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Heirloom Market BBQ dining review, Atlanta



Take a bite of the spicy pork sandwich ($6.50) – a lunch special at Heirloom Market BBQ – and you are tasting the future. The Berkshire pork from Georgia’s Riverview Farms first takes a dip in a marinade of Korean gochujang chile paste, then is slathered with a sugary rub and smokes for hours over hickory and fruitwood. It arrives chopped – a heap of crusty, black-pink porkiness on a toasted potato bun with kimchi coleslaw. How do you say “oink” in Korean?

Review by John Kessler

Review by John Kessler

The young couple behind Heirloom Market BBQ combine their divergent backgrounds with remarkable ease. Jiyeon Lee was a former teenage pop star in her native Korea (you can find a video on YouTube) before she came to America to study cooking at Tucker’s Le Cordon Bleu. Cody Taylor is a self-proclaimed “hillbilly” from eastern Tennessee whose culinary career landed him in the kitchen of Ritz-Carlton Buckhead. The two, who met while working at Repast restaurant, opened this slip of a spot nine weeks ago and turned Atlanta barbecue on its nose.

At first Lee and Taylor stressed their use of thoughtfully sourced ingredients on a straightforward menu of smoked meats, burgers, sausages and sides. But the specials board seems to grow more daring by the day as they invent their new vision of barbecue. Collard greens keep company with Asian-style sweet potatoes, and hints of ginger stand up to smoke. Their food is always interesting and sometimes very good, but you should be warned that word is out: this 760-square-foot spot is reliably jammed.

Chefs Jiyeon Lee and Cody Taylor of Heirloom Market BBQ (photos by Becky Stein)

Chefs Jiyeon Lee and Cody Taylor of Heirloom Market BBQ (photos by Becky Stein)

Set in a former liquor store under the roar of I-285 traffic, Heirloom Market presents a tidy space that seems more akin to a shoebox diorama than a restaurant dining room. Many new customers take in the old black-and-white family photos, shelves of American and Korean cookbooks, mullioned windows and sprays of fresh flowers and immediately fall in love. Seating consists of one communal six-person table and two short counters set with stools. Be prepared to take your food to go.

Spicy Korean pork sandwich with mac and cheese and collard greens

Spicy Korean pork sandwich with mac and cheese and collard greens

You order at the counter, choose a gourmet soda or get a cup for iced tea or water, and then stake out your turf. As you wait, your eyes will be drawn toward the kitchen and the two colorful pitched-roof Pitmaker smokers, which are made in Houston.

The red smoker is for Taylor’s “Texas” barbecue (he spent some of his childhood in that state) and is fired with pecan and oak wood. He cooks chicken, turkey and brisket in it. The blue smoker is for what he calls “Georgia” barbecue – i.e., that pork that gets a sugary rub and a hickory/fruitwood smoke. Taylor is quick to point out that all pig is handled separately from other meats, so anyone with religious or dietary restrictions need not fear cross-porkination.

Food arrives quickly on sweet little metal trays. There are a lot of thick, red sauces to choose from, including a warm Texas-style kitchen sauce and a sweet Tennessee one. The only sauce that really stands out is the spicy Korean gochujang with its intense burst of chile, garlic and sugar.

I enjoy the tender sliced brisket ($7 sandwich with one side, $11 platter with two sides), though its untrimmed fat cap is quite the chunk of white blubber. Peel it away to find surreally tender meat that Lee and Taylor first braise in the Korean soup sulongtang before smoking. Chopped chicken ($6 sandwich, $10 plate) can be pretty terrific, too: moist, tingly with spice and filling your mouth with a good hit of smoke.

Our table is divided on the merits of the St. Louis style ribs ($21 for a full rack). I’m not a fan of the sweet rub and springy texture; my wife loves the wham-pow flavor and the way the meat pulls from the bone. A special of rib tips ($9.50) with a tempura shredded vegetable cake brings a fun idea and a whole lot of tough, fatty meat. I have not tried the baby back ribs ($22 for a rack).

It’s not barbecue, but I find myself smitten with the cast-iron skillet burger ($7) here. It’s a thick patty of local grass-fed beef that comes crusty on the surface, nearly raw in the center and loaded with cheddar cheese, smoked onions and house pickles. There are also a variety of smoked sausages from Austell’s great Patak Meat Products. I think I’ve got my “starving at 2:30 in northwest Atlanta and need lunch” spot staked out.

