BBQ is my favorite food. Ever. I would choose it as my last meal. It's all about the sauce - I love Carolina vinegar and mustard based sauce. I've gone on road trips for the BBQ (hello Sprayberry's). Memphis and Carolina styles are my favorite. The sausage and cheese plate at Rendezvous is my heaven, and I once had their ribs shipped all the way from Memphis. I try new BBQ places with zeal in hopes of finding that perfect plate.
I've been wanting to create this list for a while, but it seemed overwhelming. How do you judge places when each is so different? I thought about it, kept a list on my phone, asked friends, and polled Facebook. What I learned is that I am not the only one passionate about BBQ. Most people I know feel adamant that their favorite spot is THE BEST. When I started writing I knew I wanted to include Fox Bros, Pig n Chik and Heirloom Market. Once I started asking people, I learned about so many hidden gems in the city. Today I drove to Grand Champion BBQ at Krog Street to see if the brisket was as good as I'd heard. IT WAS... and the mac n cheese blew my mind. I walked up to the counter and asked them to give me a sampling of their best food. The sausage took me straight back to Memphis, and the pulled pork needed no sauce. I've enjoyed learning about all the other places included in this list as well, and I have a lot of new places to try. I did a ton or research, and I think this is a comprehensive list of the 12 best BBQ places in Atlanta. As I've said from the beginning, I am just a fan and not an expert. At the end of the post, I included a list of popular BBQ places that people recommend, and I am looking forward to trying them and learning even more about Atlanta BBQ.
Pig N Chik
Pig-N-Chick is my go to BBQ lunch spot. I think they have the best sauce in the city, and the vinegar and mustard sauce on their pulled pork is the perfect combination. I usually request it for my birthday lunch or whenever I get to pick where we go. I usually recommend them for catering, and if you've been to a birthday party at my house, chances are you've tried it!
Owner: Jim Graddy
Readers suggest ordering: pork, chicken, slaw, okra THE SAUCE
I prefer the pulled pork, preferably in a sandwich piled—upon request—with coleslaw. Props for the mustard and vinegar sauces, which both avoid the too-sweet trap. - Atlanta Magazine
Graddy said he cooks his pork shoulders 14 to 16 hours at a temperature “somewhere between 200 and 300 degrees.” The exact temp is a closely guarded secret. Ribs here are St. Louis cut with the requisite pink smoke ring and the right texture. As with all meats here, the ribs are served naked, with no sauce. I’ve always felt that good barbecue should be able to stand on its own so the true flavor of the meat comes through, and on that score, Pig-N-Chik’s meat delivers the goods. - Sandy Springs Life
Heirloom Market BBQ
A few of the girls from my work lunch brunch wanted to try Heirloom when it first opened. We went to the Korean BBQ restaurant located next to a gas station and ordered the specials. I was blown away. It was BBQ like I'd never tasted it before. The Korean influence put this over the top for me. Since then they've opened they no longer allow patrons to dine in the restaurant. I've picked it up for dinner a few times, and the carry out is mind blowing.
Address: 2243 Akers Mill Rd. Atlanta, GA 30339
Chefs: Cody Taylor and Jiyeon Lee
What to order:
The spicy Korean pork is a good place to start to understand what Heirloom's up to. Pork ribs are marinated in the fermented chile paste gochujang — more sweet and earthy than spicy — then smoked with oak and hickory. Get it on a sandwich or as a combo plate. - Zagat
With no real seating, and almost no parking, you’re going to order at the counter, and may have to wait outside too, but their Korean-Southern hybrid Q is worth it... and the hassle of eating it while perched on the hood of your car, or sitting on one of the piles of hickory stacked outside, or wherever. - Thrillist Atlanta
When I started doing research, most people said Fox Bros was the best. They specialize in brisket, which they smoke over hickory for 9-12 hours. The owners Jonathan and Justin Fox grew up in Texas. They wanted to being Texas BBQ to Atlanta, but use local flavors, which is why they chose the hickory. After cooking and serving BBQ at Smith's Olde bar and winning runner up for Best Overall BBQ by the AJC, they opened the restaurant on Dekalb Avenue in 2007 and have been making exceptional food ever sense.
