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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Who has the best pulled pork in Atlanta?

Credit: Jon Watson

Credit: Jon Watson

I can already feel the bullseye on my forehead.

Once again, Shane from the Best of the Big A has asked for my help in providing the “critics pick” for one of his posts, and I want to get some help from the Food & More readers on this one. Now we are looking for the best pulled pork in Atlanta, and I know that this one is going to be controversial.

As of right now, Shane’s post asking for suggestions already has over 380 comments on it and many of them have the tone of “if you don’t agree with me, you should be dragged into the street and shot.” People get passionate about BBQ, no question about it. Oddly enough, many of those same people also gave terrible suggestions. Go figure.

I’m sure that some of you have already seen and possibly commented on Shane’s post, but I also know that many of you probably have not. I realize that we are all on the same team here at the AJC, but I’m inclined to think that the hardcore food fans probably frequent Food & More on a more regular basis.

Also, in the past, there have been instances where the reader suggestions have become a little….skewed…in the Best of the Big A comment section, usually because a few restaurants catch wind of it and immediately take to their Facebook profiles asking their followers to bombard the comments lauding their food as the best in town. It is that phenomenon that led me to spend many hours driving around the outskirts of Atlanta to eat hot dogs that were mostly forgettable.

So, I want to hear from those of you who actually feel like you know BBQ. And I’m asking you for some self analysis here. I don’t want this to turn into a barrage of “friends and family” giving biased suggestions. If you happen to live near a BBQ joint that you enjoy, but have limited experience with the other great places around town, then you may not have the level of understanding that I’m looking for. I want to hear from the BBQ fiends that have tried it all and know their favorites.

A few caveats:

1. This is for the best PULLED pork in Atlanta. If you love someone’s chopped pork, that is great, but that isn’t helpful. I also don’t care what the brunswick stew tastes like or if they have the best brisket you’ve ever had. Try to stay on topic.

2. This is for the best pulled pork in ATLANTA. That doesn’t have to mean ITP, but try to keep it within about 45 minutes of the city. Realistically, I’m not going to drive to the Florida border for this post.

3. If you can take the time, I’d love to know WHY you think X restaurant’s is the best.

4. I’m sure that you make a mean pulled pork on your Big Green Egg, but I can’t use that for this list. It has to be a restaurant. If I could use home recipes, my pulled pork would be number 1.

I only have about a week to try the BBQ joints that I haven’t tried before I need to turn this in, so make them count!

-By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

Jon Watson writes about Popular Eats for the AJC Dining Team. He also publishes his own blog, Live To Feast

75 comments Add your comment

Liz

February 16th, 2011
4:31 pm

Beetles BBQ in Woodstock is the best I’ve ever had – in fact, my Grandmother (a South GA pork expert) says that it’s the best that she’s ever tasted! It’s all smoked on premises in a converted VW Beetle (a bit of a gimmick, but whatever he’s doing works some kind of magic), pulled by hand with homemade sauces and sides from Granny-approved recipes. The owner and staff are all a bunch of characters which I think makes the food even better.

Reds

February 16th, 2011
4:37 pm

I tried Big Shanty up in Kennesaw at the recommendation of the AJC… I have to say it’s my favorite so far. I also really like Jim N’ Nicks. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, but I remember Daddy D’z being awesome too. Maybe not be the best options out there, but I’ve never really met a pulled pork I didn’t like… ;)

Dave

February 16th, 2011
4:40 pm

I have to admit, JD’s in Woodstock is a whole lot better then Beetles. Not sure why Beetles are still in business.

Jon Watson

February 16th, 2011
4:40 pm

@Reds – Glad to hear that you took my suggestion on Big Shanty! Though nothing has been decided on this Top 5, you can realistically expect that Big Shanty will be on the list somewhere…

[...] posted here: Who has the best pulled pork in Atlanta? | Food and More with John … Uncategorized bbq, home-recipes, pulled, pulled-pork, tried-before, [...]

Reds

February 16th, 2011
4:49 pm

Jon — really… probably some of the best stuff i’ve ever put in my mouth. And the folks there are super nice too. :)

Cathy

February 16th, 2011
4:49 pm

‘cue in Milton is good but pricey. One of the former owners of Swallow at the Hollow. The sides are delicious. My son swears by Dickey’s, but my husband and I go for their other stuff and not the pulled pork.

Vinegar

February 16th, 2011
4:50 pm

If catering businesses with the occasional take out window count, Dusty’s on Laredo Drive in Decatur. Best non tomato based pulled pork I’ve had since I moved down from Asheville.

