Final Thoughts on Alpharetta Barbecue

Every Friday, Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series I like to call Foodie Friday.

Way back about four months ago I started my summer barbecue series. It’s too bad I didn’t do a before-and-after on my LDL cholesterol! If you didn’t read it back in May, check out my kickoff article to this series. I reviewed a total of nine barbecue restaurants in Alpharetta, Milton and south Forsyth. It’s been fun, taking me outside my shell a little bit. And even in this short amount of time, the BBQ scene has changed a bit.

My overall impression of the Q here in Alpharetta hasn’t changed. We don’t have a barbecue tradition in this part of the country and as a result we have substandard Q. What I’ve come to appreciate more from this series is the craft of making barbecue. Those restaurants that attempt to honor the craft of making barbecue gravitated toward the top of my list. That wasn’t by design; I attempted to give everyone a fair shake. But when you cook in a glorified oven for ease of cooking and efficiency, you sacrifice a LOT in quality. The end product shows. It comes as no surprise then that joints like Woody’s and Dickey’s fall to the bottom of my list.

And what is that list? I struggled to rank these guys, but here goes:

  1. ‘Cue
  2. Dottie’s
  3. Smokejack
  4. Jim N Nicks
  5. Pig N Chik
  6. Slopes
  7. Dickey’s
  8. One Star
  9. Woody’s

Everyone has different taste, so I welcome your comments and criticisms. A lot of folks like Smokejack, so I’ll probably take some heat for placing them in the #3 spot. They practice the craft of barbecue well and run a top notch restaurant. I just find their heavy basting of the barbecue disagreeable. It does an injustice to the barbecue flavor I know is there in their meat.

Dottie’s may come as a surprise. I think this little dive joint is worth a shot to aficionados of swine. Good barbecue doesn’t have to fall into the boutique category. Don’t be afraid to eat it off a paper plate in a musty old building!

I’m taking a bit of a risk putting Jim N Nicks up there. I stand by my claim that they are the best chain/franchise Q joint around. However, this south Forsyth location is failing on execution. Were they to make some adjustments, they could be outstanding.

‘Cue’s top spot is tenuous. They can be inconsistent at times. When they’re on, they’re on! I sometimes find their outside meat too crunchy and lacking in rub. But they aren’t afraid to put their Q out there to stand on its own.

In just these four months we’ve seen some changes to our barbecue scene. Pig N Chik closed up just days after my last visit. ‘Cue announced expansion into Cumming. Both of Alpharetta’s boutique Q joints (‘Cue and Smokejack) now have a presence in Cumming. It will be interesting to see how northern burb Q joints continue to expand.

I may add onto this list in the future. I didn’t touch on Roswell’s barbecue scene at all, and there are joints in Cumming I didn’t get to. But nevertheless I’m putting a bow on this series. I welcome your comments and will not be critical of anyone’s favorite. If you like someone’s Q then that’s good enough by me.

5 Responses to “Final Thoughts on Alpharetta Barbecue”

  1. Corky October 1, 2010 at 1:19 pm #

    As far as I am concerned, #s 6-9 don’t even deserve to be ranked. Must be because they have Q in their full name. Too bad Pig n Chick bit the dust. Location, Location, Location. I visited there several times, while not outstanding, still decent Q. Way better than those listed after them. I may not have rated #s 1-4 in the same order as you, but I bet we would be close.
    Thank you for your reviews. I appreciated and enjoyed reading them.
    What’s next on the review agenda? Suggestion… Pub grub…

  2. Lee October 1, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    Thanks Corky. I’m trying to think of a fall series. Pub food isn’t a bad idea. Most of the non-gastropubs tend to be pretty terrible. Writing about bad food is, in a twisted way, kinda fun! But at the same time it would be hard to judge pubs without checking out the night life as well.

    I’m thinking about a series on unknown restaurants. Hidden gems if you will. I’ve got half a dozen ideas on my list so far.

  3. Travis Allen October 14, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Be sure to point out that ‘Cue is actually in Milton, not Alpharetta. Agree with you on their inconsistency, but try out their predesessor in Roswell, “Swallow in the Hollow” and see what you think.

  4. Lee October 14, 2010 at 2:20 pm #

    Thanks for the comment, Travis. In my full review of ‘Cue I mention that they are in Milton. I’ve been to Swallow many times but not since ‘Cue opened. I too thought their barbecue was inconsistent. But that was when Doster was still there.


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