I’ll confess that there are some times when I select a new barbecue place purely by geography. I looked over our barbecue map – see the link down below – and reflected that Marie and I just don’t get south of I-20 all that often unless we’re leaving Atlanta entirely. So a few months back, I looked for places in that direction and set out for Miss Betty’s House of Ribs on Bouldercrest. I found it easily enough. It’s in a doublewide between a gas station and a house that, while technically abandoned and posted with no trespassing signs, has an awful lot of clothes hanging out to dry out back. It also wouldn’t open for another hour. My unusual schedule leaves me with a short day to go get some lunch in the city once a week around 10 am. I’m used to bringing books to read to pass the time until most places open for lunch at eleven, but joints that open at noon require a lot of patience. I decided that I would come back some other time.
So, a couple of months later, I was working some extra hours and knew I’d have the opportunity to get over there again. In the meantime, Miss Betty got a little promotion from Get Delicious !, a one episode-per-year TV show made for Atlanta’s PBS station WPBA and hosted by Jim Stacy. I remember Jim from when he was the frontman for the tremendously fun band the LaBrea Stompers, and had no idea that he had a great little side job these days showing off the region’s best and most treasured restaurants.
Betty Patterson, who set up shop here in 2006, seems to treat everybody like an old friend, even when they are new and need a little instruction in her sauces. The ribs are served dry here, and they are completely amazing that way, and she gives you two little one-ounce cups of sauce to mix to your liking. The mustard sauce is spicy and tangy, and the Boss Sauce is completely wild. It’s very sweet and very thin, like the weird offspring of Worcestershire, honey, and Caro syrup. I found them interesting but totally unnecessary; the meat was just perfect without them.
This is principally a carry-out joint, but there are a couple of tables and beat-up chairs for guests to stay for a little bit. I got settled, realized that I’d positioned myself right where the blazing sun was coming in the window, and moved. Miss Betty came out to adjust the air conditioning. “It’s not too hot in here, is it?” she asked. “Ma’am, it’s too hot everywhere,” I laughed, and sipped some more of the delicious lemonade.
When my little styrofoam box of food came out, I was in seventh heaven. The ribs, the baked beans and the mac and cheese were all incredibly good. I stopped by the smokehouse on my way out and drank in some more of that wonderful smoke before unlocking my blistering car. The ribs and chicken are cooked over a haphazard mix of hickory or oak or whatever’s available, and for however long that they need, and somehow it works even without the formality and structure of restaurants that have a set and sensible schedule. Seems that once I got in the car, and even back on the interstate, I could still taste and smell that powerful smoke. Of course, I did have it all in my clothes.
Other blog posts about Miss Betty’s:
Creative Loafing (Mar. 19 2008)
Review Atlanta (July 25 2009)
AJC’s Food and More (Jan. 22 2010)
Atlanta Magazine (Mar. 22 2010)
Estesworld’s Posterous (Oct. 22 2010) – really great photos!!
Burgers, Barbecue and Everything Else (July 21 2012)
You can see all the barbecue restaurants that we have visited for our blog on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s terrific for anybody planning a barbecue road trip through the southeast!