Atlanta Punches Charlotte BBQ in the Mouth

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 BBQ 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.
Heirloom Chefs
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.
HeirloomPulled Pork
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.

By Adam
My passion for great food, service, live music, and beer/wine/bourbon (not necessarily in that order) makes this type of work pretty entertaining.


  1. Gotta admit, the Q does look delicious. Just wish the QC still had a dog in the fight for good southern BBQ (real slow-smoked shoulder, not the slop they serve at Sonny’s).

    • Check out Queen City Q or Mac’s

  2. Was lost while at ICSC two years ago found Heirloom Market BBQ, line was out the door, figure I had to try it. Took it back to may hotel room.

    It is good “Big City” BBQ. Nice smoke, nice bark!. Sides and sauces were OK, too sweet. Don’t care for “foodie” style BBQ places like this, but it caters to Vinings-Cumberland area clientele. That being said probably rivals any BBQ place in the Charlotte city limits (Adam don’t sell your place short). BBQ is best done in the country.! There are probably 100 better BBQ places in Georgia and all them are probably outside of Atlanta.

  3. Have to disagree with John a little bit…I’m from eastern NC and have lived in Atlanta for five years in the 90s and most recently since early 2011. This place is about 2 miles from my home in Vinings, so I know it well. I have hunted well outside of Atlanta, and cannot find anything that touches Heirloom. It simply comes down to the quality of the meat (and doesn’t all BBQ?)…slow cooked over wood, and almost always perfectly executed. The Korean-fusion thing is a nice “Foodie” add-on and creates and element of interest beyond the typical BBQ joint, but does not detract from the basic premise. I have not found better BBQ in Atlanta. Should not neglect to mention…their sides rock as well. The Kimchi Slaw is to die for, Mac ‘n’ Cheese is better than mom’s, and they actually know what they are doing with collards. Now I will freely admit this…ideally, I’d much rather find my swine at some obscure and lip-smacking country-road joint in the boonies near Kinston or Wilson. As I cut my teeth on it, nothing beats that smoky eastern NC ‘cue with vinegar sauce, tangy slaw and “Shut Up, Dog!”. But for what it is (and it tries to be nothing else), Heirloom has achieved a true pinnacle of goodness. Took everyone here totally by surprise when they opened, and have become a roaring succes with little to no marketing. FYI…they are opening a much larger outlet in Druid Hills/Clairmont (east Atlanta/Dekalb County). My most sincere hope is that this does not detract from the amazing efforts and results they have achieved in their little funky hole-in-the wall in the shadow of I-285.

  4. Atlanta is a nice place to visit but that traffic is the worst. I don’t care how good the BBQ is I would not want to live in a place with a perpetual traffic jam.

  5. I too love the BBQ – order the brisket “fatty please.” The sides are too sweet for me, which is ok, I get more room to eat brisket and pork. It is not correct to call this a”foodie” place just because it offers Korean influenced dishes. There are over 50,000 Koreans in metro Atlanta. Many were born in the area. Both “the South” and Koreans share a love of pickled things, fried chicken, grilled pork, and similar, but not the same barbecued beef. It is a natural progression to see these two food cultures come together and create new southern food traditions.

  6. Heirloom Market BBQ is amazing but for traditional hickory smoked bbq The Old Hickory House in Charlotte wins hands down, every time.

  7. Heirloom Market BBQ quickly became a favorite of ours. As stated above, the Q is done just right. The Korean Sweet Potatoes are one of the surprises. I am a sucker for anything I haven’t had before – so I tried them. I was expecting a baked white meat sweet potato and received fantastic finger food. Their second locationn, Sobban is on Clairmont Road in Decatur, The menu is similar, but not identical. With more (but not a lot more) inside dining area – this is also a great place to eat.

  8. Exactly!

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