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1. Heirloom Market BBQ

If a barbecue lover could visit only one 
restaurant in Atlanta, which one would 
I recommend?

2. Grand Champion BBQ

In barbecue circles, the student sometimes becomes the master. Such is the case with Robert Owens. He worked as general manager of Sam’s BBQ-1 in Marietta for five years, learning the trade, before finding a partner, Gregory Vivier (with whom Owens previously worked at One Midtown Kitchen and other Concentrics restaurants), and opening Grand Champion in Roswell in 2011.

3. Swallow at the Hollow

Georgia may not claim a distinct barbecue style, but it does have a long-standing tradition of chopping pork into minced shreds rather than pulling it.

4. Community Q BBQ

If Heirloom Market didn’t sit just yards inside I-285, I would declare Community Q our best ITP barbecue joint. David Roberts—who created the infamous mac and cheese recipe using rigatoni, cheddar, Monterey Jack, Parmesan, and heavy cream while he was at Sam and Dave’s BBQ-1—and his partners run a bustling business in Decatur that always feels welcoming.

5. Dave Poe’s

Since 2009, when they split their Sam and Dave’s BBQ empire that reset the bar for metro-area barbecue, Sam Huff and David Poe have been compared constantly by ’cue aficionados. Huff took the original East Cobb location; Poe claimed the space on the other side of Marietta that housed Sam and Dave’s BBQ-2.

6. Sam’s BBQ-1

Sam and Dave’s BBQ-1 sparked a local barbecue revolution when it opened in late 2004. Its smoked beef and pork, tended with finesse, needed no sauce as embellishment; the brisket in particular was an epiphany of supple meat and melted fat.
Fox Bros. BBQ, Fox Brothers BBQ

7. Fox Bros. BBQ

Pow! The brazenly seasoned meats served by the Brothers Fox, Jonathan and Justin, throw punches right to the kisser—and the crowds roar for more. Its central location near Little Five Points and its over-the-top approach to barbecue add up to an always-packed hot spot where the parking lot is one continuous standoff.

8. Zeigler’s BBQ

I take such pleasure in schlepping barbecue-loving friends up I-75 to Acworth for a rack of Zeigler’s ribs. Like me on my first visit, their brows raise and their eyes widen, and then they fall silent and attack with animal greed.

9. Ms. Betty’s House of Ribs

You inhale the scent of hickory before you spy Betty Hamilton’s converted single-wide trailer with red trim and the picturesque smokehouse behind it. The barbecue choices at this East Atlanta staple are concise: ribs (including rib tips) or smoked chicken.

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