribs and pulled pork inside I-285. I have my reservations about all three of these places, but Harold's, Rolling Bones and Daddy D'z are all preferable to Fat Matt's.

            1. re: Procrastibaker

              I haven't tried Fox Brothers yet, but my next door neighbor, who's a bit of a hound, wasn't that impressed. I need to try it and come to my own conclusion.

              The atmosphere is fairly clean/suburban, but I think Pig n Chik does very good meat most of the time (that's based on having it every 10 days or so over the past few months, between work and getting takeout). I recently had some brisket leftovers that someone ordered for a meeting at my office, and I was impressed with the beef too. Plus I really dig their potato salad.

              The other place several of us mention repeatedly is The Swallow at the Hollow in Roswell. Maybe the atmosphere is a bit Cracker-Barrel-country, but the Q is good, and the sides are the best.

          2. I think Daddy D'z has good que. Not a fancy place a t all but the que is good, especially the ribs.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bbqme

              Second on the Daddy D'z recommendation. The place is kind of a dump, but the barbecue is the real thing. Many other urban/suburban restaurants have quit cooking exclusively over wood coals. Daddy D'z still does and you can taste the difference.

              The beer could be colder.

            2. A couple of implied assumptions in duckliver's original post:

              1. Finding good restaurants in Atlanta will be difficult.

              2. Atlanta's in the south, and the south is associated with bbq, so he/she might want to have bbq.

              I'll address the second one first. Excellent query re "local BBQ specialty", and the fact that there isn't one illustrates just exactly why you needn't bother eating bbq when you visit here: it wasn't part of the culture historically, and most of what you'll find in Atlanta is either not very good, pretty crappy, or just plain terrible. There are some exceptions, but since you're almost certainly staying downtown (for the conference) you're not going to happen across any of them. You are more likely to find good bbq at home in Canada.

              Assuming that you are, in fact, downtown for this conference, I'll return to the first assumption, that Atlanta might not have great food. In point of fact Atlanta's got lots of terrific restaurants, but very few of them are downtown (because very few people live right in downtown, as there's not much there apart from offices and convention hotels). The surrounding in-town neighborhoods have lots to offer, though.

              Give us an idea of your tastes, your budget (very important---you can drop some serious cash in upmarket restaurants here), your location (downtown, Buckhead, whatever), and your transportation options (some public transit here is good, some sucks) and we can make recommendations. Lots and lots of ethnic here, as many areas are virtually all recent immigrants.

              1. Fat Matts is not good BBQ. Instead, the Pig n Chik is a far better recommendation. The pork is especially moist and appropriately smokey. Likewise, the sauce selection is solid. You might also try The Brick Pit on P'tree Industrial inside 285 for solid BBQ. Repeat, Fat Matts is not good BBQ.