Ila is a tiny little town in Madison County, about twenty minutes north of Athens via GA-106. Curiously, I did not have reason to ever put a tire on this stretch of road in my life before September of last year, when we visited Scott & BJ’s Bar-B-Q, which is located at the southern end of the little corridor. Two trips to the Classic City later, and we found ourselves driving along it for the very first time. It’s a fun little straightaway, full of rolling hills and low visibility with all the dips. This trip was between the two big winter ice storms that hit the area. We noted that this road would be impassible with slippery ice.
The toddler, exhausted from the hours at the play fort, was lulled to sleep by the gentle ups and downs of the road. Marie said that she wasn’t all that hungry yet, and would wait with him while he slept, reading a book while I ate at Chub’s BBQ. This business opened in an old house in 2010. The owners use exclusively hickory wood, and they’re serving up some really tasty meals here. Most of the chopped pork around Athens is a little drier and finer than this. At Chub’s, the meat is very pink and it’s a coarser chop. It’s not particularly representative of northeast Georgia barbecue, but it’s very good, and they have a couple of other area specialties to offer.
As you can see in the top picture, Chub’s offers chicken mull, and they make a really terrific version of it. Their mull is nice and thick, the way that we like it best. A few weeks previously, we had enjoyed a tasty cup of mull at Banjo’s, which is about sixteen miles away on the other side of I-85, but while that was flavorful, it was too thin. Mull should be thick, with the consistency of a hearty milkshake. Anybody missing the excellent mull that the sadly missed Bill’s served will find a good spiritual successor here.
Add to this some very good Brunswick stew and a variety of just-right-for-the-region sauces and you’re guaranteed a good meal here. Carolina mustard is a given in these parts, and so are the deep red tomato-vinegar sauces. There are four different varieties, mild and hot versions of a simple vinegar and a sweeter mix.
Chub’s has been packing in crowds quite out of proportion with the town’s teeny population for Friday and Saturday evening suppers. A good twenty people wandered through, mostly getting carry-out orders, during the half-hour or so I was there enjoying my meal and chatting with my server. They teased me about bringing Marie back for a Valentine’s Day supper. I asked her whether she wanted some mull or a sandwich to go, or if she wanted to swap off and let me sit with the napping kid while she ate, but she said that she’d pass. It turned out that, earlier in the day, she’d picked up a craving that wasn’t going anywhere, and barbecue was not going to satisfy her. More about that in the next chapter.
Like barbecue? You can see all the barbecue restaurants that we have visited for our blog (more than 260!) on this map, with links back to the original blog posts. It’s terrific for anybody planning a barbecue road trip through the southeast!