My way home from work takes me past Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q on DeKalb Avenue, and it astounds me how they consistently draw lines that snake out the door. They have satisfying barbecue (the Tomminator—Tater Tots covered in Brunswick stew and melted cheese—is my personal favorite), but other places with barbecue just as compelling don’t attract near the crowds. It’s not unusual to see cars on the grass, cars on the curb, cars parked halfway to McLendon Avenue. Part of it’s the exposure on a busy street, not to mention the friendly Candler Park neighborhood that makes the place an easy walk. Part of it’s the layout of the place—bright and airy, loud and convivial. The Fox brothers themselves are Texas-born, but while the Lone Star State’s influence is detectable in their food, they label their style as Southern—“where we are from and where we are at.”
That would make for a good headline for Jim Auchmutey’s essay on page 53, which kicks off our ambitious survey of the metro Atlanta barbecue scene. Jim, an Atlanta native, set out to determine precisely what the Georgia style of barbecue is, or if it even exists. For better or worse, other areas of the country—Texas, North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City—have staked out unique and identifiable variations on the theme. Does Georgia have one? I’ll leave that for Jim to answer, but I’m not giving anything away by saying that no matter what style you’re a fan of, you’re bound to find it here. Bill Addison, our dining editor and restaurant critic, reviewed fifty-eight barbecue joints around the metro area, but only a deadline and his (presumably) soaring cholesterol numbers kept him from going on and on.
I accompanied Bill on just one outing, which took us all the way to Cartersville and Scott’s Walk-Up Bar-B-Q, a small operation where the owner, Scott Panter, will guide you through the three homemade sauces (also available for sale, and now in my pantry) you can drizzle on his fantastic baby back ribs. It was a perfect late spring evening, capped off with Scott’s sinful peach cobbler; if I’d spent it close to home, I could easily have ended up at Fox Bros., waiting a half hour for a table. Instead I was forty-five miles away, enjoying some of the best food I’d had in a long time. That night I came to my own conclusions about what Georgia barbecue is: a great excuse to take the long way home, because you never know what awesome discoveries await.
Contact Steve Fennessy at email@example.com