Old South Bar-B-Q, Smyrna GA

The last time I wrote, I was talking about Alpharetta’s oldest surviving restaurant. This time, it’s Old South Bar-B-Q, which, since the closure of Fat Boy a couple of years back, has become the longest-lasting place in Smyrna to get something to eat. It’s managed this through three generations of family ownership by creating some remarkable loyalty in their customer base.

Honestly, Old South is about the living definition of hit and miss. You never know what you’re going to get here. I’ve had some very good meals, and I’ve always enjoyed their really, really thick original sauce, but man, can you ever tell when somebody new is in the kitchen chopping, pulling or slicing the meat. Unfortunately, everybody’s meat was a little disappointing this time out. There was just too much fat and gristle on display.

Normally, I get chopped pork whenever I have barbecue, but I guess I was feeling a little contrary and, this past Friday night, asked for pulled pork instead. Marie and I were visiting my folks with my daughter in tow and Old South was my bright idea. My dad didn’t really feel like going out, so I phoned in an order of quite unreasonable complexity – my brother, God bless him, has really specific requirements about how he wants his grub – and they got it exactly right.

The sides here are pretty inconsistent. While I never cared for their potato salad or slaw, their Brunswick stew is among the best around. It’s an almost black brew with lots of stringy meat and corn. Some years back, I took three of my friends from Nashville, Brooke, Dash and Tory, here. None of them had tried Brunswick stew before, and I was glad to set ’em straight with the good stuff first.

Their rings and beans are certainly just fine, but I knew that my dad, who likes their onion rings better than anybody else’s, would have more than enough to share. Dad loves these, especially dipped in Heinz 57 sauce. He has been doing this for better than twenty years and still asks whether I want some, because I “really need to try this.” Overall, this meal was just “okay,” let down by the inconsistent meat. I’ve certainly had considerably better meals here, but I think the next time the road takes us to Old South, I’ll stick to having my pork chopped. It is, nevertheless, better than many of their competitors in this part of Cobb, although I can name two within a hop, skip and a jump that I have not yet tried. There’s something else I need to get on with.

Other blog posts about Old South:

3rd Degree Berns Barbecue Sabbatical (Feb. 14 2010)
Georgia Barbecue Hunt (Jan. 23 2012)


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