Tomlin’s BBQ, Rabun Gap GA

Last month, Marie and the boychild and I took a little day trip up to the mountains to enjoy the fall colors. This is the sort of trip that we might have made every fall before we had a baby; we’ve agreed that our son is a little too prone to racing ahead of us and not hearing “stop” to be quite ready to visit Tallulah Gorge, but we hope that we’ll be comfortable with taking him next year.

On our previous trips up I-985 and US-23, we’ve noticed a couple of barbecue places that sounded promising, and, happily, they’re still doing good business and waited patiently for us to return this way for an early lunch and an early dinner. We started with Tomlin’s, which is between the towns of Clayton and Dillard, and which is only open from May through October each year. That means you good readers won’t be able to rush to try this place, as I’d like to think many of you do after reading one of our reports. You’ll have to wait until the spring of 2016. Sorry about that!

Tomlin’s is a little shack in the parking lot of the Osage Farms store, which was crowded with people buying pumpkins and apples. The pumpkins were local, the apples from Henderson NC. They only have a few picnic tables; at peak times, guests will have to eat in their cars. We each had chopped pork here, and it is really good. Their smoker is right beside the small building, loaded with oak and hickory, and the meat is moist and smoky and full of flavor.

The sauces were a mixed bag. They have three which are made for them under the Tomlin’s label, and they’re available in gallon jugs with pumps at a little table next to the ordering window, as you can see in the photo above. The house sauce, which comes ladled on the meat unless you ask for it dry, is an orange-colored vinegar sauce. History was made here in Rabun Gap: Marie liked this sauce more than I did. She tends to prefer sweet sauces and I tend to prefer vinegar-based ones, but I liked their house sauce the least of their three, preferring both the hot tomato-based sauce, and their brown mustard sauce. But what I really loved was an apple bourbon sauce, which was made by some other outfit entirely. I know, “it ain’t worth a plug if they buy sauce by the jug,” but the meat was awesome and I liked two of their own three sauces, so they do absolutely fine work. I would not mind stopping here again at all.

After lunch, we drove north to Dillard, home of one of my favorite antique / junque malls. We don’t buy very much in the way of silly old things anymore, but do love to shop. One dealer had a Desperate Dan flower pot and wanted $125 for it. I think the decimal place on that was off. I’d have paid $1.25 for it. That was a great way to spend a couple of hours. After that, we drove a little further north and roamed around the bizarre and beautiful yard art at Cindy’s Dragonfly.

Then we turned around and came back to Clayton, home of Georgia Mountain Market, a mammoth indoor flea market. There’s a dealer there who boasts of having 20,000 LPs, and I believe it. There was some great stuff here. I didn’t buy anything, but I was tempted by the Edd “Kookie” Byrnes album, briefly. From there, we stopped by Goats on the Roof, which was once a whole lot more interesting than it is today.

Five-plus years back, the goats caught your eye and brought you in to look through all the jams and jellies and sundries. I don’t know what in the world happened, but now people only ever stop here to feed the goats, and there’s far less to buy than there ever was. It was once a roadside store with lots of interesting things and the goat shtick, and now there’s only the shtick. We had much better luck shopping at an old reliable favorite, Hillside Orchard Farms in Tiger, and brought home some pumpkins, apples, and cider. It was a very nice morning and afternoon, with lots of pretty fall colors, and plenty to look at.

Other blog posts about Tomlin’s BBQ:

Foodie Buddha (Aug. 14 2009)
ATL Food Snob (Nov. 15 2012)
Atlanta etc. (Aug. 3 2013)

Are you planning a barbecue road trip? You can see all the barbecue restaurants that we have visited for our blog (more than 350 !) on this map, with links back to the original blog posts!


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