Monday, January 23, 2012

Old South BBQ (Smyrna, GA)

601 Burbank Circle
Smyrna, GA 30080

Old South Barbecue on Urbanspoon

This converted house turned BBQ joint has been one of Smyrna's favorite BBQ spots for almost 44 years now. It proudly holds the title as the oldest continually running eating establishment in Smyrna. Old South has character, charm, and regulars who swear by their BBQ and refuse to eat anywhere else. This past week Jamie and I decided to make the journey to this Smyrna staple to pay our respects and see what all the talk was about.

I like the lay out at Old South. There are only enough seats for about 40 people, if that. Many customers come in and are greeted by name as we find our seat. The open pit sits directly behind the counter and reminds me a lot of the kind you see at Williamson Brothers or Dreamland BBQ. I feel that sometimes these get treated as grills rather than smokers leaving the meat not as tender as you'd find in a closed smoker. We were graciously ushered to our seats where we placed our order.

The offerings are few here with chicken, spare ribs, brisket, and pork. I like the smaller menus at BBQ places. I feel like it allows you to focus on a few things and hopefully do those well. I would've liked to see some sausage on the menu, but I've gotten accustomed to not seeing that most places in Georgia. I ordered the three meat plate with pulled pork, pork spare ribs, and brisket. I requested the brisket from the moist end to give them their best shot at not serving dry or tough beef. For our sides we got the Brunswick stew and BBQ beans. I was starving on this day so our food couldn't come fast enough.

Old South has four homemade sauces and we tried them all. The "Original" and "Sweet" were probably our favorites of the four while the "Hot" didn't seem to pair well with anything. All were tomato based with a good amount of tang.

Our food arrived after about ten minutes of waiting. The brisket here was bad...probably the worst I've ever had (besides my first time I ever smoked one). I know it's a strong statement and I feel comfortable saying it. It had no crust at all, it was dry, and it was tough. For what it's worth, it did have some smoky flavor on it. I hated this brisket and wished I would've ordered chicken instead. The pulled pork was properly pulled into long pieces but lacked any real flavor. There were no visible pieces of bark or seasoning. It was ok at best. As for the ribs, they reminded me of the ribs I tried at Dreamland in Alpharetta (that's not a good thing). They were tough and extremely bland. The only flavor came from the hickory and oak imparted smoke. Our meats here were 0 for 3...all of them struck out.

But hold on...the Brunswick stew should not go without mention. It's flavorful with pieces of pork and lots of corn. It's properly seasoned and a great side to any BBQ meal. The BBQ beans were decent, nothing special or out of the ordinary. They were thick, sweet, and had hints of onion and garlic throughout. A decent meal here would consist of pulled pork with a big side of Brunswick stew.

The staff here is extremely courteous and pleasant. You feel welcomed and at home when you walk in. The food here is a tradition for some and fairly priced, but it's just not for me.


  1. The last time that I stopped by here for a bite, back in November, I just had some Brunswick stew and toast. I thought about it for a bit, remembered how very inconsistent they can be with their meats, and just stuck to what I could count on.

    They are wonderful people, but it's clear that their best days are behind them.

  2. Wow, I'm just glad too see that they are still around after all these years. I used to go there as a young child about 40 years ago when I lived close & I still visit them when I am in town. One of the only places around where you can get beer with your BBQ. It seems that beer is uncommon among most BBQ places that are urban.Anyway, Good Food & Good Memories.Jay514

  3. I have had BBQ from all over the South, I would eat Old South's BBQ over all that I have ever had. They stay perfect everytime I make the trip and thank God I live to far to eat it all the time, for I would be 200lbs to heavy!! Love your pork and stew and ribs and your pies!! Keep up the the great work!!

    Ben Averson

  4. Old south cooks long shank ribs. Not that pansy baby back crap. Forget the pulled pork, the ribs are what they do right. You bashed them harshly, plus your probably some Idiot from Texas, you and your beef and sausage BS. They have the best Brunswick stew around. Period. Not that corn mush watery crap every one else has. You where very harsh and should be judged yourself. So what does this say for you? You are a YUPPIE PRICK!

  5. I went there one time, never went back, and I grew up around the corner. Nuff said. Don't waste your money.

  6. Mr. Barb-b-Que 6-5-13
    I like their Chopped pork, the Brunswick stew is tasty
    and they serve really good sweet tea. They're friendly and courteous. What else do you want?

  7. They have done quite a bit recently to remodel the place, offer new sauces, and modernize some of their equipment. The fact that they have outlasted so many different kinds of restaurants in the area is a good indication that there's more than two menu items worth eating in the place...

  8. Still think about the Brunswick stew even though it's been almost 35 years. Went to school nearby and friends still find the need to let me know when they have stopped by to eat it. Amazing