Get us in your inbox

Smoked bbq ribs at Fat Matt's Rib Shack in Atlanta
Photograph: Shutterstock

These restaurants serve the best BBQ in Atlanta

From rib shacks to brisket joints, here's where to find the best bbq in Atlanta

Written by
Gerrish Lopez
Contributor
Lia Picard
Advertising

Among Atlanta's top restaurants, you’ll find a variety of cuisines and culinary styles, from down-home cooking to high end gastronomy. This being the South, though, barbecue joints are well-represented among the local favorites. Atlanta may not be on par with 'cue capitals like Austin or Memphis, but the best bbq in Atlanta comes close, with smoked ribs, brisket, pulled pork and all the favorite sides you expect with great Southern fare.

Some of these bbq spots were opened by experts from Texas, Tennessee and other states known for their world-renowned barbecue, giving them instant cred. Others are helmed by local 'cue fans who learned the craft then put their own spin on it. Whatever the origin story, you’ll find top quality meats done up smoky, saucy or dry-rubbed. Want to branch out a bit? Atlanta even has some great options for Korean bbq, where you do the grilling yourself.

For heaps of meaty goodness prepped by top-notch pitmasters, head to these Atlanta bbq joints stat. And don’t forget to sample the sides, from Frito pie and mac 'n' cheese to onion rings and brunswick stew.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Atlanta

Best bbq in Atlanta

Sometimes, when two chefs fall in love, they open a barbecue spot to bring together both of their passions – which is exactly what happened here. Cody Taylor, a Tennessee boy, and Jiyeon Lee, a Korean pop-star turned chef, are the brains behind Heirloom Market. This hole-in-the-wall has zero indoor seating, but that doesn’t stop folks from lining up outside for Southern barbecue served with Korean spices, sauces and accouterments. The specials sell out fast and change daily so keep an eye on the website to figure out what’s being served.

Fox Brothers (founded by Texas transplants and twin brothers Justin and Jonathan Fox) is a must-go when in need of 'cue in Atlanta. The Candler Park spot gets packed but you’ll be munching on Frito pie (served in a Frito bag) in no time. For the tastiest experience, order the Tomminator (tots smothered in Brunswick stew), the Texacutioner sandwich (brisket, jalapeño cheddar sausage, mustard) and the banana pudding. You can also get a taste of the offerings at their “que”-osk in Armour Yards, where they also sell kolaches for breakfast.

Advertising

Anna's is a neighborhood joint run by Anna Phelps, who decided to become a pitmaster in 2013 without any formal training. Now, she sees long lines and frequently sells out. Why? She serves up some of the best smoked ribs and turkey legs in the city. Don't miss the brisket or pulled pork either.

Ari, in Johns Creek, is quite a drive from intown Atlanta but offers the best Korean barbecue in the area. The ambiance is uniquely upscale thanks to the artful eye of co-owner and designer Stella Lee. There’s no 12-hour smoked brisket here. Instead, each table has a grill to load with meats, like prime ribeye and brisket, which guests cook themselves. The banchan (Korean sides like kimchi) are made in-house and their acidic flavors cut through the fatty meats perfectly.

Advertising

Sweet Auburn in Poncey-Highland is the place to go to when your party wants barbecue, but also other things. The meats, like the brisket and pulled pork, are great, but so are the Asian-infused eats (inspired by the roots of owners and siblings Anita and Howard Hsu). Can’t-miss items include the Wu Tang wings and pimento cheese wontons. The Bing & Rosemary cocktail (gin, rosemary syrup and lemon) is the ideal concoction to wash all that food down.

This Atlanta institution is one of the city’s best known barbecue spots. It has called the same no-frills shack on Piedmont Avenue home for nearly 30 years. There’s almost always a line out the door but the ribs served sticky and sweet make the wait worth it. Order them as a slab or on a sandwich and enjoy them while listening to live blues musicians, which the restaurant hosts every night.

Advertising

One of Atlanta's newest additions to the bbq scene, this spot has a more inventive take on the classics. Smoked meats include brisket, wings, half chickens, and ribs. Try the brisket on a sandwich with pimento cheese. Cabbage slaw and collard greens fried rice are popular sides, and finishing with banana pudding is a must.

Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q opened its Marietta location more than 30 years ago and has since opened more (they're clearly doing something right). The restaurant has an old-school feel to it, with lots of wood paneling and dark, cozy booths. You’d be silly not to start with the BBQ potato skins stuffed with your choice of chicken, pork or beef and plenty of cheese. Then get the slab of ribs with a side of the panko onion rings. Warning: you may need to be rolled down I-75 after.

Advertising
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by DAS BBQ (@das_bbq)

The Westside joint’s name is inspired by the Czech and German settlers who brought barbecue to Texas. And, now, Das has brought that Texas-style of 'cue to Atlanta. The off-set wood smokers are immediately visible when you approach the restaurant and will make your mouth water upon arrival. Stick to the brisket (fatty or lean) and the spicy sausage and you’ll be happy.

Too early for bbq?

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising