Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Southern Soul Barbeque (St. Simons Island, GA)

2020 Demere Road
St. Simons Island, GA 31522

Unvisited Georgia BBQ destination number one...Southern Soul Barbeque in St. Simons Island. Considered one of the state's BBQ heavyweights, I couldn't make the trip here soon enough. Memorial Day weekend seemed like an appropriate time to pay owners Harrison Sapp, Griffin "Griff" Bufkin, and the rest of the SS crew a visit. They're becoming a big name in the BBQ world, but even still, I try not to get my hopes up too much as it can sometimes unfairly diminish some of the food experience. I never got the chance to visit the original location which unfortunately burned down in a fire back in 2011. There were no visible signs that I could see of the fire that occurred just a year before. It's nice to see a place like this make a full recovery from something like that.

Original Southern Soul before the fire. Trailer they used during rebuild on bottom right.
Southern Soul owners, Harrison and Griffin, are often visible and play very active roles in the success of this restaurant. I only saw Griffin during our brief visit. If he wasn't helping expedite orders, he was mingling with locals or grabbing t-shirts for tourists like me. From what I've heard, Harrison's got BBQ in his blood being a third generation "smoker." Griff's been cooking up Brunswick stew at this same location even back when it was called Frannie's over ten years ago. While it's hard work, I get the feeling that these guys love what they do.

There was a group of six of us that showed up on Saturday afternoon to this old fill station turned young-famous BBQ house. Smoke was in the air on this hot 93 degree day. The all-wood, oak fueled Lang smoker out front was running at full strength. Southern Soul has a very authentic BBQ vibe. There's no ridiculous decor that tries to fake you into thinking you're going to get some good food. Even though the spot that we visited has only been around for about a year, it feels real. It feels like it belongs in the area.

We ordered our fair share of St. Louis ribs, pulled pork, and brisket for the whole table. The plan was to come the next day to try some of their other specialties such as the burnt ends and fantastic looking sandwiches, but Tropical Storm Beryl was in town and he said no to our future plans. The portions here are massive. You won't be leaving hungry. I've mentioned before, but I'm from Texas and I love some good brisket. I ordered some of the moist and lean to which the waitress responded, "Our brisket is both, moist and lean." I decided I wasn't going to be able to win this battle so I just placed my order and hoped for the best. The brisket had everything you'd evident smoke ring, crunchy bark, properly rendered fat. All of the flavors worked well together, but didn't overwhelm the cut of meat. You can still taste the beef flavor. It was a little on the overcooked side but other than that, no complaints.

The pulled pork was pulled into large, pink, smoke-kissed pieces. There wasn't a whole lot of bark in our portions and was on the dry side. This could be due to us coming after the initial lunch crowd or also the inconsistencies you can sometimes get from a 100 percent stick burning smoker. It had a good flavor though and made a good sandwich. The ribs were just average. Properly cooked, but too much on the sweet side for my liking.

I would like to point out that the Brunswick stew here was my favorite side by far. It had long pieces of pork, lima beans, onions, and a bunch of other odds and ends that were delicious together. I'm not a huge Brunswick stew lover, but this one did it for me. Well done, guys.

Southern Soul didn't necessarily exceed any of my expectations (which were high). They stay true and cook on 100% wood smokers which give great flavor but can sometimes be a little inconsistent. The food was good, but I'd definitely like to go back for another round to fully see what they're capable of.

Southern Soul Barbeque on Urbanspoon


  1. Nice review! Pretty much falls in line with my experiences as well. The burnt end sammich is worth a second trip there!

  2. My favorite BBQ in Georgia. Love, love, love it.

  3. I think you should keep comments such as your personal dislike of sweet BBQ out of these reviews. I really could care less about you're personal choises and would love more detail on the actual food..

    1. Isn't speech free in the south as well? Thought so, I don't like sweet BBQ sauce either. Personal dislike. :)

    2. That's great. An even easier solution would be you writing your own blog that I wouldn't read.

  4. Ha! Great reply!

  5. My chicken wasnt done, didn't care for the burnt ends sandwich and that is usually my favorite part. Overall, not in my top 10. Oh, and I don't like sweet sauce either:)