Heirloom Market prepares all the expected sides and, true to form, some genre-busting blackboard specials. There’s a shell pasta with gobs of stringy cheese, collards juiced up with loads of shredded meat and a vinegary Brunswick stew, among other traditional offerings. The newer stuff, including fried sweet potatoes and soba noodle salad with orange segments, is more fun, and I’d love to see them go even further in this direction. That special Korean sweet heat works so much better when there’s a backdrop of salads, pickles and fresh raw vegetables to cut through it.

But I have every confidence this menu will keep evolving. Lee and Taylor are well on their way to creating a restaurant we’ve long needed: a barbecue joint that really feels like Atlanta today.

2243 Akers Mill Road, Atlanta, 770-612-2502
Food: Barbecue, burgers and sausages
Service: Counter service that’s friendly and charming; prepare for a wait
Best dishes: Chicken wings, cast-iron burger, brisket, interesting daily specials
Vegetarian selections: Some side dishes, but a vegetarian wouldn’t be happy here
Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa
Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Children: They’ll love the food, but be warned it’s a tiny space with long lines. You know your kids better than I do.
Parking: In a small lot
Reservations: No
Wheelchair access: Yes
Smoking: Just in the kitchen
Noise level: Moderate
Patio: Not yet; there is a patio but it isn’t zoned for tables
Takeout: Yes

39 comments Add your comment

[...] Restaurants : Heirloom Market BBQ dining review, Atlanta [...]

Gene Lee

January 14th, 2011
8:58 am

Koreans’ oink oink is gul-gul. You asked..

Addy C

January 14th, 2011
9:06 am

The BBQ is excellent here – the smoked meats are so flavorful you really could skip the sauce if you wanted to. I did.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jimmy. Jimmy said: RT @AJCFoodandMore: Heirloom Market BBQ dining review, Atlanta [...]

Westside Resident

January 14th, 2011
12:17 pm

I’ve been visiting Heirloom since the week it opened and haven’t been disappointed yet. My go to is the chopped pork, and I agree with Addy C that you don’t even need the sauce. Try the Texas beans next time, they are a great side if you aren’t in the mood for normal baked beans.


January 14th, 2011
12:21 pm

I’m half-Korean, and I am an amateur BBQ’er… this is the best of both worlds! Can’t wait to try it! As always, great review, Gene!


January 14th, 2011
12:23 pm

I really thought this merited a 3-star review (yes, I know the system). It certainly merits a drive if you are into unique and chef-driven BBQ. Of course, I can walk to it :)


January 14th, 2011
12:33 pm

can’t wait to try this, best of two worlds!!!

Gene Lee

January 14th, 2011
12:36 pm

@Dan – This is Señor John Kessler’s review.. Wish I could take credit..


January 14th, 2011
12:44 pm

LOVE this place, very very tasty. Worth a drive out there.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Atlanta Daily. Atlanta Daily said: Heirloom Market BBQ dining review, Atlanta – Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]


January 14th, 2011
1:02 pm

whoops, here I am thinking anything Korean is Gene’s.. great review as always, Kessler!


January 14th, 2011
1:21 pm

mmmm I’m looking forward to trying this!


January 14th, 2011
1:35 pm

Just had my fourth meal at Heirloom – today’s special was Korean pork BBQ sandwich with a side of Korean sweet potatoes. OH BABY was it good.

I LOVE the pork sandwich, brisket, collards and brunswick stew. Outstanding sides which vary from your normal pig & poke places. Agree that this merits AT LEAST 3 stars as it has earned 4 stars on Yelp.

The only problem is word about this hidden gem is spreading quick and all 14 seats get taken – as John said you’ll probably have to get it takeout if so. Absolutely incredible, best BBQ joint in Galleria area without a doubt – right up there with BBQ1 in terms of food quality.


January 14th, 2011
1:56 pm

Found this place next to a scary looking convenience store, was a little concerned until I walked inside, caught the aromas and then tasted the delicious offerings. As Usher says “OMG!”

Had BBQ Chicken, Brunswick Stew and tempura sweet potatoes – “My Oh My”!

Not a lot of seating, but don’t be fooled by the exterior or long lines – the food is Ritz-Carlton caliber – I can’t wait to go back and try more of their specials!


January 14th, 2011
2:05 pm

really good ribs. the meat fell right off the bone. and very tastey. I would like a bigger selection of side dishes. they didn’t have a lot to choose from when we went.


January 14th, 2011
2:10 pm

Kessler’s fixation for Korean food has been well documented on this blog. Well, his fixation on good food of any type is pretty much known.


January 14th, 2011
2:13 pm

FYI, rib meat should not fall off the bone.


January 14th, 2011
2:16 pm

JacketsHater – if you say this place compares to Sam’s BBQ1 I have got to give it a try. BBQ1 is my favorite BBQ joint in metro ATL, blows Slopes, Swallow in the Hallow, and Dreamland away.