Melissa

February 16th, 2011
4:51 pm

This should either be ITP ONLY or a Metro’s Best Pulled Pork. Some of us who live in the city would like to see suggestions that are actually IN THE CITY. Thinking you’ve found a good intown joint (because it’s listed as Atlanta) only to find out that it’s in effing Woodstock is more than a little frustrating.

Shockadow

February 16th, 2011
4:52 pm

DAVE POE’S BBQ- Marietta.
Dave & longtime partner split up over the classic $ vs. quality arguement (so I’ve heard).
Dave was the quality control guy. More interested in being great than rich. It’s my kinda BBQ resturant because it has pictures of pigs & lotsa big blue ribbons & trophies as decor.
The Macaroni & cheese is maybe the most caustic & delicious thing ive ever clogged my arteries with.

JayInAtlanta

February 16th, 2011
4:57 pm

My family has a tradition of being pulled pork connoisseurs for generations. I believe the best pulled pork in Atlanta is either at DBA BBQ in the Highlands (also try the DBA Smoked Reuben, which is a sandwich made of luscious pulled pork), or at Jim and Nick’s in Conyers. Normally Conyers is too far for me to consider (I’m solidly ITP), but Jim and Nick’s really is amazing.

BFellows

February 16th, 2011
4:57 pm

It’s Dave Poe’s, hands down for pulled pork in the metro area. Fox Bros does good work, but Poe’s beats them hands down in this category. Great Bark, Great Smokey flavor, not too dry and not too wet. Poe’s also has a NC style vinegar sauce available that goes better with pulled pork, as opposed to FoxBros more ketchup-y sauce (which is also good).

Beth

February 16th, 2011
4:59 pm

I’d have to go with Dave Poe’s in Marietta. It’s in a crappy storefront, which gives it points already, and run by one of the former owners of Sam and Dave’s. Sublime, and I am a pulled pork girl who has eaten pretty much everywhere up here in the Canton/Woodstock/Alpharetta/Cumming BBQ belt. Their sides are also pretty much a religious experience.

Mark

February 16th, 2011
5:46 pm

I see Dave Poe’s is getting a lot of votes but I still have to go with the original BBQ1. Not as good as some I’ve had in NC or Memphis but is at the top for ATL. Would be very hard to beat. It is also good to see that BBQ1 has had 2 spin-offs, Dave Poe’s and Community. Stay with the original BBQ1.

Lane

February 16th, 2011
5:49 pm

Community Q and Dave Poe’s. Also very good: Swallow at the Hollow. The sliced pork (not pulled pork) at Harold’s has good smoke flavor.

SP

February 16th, 2011
5:56 pm

I like the pulled pork at Fox Bros. It’s smokey and I like the rough chop/pull.

Chrome Gouda

February 16th, 2011
8:11 pm

Swallow at the Hollow is tops on my list, followed closely by Dave Poe’s.

Greg

February 16th, 2011
10:20 pm

All I know is Rick’s Smokin’ Pig has the best in Gainesville GA! and the prices are reasonable.

RANDY1301

February 16th, 2011
10:35 pm

1.Dave Poe’s..2.Dave Poe’s..3…Pig N Chik

RANDY1301

February 16th, 2011
10:37 pm

Only good Que ITP is Pig n Chik or Rolling Bones.Fact.

Ash

February 16th, 2011
10:40 pm

I drive up 400 to Big D’s anytime I can. It makes trips to the outlets with the wife much easier to deal with. The Brownie plate is the best BBQ I have ever had. Nothing but a plate of charred pork goodness.

Pulled Pork Man

February 16th, 2011
11:00 pm

Pig N Chick No Doubt, everyone who said ‘cue in Alpharetta should never, ever, never eva eva eva, comment on Pulled Pork ever again!!!!!!!!!

aaa

February 16th, 2011
11:19 pm

Melissa, not everybody lives ITP. For what you pay to be ITP, I get 2-3x the real estate and security. And a drive might do you good. Plus, Google can help you figure out what is not in your comfort zone, check it out, it’s your friend. I like Amos’ BBQ near Ball Ground on the corner of 372 and 369. Awesome pulled pork, neat little joint in the middle of the country. And not expensive.

J N Anchorage

February 16th, 2011
11:21 pm

For the best pulled pork…there are two options Harold’s BBQ in atlanta, near Turner Field and THE SHACK On Main in EAST POINT

J.R.

February 16th, 2011
11:37 pm

I like Dickey’s in Alpharetta. Love their sauce.

