The 10 Hottest BBQ Restaurants in Atlanta

By Christopher Hassiotis | July 14, 2014 By Christopher Hassiotis  |  July 14, 2014
Photo by: Teodora Nicolae

The nice thing about barbecue in Atlanta, other than it being readily available all the time, in most neighborhoods? It's that 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. 

  • 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

  • Community Q BBQ

    This Decatur spot prepares its food fresh every day, and the only leftovers it uses are to stew its baked beans and Brunswick stew. If they don't sell the rest of their food by the end of the day, it goes straight to the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

    Don’t Miss: The meats here maintain a nice juiciness to go with that 'cue crust. The pulled pork's particularly good.

    Side Show: We like the baked beans ($2.25) here a lot. Like, a lot. 

    1361 Clairmont Rd., Decatur; 404-633-2080

  • D.B.A. Barbecue

    This Virginia-Highland 'cue joint opened four 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 North 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 and catering events. Fast forward a few years and you've got a line out the door almost every day.

    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 mashup.

    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

  • 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

  • Photo by: Flickr / buffaloted

    Ms. Betty's House of Ribs

    In a converted single-wide trailer in a rougher part of East Atlanta you'll find some truly divine barbecue.

    Don’t Miss: Look to the name of the place. Get a whole-slab dinner ($25.99) for enough ribs to share — ask 'em to go easy on the sauce — and two large sides. Ms. Betty's also wraps its cooked ribs to tenderize and keep them warm, but ask if a nonwrapped order's available.

    Side Show: The collards are smoky and moist, while the mac 'n' cheese is a gooey classic. Like a sweet, sweet, sweet peach cobbler? This is your place.

    1281 Bouldercrest Dr.; 404-243-8484

  • Smokebelly BBQ

    This newly 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 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 are 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

  • Photo by: Christopher Hassiotis

    Wyatt's Country Bar-B-Que   

    Little more than a standalone kitchen that's enclosed by screen porches that look like they're not long for this world, Wyatt's turns out big flavors from its humble interior. A bevy of soul-food staples like oxtail fill out the menu beyond the barbecue.

    Don’t Miss: You're coming to Wyatt's for the beef ribs, not the BBQ pork (which they chop rather than pull). Served either dry or slathered in sauce, the ribs are tender but not mushy, and have a great smoky crust.

    Side Show: Wyatt's often sells out of its mac 'n' cheese early, so show up on time if that's what you're looking for. If not, the turnip greens are solid.

    1674 Memorial Dr. SE; 404-371-0311

Places Mentioned

Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q

BarbecueCandler Park
Food26 Decor17 Service21 Cost$20

The Smoke Ring

BarbecueCastleberry Hill
Food- Decor- Service- CostM

Smokebelly BBQ

Food- Decor- Service- CostM

Community Q BBQ

BarbecueNorth Decatur
Food25 Decor15 Service21 Cost$16

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