Thanks for the heads-up on Heirloom – will stop by there next week!


January 14th, 2011
2:58 pm

This is a good place to get BBQ, however, it should be understood this is more of a gourmet type of Q. BBQ being what is, some people may not expect that. I like what they do as it appears to be quality ingredients and cooking methods. Good wishes to them.

John Kessler

January 14th, 2011
3:22 pm

Kar – Ha! Very true…if awesome Korean restaurants stop opening in Atlanta, I promise to stop being fixated on them. Actually, let me take that back…


January 14th, 2011
3:37 pm

Argh. After going vegetarian, good Korean-Mexican/Que/anything food is what I miss most. ARGH!

Still enjoy the kimchi though! Off to H-Mart!

Inman Parker

January 14th, 2011
3:44 pm

This place would be nice to have in Shaun’s spot Inman Park if they want to expand. Hear about any possibilities for that space?


January 14th, 2011
4:32 pm

AustinInspired: yes, and one thing I love about it is the variety…


January 14th, 2011
8:25 pm

A good review with good descriptions of the great foods you will find here but the rating is way too low! This place has created the buzz it has because it is GOOD. Not 2 out of 5 stars good but 4 out of 5 starts (at least) good. It is so unique in flavoring that it isn’t right to compare this to some of the better known and more established BBQ joints around Atlanta.

ATL Food Snob » Heirloom Market BBQ

January 14th, 2011
9:11 pm

Louis P

January 14th, 2011
10:25 pm

The review was excellent. The score fell short.


January 15th, 2011
8:04 am

Agree the score fell short. Hidden gem on the menu is the turkey sandwich.


January 15th, 2011
9:26 am

Out of curiosity, what kept this place from getting the third star? From the review it sure sounds like it “merits a drive”! Looking forward to trying it.


January 16th, 2011
8:43 am

Dont wait..get in your car and go now. AMAZING is what I kept thinking as I enjoyed my Korean BBQ pork sandwich and talked with friendly folks at the small table. I cant wait to go back….3 stars for sure

Herbert Finger

January 16th, 2011
10:18 am

O.k. I am really not big on the internet just lately and I am now having fun. Took me a while to trust the system. I am a man who looove good food. I found this local site here that I order food. So thank the lord Atlanta we are on the map eat24hours has so many restaurants and good places I recommend ya’ll
to check it out. Hope you will love it as I do.


January 16th, 2011
9:33 pm

why do I read these while I am hungry?


January 16th, 2011
10:32 pm

I’ve been twice in the past week. The chopped BBQ pork is OUTSTANDING ! The sweet sauce was excellent but the vinegar-based sauce is out of this world !

The second visit I had a chopped chicken sandwich which was great. Regarding the sides I’ve enjoyed the fries & beans, but the macaroni -n-cheese are a must get !

This week I will sample the ribs and sausage.

I predict they won’t beat this location long. The nearby closed Sonny’s (Spring Rd) and Famous Daves BBQ (Powers Ferry Rd) would be great locales to call home for this new entry into the Atlanta BBQ market.


January 16th, 2011
10:39 pm


David Galloway

January 16th, 2011
11:23 pm

Thanks for the info. It was all you said and more. When I was there at 2:30 PM, they were slammed. The chef was joking about the “killer” review, as it was about to kill him. Parking is going to be a huge issue as the restaurant shares space with a liquour store. What’s more alluring in the South than BBQ and a liquor store. Funny that the space is actually close to where the old Riverbend Gun Club was…..a Southern trifecta. Great food with amazing and surprising flavors. Again, thanks for the tip.

Michael B.

January 16th, 2011
11:40 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever read the entire 1st page of comments on a restaurant review without seeing ( unless I missed it ) one single negative comment. I have got to try this place! I wonder if JK has ever ammended a star rating. First time for everything.


January 18th, 2011
7:23 am

So happy my sister and i know that God will always favor us and so many things, and this is just the beginning for you. Pls keep do keep in touch from time to time. Miss you friend and sister in Christ Anabella so bless to know you Giji. Chef Cody God bless both of you.

ryan tyler

January 18th, 2011
3:53 pm

this doesn’t seem like a two out of five star review. seems like at least 3. i give this place 4.9. only gripe is its too busy

The Lost Foodie

January 19th, 2011
8:04 am

tried out this TINY spot after your glowing review and realized that this place is one of a kind drive worthy….has anyone else ever been so brave as to incorporate so much korean flavor into traditional bbq? atleast a 3star place and probably a 4 in the near future. if they were in NYC it would be the next thing ..over all top quality