Georgia Barbecue Joints Worth the Drive

Here are some of the best places in Georgia to get your barbecue fix!

Peaches, peanuts and pecans may come to mind when thinking of regional Georgia foods, but Georgia barbecue is a culinary institution all its own. Time and attention to detail are the two main ingredients in Southern barbecues — that and large pieces of meat slow cooked over hard woods like hickory, pecan and even apple. Imagine beef briskets, pork butts and spare ribs that have been hickory smoked low and slow for hours and then slathered with a tangy tomato and vinegar sauce. You’ve just imagined the meaty mainstay of Georgia barbecue. Add a bowl of hearty Brunswick stew, cool creamy coleslaw and slices of tender white bread, and you're in for a feast. Hungry yet? Head to these Georgia barbecue joints for your next fix.

  • Barbecue Joints

Must-try Georgia Barbecue

Thompson Brothers BBQ

Cousins Carroll and Corey believe that slow smoking the briskets, ribs, chicken and even bologna is what makes their barbecue so flavorful and keeps their customers coming back to Thompson Brothers BBQ in Smyrna. Every night, Carroll places hundreds of pounds of meat, dry rubbed with his secret spice blend, into the custom-made wall smoker in the back of the store. When he opens the smoker doors the next morning, everything is cooked to perfection. If you're looking for a sampling of the best dishes on the menu, try "The Whole Nine," a platter piled high with barbecue ribs, chopped beef, bologna and beef sausage with your choice of sides.


Heirloom Market BBQ

Heirloom Market BBQ in Atlanta

This chef-driven restaurant fuses Southern classics with spicy Korean flavors. At Heirloom Market BBQ, you'll find spicy ribs that have been marinated in gochujang (hot pepper paste) and beef briskets that are marinated once injected in fermented soybean broth. Place your order with their online food delivery system, Door Dash, and tuck into a meal of spicy Korean pork in less than 45 minutes.


Fresh Air Barbecue

Founded in 1929, Fresh Air Barbecue in Jackson looks and smells like what a Georgia barbecue joint should. Using both oak and hickory woods gives their meats a delicious smoky flavor. The family smokes uncured hams in their L-shaped brick pit 365 days a year. Their menu includes tender chopped pork sold as a sandwich or by the pound, Brunswick stew, coleslaw and potato chips. Make sure to slather on their sauce — it's a bit tangy and just spicy enough to keep you coming back for more. Fresh Air Barbecue also has a Macon location.


Sprayberry's Barbecue

The Sprayberry family has been selling barbecue since the 1920s. This popular spot attracts Newnan residents as well as vacationers with signature dishes like the "Lewis Grizzard Special." It's made up of a smoked chopped pork sandwich, a bowl of thick Brunswick stew and a stack of piping hot onion rings. Their immense popularity has caused Sprayberry's Barbecue to open a second location in Newnan near Exit 47 off of Interstate 85.


B’s Cracklin’ BBQ

Head BBQ Pitmaster Bryan Furman has secured his place in the barbecue world by not only cooking great 'que but by raising the pork he cooks! Furman raises the heritage hogs he turns into smoked meats as well as uses locally sourced, fresh produce to make his side dishes. His signature-style, pit-smoked barbecued chicken and ribs are a must-try in Savannah, and they are also available at B’s Cracklin’ BBQ new Atlanta location.

Jennifer Hill Booker is Explore Georgia’s Official Culinary Explorer. Find more dining recommendations from Jennifer on the Explore Georgia blog.

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