Sunday, July 10, 2011

Thompson Brothers Bar-B-Q, Atlanta, (Smyrna) GA

"First time here?" the man behind the cash register asked as we stepped up to the counter. "Yeah? Then free drinks for all of you." My family and I were passing through Atlanta on our way back to Florida after a trip to North Carolina. "How'd you hear about us?" was his next question. When I mentioned I'd heard about them on the radio he replied, "Oh, Sean Hannity?" Horace Thompson, one of the five brothers that founded the restaurant, is a frequent caller to the Hannity show, and suffice it to say they don't agree on much except that Horace has the best ribs in Atlanta, possibly the country. We had found them after several wrong turns, in a nondescript strip mall beside Cobb Parkway.

Even though it was after 1:30, they still had a good sized lunch crowd and a bit of a line. It moved quickly though, and soon we were placing our order for ribs (of course) chopped pork, and a chicken sandwich for my daughter.
The brothers were originally from Oklahoma, so their barbecue has a little more Texas-style flavor to it. Their meats are smoked out behind the store in a wood burning cinder block smoker, using mainly oak.

The ribs indeed lived up to their billing. They were meaty, well smoked and pulled easily off the bone. A thick crust added just the right amount of flavor- no sauce needed. The chopped pork was poor by comparison. Though it had some smoke flavor, it had lots of gristle and unrendered fat. I tried out the sauces on the pork and they all improved it. The spicy one was my favorite, actually more like hot sauce and not as sweet as most places in this area. The chicken breast in the sandwich was thick, juicy and well cooked. All the sides we tried were good; creamy potato salad, macaroni and cheese and delicious collard greens. Tea was sweet and cold, just how it should be. Even though we were stuffed, I couldn't resist banana pudding for desert, and it didn't let me down either. 

It's easy to see why they are known for their ribs. Their menu also includes brisket, sausage and bologna, so I'd love to make a return trip to explore more options. If it wasn't for the sub-par pork, this may have been my first 5 star rating, but for now it's...

Thompson Brothers BBQ on UrbanspoonOVERALL RATING: 4.5 OF 5

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