The 10 Hottest BBQ Restaurants in Atlanta

By Christopher Hassiotis  |  July 13, 2015
Credit: Christopher Hassiotis

The nice thing about barbecue in Atlanta, other than it being readily available all the time? There isn't one defining regional feature. As the hub of the South, we luck out in that we've got transplants who love tangy Carolina vinegar and mustard sauces, sweet and sticky Memphis flavors, brisket out of Texas and even Korean-influenced 'cue…you get the picture. From smoked wings to pulled pork to thick ribs, there's not much you can't find in the A. (Though why some folks chop their pork remains a mystery to us.) All the places we mention here are ITP, but if you're eager for even more, do venture further afield, as the outer 'burbs have some great spots — look into Sam's BBQ-1, Zeigler's, Swallow at the Hollow, Grand Champion — particularly as you head up I-75. We're also looking at barbecue restaurants with seating (and a roof!), but if you're in town and looking for takeout from a shack, aim for Ms. Betty's House of Ribs or Wyatt's Country Bar-B-Que.

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  • Bone Lick BBQ

    Chef Mike LaSage started Bone Lick as a pop-up restaurant around town before finally settling into his Westside location in the base of the Apex building. 

    Don’t Miss: There's plenty to enjoy at Bone Lick, but it's the only place we know of in town where you can get a plate of homemade spicy smoked sausage that's also wrapped in bacon ($18).

    Side Show: The side sampler ($5) gets you 2-oz. portions of collard greens, mac 'n' cheese infused with jalapeños, pork-heavy baked beans and a tangy apple-cider vinegar slaw.

    1133 Huff Rd. NW; 404-343-6574

  • D.B.A. Barbecue

    This Virginia-Highland 'cue joint opened five years ago, bringing the neighborhood a healthy (in moderation) dose of porky goodness. Take note of their monthly barbecue-sauce class, in which 30 students get to tailor their own sauce to take home with 'em — and enjoy a feast while at it too.

    Don’t Miss: D.B.A. serves its ribs either wet or dry, but get 'em dry so you can enjoy the smoky meat that pulls away from the bone easily, but doesn't fall apart like it does at places that wrap their ribs. Four sauces are on the table if you must.

    Side Show: The creamed corn is out of this world — cobs are charred on the grill, and the kernels and cut off then mixed with heavy cream and Parmesan cheese. 

    1190 N. Highland Ave.; 404-249-5000

  • Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q

    This venerable Dekalb Avenue spot was founded by two brothers from Texas who got their local start serving smoked wings at catering events. Fast forward a few years and you've got a line out the door almost every day. Don't even think of going on a weekend unless you bring a folding chair of your own for the wait.

    Don’t Miss: Those hickory-smoked wings are great, yep, but why not start out with an order of chicken-fried ribs ($9) too? The restaurant takes its St. Louis–style smoked ribs, breads and fries them and serves them with an Alabama-style white BBQ sauce.

    Side Show: It's not a visit to Fox Bros. without a side of Frito pie ($4). This humble classic cuts open a bag of Fritos, ladles Texas beanless brisket chili over the corn chips and tops with diced onions and cheese.

    1238 DeKalb Ave. NE; 404-577-4030

  • Heirloom Market BBQ

    Combining Southern and Korean flavors (heavier on the former, though), this 'cue spot gives recognizable classics a refreshing new personality without alienating anyone. The owners recently opened the instant hit Sobban in Decatur, a more Asian-leaning Southern-Korean mash-up.

    Don’t Miss: The spicy Korean pork is a good place to start to understand what Heirloom's up to. Pork ribs are marinated in the fermented chile paste gochujang — more sweet and earthy than spicy — then smoked with oak and hickory. Get it on a sandwich or as a combo plate.

    Side Show: Go for an old standby (beans, mac 'n' cheese, etc.) or look to the daily board of specials, which can feature items like crispy tofu or seasonal salads.

    2243 Akers Mill Rd.; 770-612-2502

  • Credit: Grand Champion BBQ

    Grand Champion BBQ

    The owners of Grand Champion BBQ's two locations way up in Milton and Roswell have opened an intown location at Krog Street Market, and though the price point has caused some grumbles, the food never does. (That's true, though, for most places in the new food hall.) 

    Don't Miss: The brisket's a knockout, as is the pulled pork — ask for a small sample if you're unsure.

    Side Show: G.C. proudly touts the awards their mac 'n' cheese has gotten, and for good reason — it's fantastic.

    99 Krog St. NE; 404-467-4427

  • Greater Good BBQ

    This humble 'cue spot on Roswell Rd., with an original location in Tucker, turns out some terrific smoked wings, pulled pork and more.

    Don’t Miss: Maybe you want to convince yourself you're watching your weight. If so, you can get barbecued pork, chicken or brisket served on a dinner salad ($9.95).

    Side Show: A starter of pimento barbecue potato skins ($6.95) combines just about everything you could want from Southern BBQ into one bite.

    4441 Roswell Rd.; 404-303-8525

  • Smokebelly BBQ

    This recently opened Buckhead spot's for those who want to head to a barbecue shack…but without all the driving, dirt and local flavor. Call it upscale 'cue, or just a restaurant that does barbecue.

    Don’t Miss: So far Smokebelly's starters have proven more interesting than its mains. Try the flash-fried babyback ribs ($4.25) that come tossed in a sweet, sweet, sweet barbecue sauce made with Cherry Coke, or the fried okra ($5.50) that's pickled first to retain a bit of texture and flavor.

    Side Show: Two of the standout sides ($3) at Smokebelly? The braised kale and the chilled succotash made from sweet corn and edamame.

    128 E. Andrews Dr.; 404-848-9100

  • The Smoke Ring

    Castleberry Hill's barbecue joint brings the perpetually on-the-rise neighborhood a reliable spot to eat and get a cocktail, with a woody interior and a surprisingly robust drink menu.

    Don’t Miss: The Smoke Ring's one of the few spots that has barbecued pork belly ($12) on its menu, and it's worth a try. And swing in for a 'cue-inspired take on Sunday brunch.

    Side Show: The potato salad, studded with bacon and blue cheese, offers a nice upgrade from the usual mayonnaisey mush.

    309 Nelson St. SW; 404-228-6377

  • Credit: Sweet Auburn BBQ

    Sweet Auburn BBQ

    You'll find the Asian-inflected 'cue of Sweet Auburn at its original Sweet Auburn Curb Market location, and from the roving food truck (owner Howard Hsu also founded the Atlanta Food Truck Park off I-75 and Howell Mill), but this Poncey-Highland full-service restaurant delivers the full experience.

    Don't Miss: Smoked wings, brisket poutine and pimiento-cheese wontons are all starters, but can easily be combined to make a full meal.

    Side Show: A refreshing coleslaw includes slivers of fresh pear.

    656 N. Highland Ave. NE; 678-515-3550

  • Twin Smokers BBQ

    Your best (and only) bet for barbecue Downtown come from this Marietta Street spot owned by Legacy Restaurant Partners, the same folks behind Der Biergarten, Article 14, Stats, Max's and more.

    Don't Miss: Fresh slices of juicy brisket and heavily spiced sausage are the way to go; a ginormous beef rib is as intimidating as it is tasty. 

    Side Show: Mac 'n' cheese is a hearty, classic go-to.

    300 Marietta St. NW; 404-698-4707