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30 Restaurants in 30 Days: Community Q BBQ

community3 I like to think of barbecue as a verb rather than a noun. It’s something that happens, not a pile of product sitting around waiting to be consumed.

That’s why barbecue restaurants can be so disappointing. One time the barbecue is the stuff of dreams  — moist, tinged with pink, smoky in that way that suggest an alchemical union of wood and flesh. And then on another day it is dry, stringy and forgettable.

I still recall how exciting it was years ago to discover Hometown Barbecue when it operated from a weekends-only travel trailer in a Lawrenceville parking lot. People lined up early and waited to get their hands on a slab of the incredibly juicy and smoky ribs. Then the owners moved into a full-service restaurant. I visited a couple of times and found the product bedeviled by the inconsistencies that always beset barbecue restaurants.

Who knows how Community Q BBQ will fare in the long run, but I’m here to tell you that after a mere fortnight on the scene, this place is producing some of the best barbecue I’ve eaten in Atlanta.

community1

Located in the former Epicurean Catering space in Decatur, Community Q is the latest project from David Roberts — the fine-dining-trained chef who was a co-founder of the original Sam & Dave’s in Marietta. Working with two partners here, Roberts has reprised many of the barbecued meats and side dishes from Sam & Dave’s.

I don’t have a full report — just one takeout container of food that made me one happy little piggie.

I ordered this wonderful pulled pork ($6.50 for a sandwich; $11 for a platter) that, as you can see, is plenty pink from smoke and plumbed through with crisp, delicious patches of  “bark,” or surface meat. Roberts told dining critic Meridith Ford Goldman that he’s using Berkshire pork from Georgia’s Riverview Farms.

This generous pile of meat came with a very buttery slice of Texas toast, a bunch of pickle slices and two sides.

community2I had to try Roberts’ famous three-cheese mac, made with rigatoni. I really loved the way the crusy, sharp cheese was tempered with sweet cream. This push-pull of flavor justifies the unreal richness of this dish.

Porky collard greens, however, were too salty for me, and the greens were more sodden than silky in their potlikker.

I haven’t tried anything else on the menu, but I hear from friends that Community Q makes a mean beef brisket and a ginormous beef rib. Have you tried these meats? What should I order next?

46 comments Add your comment

Liz

November 28th, 2009
5:37 pm

you really need to try dave poe’s bbq on whitlock ave in marietta. they have some of the best bbq ever. always good, never dry or stringy.

sansho1

November 28th, 2009
5:42 pm

“I like to think of barbecue as a verb rather than a noun. It’s something that happens, not a pile of product sitting around waiting to be consumed.”

You may like to think that, my good man, but these fellows would disagree, and they make a convincing case:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ubTQfr_tyY

Ramona Clef

November 28th, 2009
5:57 pm

So happy! Sounds great, and right around the corner. I’ll let you know how we fare.

Angela

November 28th, 2009
7:59 pm

Been waiting on this place to open!!! Im on my way now…..If its anything like Same & Daves on whitlock Im sure they wont dissappoint

Chaz

November 28th, 2009
9:30 pm

Cheesy videos aside, ‘barbecue’ is a process, a style of cooking that is slower than grilling, smokier than roasting and tastier than all of them when done right. And it’s more than just some sticky sauce as well.

That said, we were there last weekend and Dave was very attentive and friendly and everything was yummy. The ribs might’ve been a touch smokier, but I’ll be back for sure, and soon.

BBQ Lover

November 28th, 2009
10:03 pm

I did get a chance to eat here. The BBQ was great and Decatur needs a good low-key BBQ joint. The sides left a little something to be desired. The cole slaw had too much vinegar Iand I think it might have been a WHOLE lot of molasses or something in them. They seemed a bit overcooked..BUT the BBQ itself was fabulous! If they could work on perfecting their sides it would be a sure hit!

BBQ Lover

November 28th, 2009
10:09 pm

Follow up: I was referring to the baked beans having a lot of molasses

Christian Boyles

November 28th, 2009
10:53 pm

After years of eating Sam & Dave’s, we stopped in tonight. It was a close, but not exact copy. My biggest ding against Community is that none of the food on my plate was warm when served. Flavors were good, but not sure why the meat and mac was lukewarm.

Christian Boyles

November 28th, 2009
10:55 pm

BBQ Lover: my wife got the beans tonight and they were undercooked!

sansho1

November 29th, 2009
12:02 am

By all means, let us take this as seriously as we can.

