Old Brick Pit Bar-B-Q, Chamblee GA

Here’s proof that time really does march on in the restaurant business. Once upon a time, the Old Brick Pit was one of the Atlanta region’s most well-known and popular barbecue joints. It opened in 1976 and the original owner, whose name was Newton, was immortalized in caricature by the great Jack Davis. Within a couple of years, it was among a handful of Georgia restaurants featured in one of those writeups in The New York Times that you used to see in books and newspapers in the 1970s, marveling at this peculiar Southern delicacy called barbecue. A yellowing copy of that lengthy road trip article is still framed on the wall of this fine old smokehouse, where few seem to see it.

Once upon a time, in other words, the Old Brick Pit was, along with Harold’s and Fat Matt’s, one of the city’s best-known and beloved places. But time has unfairly left this place behind. You never see it talked about or shared among younger foodies or lovers of great barbecue or roadfood. Despite a pretty good location on Peachtree, just north of and across the street from Oglethorpe University, it has slipped so far off everybody’s radar that I just flat out forget about the place unless I just happen to be nearby.

I’ve eaten here only twice. The first time was many years back when I was maintaining that old Geocities page about barbecue places in Georgia. I’m pretty sure that we were the only guests on that Saturday afternoon. Marie and the kids and I stopped by a couple of Saturday evenings ago and we were, again, apart from some take-out orders, the only guests. That’s certainly not the way that it should be.

As I mentioned in the previous chapter, we spent New Year’s Day with my father in the hospice, where he would pass away the following morning. Now, our lunchtime visit to America’s Top Dog had been a little more upbeat and enthusiastic. We still had some optimism that Dad would improve somewhat and enjoy one last bowl game with his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide. Spending the day with him, seeing that he wasn’t improving at all and had no ability to focus on or stay awake for the game stopped that optimism in its tracks. So when we went out for supper, we were in a much quieter mood, and the slow pace of the restaurant fit my state of mind.

Sepulchral. That’s a word I’ve often wanted to use but never found the right occasion.

The building is built around the old brick pit of the name, and man, it smells fantastic. You’ll definitely wish you could go around the counter and check out that beauty . The food was mostly very good. Old Brick Pit uses a thin tomato and vinegar mix with their sauce. We all had chopped pork as we often do, but their ribs come pretty highly recommended as well. The slaw and the Brunswick stew were both very tasty. None of us really cared for the peach cobbler, however. Marie’s order just got passed around for each of us to see who would want to finish it.

Marie and the children were ready to return to the hospice after we finished. I chose to linger for a little while, enjoying my delicious sweet tea, reading the little touchstones of the past mounted on the walls and enjoying that gorgeous Jack Davis artwork. Part of me didn’t want to leave.

That was the last meal that we had while my father was still alive. He passed the following morning at 6:23. I wish he was able to enjoy it with us. Dad probably wouldn’t have liked it quite as much as he did our trip to Harold’s a couple of months ago, but Dad certainly liked barbecue. Dad’s probably tracked down Bear Bryant in heaven by now, and they’ve bonded over a nice plate of sliced pork and onion rings, which was his favorite variation. I like mine chopped, and with stew myself, but my old man would agree that when it comes to barbecue, it’s all good.

Other blog posts about Old Brick Pit:

3rd Degree Berns Barbecue Sabbatical (Sep. 24 2009)
The Georgia Barbecue Hunt (Aug. 25 2011)

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