Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Williamson Brothers BBQ (Marietta, GA)

1425 Roswell Road
Marietta, GA 30062

Williamson Brothers Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

I recently had the opportunity to visit one of suburban Atlanta's favorite BBQ joints for an offical GBH stop. I remember visiting Williamson Brothers when first moving to Georgia and sadly not being that impressed. I was interested to see if maybe it was just a bad barbecue day my first time around or if Williamson Brothers just happens to serve sub-par BBQ.

When you first arrive at Williamson Brothers, you'll notice the deliberately old, distressed, wooden exterior and interior. I happen to like/prefer this "BBQ Cracker Barrel" look, but have found more often than not that it's just used as a show to cover up below average food. When you walk in you're immediately greeted with an authentic partial-open pit inside the restaurant. 

I was curious to see if this was actually used to cook the meat or simply for show and to heat the already-smoked meats. After talking to the worker who was manning the pit (I'm hesitant to throw the title "pitmaster" around) he informed me that all pork shoulders/butts and ribs were cooked entirely on this pit using hickory wood. I was impressed...until he told me they usualy cook at 300 and above for about five hours. I've found that meat usually cooks best between 200 and 230. This allows it to be cooked longer giving the meat ample time to soak up the flavors, let all connective tissues dissolve, and fats properly render. I also noticed that they use no rub/seasonings whatsoever on their meat, not even a little salt and pepper. At this point, things weren't looking good for the Williamson Brothers.

After hearing that only the pulled pork and ribs were cooked on the pit, I decided to order a plate of pulled pork. I opted for baked beans and mac 'n cheese as the sides. We also ordered a round of fried pickles for the table. I call this "barbecue insurance." If the barbecue disappoints, then at least you'll leave somewhat full from the hard-to-mess-up fried pickles. The pickles were tasty and went fast. When the rest of the food arrived I immediatley noticed the BBQ sauce drenched pork plate. This is usually a tell-tale sign that the meat is lacking flavor, dry, or both. In this instance they qualified for both. The pork wasn't pulled. I'd call it more shredded...or even demolished. The good news was that the sauce wasn't bad. We had already visited a previous GBH stop earlier that day, so there was no need to force down any unwanted, dry barbecue. The beans tasted like a watered down version of VanCamps's baked beans and the mac 'n cheese was average. My memory had served me correctly and will most likely be my last time visiting unless things drastically change. We had a large group together for this stop, so with all the great company and good fried pickles not all was lost. 

Williamson Brothers BBQ is a place that has actively been involved in the suburban Atlanta community for fifteen years plus. I hope they continue to do so and also get back to the cooking that originally made them popular in the early 90's. They seem to be surviving solely based on their name and reputation these days. I hate seeing restaurants let their quality slide as I can imagine they have (unless they miraculously have always served below average food).


  1. Checked out their menu and prices, whew! No wonder they have few customers. Now with bad reviews, I will continue to buy their sauce in the grocery store and cook my own pork. AND for a treat, I'll go to Wallace BBQ in Austell, Ga. Wonderful service, great food,love the jalapeno poppers with the small chef salad.

  2. I won't eat at Williamson Bros anymore, just not good, but there is always a bottle of their original sauce in my cupboard. I use it to finish my ribs, and I dare say you would love my ribs. Of course, you have to eat my ribs when they're ready, not when you're ready!