Address: 1238 Dekalb Ave NE 30307
Chefs: Jonathan and Jason Fox
What to order: Brisket, the Burger (featured on Diners Drive ins and Dives), the Ribs, and Tater Tots
Fox Brothers is the best all around, absolutely. Best smoked wings I’ve ever tasted. Fantastic brisket and ribs. Great standard sides, and even better creative sides (fox a roni, frito pie). Their dinosaur bone of a beef short rib is my favorite bbq dish I’ve ever eaten. - Zach McElveen
Their sliced brisket has the proper nubbly texture achieved from slow cooking, and their tender on-the-bone short rib, sold Thursdays and Saturdays as a special, is the best iteration of that Flintstonian indulgence in the city. - Atlanta Magazine
The flavor in the burnt ends is about as intense as BBQ ever gets. Like that best piece of your pulled pork sandwich - the smoky edges of the meat.. except the whole dish is those exclusively. And the white gravy on their mashed potatoes? It simply needs to be experienced for its peppery perfection. - My husband
The Bros Fox are renowned for their meat-smoking prowess, but their more creative takes on meat include chicken-fried ribs, a Brunswick stew version of mac and cheese, and a “burger” made with brisket they've sliced, covered with bacon, and drenched in melted pimento cheese. - Thrillist Atlanta
Those hickory-smoked wings are great, yep, but why not start out with an order of chicken-fried ribs ($9) too? The restaurant takes its St. Louis–style smoked ribs, breads and fries them and serves them with an Alabama-style white BBQ sauce. - Zagat
Jonathan and Justin Fox don’t mess around. Their Texas-style barbecue joint is famous for bringing Frito pie to the Southeast, but their brilliance shines in the Tominator, a base of tater tots covered in Brunswick stew and smothered in melted cheese. - Eater Atlanta
The Greater Good Barbeque
The Greater Good has fantastic smoked meats and a cool atmosphere. I've never had a meat here I did not enjoy. My favorite thing is the BBQ salad, if you are into those, and my friends love the rib sandwich. I've had a lot of people tell me the pork is the best in the city, and I can't argue with that
Address: 4441 Roswell Road 30342
Readers recommend: BBQ Chicken Salad, rib sandwich, fries, mac n cheese, pulled pork, smoked wings
Grand Champion BBQ (Krog Street)
I went to Grand Champion today for lunch because I could not let this article go out without sampling the most buzzed about BBQ place in the city right now. I asked them to serve me their most popular dishes, and I got smoked sausage, pork and brisket with mac and cheese on the side. The meal was phenomenal.
Address: 99 Krog Street 30307 (additional Locations)
Chef: Robert Owens
Readers recommend: Mac n Cheese (AJC), Beef Brisket (AJC), Ribs (AJC), Sausage and Pulled Pork
Awards: Runner Up for Best BBQ in GA by Atlanta Magazine, Best Mac n Cheese (AJC), Best Beef Brisket (AJC), Best Ribs (AJC)
The “criticism” of GCB’s meat is that it is sometimes “too” delectable. Yeah, like when you tell your boss you’re “too hard of a worker”. But don’t worry, once you make it past the smoker by the door, if the ribs you order actually fall off the bone, you’ll have some of the city’s creamiest mac and cheese to help catch it. - Thrillist Atlanta
Southern barbecue gets the local-sourcing treatment from this ATL-based 'cue chain, and the modest size of this Krog Street Market food stall doesn't diminish the time and energy put into the offerings. Order at the counter and take in smoky scents wafting from behind the doors where savory ribs, tender pulled pork and traditional sides get prepared. Sauces are available, but rarely necessary with GC's meats. - Zagat
Sweet Auburn BBQ
Address: 656 North Highland Ave 30306 (additional locations) + Food Truck
Chef: Howard Hsu/ Joey Stallings
Readers recommend: wings, slaw, beef brisket, Carolina pork bowl
Start with Asian-inspired pimento cheese wontons at the first brick-and-mortar shop by Howard Hsu, who started with a Sweet Auburn Barbecue food truck and a counter at Sweet Auburn Curb Market. Stick to the Asian path with coconut lemongrass spare ribs, or go domestic with Memphis-, Carolina-, and Texas- style dishes. - Eater Atlanta
Bone Lick BBQ
My cousin Rusty Goss, who is a chef here in Atlanta, wrote me and said, "Bone Lick BBQ...on the west side. If you don't know you need to." If it's good enough for a chef it's good enough for me!
Address: 1131 Huff Road NW, Atlanta, GA
Chef: Mike LaSage
Readers recommend: Spicy Sausage wrapped in bacon
Not even 2yrs-old, this Mike LaSage-helmed, and David Cross (yes, Tobias Funke)-backed spot isn't screwing around when it comes to smoking, frying, or all-out ‘cueing, and while the meat is spectacular, the introduction of things like fresh, fried pork rinds, their pork belly BLT, and next-level pork-n-pork-n-beans to Atlanta's BBQ scene is a welcomeArrested Development. - Thrillist Atlanta
For barbecue as spicy as the staff, venture into this Westside storefront for house-infused moonshine, a vinyl-only music policy, and 48-hour marinated wings. Adventurous diners, ask for the Just Trust Us appetizer plate, and for those looking for more structure, build your own sandwich with a variety of bun choices. - Eater Atlanta
The next BBQ place on my "must try" list. These reviews so not lie! People rave about the mac n cheese, bbq and sides, so basically it's all good! I need to make a special trip to Decatur for this one.
