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Want Real 'Cue in ATL

Not Fox and Bros or other chain style stuff. Home smoked shack style is what Im looking for. Thanks!

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  1. you're looking for Fat Matt's and Community Q

    2 Replies
    1. re: hungree

      I don't know what exactly you'd consider a "home smoked shack style." I'm not sure that the few places that were really that way are still around. I don't consider Fox Brothers "chain style" since it's a single location operated by the owners. They make more liberal use of their fryer than some other places do, but I don't know that that detracts from the Q.

      Community Q is great in that they not only do Q very well, they also make a bunch of great veggie sides that you could compile a meal from and avoid the meat. Community is descended from Sam & Daves' (now BBQ-1 and Dave Poe's), and they all do good stuff.

      Fat Matts gets praise but isn't even in the same league as many other places in town. If you want to go hang out, have beers, and listen to music, it's fine. If you care about the food at all, it isn't real Q. I don't know exactly what they do to the ribs, but they aren't smoked. I suspect they boil or bake them and then finish them on a grill. Look for a smoke ring (there is none). Look at the grease oozing out (see an old photo in my profile) that wouldn't be there for low-and-slow cooked ribs. The sandwich is basically a sloppy joe- pre-sauced pork to cover up the fact that there's no smoke/flavor there.

      Other places that come to mind: Beaver Creek Biscuit Co in Lithia Springs is really good (and inexpensive) but nowhere near as gourmet-y as Community (if you care about veggies). Spiced Right in Lilburn. DBA in Morningside. Swallow at the Hollow (though I think it isn't as good as it once was).

      If you're avoiding chains, Dreamland is the first that comes to mind.

      1. re: hungree

        Fat Matt's is about as far from legitimate Q as possible. They boil the ribs and then finish them over coals. Horrible, horrible Q.

        Community Q and Fox Brothers are both excellent. Another is Fresh Air in Jackson, GA. about 40 minutes south of Atlanta.

      2. heres Yelps listing of bet BBQs http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=...

        Ive tried many of them and do really like Pig N Chic,esp the one on Peachtree Indus.I know the owner personally and hes a fanatic about service and quality.He works each store every week, including Sunday..Its not a chain but he has opened 3 stores over the last 10 years.BBQ is like pizza, your tastes are affected by what you had as a kid.Bill, the owner was raiesed in NC and his BBQ is NC style.They make their own condiments in the NC style--his hsuh puppies are dead on great.In my view Dreamland is probably the worst, at least the one on 141--i like Fat Matts, but its a little too noisy for me, esp if theres music-

        1. Fat Matts boils their ribs. Ick. I also don't consider Fox Bros a chain ??

          Really excellent barbecue can be found at Sam’s BBQ1 in Marietta, Zeigler’s in Acworth. Both are worth the drive. Look for the Atlanta Magazine BBQ issue for full reviews of these and many other places. For something just a bit different, I have heard wonderful things about Heirloom BBQ near the intersection of 285/75 (Akers Mill rd?). I plan to try it asap since I have had very good reccos from very picky friends.

          2 Replies
          1. re: martyparty

            Heirloom is fantastic. I forgot about them in my post above. Another highly worthy spot. It is very korean influenced as well in sauce and spicing.

            1. re: samlev

              I agree about Heirloom. Really good.

          2. Like ted said, Swallow at the Hollow used to be excellent but the BBQ has gone downhill a lot IMO. The sides are still good, mac & cheese there is one of my favorites.

            Bub-ba-Q has locations in Woodstock and Jasper and they're Q is some of the best I've had. Their ribs actually taste like smoked pork, as opposed to tasting of just the dry rub, smoke and sauce. I go to the Woodstock location pretty regularly and it's my current favorite.

            1. Every time someone says Fatt Matts is good BBQ, Satan gets to pull the wings off an angel. Fun plce to sit and have a beer, great music, awful and that's the best you'll get from me) food.

              Heritage is good, Sams1 too. Let's not forget Dave Poe's (the other half of Sam and Dave's). Great meat, the sides can be a little spotty (I was served the nastiest mac and cheese in a broken sauce there; if the brisket hadn't made me almost pass out, I would have asked for the manager)

              1. I join others in disputing your characterization of Fox Bros. That said, heirloom is excellent [lunched there yesterday]; community quite good; and Dave Poe's place in Marietta is up there, too. For real southern ambiance, go south on I-75 to exit 206; turn left; drive to Jackson; veer south; go about 5-6 miles; and turn into the dirt lot of starlight. You will be transported back to the 1930s and eat salty, smoky pork 'q

                3 Replies
                1. re: RxDiesel

                  sorry, brainf**t. Its Fresh Air outside Jackson. geez, minds going fast ......

