This post is brought to you courtesy of a comment I recently received on the review of Southern Soul Barbecue. Nichole said that if I liked Southern Soul (which I do), I should really give Gary Lee’s Market a try. Interestingly, on my last trip to Jesup, driving up from Jacksonville, I got off at the wrong exit and headed west and passed Gary Lee’s on the way. I didn’t come back the same way, that day, but made a note to try it on a future visit. Cut to today, and a meeting in Brunswick. My traveling compadres and I were discussing lunch and I mentioned Gary Lee’s, as soon as we left Jacksonville. We discussed it, voted against smelling like barbecue during our meeting and I planned on stopping on the way back to the airport.
From outside, this history of this place is evident. We pulled into the gravel parking lot and walked inside in the bright sunlight. As we were talking with Corey Lee, who was running the place on this day, he said that his grandfather had opened the location as a gas station and convenience store in the 70s, which also sold meat. They started selling barbecue in 1996, along with the meats and dry goods, then stopped selling everything but meats and barbecue in several years ago. We arrived a little before 4:00 and had the restaurant to ourselves, although there was a continuous flow of folks getting carry-out (they are open from 11-6 Tuesday – Saturday).
The menu board was simple – wings, brisket, ribs, cheeseburgers, pork, sausages and chicken, along with sides, like the potato salad (below). The photos are of my companion’s meals – like an idiot, I failed to get a photo of my own styrofoam container.
I had a combo of my own making:
- cheeseburger (no bun) – when I asked what was good, Corey told me that the cheeseburgers were a good seller and they didn’t always have them;
- brisket – you could see how moist it was, through the glass; and
- two ribs.
As far as the meats go, in order of preference (I was able to taste everything), from bottom to top:
- cheeseburger – it was fairly dry and cooked to medium well;
- pork (in the sandwich) – it was good, much better than average;
- brisket – this was very moist and it was a close third to the ribs’ second;
- ribs – these had just the right amount of “pull” needed to get them off the bone; and
- wings – these were over-the-top good. Meaty, fried crispy and finished on the smoker. I think we could have each eaten a dozen of these.
While I was getting a refill on sweet tea (this tea was beyond sweet), I was querying about the smoking process and was told that they cook on a big hickory pit out back, using a mix of hickory and oak, and sometimes pecan (I made it a point to drive far enough into the gravel lot to see the pit before leaving).
One of my companions told Corey about my blog and he ran back to the register and pulled a copy of the Garden & Gun Barbecue Bucket List which included them as one Georgia’s entries – he wanted to ask me my opinion on the Atlanta entries (Heirloom Market and Fox Brothers) – he knew the local entries. This is a man and, apparently, a family that cares about producing quality barbecue. What a great stop.