In April of 2011, a group of friends on a fishing trip—all veterans of the hospitality industry—got to talking about their love of food as they cooked their dinner around a campfire. The smoky flavors, crackling flames, and friendship merged into an idea to create a barbecue joint with traditional Southern comfort fare and an interactive dessert element.
Today, diners pile into wood-backed booths to dig into ribs slathered in house sauce, smoked sausages, and a menu stocked with homestyle fare. From three types of mac 'n' cheese—traditional, broccoli, and pulled pork—to fresh-ground burgers made with short ribs, brisket, and ground chuck, the kitchen crew crafts its own takes on classic comfort fare as flat-screen TVs flicker above the bar. The dessert section includes do-it-yourself s'mores that are toasted tableside by a portable burn pit and touted as "the only dessert in town that requires a disclaimer," an honor previously held by torch-it-yourself crème brûlée.
In huge, bold red letters, a sign on the street-facing side of Miss Betty’s House of Ribs proclaims “BBQ.” It’s an old-fashioned invitation to sample some of the rib-shack recipes that rightfully hold a beloved position in the pantheon of southern cuisine. Inside, pit-masters slow roast hefty slabs of ribs and slather whole and half chickens in the restaurant’s signature sauce. The grills are kept in a screened-in porch so passersby can smell the flavorful smoke and hear chefs shout when the meat gets too delicious.
Visiting Bone Lick BBQ is as much about the experience as it is about the food. Inside, a skee-ball machine from 1945 stands alongside classic tabletop arcade games, and old school rock n' roll spins atop a record player (patrons can even bring in their own vinyl and get a complimentary PBR for their effort). Further entertainment comes in the form of TVs above the bar and the occasional live act, including comedy every Wednesday evening.
Even with such a fun, laid-back atmosphere, the food still shines at Bone Lick. Its chefs rub beef, pork, and chicken in secret spice blends, then cook them for hours on end over hickory and pecan woods. While the meat cooks, the chefs stay extremely busy?they make everything on their menu from scratch every day.
They bake corn bread, braise collards in pork, and blend jalape?os into mac 'n' cheese. They also whip up homemade pickles and cider slaw to lay atop pulled-pork sandwiches on griddled texas toast. Even the cotton candy, funnel cakes, and Granny Pearl's pecan pie are made in-house, though no one knows how Ms. Pearl keeps sneaking into the kitchen unnoticed.
At the bar, which is made from recycled shipping pallets, mixologists concoct creative cocktails, such as bacon old-fashions. They also send out crisp Georgia drafts and American-crafted whiskies.
After Al Boyce retired from playing football for the Kansas City Chiefs, a new world was calling to him: the rib-sticking world of soul food. After starting his first venture in Kansas City, Boyce began populating the Atlanta area with southern cooking in the form of Chazz’s Place, a pair of eateries named after his son. Al’s Barbeque is his fourth restaurant, where the scent of slow-smoked boneless meat sluices through the air and induces salivation like a rabbit placed in front of Elmer Fudd. Heaping plates of shrimp and grits compete for attention with barbecue ribs, pork chops, and chicken that’s grilled or southern-fried with buttermilk. Housemade sides of collard greens, baked beans, and black-eyed peas round out each meal.
Dickey?s Barbecue Pit has smoked beef brisket in-house nearly every night since 1941, painting each morsel with a tangy house-made sauce. Pulled pork, turkey breast, and polish sausage round out the menu with meals that are heartier than a burrito wrapped in Paul Bunyan?s plaid shirt. Boxed lunches and catered buffets brim with homestyle sides such as coleslaw, mac 'n' cheese, and jalape?o beans. Once the last pickle has been crunched and the last finger has been licked, guests can savor one of the restaurant?s most cherished traditions: a vanilla cone, on the house.
After several years in the corporate world, Shane's Rib Shack's founder, Shane Thompson, exchanged his necktie for an apron slathered in barbecue sauce. The decision came after reflecting on his grandfather's advice to follow his heart. Along with this guidance, Dewey "Big Dad" Brown shared his secret barbecue-sauce recipe, which now cloaks beef, chicken, and pork at Shane's Rib Shack restaurants across the country. At each eatery, cooks slowly smoke meats and chop them by hand to craft dishes that have been featured on Better Morning Atlanta. Catering services tote supplies to parties, company picnics, and attempts to prove how flimsy a rival carpenter’s tables are.