Monday, August 1, 2011

Sam's BBQ 1 (Marietta, GA)

4944 Lower Roswell Road
Marietta, GA 30068-4321

Sam's BBQ 1 on Urbanspoon

When Sam and Dave's BBQ opened up back in 2005 it seemed like a match made in heaven. Sam Huff and Dave Poe, both experienced circuit barbecue competitors for over thirty years, joined forces to open up two Sam and Dave's BBQ locations in Marietta, Georgia. Thought by most to be some of Georgia's best barbecue until the duo decided to go their seperate ways in 2009. Sam took over Sam and Dave's #1 which became Sam's BBQ 1, while Dave took over the second location which is now Dave Poe's BBQ. I decided it was time for the Georgia Barbecue Hunt to pay a visit to Sam's BBQ 1 in Marietta.

Located off Lower Roswell Road in Marietta, Sam's sits humbly on the corner of an old shopping center. When you first walk in you immediately notice the awards, trophies, and newspaper articles all paying respect to owner, Sam Huff. When we first arrived there was about a ten minute wait. This wasn't anything out of the ordinary since it was about 1pm on a Satruday afternoon. Once you arrive at the cash register, you order, pay, and then wait for the food to be brought out to you. I decided to go big with the combo plate that inluded pork back ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken, brisket, and sausage. The fact that Sam's includes brisket and sausage on their menu puts them in a different category than most of your typical Georgia barbecue joints.

One interesting note is that while shooting on location actor Robert Duvall frequents Sam's currently and claims it's "the best brisket he's ever had...anywhere." Duvall, Billy Bob Thornton, and Kevin Bacon are all currently on set shooting independent film, "Jayne Mansfield's Car" not too far down the road. All three actors have developed the same affection for Sam's BBQ 1 and have it catered on set for cast and crew. I thought that was interesting and spoke pretty highly of Sam Huff's cooking. I spoke with one of the employees who informed me that they smoke all of their meat between 12 and 16 hours (except chicken and sausage). They throw it in the gas fueled Southern Pride smoker with some hickory each night before opening the next day. The chicken is also brined (going the extra step) before smoking. So far Sam was doing all the right things to deliver some of the best Georgia barbecue to date. Now to actually try it...

One of the many great things about barbecue is you shouldn't have to wait long for your food. It's usually already done and just waiting to be carved and put on a plate. Our food came out in about five minutes and at first glance it did not disappoint. Sam's offers two barbecue sauces in house to accompany your meal. The first is labeled "North Carolina Style." Don't even waste your time unless you enjoy straight vineger. The second is "Kansas City Style." This sauce is boss. The KC sauce was tomato based with layers of sugary, smoky flavors. I dove in first to the pulled pork. This pork was actually pulled and not chopped and shredded like most other local BBQ joints will do until every ounce of juice has evaporated. Correctly pulling pork is essential. Pulling the pork into larger pieces allows the meat to keep its natural juices in tact. When you start shredding and chopping into fine pieces then the pork loses all the juice into the pan and everywhere else and becomes flavorless and dry. This pork was fresh, flavorful, and juicy. My only complaint was the lack of bark pieces that I got. Next time I'll be sure to request.

The second meat I tried was the sausage. This sausage had snap and was full of smoky flavor. It was definitely some of the best sausage I've had to date anywhere in Georgia and reminded me briefly of being home in Texas. After they receive it, they put it in the smoker for a couple hours longer to cook and also absorb more of the hickory wood goodness.

Next to try was the brisket. I never have high hopes for brisket outside the state of Texas. For my combo I noticed that I got an end piece. End pieces are great for the burnt ends, but can sometimes dry out due to how small the meat gets on that side. The flavor and crust of the brisket was great. You could tell that it had spent some quality time in a smoker. It was nice to finally taste some worthwhile and correctly smoked brisket. Too often in Georgia only the pork on the menu seems to get the attention it deserves. The rub wasn't too overwhelming, it had a nice smoke ring, and was easily able to pull apart with your fingers. The only drawback was the dryness of the meat.

Now on to the baby back ribs. These ribs looked great. These ribs tasted great. They were smoky, tender, juicy, fresh, and flavorful. The fats had all rendered properly. No boiling or grilling was needed for these ribs to easily tear apart from the bone. They were everything a rib should be. My only complaint on the ribs was that there were only two. I would've gladly put down a whole rack this day. The last protein included in the combo was smoked chicken. The chicken doesn't have a huge amount of smoky flavor and comes pre-sliced. It was extremely dry and in need of sauce. Had I just ordered the chicken I would've been very disappointed. What the chicken lacked the other meats made up for.

The two sides included were baked beans and fried onion petals. The beans were way too sweet for my tastes. The onion petals were great, especially dipped into the KC sauce. The onions were sweet and properly fried leaving them with a nice crunch and not too greasy. Overall Sam's BBQ 1 delivered. We've only been on the hunt for a couple of weeks, but the best barbecue to date right now. The only downsides were the dryness of the chicken and brisket. We'll definitely be back again to give it another shot though.

They're definitely on the right path to becoming Georgia's premier spot for authentic, delicious barbecue that can hold its own in any region of the United States. I would highly recommend visiting if you're in the mood for good barbecue...even if it's a little out of the way for you.


  1. Your review of BBQ1 makes me want to try it. I had never heard of the place. Thanks for giving me a new BBQ place to try.

  2. Glad we could help. Stay tuned for more reviews of barbecue that Georgia has to offer. The hunt goes on!

  3. Loved their ribs and sausage. Best ever!

  4. Definitely will be going back.

  5. You should give Old South BBQ a try on Windy Hill Road. I've never been there, but each time I pass by, the smells make me glad to not be a pig (if you know what I mean)!

  6. I've never tried that one but will definitely add that to the list. Thanks for the feedback!

  7. I love Sam's. It is my go-to bbq joint. I was truly shocked to find good bbq in GA after moving here. You have to try the brisket again. It is my favorite and of the 20 or so visits, the brisket was dry once (I had the end piece too). You definitely have to try Dave Poe's. It is as delicious as Sam's. Glad to find your blog and look forward to more reviews.

  8. Sam's definitely has some good food there. I'll be trying again I'm sure. Still looking forward to trying Community Q and Dave Poe's hopefully very soon. Thanks for your input. If you have any other suggestions of places to try, please let me know.

  9. I'm going for the first time this Friday night and your review has me even more excited.
    Thank you for the great write up

  10. If you truly want to experience the excellence of Sam's goods, you should attend one of his cooking schools. It is a great time of cooking and eating which leads to many great cooking times at home.

  11. Ate at Sam's this past weekend. We waited for almost 45 minutes for our food. I got the ribs, and I wasn't impressed. They were tough and dry. They also had music going. The guy could really play the piano, but in this small place, it was just too much. We couldn't carry on a conversation because it was too loud.

  12. NC vinegar is the best!