CT

November 29th, 2009
12:48 am

I second what many have said about the temperature of the bbq here. I went the day before T-day and had a cold plate of pulled pork. The baked beans were waaaaaayyyyyy too salty and way too sweet. And not keeping kettles of sweet tea ready to swap out and having to wait for the cashier to make it and then not finish it before we left – easily avoided…not my favorite thing in the world. Kudos on including tax in the price. You guys need a lit sign and an OPEN sign so people know you’re open.

lulu

November 29th, 2009
10:13 am

i had the brisket and Mac and cheese, and they were fabulous.
Great job, guys~!

intowner

November 29th, 2009
10:17 am

I have had two outstanding beef briskets in Atlanta – BBQ1 and here. I’ve also enjoyed the pork and chicken. As far as sides the mac & cheese is excellent, baked beans need some work (too salty and tasted burnt), cole slaw was good to me and of course the fries were tasty.

chris

November 29th, 2009
10:22 am

I have never been here, but by the looks of the meat I will try. Actually, hearing the slaw has a strong vinegar taste makes me want to try it. There is nothing worse than a heavy mayo slaw with pork, you need the vinegar compliment it. Pig n Chik to me is the best meat in town, and it will take a lot to knock it off. This may sound weird, but my favorite baked beans, are Mrs. Winners with the little bits of bacon, you can’t beat them.

30329

November 29th, 2009
6:08 pm

We took my visiting in-laws here last Wednesday night (11/25). Staff including Dave very welcoming. Had the 2 meat plate with pulled pork and brisket. Both very tasty (though I don’t recall if the meat was warm or cold). My thoughts on sides: I’m not a huge mac’n'cheese fan but this version was a terrific–had a homemade bechamel based cheesiness with a crunchy crust. Fries were skin-on and quite good. Didn’t have the slaw but others did and liked it. My husband liked his brunswick stew. I agree with everybody–the baked beans need a lot of work–too salty, a bit overcooked. The collards were fresh but way, way too peppery hot for my liking. A thumbs up overall to the food at Community Q. Portions are enormous, enough for leftovers ($11 for a plate with 2 sides, just a tad pricy for me). I’d love to see them do lunch specials with smaller portions. But we’ll definitely be back, looking forward to trying the ribs next time.

jfc

November 30th, 2009
9:49 am

Great! I’ll try this place today.

(I’m still mourning the loss of Dusty’s on Briarcliff)

John Kessler

November 30th, 2009
10:29 am

Very good to hear this feedback. Chris: Haven’t been to Pig N Chik in years, but I really loved their barbecue when I first discovered it. Where else is good? I do like Fox Bros. but find their meats uneven — sometimes so fantastic, sometimes kind of dry. (Think their wings are the most consistent.) I’m really not into their gut-bomb creations like the Tomminator.

McQue

November 30th, 2009
10:34 am

OK………….I will have to give this one a try. First I will get my brother’s take as he lives in Decatur. I seem to always, after trying a new BBQ restaurant, just fall back on Dreamland which is consistently succulent.

FayetteFoodie

November 30th, 2009
12:45 pm

Cafe’ Pig in Peachtree City has the best ribs in Atlanta. Their brisket is nothin’ to sneeze at either, but try the Brunswick stew for something special!

AtlVol

November 30th, 2009
1:22 pm

“I like to think of barbecue as a verb rather than a noun.”

I could not get past this line without laughing hysterically. What an IDIOT! I am done reading any reviews from this MORON!

John Kessler

November 30th, 2009
1:26 pm

AltVol – Call me names, but do us all the favor of explaining why it seems so idiotic to you.

jfc (again)

November 30th, 2009
1:44 pm

Good! I’ll go back…

The meat was tender, smoky, and there was just enough charred crust in the pile.

The Mac-n-cheese was really rich and good.

The cole slaw was indeed a bit vinegary, but I thought it went really well with the mercifully-not-too-sweet red sauce.

They DO have North Carolina style (vinegar-based) sauce (hooray!), but, it seemed a bit bland to my taste (aww…) I added a little salt and a lot of pepper.

