Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fat Matt's Rib Shack (Atlanta, GA)

1811 Piedmont Avenue NE
Atlanta, GA 30324


Fat Matt's Rib Shack on Urbanspoon

A couple months back my Dad let me know that he'd be visiting Atlanta for a couple days. He's originally from Houston, Texas and has lived there his entire life. Growing up working in butcher shops for most of his life, he definitely knows a thing or two about good meat and barbecue. Fat Matt's Rib Shack is arguably one of Atlanta's most popular barbecue restaurants. It's considered a local's place, but has received national attention, even mentioned in recent movies such as "Up in the Air". It was a Thursday night and I told him about Fat Matt's so we decided to pile into the truck and head over.

When you pull up to Fat Matt's it feels like you came to the right place. Barbecue is unique in the fact that the more interesting the eating establishment looks, then the better it probably tastes. In no way do I mean that Fat Matt's is a dump, but it definitely has character. The character of the restaurant teamed up with the live blues echoing into the parking lot was a great first sign. Parking was limited and the line was out the door into the parking lot (which I hear is typical). We were starving and finally after about 20 minutes we could see our ordering options. I appreciate the simplicity of their menu. It can be easily summarized as pork spare ribs, chicken, brunswick stew, and beer. For anyone that's never had brunswick stew, it's essentially tomato based stew with corn, potatoes, beans, and usually pulled pork. Brunswick stew varies in different parts of Georgia but many believe that its true origins lie in its namesake, Brunswick, Georgia. If you're not a huge brunswick stew fan then don't worry, there are other side items such as potato salad, rum baked beans, and coleslaw. We each ordered a full slab of ribs. Fat Matt's offers only wet, pork spare ribs. I ordered the rum beans and slaw as sides, as well as a cup of brunswick stew to try for the table. We got a table close to the stage where some very talented blues musicians were performing that night. It was time to dive in.

Let me first start off by saying that if you're a barbecue purist then you'd immediately be disappointed with the ribs. "Fall off the bone" is a term that gets thrown around a lot in barbecue. It's important to have tender ribs that seperate easily from the bone, but sometimes it can get taken a little too far. The most common culprit for having ribs "fall off the bone" too much is when you boil or bake them. Fat Matt's clearly boils their ribs and then finishes them off on the grill. This was a huge disappointment. Cooking this way ultimately leaves you with a tasty, charred  outside but almost flavorless ribs inside. This was definitely the case at Fat Matt's. The upside was the barbecue sauce that was used. Fat Matt's has great barbecue sauce. It had a little bit of sweet, tangy spice and wasn't too thick. It was great with the half loaf of soft, white bread that they also brought to our table. The rum baked beans were average with a lot of sweetness (presumably from the rum), and the coleslaw was good but definitely nothing special.

The highlight of the night by far was the music at Fat Matt's. They showcase nightly some of the most talented blues artists that I've ever seen in person. It was a fun, loud atmosphere and worth visiting for the music and beer alone...even if the ribs are just average. Fat Matt's Blues Shack.

Decent food (not traditional BBQ). Great atmosphere. 

Company that evening. Please excuse the lack of food pics. No good light at this GBH stop.


  1. Awesome music. Awesome sauceeeeee. Awesome picture. Awesome post.

  2. Thanks Jamie...Glad you were able to join!

  3. Dustin u clearly do not know flavor even if it were to hit u in the face because fatt matt has the best ribs in town. Good luck with you shaudy food reviews. Lame review

  4. Anonymous, I love the rib shack more than most people. But Dustin is probably right about how they cook the ribs. Barbecue snobs agree that the ribs are not traditional or perfect in any way. But nobody cares because we love the joint and the atmosphere.

    Friggin Douche nozzle.