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

Spring Dining Guide: Best burgers, barbecue and more

The Bocado Burger (AJC Staff)

The Bocado Burger (Becky Stein)

I’ve eaten my way through countless burger joints, barbecue shacks and pizza places in Atlanta, and I’ve found a lot of great eats in the process. But here are the best of the best.


I’ve yet to find a thick burger in Atlanta that can hold a candle to the juicy grass-fed patty from Muss & Turner’s (1657 Cumberland Parkway, Smyrna, 770-434-1114) in Smyrna. Cooked to a perfect medium-rare, topped with roasted poblano peppers and slivers of red onion, and draped in melted cheddar and cilantro mayonnaise, this burger has no equal.


Chef Todd Ginsberg’s burger at Bocado (887 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, 404-815-1399), a double stack of house-ground farm-raised beef, American cheese and house-made pickles served on an H&F bun, stands out amongst the many contenders for Atlanta’s best stacked burger. Ginsberg’s simple preparation and attention to quality ingredients makes this the strongest offering of its kind in town.


The pulled pork served at Beaver Creek Biscuit Company (1451 Six Flags Road, Austell. 770-739-0200) is perfectly moist and smoky, with generous chunks of crunchy bark mixed in with the meat. When ordering the pork plate, make sure that you specify that you want it pulled and not chopped, and top it off with some of their delicious mustard and vinegar-based ‘Seminole sauce.’


The secret of good barbecue is in the smoke, and Chic Dillard, the owner of Big Shanty Smokehouse (3393 Cherokee St., Kennesaw, 770-499-7444) in Kennesaw, knows this well. Dillard’s beef brisket, carved into smoky inch-thick slices, oozes juice and is so tender that it pulls apart with the slightest nudge of a fork.


Starting with one of their delicious and juicy smoked baby-back ribs, the crew at Fox Brothers Bar-B-Q (1238 DeKalb Ave., Atlanta, 404-577-4030) takes things to the next level with a dunk in batter and a dip in the deep fryer. Served with a side of white barbecue sauce, this twist on the traditional rib will leave any barbecue lover’s head spinning.


Open only for lunch, you will always find Brandi’s World Famous Hot Dogs (1377 Church Street Ext., Marietta, 770-422-3681) in Marietta packed to the brim with regulars, and for good reason. Their spicy chili dogs are the epitome of a Georgia-style hot dog, and the best that I’ve had in the city.


No pizza in Atlanta can transport you straight to Italy like the pies from Antico Pizza Napolenta (1093 Hemphill Ave., Atlanta, 404-724-2333) on the Westside can. Everything that owner Giovanni Di Palma puts into his pizza, from the flour used in the dough to 1,000-degree ovens that bake them, is imported from Italy, and it shows in every bite.


After moving to Atlanta from New York City, Jeff Varasano began a quest to perfect the NY-style pie that he grew up eating. Nana’s Pizza, with Varasano’s (2171 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta, 404-352-8216) crispy, char-kissed crust simply topped with fresh mozzarella and an oregano-heavy tomato sauce, leaves no room for improvement.


The beauty of Muss & Turner’s (1657 Cumberland Parkway, Smyrna, 770-434-1114) fries is the simplicity: The fries are cut fresh daily, seasoned simply, fried to crispy perfection and served in a generous paper-lined cone. They don’t call for much in the way of dressing up, but you can’t go wrong with M&T’s Sriracha Mayonnaise.


The quality of ingredients makes all of the difference in a great sandwich, and Star Provisions’ (1198 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, 404-365-0410) Shrimp Po Boy is the best example of this principle at work. Piled high with six fried jumbo shrimp, lettuce, fresh tomatoes, pickles, Cajun mayonnaise, and nestled in a buttery hoagie roll, this sandwich is a cut above the rest in Atlanta.

Jon Watson, Popular Eats

Jon Watson, Popular Eats

19 comments Add your comment

M. Johnson

April 28th, 2011
9:49 am

FRIED ribs?! No thanks.

That sounds like cruel and unusual punishment. Take a drive down Bouldercrest and check out Miss Betty’s Rib Shack, then get back to me.

Andrew S

April 28th, 2011
10:35 am

@M. Johnson – The NON-fried ribs at Fox Bros are still the best in town.


April 28th, 2011
11:38 am

My thick burger vote still goes to the Andy Burger at Cafe di Sol in Poncey Hi. M&T is a great burger, though.

