We try to make our way up to Ellijay each October, but not on one of the weekends that Gilmer County goes tourist-mad with the apple festival. The I-575/GA-515 artery up through Ellijay and Blue Ridge will give travelers a gorgeous drive, but it is not really built for the incredible volume that comes that way during the festival, resulting in a big logjam. So, once the madness had faded, we drove up to get some apples at Panorama, about which more next time, and then went looking for barbecue.
I had a mind to visit two places in Ellijay. Poole’s, we learned last year, was remarkably reliable and wonderful, but we wanted to try a couple of new places. Unfortunately, one of them, Wolf Creek Canyon, had moved without anybody notifying Urbanspoon of their new address or hanging a sign in the window of their abandoned storefront on Main Street.
The other, providing more evidence for my belief that Urbanspoon means a whole lot less to both restaurant owners and potential customers the further you get from a major population center, was not listed in Urbanspoon at all, despite being in business since 1996. Walker’s Fried Pies and BBQ is just a hop and a skip east of Ellijay along GA-52. That it’s avoiding internet notice is a blasted shame, because they’re serving up some pretty good food here.
The Walker family no longer owns this business, although the building is still theirs’, and the interior is decorated with many stories and photographs about their family. The business is now run by Betty and Jerry Clonts, who smoke their meat over hickory wood. The result is only a little moist and quite flavorful. Marie and I each had chopped pork, although word in the community seems to favor the beef here. Two other parties came through while we were here, and only one of the people in the groups ordered pork instead of beef. They also offer ribs, chicken, turkey and pork tenderloin.
There are two sauces on the table. The hotter sauce is an orange homemade approximation of something like Texas Pete, and the other is a sweet, brown Memphis-style. It was just sweet enough for Marie and I both to find it agreeable. The sides are the usual suspects: beans, potato salad, slaw and Brunswick stew, although sadly, like some of the less agreeable joints in suburban Atlanta, the stew here is only available for a fifty-cent upcharge.
Perhaps the real selling point here is the selection of desserts. Walker’s makes fresh fried pies in six flavors – apple, peach, cherry, strawberry, coconut and chocolate – along with funnel cakes and fried Oreos. Marie ordered an apple pie as a side for her sandwich and was incredibly pleased. These pies are just fantastic.
I’m not certain why Walker’s has been hiding from internet travelers and barbecue bloggers for so long, but I hope they won’t stay a secret any longer. This is a good place, and certainly worth a visit when visiting in this gorgeous part of the country.
Other blog posts about Walker’s:
BBQ Biker (Oct. 6 2009)