10 spots to find the best barbecue around Atlanta

Korean influences go into what otherwise looks like a traditional tray of barbecue at Heirloom Market BBQ in Atlanta. CREDIT: Jang Choe, Heirloom Market BBQ.
Jang Choe

Atlanta’s barbecue scene is distinct in that it has been influenced by cultures and cuisines from around the world while combined with the unique southern charm of Georgia. From traditional barbecue sandwiches and smoked meat plates to modern and fusion barbecue delights, Atlanta’s grill skill is something to be proud of. Without further ado, let’s “meat” some of the top spots for barbecue in Atlanta:

Sweet Auburn BBQ

Sweet Auburn BBQ gets its name from the historic Sweet Auburn Curb Market downtown, where it originally opened up shop as a stall. While that location has since closed, the current restaurant location in Poncey-Highland continues to focus on unique Southern barbecue dishes with an “Asian twist” as a nod to the owners’ upbringings. Along with traditional barbecue offerings such as smoked brisket, pulled pork and chicken, Sweet Auburn BBQ also serves up True Story Karubota spare ribs, Ginger Lemongrass pork sausage, spicy Szechuan lemon pepper wings and pimento cheese wontons. Walk on the nearby Freedom Park trail, which connects to the Atlanta BeltLine, to burn off the calories afterward!

Location: East Atlanta - 656 North Highland Avenue NE; Website: sweetauburnbbq.com; Contact: 678-515-3550

Fat Matt’s Rib Shack

Known for “world-famous barbecue and blues,” Fat Matt’s Rib Shack is for those who love barbecue, live music and dive bar atmospheres. This small, discreet barbecue joint in Piedmont Heights is an Atlanta institution that caught the eye of Anthony Bourdain (R.I.P.), gaining notoriety in his Travel Channel show, “The Layover,” in 2013. Revel in their half-slab fall-off-the-bone rib, their Brunswick Stew (if you’re going to get it anywhere, get it here), and their evening live bands. Check the schedule on their website to know who is playing in advance.

Location: Northeast Atlanta - 1811 Piedmont Ave NE; Website: fatmattsribshack.net; Contact: 404-607-1622

Heirloom BBQ

Located just 12 miles from downtown Atlanta and just barely OTP, Heirloom BBQ merges the distinctive tastes of Texas- and Korean-style barbecue. Try their pulled pork rubbed with gochujang for a unique “umami” twist, or indulge in their beef brisket or St. Louis-style ribs. For sides, enjoy their traditional kimchi slaws, sweet and spicy tofu, Korean sweet potato chips, classic macaroni and cheese and BBQ beans, amongst others. Currently, you can only order food to-go, so be prepared to order ahead of time for pick up. You’ll be near the Chattahoochee River, so perhaps find a spot near the banks of the river to enjoy the delicious smoked taste of Heirloom BBQ.

Location: Vinings - 2243 Akers Mill Rd SE; Website: heirloommarketbbq.com; Contact: 770-612-2502

Community Q BBQ

Situated near Emory University, Community Q is known for serving “until the meat runs out,” so here’s the rub: make sure you arrive early or place an order the day before (any food left over each day gets donated to the local food bank). Order tender classic meats such as pulled pork, sliced brisket, St. Louis-style ribs, pulled chicken or smoked sausage by the pound, in a sandwich, or as part of their Kitchen Sink Salad. Enjoy their Redneck Chicken Salad (which also comes in a sandwich), which features grapes, pecans and dill. For sides, indulge in their unique rigatoni macaroni and cheese, black-eyed peas with rosemary and bacon, Cajun-style fries or sweet potato with braised kale. Don’t forget to top it off with some fresh-squeezed lemonade and some banana pudding for dessert!

Location: Decatur - 1361 Clairmont Rd; Website: communityqbbq.com; Contact: 404-633-2080

Woods Chapel BBQ

Owned by the team behind General Muir, Yalla and Fred’s Meat and Bread, Wood’s Chapel BBQ is a new addition to the Summerhill neighborhood and is a nod to the name of the first church in the Summerhill community during the Reconstruction era. Wood’s Chapel BBQ aims to bring a modern perspective to traditional barbecue by offering a menu inspired by the diversity of today’s Atlanta: “Cue”-banos, pit-smoked chicken burritos, hot-smoked Scottish salmon, smoked sausage dog with jalapenos and Oaxaca cheese, and Okonomiyaki tots are just some of these offerings, alongside the more traditional offerings of St. Louis ribs, smoked brisket (chopped or sliced - your choice), pulled pork, smoked turkey or smoked chicken.