(I’ve never understood why Atlanta BBQs don’t offer ALL THREE types of BBQ sauce; heck, even McDonald’s offers different types of McNugget sauce)

Every lunchtime place needs a newspaper box…

Cheers!

george

November 30th, 2009
2:20 pm

as my sister in law reminds me every time we cook burgers or steaks on the grill barbecue is used as a verb meaning cooking anything outside. she if, of course, wrong as she is when she sneers at iced tea and grits.

McRibby

November 30th, 2009
2:41 pm

Had lunch today at Community Q.
The pork was delicious and very tender. The smoked sausages were alsovery good.
I thought both sauces were excellent.
My wife thought the mac ‘n cheese was just like her Mom’s. I agree.
As other reviewers mentioned I thought the greens were salty.

Bob Herndon

November 30th, 2009
3:08 pm

I have heard many good things from members. We are negotiating with the owner as to when we’ll schedule our BBQ Club meeting there. http://www.atlbbqclub.com

I eat ATL

November 30th, 2009
3:28 pm

JK, et al., barbeque is both a verb and a noun. If you are cooking something (pork, beef, chicken, or whatever) over indirect heat and smoke, congrats, you’ve got barbeque. Those who disagree are wrong, simple as that. And yes, this means that “open pit barbeque” isn’t really barbeque since it’s cooked over direct heat. But you what, I’ve still had some tasty stuff cooked this way. And that, I think, is the point here. Regardless of exact methodolgy, if you’re making good grub, great!! But, don’t call grilled items barbeque, that’s just not accurate.

Oh, and I can’t wait to try this stuff. I’ve long been looking for barbeque similar to Jack Mixon’s, the multi-award winner from Vienna. He not only barbeques a great pig, but his sauce is unreal. It’s a vinegar base, but is thicker and better seasoned than most (lots of black pepper). But most importantly, there’s only a slight (and I mean almost imperceptable) sweetness. These components really show off the flavor of well barbequed meat (especially pork), something thicker and sweeter sauces just can’t do.

71Relic

December 1st, 2009
1:24 am

I plan to try the BBQ and compare to the old Sam and Dave’s, my current favorite, but too far away. I like the Pig & Chick pork but not their stew. Old McDonald’s near Lake Lanier Islands off Holiday Road has the best stew so I’ll compare that too. Plan to get a large order of mac and cheese to take out for a Christmas party buffet as I know how good it is. If the sauces are similar to Sam and Dave’s my favorite is a mixture of the two sauces. Got to have some vinegar in my sauce but I like the tomato too.
What happened to the kolaches? I read this before opening day: “I figure if I’m doing Texas-style brisket, then I ought to serve kolaches,” said Roberts. “It just seems right.”

AtlVol

December 1st, 2009
10:27 am

“do us all the favor of explaining why it seems so idiotic to you.”

Barbeque is a noun, plain and simple. Barbeque is “a pile of product sitting around waiting to be consumed”. I am amazed that someone who calls themselves a writer does not have enough sense to look this up in a dictionary. Barbeque, as a verb, is also in the dictionary, but only because so many people improperly use the word as a verb. People say “Cmon over to my house, we are gonna barbeque some hamburgers and hot dogs”, but what they are actually doing is “GRILLING” hamburgers and hot dogs. Also, the process of creating bbq is called “smoking bbq”, not “barbeque bbq”. John, next time you are in any bbq restaurant, ask the owner whether barbeque is a noun or verb, and I can guarantee that 95% will tell you it is a noun. The other 5% are simply mistaken as you are.

Mm

December 2nd, 2009
1:10 pm

Went there for lunch and had a pork/brisket combo plate. Both meats were out of this world. Really, really good. I thought the slaw and the mac were pretty boring. The slaw needed to be sharper, and the noodles were big and bloated and greasy. And I hate mac and cheese where the cheese is just baked on top, not mixed in to the sauce. If I’m going to eat those carbs, they need to be worth it.

Seemed like a groovy place. We will definitely go back.

Mm

December 2nd, 2009
1:12 pm

And Barbeque is both a verb and a noun. I agree that a cook-out is not a barbeque, but I feel perfectly comfortable telling the husband, “let’s barbeque a pork shoulder this weekend”.

John Kessler

December 2nd, 2009
3:14 pm

Mm — Wow. You’re the only person I know of who hasn’t been slapped silly by that mac and cheese.
As for my noun/verb comment, which has earned me entry into Royal Order of Food Morons, it was my too-cute way of saying that good barbecue is all about freshly smoked meats. I think barbecue restaurants get into trouble when they worry too much about having enough of the stuff called barbecue on hand.