PhillipC

February 16th, 2011
11:37 pm

Big Shanty – doing good work, like the ribs better than the pork
Dave Poe’s – pulled pork is superb
Community Q – can be a bit dry, portions a bit skimpy, generally good
Harolds – a looooooooong time favorite. Last time in 2 months ago, declining cleanliness – slice better than pulled, B-Stew makes both better
Fox Bros. – love it, good work, consistent
Pig and Chick – solid, not super great, but good
Cue – tried it yesterday, very good, a little fatty, but tasty!
Hotty Hogs – Steer Clear! Pork is just bad – tried it twice – first time shame on person who recommended it. Second time, shame on me. Just goes to show you, I’ll work with ya, but doggone it, this place is bad.

Love some Q! Dicky’s is next for me to try. Love to hear about all these places.

PhillipC

February 16th, 2011
11:41 pm

To Jay in Atlanta
Jim and Nick’s at the East West Connector and South Cobb Parkway (not Cobb Parkway) may be closer for you. Pretty solid pulled pork. There bread is awesome. May be a closer trip for you than Conyers.

BBQLOVER

February 17th, 2011
2:00 am

Agree with Dave Poe’s and Jim & Nick’s being fantastic…for me the best has to be Old South BBQ in Smyrna!!! Fox Bros. is the place to go for brisket.

litz

February 17th, 2011
2:15 am

It’s pushing the “45 minute limit”, but I’m surprised nobody’s mentioned Ball Ground’s Two Bros. BBQ … you *know* the place is good when the train crews stop there for lunch.

chip allen

February 17th, 2011
6:11 am

J.D.’s BBQ in woodstock ga has the best pork in ga. The pork is so good because they only cook with wood, no gas or charcoal here. Low and slow is the way to go and this place has perfected it. The brisket is the best this side of texas. This place is worth the trip

Carla

February 17th, 2011
7:58 am

What, no love for Wallace BBQ in Austell? Seriously a tradition around those parts..When I lived in Douglasville it was always worth the trip…now that I live in Kennesaw I still head back there as often as I can.

Reds

February 17th, 2011
9:15 am

Dickey’s doesn’t even smoke their meat onsite. I will not be going back.

EB

February 17th, 2011
9:18 am

While I love lots of places for different reasons (Fox Bros, BBQ1, Hickory Pig) Pig-N-Chik has the best pulled pork I’ve had metro Atlanta. Its is a rough pull stil in big moist chunks with nice crusty bark on the outside…heavenly!

Fisherman

February 17th, 2011
9:19 am

The list ought to be limited to places that actually wood smoke their meat. Used to be almost everyone did, Now most have big bright ovens that get their heat from gas or electricty. So the “BBQ” at most of the places in this list is about on a par with what comes out of a crockpot. Melears south of Atlanta still uses wood and Harold’s does to some extent, but it does not have pulled pork to my knowledge. How about your favorite place? Ever seen any smoke coming out of the place?

Jon Watson

February 17th, 2011
9:51 am

@Fisherman – When I write my post for Food & More about this, I’m going to explain my criteria, but rest assured, smoke is going to play a crucial factor in my decision. Regardless of how good the sauce is, if I don’t taste smoke when I try the naked meat, it won’t make it into the top 5. In fact, last night for dinner, I ate pulled pork from one of the places that has been suggested multiple times already, and the meat tasted like it had a little rub put on it and then it was roasted in an oven – no smoke at all. The sauce was good, but this isn’t “Top 5 BBQ Sauces”…Sorry guys, I can already tell you that a few of you will be disappointed.

Also, I get what you are saying about the wood burning smokers, but I’m not one to discount some of the “fancy” Southern Pride smokers that are so popular. Yes, many of them are gas or electric powered, but the heat generated by that gas/electricity does burn wood, and I have eaten some amazingly smokey ‘cue that came out of one of those. But to make a pulled pork without actually putting any smoke into the meat is blashphemy.

Hil

February 17th, 2011
10:18 am

Please try Thompson Brothers BBQ on Cobb Pkwy in Smyrna. They have some of the best! They are brothers from Oklahoma. The sauce is quite different from any other that I have had-with hints of cinnamon…sounds strange but quite unique. Plus, it’s family owned and operated. They are located across from the Best Buy on Cobb Pkwy. in the Office Depot shopping center.

Carol Hand

February 17th, 2011
10:33 am

Euclid Avenue Yacht Club in Little Five Points. It’s a neighborhood bar, not a BBQ joint. If you haven’t tried it, I think it would be worth a visit. Best pulled pork ever, really.