Location: Southeast Atlanta - 85 Georgia Ave SE; Website: woodschapelbbq.com; Contact: 404-522-3000

DBA BBQ

DBA BBQ is your no-frills neighborhood barbecue restaurant. In addition to serving classic barbecue staples, DBA BBQ is especially known for its smoked, flash-fried wings and its pastrami, which takes two weeks to make and is described by them as “meat candy.” Order with macaroni and cheese, creamed corn or baked beans. If you’re feeling especially hungry, try the Archie Bunker, which is a smoked pulled pork sandwich on Texas toast, topped with mac and cheese, BBQ sauce and cheddar cheese. If you’re here for brunch, try the BBQ hash for a filling meal for the start of your day.

Location: East Atlanta/Virginia-Highland - 1190 North Highland Avenue NE; Website: dbabarbecue.com; Contact: 404-249-5000

Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q

This list can’t be complete without Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, which has been expanding into multiple areas of Atlanta, including their original location on DeKalb Avenue in Candler Park, as well as locations at The Works on the Upper Westside, a “Que-Osk” on Ottley Drive and a shared space with Terrapin Taproom at The Battery (careful: each menu is different). It’s no wonder that this Texas-inspired barbecue joint is so popular with its distinctive, “everything is bigger” attitude, with dishes including Big Tex, featuring sliced fatty brisket on Texas Toast; the Texacutioner, consisting of chopped brisket with hickory-smoked jalapeno cheddar sausage on a Brioche bun (available only at the DeKalb avenue location); and the Texas fries, featuring hand-cut fries smothered in barbecue sauce and topped with brisket or pulled pork, as well as jalapenos and melted cheese. If you’re not in the mood for brisket, try their chicken-fried ribs with white barbecue sauce. Don’t forget to order the jalapeno cornbread with honey butter!

Location: Multiple Locations; Website: foxbrosbbq.com

Spiced Right Ribhouse

Spiced Right Ribhouse is situated in charming, quiet Roswell, 21 miles from downtown Atlanta. While it is a bit of a drive, it lives up to the name of being “spiced right.” Try their Brisket and Blue taco, featuring mouthwatering brisket, melted blue and white cheddar, as well as your typical taco fixings. Or get a combo meat plate with sides including hash brown casserole and corn souffle.IIf you woke up craving barbecue, try breakfast options such as homemade biscuits, including one with smoked brisket, egg and cheese. Not to mention, you may be able to catch their out-of-this-world cinnamon rolls and donuts before they run out. Burn off the calories with a hike at the nearby Vickery Creek Falls trail!

Location: Roswell - 635 S Atlanta St, Roswell, GA 30075; Website: spicedright.com; Contact: 678-352-9633

Das BBQ

Known for their authentic thinly-sliced Texas brisket, Das BBQ now has two locations, expanded from their original home in Underwood Hills to an additional new home in Grant Park. Choose lean or fatty (you can’t go wrong) and if you’re extremely hungry, pair it with a mild or hot sausage link that also bursts with smoked flavor perfection. Enjoy their spacious patio seating as you smell hickory and pecan smoke wafting from their two prominent smokers, Pancho and Lefty. For sides, order their Das Cream Corn, potato salad, mac and cheese, or, if you are feeling adventurous, their pineapple baked beans.

Location: Multiple Locations; Website: dasbbq.com

Daddy D’z Barbecue Joynt

Daddy D’z Barbecue Joynt promises that you’ll be “dying for Daddy D’z,” and they’re not wrong. Featured on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” on Food Network, Daddy D’z is known for their “bad to the bone” ribs, such as their rib tips featuring “more fat and gristle.” For a unique appetizer, try their fried bite-sized Famous Que Wraps, featuring barbecue pork wrapped in golden, crisp dough. And if you’re still hungry, they have a variety of cakes in assorted flavors, from red velvet to banana to key lime.

Location: East Atlanta - 264 Memorial Dr SE; Website: daddydz.com; Contact: 404-222-0206

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