Craig

December 2nd, 2009
11:44 pm

I’d say you know all you need to know about ‘AtlVol’ by his moniker. Course he may have to look that up in a dictionary. Most of us adults got your point, JK, and I’m looking forward to trying a place near home. later.

AtlVol

December 3rd, 2009
11:23 am

Craig, other than your own ignorance, what exactly makes you think that Georgia is superior to Tennessee, ESPECIALLY in a discussion about BBQ?

John, nice backtrack, but your last post used the word barbeque 3 times, and 2 of those times you used it as a noun.

Lane Kiffin is the Moron

December 3rd, 2009
12:05 pm

AtlVol, a.k.a. “Dang I’m angry”….get over yourself! And let me get this straight. Barbeque is in the dictionary as a verb….but only because so many of us idiots use it that way? That’s your story? Really?

Sophy

December 3rd, 2009
10:57 pm

Loved the bbq but have to agree with Mm on the mac n cheese. I was not digging it. Pretty bland once you got past the crust on top. I like cheesy goodness all the way through. Meat was delish and I love vinegary cole slaw, so that was good for me. My collards are much better, I must say!

Hominidx

December 7th, 2009
4:29 pm

AtlVol gets upset over people making what amounts to cute statements, all because momma bought them a Merriam-Webster as a kid.

Great review, Kess! I must try this place!

gut

December 8th, 2009
9:59 am

John, you should try Big Daddy’s BBQ in Tucker. The sauce is amazing and the meats are fresh. And it’s right next to a gas station, where good BBQ should be.

Paddy

December 14th, 2009
6:17 am

ATLvol…You sure do get upset easy! My guess, you are not a military man? Now that winter is here, stay inside. You might catch your death…….WOW

kelly

December 19th, 2009
10:00 pm

this place rocks – plain and simple. We’ve eaten here 4 times so far and everyone we’ve referred/taken with us has LOVED it too. tonight, even SANTA was there – no lie. We told our children he stopped in oduring a sleigh test run.

SK

December 21st, 2009
12:26 pm

Tried it last night, pulled pork was first-rate. Enough to make me forget Dusty’s, except the vinegar sauce needs less sugar and more kick in my opinion.

Discovered today (thinking of sauce) that Dusty’s has now shut down their catering operation so you can’t even buy their sauce any more. The catering kitchen, however, is listed for sale on Atl Restaurant exchange.

Craig

February 2nd, 2010
9:33 pm

Make sure you try Fox Bros. BBQ it. If you want great BBQ!!!

Q_Element

February 3rd, 2010
12:39 am

John, please see my review of Community Q on Yelp.
http://www.yelp.com/biz/community-q-bbq-north-decatur#hrid:s8k_WxzyA4EdsXT_2ZGelA

I think they could improve upon a few things as I have noticed a few here have complained about the food temperature. My food also arrived more or less room temperature and I was a bit annoyed with that. Some of the items they were out of; I wanted the beef rib. Also annoying was the lack of alcohol as they don’t serve it. Perhaps it’s a liquor license issue and they are awaiting for it. I am certain customers would appreciate the ability to choose beer, wine or other alcohol. I agree the collards were less than impressive and the mac and cheese was just too overly greasy. They need to lighten the load on that one.

As I mentioned in my review, I would give this place another shot, But overall I wasn’t impressed either-way and disagree this is the best bbq ITP. If this is the best ITP, then we are in more trouble than I thought.

Anne-Caroline

February 3rd, 2010
1:15 am

AtlVol… PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE go back to Tennessee. You are rude and should be embarrased for what a fool you have made of yourself. Go home, dude!

[...] noticed some new comments on my ancient Community Q BBQ post, surely occasioned by restaurant critic Meridith Ford Goldman’s recent praise for this [...]

cliff

April 3rd, 2010
11:59 am

My plate of pulled pork was luke warm and pretty tasteless. A healthy splash of eastern NC style sauce (thanks for providing that!) perked it up somewhat but not enough to entice me to return.

Richard

July 25th, 2010
1:09 pm

My first visit today. Two words – THE BEST!!!!! I had the pulled pork sandwich, mac and cheese and the brunswick stew. Guys you have a new customer for life!! I am from Alabama and didn’t find that kind of barbeque until now. I will make sure all my friends know about your place. Thanks guys!!! I look forward to my next meal!!