Barbecue. Some very smart people, who otherwise might have put their brains to solving the riddle of cancer or the challenges of peace in the Middle East, have committed their lives to cooking it, eating it, analyzing it, comparing it, arguing about it, and waxing nostalgic about it. Memphis tomato-based fanatics square off regularly against North Carolina vinegar disciples like Greeks v. Trojans. Beef obsessed Texans like to claim they have the best Barbecue, while others argue that one might be able to barbecue beef, but beef can never be barbecue. Across the South people squeeze bellies (already resting heavily on their belt buckles) into cracked pleather benches to genuflect in front of faded tan-yellowish linoleum tables toward the center of the porkcentric universe—the pulled pork sandwich. Served on metal trays, pie pans, or plates and accompanied by sides like collards, baked beans, green beans, lima beans, corn on the cob, corn pudding, baked corn casserole, jalopena cheese grits, fried okra, fried squash, stuffed green or red peppers, cooked tomatoes, or (often listed as part of the same litany with vegetables) macaroni and cheese, barbecue is an icon of the American meal.
Having moved to Atlanta over the summer, I asked an old friend, Dickie, to lead me on a journey of sorts to the best barbecue options in town. We have just completed the third stop on a path of learning the best barbecue places in Atlanta…so far we have been to Fox Brothers BBQ, Community Q BBQ, and the Heirloom Market Bar B Cue. Each has been good though Heirloom Market (a recommendation by another friend who joined us today, John) is out in front at this point. The owners of Heirloom describe their food this way:
“Heirloom Market is the smallest of places with the biggest of hearts. This chef driven restaurant was designed with the idea of paying respect to iconic BBQ food ways with the touch of our personal flavor. Chefs Cody and Jiyeon decided to create Heirloom Market with one basic thought “What can we enjoy doing for the next 10 years”. We decided to cook to our strengths. Simple, Classic, and Fresh are three adjectives that should never be lost when providing such a polarizing cuisine as BBQ. Jiyeon, a South Korean ex-pat, grew up with the flavors of grilled meats, pickled vegetables, and a constant array of side dishes. Her culinary training and travels in the states has led to a deep rooted love for “Seoul” food or classic Southern cuisine. Cody (a Texas born, Tennessee raised, Atlanta trained Chef) has spent countless hours cooking, eating, and appreciating everything BBQ. Together they have created a place that provides the best of ‘the things we eat on our days off.'”
It is a tiny place, crowded at lunch time with people on their way to the sweet tea (a mix of regular tea with some green tea) trying to squeeze between the folks who are in line to order. When we arrived the parking lot was overfull, but things moved along well, and we were able to get three seats along the window before our food was ready. The pork was outstanding–moist with a great wood cooked taste. The sauces were all good, particularly the “Table” sauce. The “Hotlanta” sauce overpowered the taste of the pork a bit.
The holiday break will end pretty soon, so our next stop will likely have to wait for awhile. In the meantime, if you have recommendations, please send them my way.
Fox Brothers BBQ
Community Q BBQ
Heirloom Market Bar B Cue