There is an exceptionally long and interesting thread in a AJC blog, where for days people posted about what they thought were the best BBQ joints in Georgia. I have a text file where I have been writing down every BBQ place mentioned in that thread. I’m not even half way through. The highest ranked so far is Fresh Air, in Jackson and Macon Georgia. Others receiving more than 10 votes (so far) include Harolds of McDonough Boulevard, Sam and Dave’s BBQ1 in Marietta, and Fatt Matts’s, though Fatt Matt’s has about half as many people who dislike the food there.
What caught my eye while doing the rankings were the descriptions for some of the places. Paul’s BBQ in Lexington, GA, for one, is only open on Saturdays. And the reviews for a place called Mad Dog’s BBQ in Conyers emphasized the quality of the ribs, the richness of the smoking, the sheer BBQ smell of the place.
In years past we would have gone to Spiced Right in Lilburn, but the last two-three times we were there, the ribs were no longer smoked (Update: more recent visits to Spiced Right show they do smoke ribs these days). There was a Famous Dave’s down the road on highway 78, but it closed. After using MapQuest, we decided Mad Dog’s was about 45 minutes away by car. That’s a long ride, but as we would head south down 124 to I-20, then I-20 east to Highway 20 and 138, it was an easy 45 minutes (unlike, say, the gridlock of the Lenox Square area).
We went there and ordered a couple rib plates and a pulled pork plate. Compared to prices at Famous Dave’s, Mad Dog’s is a notable bargain. The restaurant is on the end of a strip mall and very unpretentious. And I can thankfully say that everything reviewers have said about their ribs is true. They are deeply, richly smoked. You can smell it and taste it in the meat. You could smell it on our fingers at least two hours after the fact. Fine ribs. I told the people working there it was worth every minute.
The sides are served in heaping portions and every side I tried was good. The pulled pork wasn’t as smoky, but it was exceptionally tender. They had two sauces that we tried, a mild and hot. The hot had a vinegar base, and wasn’t “burn your mouth out” hot, but had a reasonable bite.
I will note that on the way there, we passed at least two other BBQ places. There is a Smoky Bones at Stonecrest Mall (I do like Smoky Bones) and Jim and Nick’s is on the way down highway 138/20. I’ve not tried Jim and Nicks. But if the goal was to get my wife her “smoked to the very bones” ribs, Mad Dog’s more than amply succeeded.