                  1. re: RxDiesel

                    That place rocks. I went there as a little kid. White bread, bottle coke, Delicious. It's been 40 years, but I still remember it.

                    1. re: shnoopy

                      I'll second Fresh Air. I drove by it by chance, stopped and was pretty impressed. Good Q. Good stew. Good slaw. Worth a trip.

                2. As a native Atlantan, I have never understood Atlanta's sick obsession with Fatt Matts. It is boiled 'fat-o-rama'. Caters to the young and so-called hip crowd. Agree that Dreamland is horrible, and Ted it is a chain out of Tuscaloosa. And please, let's keep Yelp out of an otherwise intelligent discussion.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jethro stella

                    I agree. I also remember watching local news stories as a kid where Dreamland was feeding a free Thanksgiving dinner to the less fortunate because they hadn't paid their taxes. That was when there was just the one, so I'm pretty familiar with where it is. Roll Tide!

                    1. re: jethro stella

                      It's the obsession of very specific Atlantans and people who _visit_ Atlanta. It was featured in a George Clooney movie as "the place to get BBQ in Atlanta". If you enjoyed drinking fishbowls in Buckhead, you probably grew up to like Fat Matt's.

                      1. re: fullyfunctional

                        Thanks folks! already been to fox n bros. Thumbs down. I would recommend their brunswick stew over tater tots over anything there if you have to go. Gonna seek out pig and chick when Im back down there in a few weeks...

                      2. Harold's BBQ in Atlanta. 'nuff said. Been there for years, been voted the best a few times.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: shnoopy

                          Balderdash. Harold's best days are so far behind it that they're not even in the rear view mirror anymore.

                          Harold's isn't aging like wine, but more like bananas.

                        2. If you want the very best barbecue, skip the restaurants and go to a competition. Barbecue served at a restaurant is 50% - 75% of it's full potential. At a competition, you'll be able to eat the very best barbecue has to offer as the team's put everything they've got into turning out as near perfect barbecue as they can. I may be biased as I am a barbecue competitor myself, but once you've tried competition barbecue, no restaurant will be able to match up.

                          The only downside is there's not always a competition going on nor nearby. But, if you can find one nearby - GO! You'll be able to eat as many as 20+ different teams' barbecue. It's barbecue heaven!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: 1POINT21GW

                            I agree that "small batch" barbecue has a lot higher potential than somewhere that's churning out hundreds of pounds of "product" a day. That said, the caveat is that you don't necessarily get to try what the competitors are turning in to the judges. Some comps have competitors who vend too, some have folks who are just there to vend.

                            The other thing about competition Q is that it has to blow away the judge with just one bite. That's all they're likely to get. To me, that pushes competitors to turn out meat that's over-flavored (whether spicy, sweet, or a combo) relative to what you'd want to sit down and enjoy a plate of. Competitors also do unholy things like add margarine to the meat to help it stay moist. That and the whole muffin pan chicken trend is just nuts- I've tried this myself, and how could chicken that's smoke-poached in butter/margarine taste bad? It's good but I keep thinking I need to be running to get a Lipitor prescription when I've made it.

                            I still think there are places in ATL that do really good Q- Community, Fox Bros, and Heirloom Mkt are my favorites right now.

                            1. re: ted

                              Old Brick Pit in Chamblee still smokes everything old school. My only concern recently was that they purchased an industrial chopper that turns the pork into shavings; instead of pulling it and cutting by hand as they did years ago. My guess is that the ribs & chicken are still as good.

                          2. It's not in Atlanta proper but if you go out to Suwanee you will find a place called Dillard's. They smoke the ribs in a smoker out back and have a fairly killer slightly sweet but tangy sauce. Be sure to get them DRY - and the sauce on the side.

                            The place is clean but not much to look at. I assure you that you will be pleasantly surprised. It is just good BBQ. Best ever? I dunno, that's a personal thing. "I" think it's darn close.

                            Best thing to do is to get more ribs than you can eat then the next day or so after you toss them on a grill and brush on the sauce to get some good charred bits. It is "slap yo mamma" good.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Aabacus

                              "It is 'slap yo mamma' good."

                              This reminds me of my favorite barbecue place: Germantown Commissary in Memphis (technically Germantown), TN. Their slogan is "So Good Yull Slap Yo Mama".

