In mid-March, I took a barbecue tour of middle Georgia, and my favorite meal of the trip was the last one. Two weeks later, Marie and I took a tour of west Georgia, and the same thing happened.
Jones Bar-B-Q first opened in 1981, and thirty-five years later, I think that objectively we must agree that it’s not as popular as Bilbo’s, a few miles down the road in Bremen, but I had been curious to visit this location for a couple of years and we had a really, really good visit. This was a truly pleasant surprise; my trip to the Carrollton store had me feeling that it was good, but not great, and our friend Andy from Burgers, Barbecue and Everything Else visited in February and wasn’t really impressed. So my expectations were a little low. A rather scatterbrained teenage server did not reassure me. Yet things turned out just fine.
Jack and Jean Jones opened the restaurant in 1981, and I understand that it was originally located in Carrollton. In 1997, they retired and passed ownership of the restaurant to their daughter Linda and her husband David Hudgins. Now based in Temple, a small town of about 4500 located twelve miles north of Carrollton, it’s been quietly doing pretty good business, mainly on Friday and Saturday evenings. In 2012, they opened a second location back in Carrollton, where Google, Yelp, the Yellow Pages, and every other service has it hopelessly tangled with a different restaurant with a similar name that opened during their fifteen years away from the city. (This 2013 post may assist with confusion.)
One reason behind this trip was to try and identify any remaining restaurants in the Hudson/Wallace footprint, and I saved Jones for last because I knew that their sauce was quite similar to the one that the Hudsons popularized. However, while it is a thin vinegar sauce with tomato, it is not quite identical to Hudson’s, and they serve plates with far, far less sauce than you get at restaurants in that school. If you go to Wallace, or Briar Patch, or Johnny’s in Powder Springs, your meat comes drowned; it’s a plate of sauce with some meat in it, a preparation style that never fails to surprise or shock people unready for it. At Jones, they are much kinder and gentler to the meat. Now, the pork really is mild, in fact milder than I usually like it, without a real good taste of smoke. But the sauce blended really well with the chopped pork and I found myself enjoying it quite a lot.
The stew was even better. This was completely terrific, and Marie agreed this was the best of the three stews on the trip. She had a slice of pecan pie that she enjoyed, but ended up finishing about half of my bowl, wishing that Owens’ stew had been this good. The only downside was the presence of boring food service crinkle fries. This was a huge shame; I was really expecting good hand-cut fries like most of the restaurants in this footprint serve. Frozen fries, after all, taste especially boring when dipped into Chicken Comer hot mustard, this curious and dangerous west Georgia specialty. I’m addicted to the stuff in small amounts.
We took GA-113 north to GA-120, and that east to Marietta, returning home around 4 and very, very full. Touring mostly undocumented and unknown restaurants rarely brings big surprises or wild discoveries, but we sure did enjoy ourselves. I wonder what we will find next?
Are you planning a barbecue road trip? You can see all the barbecue restaurants that we have visited for our blog (more than 370 !) on this map, with links back to the original blog posts!