BBQ is as good as Southern food gets. Atlanta may be the largest city in Georgia and not truly considered Southern anymore due to its population of transplanted citizens from all over the world, but great Southern BBQ can still be found in this sprawling city. Tangy, sweet, and full of great smoke flavor BBQ is a Southern delicacy. BBQ restaurants in Atlanta are a dime a dozen, you can find one on every street corner and sometimes two or three. Heck, even McDonalds serves up that McRib thing. Take a little advise from a small town Georgia girl and travel off the beaten path in Atlanta and you will find some of the best BBQ in the city.
I have spent my entire life eating BBQ, I am pretty sure my mother pureed it and fed it to me before I had any teeth and I am sure I will one day, as old age approaches, again be slurping it down this way. In the meanwhile I have turned myself into something of a BBQ connoisseur, not content to merely haunt the same joints over and over I have spent a decade of my life roaming through the city of Atlanta in an attempt to find the sweetest BBQ in Atlanta. I present to you here three of my favorite BBQ joints. Food is the main attraction at all of them, but as you will see, music elevates them to heavenly experiences.
Starting with the best first, because we all know there is no reason to meander around the point when in the South, is Daddy D’s BBQ. Located inside the city of Atlanta on Memorial Drive not too far from the Braves’ Stadium, Daddy D’s is by far the best BBQ I have ever found in Atlanta. I lived less than a mile form this BBQ joint for three years and never knew it existed until I saw it on the Food Network, if you can believe that! Now, this is not the greatest part of town, but during daylight I feel perfectly safe and at night they have been known to employee off duty police officers to keep their customers safe. All in all I would definitely risk my life for this BBQ. Daddy D’s is exactly the way a real BBQ joint should look, like a shack. No fancy airs are necessary here and in fact they may not let you in if you have them. A mish mash of tiny rooms comprises this piece of Hog Heaven. The main attraction here is the food and not the dÃ?Â©cor. Ribs are the order of the day here. Smoky and sweet with the perfect amount of yummy black crusty bits, they fall off the bone as you pick them up. Wet naps are a necessity here. They come in half a rack or a full rack just like any other BBQ joint, but these ribs are mega-sized portions. After only eating three ribs I was pretty sure I was going to need some stitches in my stomach. Well, with a little help from their numerous Southern sides, that is. Fried zucchini, hushpuppies, corn, rolls, cornbread, candied yams, green beans, rum beans, and well, the list is too long, are all offered. I recommend ordering the sides anyway and taking your leftover ribs home for breakfast the next day. On Friday and Saturday nights live blues music turns this BBQ joint into a Southern food experience. Crowds of people fill this nightspot and create a down home Southern atmosphere less than a mile away from the Capitol building.
Next on my list of favorites is Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. Now, I heard about this place from day one and I was prepared to be unimpressed. I have found in life that some of the most popular things are not all they are cracked up to be. In this case I was wrong and the rest Atlanta was right. The wait to get into this BBQ joint on a Friday or Saturday night can be hours, and believe me they do no take reservations. Everyone who lives in Atlanta and any one who has ever visited it knows about Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. Centrally located on Piedmont Avenue, somewhere between Buckhead and Midtown Atlanta, Fat Matt’s BBQ offers up some of the best chicken, beef, and pork in the state of Georgia. Two separate building comprise this BBQ joint. Chicken in one and beef and pork in the other. Don’t worry; huge hand painted signs let you know which one serves which. Chopped BBQ, BBQ ribs, and whole BBQ chicken pieces are served with your choice of sides and of course a slice of white bread. White bread is of course the perfect accompaniment to BBQ. Whole wheat and low carb bread are considered a sin in this BBQ heaven. Guests order at the counter and take a number while they wait on their food. Live blues and jazz bands play every night of the week and guests fill up all available seating both inside and on the patio. An entire evening can be dedicated to BBQ, and if you eat early enough the first time you may even have room to squeeze in a late night snack before they close!
Now, for a completely different BBQ experience, you should try Maddy’s. Located in Decatur, Georgia, which for those of you new to the city, you won’t even know you have left Atlanta. Maddy’s serves up BBQ 21st century style in a minimalist dÃ?Â©cor where the focus is on the food. Live music is played all week at this funky BBQ joint. After placing your order. You will be given your own instrument to play while you are there. Put a few brews from their bottled and on tap beer list in you and who knows, you may find you are a natural on the trumpet. For those of us who are show offs, it is a great chance to join in the musical fun beyond tapping our foot wildly and telling all of our friends what we played in band when we were eight years old. After you have played to your heart’s content it is time for the food. Racks, birds, and chopped are all available and all equally good. Special attention has been paid to the side dishes here and guests can find Brunswick stew, coleslaw, French fires and many other traditional accompaniments. Save room for desert at Maddy’s, the cooks take pride in their homemade sweet potato and egg custard pies.
A trip to Atlanta definitely deserves a stop at one of their BBQ joints. Music and food for the soul will keep you coming back again and again.