Gordon

February 17th, 2011
10:37 am

Great topic. Jon, I love your criteria. Sauce does not make good smoked pulled pork! It should be able to stand alone. While I used to be a big fan of Rib Ranch, something has changed with their smoke and it’s very dry now. My pick is one of your favorites and that would be Big Shanty. I’ve talked to the owner a couple of times and he knows what he is doing. You really get a great smoke taste in their pork, and its not dry with a lot of flavor!
Someone mentioned Beetles, and I agree, its surprisingly good, but I have found it can be hit and miss.
My feeling, is it’s not what you smoke it in, it’s how it tastes at the end of the trip. That’s the recipe for good smoke.

MMMMMMmmm. Foood

February 17th, 2011
11:44 am

Dave Poes has great hunks and great smoke flavor. Doesn’t need sauce.

Pig and Chick is on Par with Poes. Pulled hunks of Juiciness!I love the sauce choices, if you want to doit up.

The bark at Fox Bros. can be harsh, but when its right, It is RIGHT! Love the sauce. Red ring under the crust is sublime. Pulled chunks on Texas toast. MMMMmmmmm.

Susan

February 17th, 2011
1:46 pm

Daddy D’z is delicious and it’s definitely ITP for those concerned with that!

@PhillipC: Harold’s is great, but they only serve chopped or sliced – not pulled.

goodegirl

February 17th, 2011
3:54 pm

Two Brothers in Ballground (nice and vinegary) and Fat Mack’s Rib Shack on Cheshire Bridge (great with a cold one after a crazy night in Buckhead)

JEC

February 17th, 2011
4:24 pm

My vote is for Pig n Chik. I get frustrated when I have pulled pork and bite into a slimey piece of fat – never had that happen at PnC.

scott mcd

February 17th, 2011
5:49 pm

I think Melears (Fyetteville has closed??) I dig Community Q

ATLDawg, ya dig?

February 17th, 2011
6:18 pm

Dusty’s, RIP. Awesome, NC-style SMOKED bbq. The retail store is closed but I believe they stil cater. Please try to get them in this competition.

Also, check out this great LOCALLY produced doc on bbq, “kissed by fire.” It’s actually airing this weekend. This should help – http://www.pba.org/programming/programs/bbq/

mikeyp

February 17th, 2011
7:19 pm

Dave Poe’s is the best with Pig N Chick a close second, I do not understand the love for Beetles or JD’s as I find them both to be average but that’s what makes this list so interesting BBQ is very subjective. To Melissa, did you read the article before you wrote your rant?

Atlantan

February 17th, 2011
7:42 pm

Best I’ve had – BBQ1 – I live in the center of ITP and will drive out there on weekends to get it. Agree that Dave Poe’s is good as well.

Glenn

February 18th, 2011
7:33 am

Hey folks – read Jon’s rules. JD’s in Woodstock has outstanding BBQ and is my local favorite. Unfortunately, it does not pass Jon’s rule no. 1 – PULLED pork is not on the menu, only chopped. Someone said Beetles is inconsistent, but I have to disagree – during my several visits it has been very consistent – consistently disappointing. Actually, I thought Beetles had gone out of business, but based on comments here I guess not. Dave Poe’s, on the other hand, has an outstanding PULLED pork with an excellent bark. I’m not crazy about Poe’s sauce choices, but then, considering the smokiness and quality of the pork, it’s not really about the sauce. I’d love to have Dave Poe’s pulled pork with JD’s sauce, but I suppose that’s not an option.

Jon Watson

February 18th, 2011
9:26 am

@Glenn- thanks for the heads up! I’ve honestly heard almost entirely negative stuff about Beetle’s pulled pork and wasn’t planning on making the trek, but was going to head up there this weekend since JD’s was nearby (2 birds, 1 stone) so thanks for saving me a drive to Woodstock! I have a list of about 15 places to go and can’t hit them all, so I have to prioritize.

Glenn

February 18th, 2011
9:43 am

Jon, When you get around to reviewing chopped BBQ, you really need to make the trek to Woodstock and JD’s. You won’t be disappointed.

Jon Watson

February 18th, 2011
1:48 pm

Thanks for all of the suggestions guys! I’ve already been to a few of them…some will make the list, and some won’t, but it has been fun!

A few notes on some of your suggestions-

The following BBQ joints don’t serve pulled pork, only chopped or sliced:
Thompson Bros. BBQ
‘CUE
Harold’s

And I’ll say it again…if the meat doesn’t taste smokey, no matter how good the rub or sauce is, it won’t make the list. Anyone can roast a pork butt in the oven and put a good sauce on it, but that isn’t what I’m looking for….