Address: 1361 Clairmont Rd Decatur, GA 30033
Chef: David Roberts
Readers recommend: Beef rib
The "impossibly smokey", "succulent" 'cue and "sinfully" good sides at this "neighborhood" Decatur joint "could incite a food coma" say fans; though some report "no fancy decor" and "limited seating", "speedy" counter service and a feeling of "camaraderie" compensate, and most agree this "big player in the BBQ wars" "gets it right." - Zagat
In Atlanta’s pork-saturated marketplace, it’s refreshing to find people who take pride in the bovine side of barbecue: served with a perfect “bark” of smoky, crunchy meat, their bones aren't just giant, they're also better than that episode where Booth and Dr. Brennan find so... err, well, better than any episode of Bones, actually. - Thrillist Atlanta
The reliable pulled pork is enough to fill up the Decatur location, but the unconventional and creative side dishes take the cake. David Roberts’ infamous mac and cheese blends rigatoni, cheddar, Monterey Jack, parmesan, and heavy cream, and the blueberry-pecan bread pudding will satiate any sweet tooth. - Eater Atlanta
Daddy Dz is a hometown favorite in Grant Park. Though I haven't personally been there, the reviews are top notch, and the people who recommended it to me know their BBQ.
Address: 264 Memorial Dr SE Atlanta, GA 30312
Readers recommend: ribs, que wraps
This impressively rundown "shacktstaurant" has won s-loads of awards, principally on the strength of some killer ribs, which happen to provide a nice “meat plate” on which you're encouraged to pile on some Polish sausage, or half a chicken, or a few of their Famous Que Wraps -- BBQ pork wrapped in bite-sized bits of dough and then deep-fried. - Thrillist Atlanta
For true barbecue sans frills, Daddy D’z is the ITP choice. Located on Memorial Drive in Grant Park, the ribs and Brunswick stew far outshine the decor. Start with their famous que wraps and settle into the bite-size barbecued pork wrapped in dough and deep fried. - Eater Atlanta
The funky run-down shack is packed with crowds looking for 'cue. Blue collar, white collar and no collar at all — folks gather to dive into plates piled high with sweet, savory barbecue (beef, pork, ribs and chicken) and traditional sides. - Creative Loafing
I love this place for the wings and ability to drink beer on the porch. New cooks and attention to detail have made this a wonderful place to grab BBQ in VaHi.
Address: 1190 N Highland Ave NE Atlanta, GA 30306
Readers recommend: The wings
D.B.A. serves its ribs either wet or dry, but get 'em dry so you can enjoy the smoky meat that pulls away from the bone easily, but doesn't fall apart like it does at places that wrap their ribs. Four sauces are on the table if you must. - Zagat
If The Archie Bunker sandwich, complete with smoked pulled pork, mac and cheese, sweet barbecue sauce, and cheddar cheese on Texas toast, doesn’t hook you, the banana pudding will. Dine here for a rambunctious patio in the heart of Virginia-Highland and return to try all of the creative combinations - Eater Atlanta
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Fat Matt's is an Atlanta institution. People go for the ribs and stay for the music. There is a line out the door every day at lunch, so make sure you go early.
Address: 1811 Piedmont Ave NE Atlanta, GA 30324
Readers recommend: The ribs
Don’t be deterred by the line out the door or the lack of parking, the line moves quick and parking spots appear out of thin air at the Piedmont Road mainstay. Heralded by Anthony Bourdain, the restaurant hosts live blues bands that play sweetly to the tune of rib-eating patrons. - Eater Atlanta
More that 100 people made BBQ suggestions for me on FB. Below are some additional recommendations. :) I can't wait to try these places!
Ebony and Ivory (Smyrna)
Old South BBQ (Smyrna)
Smoking Gold - Dahlonega
521 Kitchen and Que (get the brisket sandwich with kale slaw on H+F roll)
Swallow at the Hollow (get the smoked wings)
Ms. Betty's House of Ribs (East Atlanta)
Happy Hawg (Hiawassee, GA)
2 Brothers (Alphareta)
Old Hickory House (Tucker - get the brunswick stew)
Waikikie (Hawian BBQ)
Turners (West GA)
One of my readers asked about gluten free BBQ places, and I recommend this article
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