As I pull into the gravel lot off Six Flags Road in Lithia Springs, the smell of hickory snakes through my air conditioning vents, filling the car with the mouth-watering aroma of smoke. I park among the line of industrial vans and trucks, and when I see the line of hungry workers backed out of the front door, my excitement grows.
These guys seem to know something that I don’t. I can’t help but wonder: How am I just now discovering this place?
Beaver Creek Biscuit Company and Barbecue is a restaurant with a split personality. By morning, it sells Southern breakfast fare and converts to a barbecue smokehouse for lunch.
Originally opened by Paul Turner in 1952, Turners Store began selling barbecue in the late 1980’s. Current owners John Ray and Terry Kirby regularly ate Turner’s barbecue, and when they purchased the business from him in 2002, they changed the name and added a country-style breakfast menu, but left the barbecue recipes alone.
The breakfast menu is straight forward and centers on the buttery biscuits from which they took their name. When I say that they offer Southern style breakfast, that encompasses all aspects, both good and bad. Butter rules breakfast at Beaver Creek, from the grits to the biscuits. The flavors are rich, but those of you looking for a light continental breakfast won’t find it here.
Though few of the breakfast items are that remarkable in their own right – it is mostly standard country-style fare – the chicken biscuit ($2.75) stands out. Deep-fried in peanut oil, the batter is light and crisp, and the meat is surprisingly moist and tender. The country-fried pork loin biscuit ($2.50) is another highlight, the patty pressed thin and coated with heavy breading.
As the breakfast crowd dies down around 11 a.m., Beaver Creek shifts into barbecue mode, and this is where it really shines.
The smokehouse behind the restaurant, little more than a cinder block shack, pumps the sweet smell of slowly smoking meat into the air starting from the wee hours of the morning. Using an entirely wood-fired pit smoker constructed from an old 500-gallon fuel tank, pork shoulders and brisket bathe in hickory and white oak smoke overnight, infusing the meats with a sweet smoky flavor.
Unless you specify otherwise, the pork plate ($6.85), comes as pulled then chopped pork with your choice of two sides. However, I strongly recommend asking that the cooks refrain from chopping the meat, as I find that the finely chopped pork can dry out faster. The pulled pork retains much more moisture. Both versions come with a hearty helping of crispy, smoky bark mixed into the meat, imparting so much flavor that very little sauce is needed, if any.
Another must-try is the rib plate ($9.85). The thick spare ribs, each with a visible pink smoke ring soaked into the meat, pull cleanly from the bone, but retain just the right amount of chew.
Any of the meats pair well with the mustard based “Seminole sauce” – supposedly named in honor of the Seminole Indians that taught Paul Turner everything he knows about barbecue. The thicker hot sauce packs a punch but lacks the tangy bite of the mustard based alternative.
Though the smoked meats are the highlight at Beaver Creek, the sides do not disappoint. The Brunswick stew ($2.90) stands out as one of the best in town. A near emulsion of chicken, pork, beef, corn, and tomatoes, it is hearty, meaty, and satisfying. A strong layer of smoke punctuates the baked beans ($1.55), swimming with generous chunks of pulled pork. The mustard heavy Southern style potato salad ($1.55) brings me back to my grandmother’s kitchen in Alabama.
The beef brisket plate ($7.35) is the only real letdown on the barbecue menu, but my complaint is one of style rather than quality. Though the flavor is good, Beaver Creek offers a pulled/shredded beef, rather than the thickly sliced brisket I prefer. However, fans of pulled beef may find it more enjoyable than I do.
So now the secret is out. This is old school barbecue done right, and if you consider yourself a ‘cue lover, Beaver Creek deserves a visit.Beaver Creek Biscuit Company and Barbecue 1451 Six Flags Road, Austell. 770-739-0200