On a rare Saturday afternoon without any plans (including for lunch), we found ourselves on the road between Austell and Kennessaw. As we were meeting some folks for dinner, I saw a chance to knock another restaurant off my “list” – Staq’s BBQ in Smyrna. They’ve been on the list since the 2011 Atlanta Magazine barbecue issue (not very high up, obviously, or I should have gone there by now). As we closed in on the address, I couldn’t find it on the first pass. Or the second. Then I realized that the abandoned building near 2599 South Cobb Drive had formerly been Staq’s. My beloved rejoiced slightly. Then I remembered Old South Barbecue.
I had eaten at Old South before, but not since college, almost thirty years ago…
Back in the day, there used to be a great music store across the street and later Dirt Cheep Music came in around the corner as did another music store on Cherokee (now Windy Hill) itself.
We went inside and it didn’t look very different than the last time that I was there. Even in the early 80s, it looked dated.
Run by the Llewallen family since 1968, the family has been dishing out barbecue for almost forty-five years, from this pit in the front of the restaurant.
One of the first things we noticed was the collage next to our booth (which was built by the owners in 1968, along with the tables, according to the menu) of people, cut out of photographs. Then we noticed that they were all over the walls – there were at least ten of them with a hundred-plus photos in each. We asked the waitress and she said that one of the daughters had taken photos of customers during the 35th and 40th years and made the collages for the restaurant. Kitshcy cool.
First to arrive for me was the brunswick stew, which was thick -thick as hash, to be precise –
which was not particularly memorable. I’m not the world’s largest fan of stew. Maybe it’s because this was the stuff served around me when I was growing up?
Then came my meal – a two meat combo plate (spare ribs and chopped pork) with fries.
The pork was served dry, which is appreciated, and they offered four sauces to choose from (original – thin, vinegar, hot – hot, thin, vinegar, sweet – thick, molasses and hot sweet – hot, thick, molasses). I ordered mine with both hot and hot sweet. The pork was chopped so finely that it was almost meshed together. There was a good amount of smoke and the hot sweet sauce was a perfect complement. The spare ribs were, plain and simply, overcooked and tough.
It was like stepping back into the past, in both my personal history, and into the world of 70s barbecue in Cobb County. If I go back, I might cut the thirty year interval between visits in half…