                            2. Gosh, I didn't know Germantown, Tn. was in Atlanta......

                              1. Fox Bros AKA Rockstar BBQ. I do love their wings but wish they would smoke 'em a bit longer. For anything else Q I go to Community Q. Always wanted to try Heirloom but always forget about them.

                                Anybody got anything to say about these guys: Garden Produce & Country Store. A few buddies of mine said it was great but I don't remember exactly what they said about the Q. An old timer with a white beard and indigo osh kosh overalls told me it's the best place in the city. I think he might have owned it... this was years ago.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: AnyaTika

                                  I think Garden Produce & Country Store is closed, at least temporarily.

                                2. You want Thompson Bros. in Smyrna. www.thompsonbbq.com. Not sure why no one's mentioned it yet. It's a whole in wall in the Cumberland plaza shopping center.

                                  1. I echo Fat Matt's for ribs, and Lone Star for brisket.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: atlfoodie

                                      Is Daddy D'z not even on the radar?

                                      1. re: sjgray

                                        D'z should be on the radar if people are mentioning Fatty Matt's and out of state joints. I went recently, after many years hiatus, and was dissapointed and then dissapointed I felt that way.

                                        I always regret not going to Community if I go elsewhere.

                                        My Pops is a certified Q judge, soon to be master certified. He doesn't even bother with Q joints. Also, competition judges like sweet sauces and technically speaking the ribs should be all dente, not fall off the bone tender. Two things I've had a hard time with- I like dry rubs, sauce on the side so I can savor the bark and I'm an SC sauce kinda girl.

                                        Good to see a handful of joints can nail the right texture of mac n cheese... now can we get some hardy cheese flavors too?

                                    2. I've been living in Texas for 6 years, have been BBQ hunting from Houston to Austin, to San Antonio and back, and everything in between, in the sticks and in the city. I recently visited Atlanta for a few days and sampled some of their BBQ. Fox and Bros. is like eating the worst Texas style BBQ i've ever had...dry, over salted, over smoked and no character. Fat Matt's on the other hand, regardless of how they did it, produced the most delicious, succulent, fall off the bone tenderness with the most wondeful flavors my BBQ-whooped heart has ever made love to. I tried to pick them off my plate from the bone, but the meat just stayed right there on my plate. Their sides were junk, but the ribs were so good, I didn't care. Wish I had time to try some of the other suggestions, but after hearing negative reviews on Fat Matt's, I'm not sure I'd trust the rest of those opinions. Fatt Matt's forever! Pic below does not do them justice....GO THERE!

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: drguitar

                                        The photo may not "do them justice," but you can see the things you need to see- no smoke ring, burn marks from being thrown on the grill after being treated in an unholy fashion (boiled, steamed, or whatever it is they do).

                                        Fox Bros may not have been "on" when you were there, but throwing Fat Matt's into the ring with Kreuz, Black's, Cooper's and the like as a result makes me think you need to do more homework. Heck, Fat Matt's doesn't even attempt to do brisket, and that ought to be a good indication. I'd rather eat at Rudy's, and it's a gas station BBQ chain.

                                        1. re: ted

                                          Haha, fair enough. I understand the difference between 'Grilling' and 'BBQ'. Let me take the moment to declare my bias: I prefer the sugar rubs and more 'wet' styles of BBQ over the dry, salt-pepper BBQ that you obviously have a thing for. I tried Kreuz, Black's, and Cooper's...No offense, but they were mostly too dry, salty, and bland for my taste...sorry, just my preference. I'll probably catch hell for this too, but here goes: personally, I think Papa's and Salt Lick have more depth in their flavor profile (not just smoke/salt/pepper), especially Papa's BBQ sauce, rich in celery seed, molasses and whatever ferry dust they sprinkled in there. I DID, however, very much appreciate Luling City Market (coarse sausage is killer) and Gatlin's, who had VERY tender ribs. At the end of the day, I always wish I would have dropped by Papa's BBQ to pick up some sauce before I went to these other places (heeeyyy). Once again, no offense, and I appreciate the response. Do tell me though, if Fox Bros. can't get 1 out of 3 crucial meats (brisket, ribs, pulled pork) right in the middle of dinner rush, then when ARE they 'ON'?

                                          1. re: drguitar

                                            Also, the "fall off the bone", leave the meat on the plate when you pick up a rib is not a well cooked rib. It means the rib has been horrifically over cooked. Perfectly done ribs should have a little pull to them when you take them off the bone, not just strip away and fall apart. Anyone who cooks a fall off the bone rib (I know, popular at a lot of chain restos that do baby back ribs) is not doing good BBQ, ask any professional judge.

