Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q: Graduating from Backyard with Hickory Help

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Restaurant Sign Atlanta

A lone star references the state where the Fox Bros. are from: Texas.

On the drive east from I-85, we could hear the whirr of an overhead MARTA train. Graffiti filled walls and rubble-strewn parking lots were interspersed with gleaming new mixed-use buildings. In this emerging neighborhood southeast of downtown, we also located Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, which probably serves the best barbecue in Atlanta.

Twin brothers Justin and Jonathan Fox learned to love ‘cue growing up in Texas. In 2001, they started cooking backyard barbecue using drum smokers, charging $10 for all-you-can-eat meat and inviting friends like Widespread Panic to provide musical accompaniment. By 2004, the Fox brothers were drawing 200 people to their backyard. They graduated to Smith’s Olde Bar, which served as a test kitchen for their vision. Finally, the Fox Bros. opened a full-fledged restaurant near funky Little Five Points on Labor Day 2007.

You’ll find two main rooms inside, the walls lined with beer tins, fake road signs, old photos and the requisite pig imagery. Still, it’s much more pleasant to sit on the patio, surrounded by red walls and large groups of family and friends soaking up barbecue, beer, and the warm Georgia air.

Barbecue Atlanta

The Fox brothers employ a three-smoker attack.

The Fox Bros. recently upgraded their capacity to keep pace with ever-increasing catering demand. The smokehouse now holds three smokers: a 500-pound, 700-pound and a 1000-pound smoker. We learned that they cook pork for 12 hours between 205-220 degrees. Brisket smokes for 10 hours and the chicken, wings and baby back ribs require 3-5 hours of smoke buffeting.

Wood Atlanta

The Fox Bros. tear through a lot of hickory to smoke their meat.

Pickles Atlanta

We started with a basket of Fried Pickle Chips ($5.95) – tangy dill pickle slices soaked in buttermilk, breaded, fried and served with ranch dressing. This was far from the first dipping sauce we encountered.

Macaroni And Cheese Atlanta

It might seem excessive to fry macaroni and cheese, and it is, but when Fried Mac & Cheese is on the specials’ board, don’t fight it. Fox Bros. fills their misshapen grilled cheese balls with macaroni and a molten sauce made from milk, shredded Colby Jack and half-and-half. Crunchy breading and an oozing core made for a killer app.

Chicken Wings Atlanta

Smoked Wings (12 for $10.95) were excellent, lacquered with spicy wing sauce that fused to the meat in the smoker. These chicken wings were served with ranch dipping sauce, not that they needed it.

Barbecue Atlanta

The best way to proceed – if you still have room after all the fried apps – is to order a multi-meat combo plate.

For our BC Plate (3 meats and two sides for $16.95), my choices consisted of smoked (dark meat) chicken, pulled pork, baby back ribs, Brunswick Stew and collard greens. The ribs were especially good, sporting a dry rub and a shellacking of brown sugar that resulted in great caramelization and an almost bark-like exterior. The stew is a hearty Georgia classic loaded with pulled pork, tomatoes, lima beans and corn kernels. The collards had some good spice and none of the off-putting bitterness that pervades lesser greens.

Barbecue Atlanta

Pulled pork had a good smoke-ring, a nice spice crust and winning caramelization. There was some inconsistency, since the core was kind of mushy, and some sheets of shoulder were dry. Still, the best bites had great chew and flavor. The chicken looked delectable and sported a spice crust – and the meat was juicy – but the skin was limp and watery.

Of course it’s worth mentioning the signature barbecue sauce, which had a deep burgundy hue, a tomato base and good viscosity. The sauce wasn’t overly sweet pretty and had a peppery finish.

Cornbread Atlanta

We also ordered several slabs of Jalapeño Cornbread ($1.95) studded with cream cheese that still had dry pockets. This wasn’t anything that whipped honey butter couldn’t remedy.

We considered ordering a bowl of banana pudding or a slab of chocolate pecan pie, but decided to hold out for Morelli’s Gourmet Ice Cream.

So often, barbecue is most successful on the outskirts, but Fox Bros. helped to prove that there’s still hope for urban barbecue.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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Yes. Appetizing pictures)

The killer dish at Fox Bros. is the beef rib special available on Thursday and Saturday only if memory serves me right. It is delicious barbecue in a city that has a few pretty good places — Fat Matt’s Rib Shack in Midtown, Daddy D’z in Grant Park, and Rolling Bones downtown are other reputed standouts.

Sounds like we may have mistimed our visit to Fox Bros. Beef ribs are hard to do well, but it makes sense that Texans could pull them off. I remember liking Fat Matt’s Rib Shack, but not as well as Fox Bros. I’ll check out Daddy D’z and Rolling Bones in the future. Thanks.

I’m working at paper writing service.. oh God.. all the pictures are mouth watering.. gonna write something about these..

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