Atlanta Punches Charlotte BBQ in the Mouth
I do not get a chance to write on RestaurantTraffic as much as I would like to anymore. I spend so much time in restaurants that I run the risk of becoming jaded to the fun, vibrancy, and opportunity that the industry provides. That is why places like Heirloom Market BBQÂ fixates my ADD addled brain to the point of annoyance for my inner circle and prompts me to pick up the closest pen.
My captivation started at the description of Heirloom by a foodie friend of mine in Atlanta named Duke Flontz. It went something like “The BEST BBQ in Atlanta is in, what appears to be, a quickie mart under the Highway.” The more I dug the more intrigued I became. It seems that this roadside gem is the brainchild of chef team Cody Taylor & Jiyeon Lee.
Cody’s training on hardcore Texas BBQ and Jiyeon’s Korean heritage have melded into an exciting take on the old Southern Staple. I carried my doubts with me like a briefcase as I walked into the 760 square foot former liquor store.
I hung out in the background for a minute trying to get the lay of the land. People streamed by me in droves, full of purpose and the confidence that comes with repetition. The menu is straightforward. Proteins: Brisket, Ribs, Turkey, Chicken, Pork, Sausage, Wings. Sides: Kimchi Slaw, Mac, Brunswick Stew, Korean Sweet Potatoes, Collards etc. I tried to act like I knew the drill, stepped up and ordered the two meat combo with brisket & pulled pork with slaw and sweet potatoes.
I grabbed some self serve tea like any red blooded Southerner would and shambled outside to the “Dining Area.” Chef Cody cut his teeth at the Ritz and probably doesn’t often hear comparisons between his former and current environs.
No chairs, no AC, no silver, no polish, NO PROBLEM…
The real action started when my combo arrived. As soon as I opened the to go box (only option given) I knew I was in for something notable.
I try hard not to get all “Food Nerd” on people here at RT. We typically celebrate the industry more than our personal palates. That said, good God this BBQ was good. The char (or bark) on the pork was crisp and brown. The moist meat told the story of perfect rub, perfect timing and perfect pulling coming together for competition level pork served to the masses. I assure you that is what I consider high praise. The brisket slab was the size of a Sullivan’s Prime Rib with the tenderness to match. The sauces were anything but traditional with names like Hotlanta, Sweet Korean Kitchen Sauce , robust Texas style sauce served warm with plenty of kick, Settler Sauce NC vinegar and red pepper. I tried them all and enjoyed each of them for what they were. NC BBQ purists might thumb their noses at some of the offerings, but I personally believe that the appeal of BBQ reaches much farther than regional trappings. We do not want to admit that BBQ has been around longer than our fine state and thus the claim of “The right way” to cook BBQ is nothing more than our opinion on the matter. Another highlight was the Korean Sweet Potatoes. They were something in between a chip and a sliced baked sweet potato. Sweet and delicious… Do not be thrown off my the nondescript location and furnishings. If you want big time Que and you are near the Perimeter or Cumberland area, head in with a big appetite.