                                            Now, while I will not debate the fact that you do not like Kreutz, etc. is due to personal taste and I can appreciate that. I personally love any and all BBQ that is good, no matter the local preferences for sauces, rubs, etc. but one thing I cannot abide is when an establishment boils the ribs, finishes them on a grill and then calls it BBQ. Sorry, you braised them (using that term loosely) and then slathered them with sauce.

                                            I will agree with you though, Fox Bro's has gone down hill a little in recent months. Community Q and Heirloom are better.

                                            1. re: samlev

                                              Once again, I understand the difference between 'BBQ' and 'Grilling'. I grew up calling anything cooked over a flame BBQ, so just a habit, sorry. Even if they weren't 'Q,' it doesn't change the fact that everyone in our group thought they were incredibly good. Yes, I know post title say's 'Que', so my apologies.

                                              For the record, "Fat Matt's cooks delicious GRILLED ribs." Haha, happy?

                                              1. re: drguitar

                                                It isn't a wet vs dry style thing for me. It's been a long, long time, but I really enjoyed the Salt Lick too. I just think Fat Matt's ribs are poorly prepared. In my profile, there's a photo of the last time I got takeout from there. Note the window pane of grease-soaked butcher paper beneath.

                                                A big part of well-made ribs in any style is cooking them in a way that renders some of the fat out so that they aren't a greasy gut bomb. They could be roasted a la some of our local Brazilian steakhouses and still taste good. Fat Matt's fails that basic test of competence. Not to mention the sloppy joe pork sandwich and underwhelming sides.

                                                For ambiance, live music, and maybe folks' treasured memories (like the Varsity), it's great. I just wish people didn't name check them for the food.

                                                It's been a couple years since I've been to Fox Bros, but Community and Heirloom have been excellent lately.

                                                1. re: ted

                                                  I wish I was still in Atlanta, so I could try out Community and Heirloom. I don't remember having a 'gut-bomb,' haha, but I like the terminology for what gives one a 'food coma.' I never take into consideration how the food makes me feel after eating when judging the quality of the dish. If I did that, then all REAL 'Que' places would be disqualified from my restaurant list, since the heavy carbon monoxide poisoning always makes me feel like I just smoked a pack of cigarettes or siphoned the smoke off of a wood fire for about an hour. Nutritionally, I'd much rather eat the all of the fat off of a rack of ribs than consume the smoke that goes into cooking real 'Q.' It is known to cause cancer and is the main reason that my gf and I stopped eating Q 3 times a week. At least you can run a couple miles to work off the fat...not sure you can negate the effects of smoke-poisoning. Sad, but true, the good things in life are usually bad for us...

                                                  1. re: ted

                                                    Interestingly, I recently stumbled upon an interesting rib recipe (Q-guys hide your eyes: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/shays...) which lays down a bed of sliced onions, a rack of ribs on top (bone side down), and a can of beer poured over top, covered with foil. Bake at 350 x 30 min, then brush with sauce and grill to finish. Personally, I think these were overcooked for my taste, but some parts were extremely tasty. I'm thinking of trying it again, but maybe cooking at lower temp and/or shorter period in the oven. The heavy beer flavor was a bit much for my gf, but I enjoyed it.

                                                    The relevance to our discussion is shown below in a pool of fat that was rendered out.

                                            1. re: jethro stella

                                              Why do YOU even bother to reply if you have nothing to say?

                                              1. Fat Mac's has terrible ribs butgood chicken.Fox Bros doesn't deliver real bbq pork,prob cooked in an oven.Fatt macks always full,but chicken is the only thing edible there

                                                1. I've been following this thread for a while, more from curiosity because I'm not a BBQ connoisseur (my choice is usually driven by proximity). But I happened to eat at Col. Poole's in Ellijay this weekend and wanted to throw it out there, even though it's 1.5hrs north of Atlanta. SO GOOD! Not sure if anyone else has tried it, but well worth the trip for someone who loves BBQ, if it made an impression on this non-expert. (Yes, I know the thread is "in ATL" but thought it was a logical place to add the comment.)

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: jboeke

                                                    Thanks a lot for that recommendation. I'm going to put it on the list.

                                                    1. re: jboeke

                                                      I second poole's - we have a weekend place in Ellijay and go there all the time.

                                                      In ATL, I'd say Pig n' Chik, Williamson Bros. and Fox Bros.