Thomson, GA 30824
I've just returned from Austin, TX and had some damn fine BBQ. Will it make me be a little more tough on places recently visited in Georgia? Absolutely...and as it should be. BBQ is worldwide and should all be held to the same standard. I hate hearing "It's really good...for Georgia BBQ." It shouldn't matter where it's from. If it's good, it's good and if it's bad, it's bad. Call it like you see it.
With that being said, I recently visited a little place named Neal's outside of Augusta in Thomson. It's a little hard to find, but once you're there you're greeted like an old friend. The tin roof covered wooden porch leads you into a patriotic themed dining room. Whole hog cooked pulled pork and slow cooked spare ribs are kept warm in Crock Pots just over the counter....yes, Crock Pots. It's either chicken or pork here at Neal's. No beef on the menu. I didn't try the chicken on this visit and just stuck with the spare ribs and "spicy" pulled pork sandwich. Being so close to South Carolina, hash is naturally served as a side instead of the usual Georgia Brunswick stew. You don't see BBQ hash in Georgia that often, but the further northeast you visit, the more it pops up on BBQ menus. If you've never had it, then just think "thicker Brunswick stew with potatoes." These side items are very similar in taste just not texture.
I don't have a lot of great things to say about the food here at Neal's. They cook whole hog which means you won't find a lot of smoke on the pork. For what you lack in smoke you usually make up with a juicy pork flavor in whole hog cooking....not here. The dry sandwich had a little kick of pepper with some vinegar flavors, but overall wasn't appealing. The grey, chewy, overcooked ribs that were covered in a sweet BBQ sauce should've been chopped up and added to the hash or thrown out.
For what it's worth, the hash and rice was better here than the last couple places I've tried. The staff here is amazingly friendly and will put a smile on your face as you stomach the sub-par BBQ.