M. Johnson

April 28th, 2011
11:56 am

@Andrew: I’ll give them a try. You check out Miss Betty’s and we’ll compare notes.


April 28th, 2011
12:45 pm

Shindig on Campbellton Road. The ribs and pulled pork makes you want to slap the taste out of someone mouth because you want to savor all of the goodness yourself.


April 28th, 2011
1:36 pm

I still can’t figure out why Fox Brothers gets so much love. They are just ok!

Nom Nom Nom

April 28th, 2011
4:58 pm

Why would anyone batter and deep fry their ribs? Oh and I agree with the Wino. Andy’s burger is a hidden gem in a city obsessed with burgers.

M. Johnson

April 28th, 2011
5:11 pm

I also agree that Varasano’s pizza is pretty awesome!


April 28th, 2011
5:41 pm

Is this the continuation of the April Fool’s joke?

April 29th, 2011
5:28 am


April 29th, 2011
5:23 pm

It is hard to find anything wrong with Muss and Turners…..and actually I can’t…..this shop is so much more than the food. It is also the atmosphere and what it brings to the area, I just long for more palces like this gem. And yes, it does have ‘Wonderful’ fries.


April 29th, 2011
5:54 pm

I had my second Bocado burger last Friday, and I’m thinking about going for a third tonight. I’ve been thinking about it literally all week. I’ve eaten a lot of great burgers–in Nashville, in Boston, on the west coast, all over New York, and certainly here in Atlanta (Flip’s, Yeah!’s buffalo, Farmburger’s, the Varsity’s), and I’m pretty certain Bocado’s is the best I’ve ever eaten.


April 29th, 2011
11:29 pm

Jon, thanks for the compliments on our Brisket. Can’t wait to try the other recommendations in your article. With very limited “free time” I appreciate you doing the research to send us to the “Best of the Big A”. We can’t wait to try your other choices.
Big Shanty Smokehouse


April 30th, 2011
11:32 am

Next time I feel like driving 45 minutes to an hour to try a burger or pulled pork, I’ll consider the offerings mentioned here. However, when I’m hungry I tend to prefer staying in town where I live and I find that there are exceptional offerings available to me, like Fox Brothers, Community Q, Grindhouse Killer Burgers, Holeman&Finch, etc.


April 30th, 2011
10:36 pm

I harily agree with you choice of Antico Pizzeria. I am from NY and frankly disappointed with most ot the NY style pizza places here. Try Antico, but beware you will never want to eat any other again.

Also you did not mention if your choice for the hot dog was cooked over charcoal. One of the great mysteries of life since moving here from Western NY is why the Varsity is rated the best. Guess it’s an institution her in ATL. Sorry, but the Varsity wouldn’t make it were I’m from. Boiled dogs on a flavorless bun and chili that is without taste.

I’ll give your thick burger place a try…sounds wonderful.


May 1st, 2011
12:43 am

Love these choices…. except for Brandi’s World Famous Hot Dogs. If this place was featured on Guy Fieri’s show, it’s be called a dive. Dirt road and really bad interior aside – the dogs there are gawdawful. Seriously. What were you thinking? Best in town?!?

Barker’s Red Hots on Windy Hill Road is in a completely different class from Brandi’s. Their spicy dog is charcoal grilled – not boiled – and the toppings are much better. And, they have several types of sausages (polish, italian, etc). And for folks who want to try a specialty from Buffalo, NY that’s not chicken – how about Beef on Weck?

Seriously, Jon. I’m worried that your Greasy Man Food Card could be taken for recommending Brandi’s. Seriously.


May 1st, 2011
2:52 pm

Has anyone tried Moe’s BBQ on 14th Street yet? It’s new to Atlanta and delicious! They have a delicious pulled pork sandwich – add a few squirts of their house sauce, and you will have an incredibly tasty experience. They make their sides fresh daily. The broccoli casserole is amazing – you have to check it out!

Anne-Caroline Taylor

May 1st, 2011
3:37 pm

Fox Bros. gets so much love because Fox Bros. ROCKS!


May 2nd, 2011
10:08 am

Anyone that puts The Varsity in any list naming “Best Of” anything cannot be taken seriously from that point onward. Chuckles, I have to agree with you. A grilled hot dog is the only way to make them. Boiled? Really?? Yuk.