Atlanta might not be the first place tourists or even Americans think of when they think barbecue, but smokehouse fans would be foolhardy to overlook it: the city is, after all, nestled in the south, where the great tradition of the American barbecue originated. And barbecue enthusiasts who find themselves in the ATL will be happy to hear that the nickname "Hotlanta" doesn’t just apply to the climate – there are several wonderful Atlanta BBQ treasures to be discovered.
BBQ devotees flock to Fox Bros Bar-B-Q. A Texan-born family run joint, this restaurant does meat well. Huge portions plated a bit roughly don't mean compromised quality. The smoke house's trademark burger, featuring succulent brisket and bacon, is alone worth the trip. The family-friendly Texan charm is evident in the specially catered kids menu- parents might want to take a day off from the kids' health regime to let them sample the pulled pork sandwich. Fox's roomy, covered patio space is never quiet during the sunny season and that convivial, homey atmosphere just adds to the enjoyment of the smoky comfort fare on offer.
It doesn't get much more authentically Georgian than Fat Matt’s rib shack, if not in barbecue method then certainly in ambiance; neon signs, scruffy bar and all. Fat Matt's doesn't technically barbecue the meats – they're roasted, then grilled – but the other-worldly tenderness of the ribs compensates for this stylistic shortfall. The menu is small and unpretentious but if we're honest most Atlantans frequent this joint as much for the live Blues (after 8pm most evenings) and beer as for the meat.
Heirloom Market BBQ is run by a former K-Pop star-turned-accomplished chef and a Tennessee-born hillbilly chef, located unassumingly (and unexpectedly) at the end of a strip mall. But don't let this bizarre set up fool you. A solid, relatively small menu belies carefully prepared, locally sourced meats with that perfect, subtle smoked and sauced chemistry. It’s a little Seoul food, a lotta Soul food and definitely delicious with their addition of Kalbi-style barbecue sauce, Korean sweet potato, green tomato kimchi and other unique sides to their meat and threes. This joint has only been around a couple of years but has rapidly built a cult following; try the brisket for yourself to find out why.
Community Q, located in a mall in the D'acteur area of Atlanta, is in fact a treasure trove of barbecued delights. The menu offers up all the classics, in the style of the ages. The meats are well done and plated generously, satisfying without being too greasy, and the ribs that come marinated in an addictive sauce are one of the triumphs. But the real selling point here is the mac’n’cheese – an original recipe that offsets the meats in the most spectacular manner, this simple side is enough to make any punter remember why they love barbecues.
If you only visit one barbecue joint while in Atlanta (your arteries will thank you) this should be it. The house specialty ribs have put Daddy D'z on the map as one of the best spots in the city and even in America for seriously good ribs. Daddy D’z exterior might be off-putting for the unsuspecting tourist – it looks a bit more like a dingy garage than a national treasure – but those in the know won't think twice about stopping here for their smokehouse fix. The menu is much more extensive than the typical barbecue shack, and diners will want to save room for some of the unique sides, like the broccoli casserole.