B’s Cracklin’ BBQ (ATL) – Sets a New Standard

B’s Cracklin’ has received accolades from Bon Appetit to Eater (full disclosure, I was a former Eater reviewer) and the pull of great BBQ was too much to resist. It was time to try what many on-line sites have called the best BBQ in Atlanta.

While driving west on Bolton a sign appeared telling me I was one mile from ground zero, and when I made the left turn onto Main Street I saw the unassuming building with the neon “OPEN” and the smokiness in the air told me I was about to have a great meal.

The parking is in the rear, picnic tables are assembled on the porch and you walk between two structures, each containing multiple smokers. This was once serious BBQ joint. The interior is completed with football logos, flags, shirts emblazoned with past SEC mega-games and a staff that can only be described as accommodating, friendly and proud to be part of B’s Cracklin’. There is enough seating for 50-60 patrons.

It was time to move onto the food; the menu was straightforward. It was a pretty easy decision what to order…I wanted to try everything that emerged from those smokers. The Sampler Plate let me do just that and contained chicken, ribs, and pulled pork, two sides and some corn bread, and for $4 you can add the brisket.

As you wait, you need to sit back, relax and have one of their beers or sweet tea (my choice) and enjoy conversation with your friends and family as it takes a while for the kitchen to assemble and deliver. Lots of orders between the in-house and numerous take-away orders. As I sat there watching an SEC football game, I sampled the three sauces on the table, a delicious tomato based which was sweet-tangy, a mustard based with just a hint of earthiness, and the spicy addition with vinegar. I would try each of these with the various meats.

My plate arrived, with a large mound of pulled pork, two ribs, two slices of brisket and a breast quarter of chicken. The mac & cheese and the baked beans (my two sides) arrived in very small plastic cups, not aligned with the large size of the meat portions.

Let’s start with what might be the best smoked meat I have ever eaten. The Brisket is life-changing for a carnivore. It was absolutely perfect. It was incredibly moist and the smokiness was just enough to tingle the palate. And then the seasoning kicked in and a huge smile cam across my face. There is no need for any sauce for these slices of heaven. It was a perfect 10+.

The other BBQ-nirvana were the ribs. The meat pulled easily from the bone, was succulent, smoky and beautifully seasoned. There is no need for sauce, if you are a traditionalist, but if you want even more flavor the sauces were fantastic accompaniments for the ribs. I have to give the ribs a perfect 10+.

The next stop was the pulled pork. As I looked at my mound I was a little concerned that the bark to meat ratio was a little too bark-heavy, and after one bite that concern was confirmed. The deep rich, crispiness and seasoning of the exterior was a little overwhelming to the succulent interior. The smokiness was great and some may think it was a little too smoky. Again, I added each of the sauces and each added a different profile, I really liked each. The meat was not quite in the league as the brisket and ribs and I can only give the pork an 8.

I am always concerned with how chicken handles smoke and was really impressed with the wings, they were delicious. Then I sliced into the breast itself and I knew this was not in the same league as the other meats. While the white meat was able to absorbed a moderate level of smoke, it was borderline dry, not to my liking. I would have to give the wings a 10, but the breast itself as an underwhelming 4.

Sides are always important with BBQ and baked beans have to be great. B’s Cracklin’s baked beans are spectacular. Great flavor and a few little tidbits of meat added a nice touch. Another 10. The Mac & Cheese was creamy and delicious. Almost as perfect as the beans and I would give them a 9. The cornbread was more a cornbread pancake, it was good, not great.

Overall, this is a fantastic BBQ place serving a variety of smoked meats. The brisket was phenomenal, the ribs perfection and the wings and baked beans were outstanding. The pulled pork needs a re-do and if I were to order the chicken I would definitely opt for the thigh quarter over the breast.

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