2. Community Q
Dave Roberts left fine dining behind in the mid-aughts to study the fine points of barbecue at Sam and Dave’s in Marietta, where he became a partner prior to opening his own place. Back then, hoity-toity chefs hadn’t begun to launch the kind of barbecue operations that source their meats extra carefully, support organic farms, and worry as much as Roberts does about being a true community restaurant. Opened in 2009 with several partners in a tight little shopping center near Emory, Community Q offers consistently moist and tender pulled pork that isn’t obnoxiously smoky, reliably robust St. Louis ribs, ridiculously rich and creamy three-cheese mac and cheese, and a memorable kitchen-sink salad loaded with local greens and veggies. The restaurant still doesn’t serve alcohol and offers regular specials that sometimes migrate to the menu (a huge plus that includes corned beef reubens and giant beef ribs). If you pick a sandwich, made with Texas toast rather than a pallid bun, you may want to mix the vinegar-based sauce into the tomato and molasses one and top it with that. Of course, as is true of the best barbecue joints, these meats are tasty enough to eschew the sauces entirely.
1361 Clairmont Road, Decatur, 404-633-2080, communityqbbq.com