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A barbecue hunt begins—tell me your favorites

Posted By: Bill Addison · 3/22/2010 9:19:00 AM
It’s been eleven years since Atlanta magazine did a cover feature devoted to barbecue, so we’re tackling one for this summer. I’ve just started a metro-wide canvas to hit as many barbecue joints as I can: I’ll drive an hour in any direction from this city in search of transcendent ’cue. (And I’ll stretch those parameters a bit to hit Fresh Air and other spots that I’ve heard are exceptional.)

What are your favorites? And what are the best things to order there?

My favorite out of the five I’ve already hit? Ms. Betty’s House of Ribs, at 1281 Bouldercrest Drive, not far from East Atlanta Village. With only two plastic tables in its tiny, converted-trailer interior, most folks stop by for takeout.

I ate my ribs there. They had an unctuous freshness that suggested they’d just been pulled out of the smokehouse in the back. No crunchy, lacquered surface on these ribs, but the complaints end there. The smoke had saturated clear to the bone, and the meat was velvety and yielding. Wow. (My awkward pic doesn't do it close to justice.)

msbetty_ribs

I like the carnal, rip-it-off-the-bone pleasure of the ribs more than the rib tips, though the portion of tips was certainly generous and there were some choice bits of meat to be plucked from these nubs:

msbetty_ribtip

Ms. Betty’s sauces are laudably unconventional. She offers two—a honey-soy and a mustard. You’re encouraged to mix them together, and, combined, they reminded me of the sauces you get in packets in Chinese-American restaurants. In this context, they commingle beautifully for sweet-and-sharp effect. (Also, I'm partial to mustard-based barbecue sauce; I can't stand an overly sweet tomato variation.)

msbetty_sauce

Here’s hoping there are more pleasures over the next two months of my ’cue quest like this.

msbetty_trailor