During my very recent trip to America, I visited two states: Georgia, then California. The first three days were spent exploring parts of Atlanta, with my sister Melissa. I can say with confidence that the overall objective of our time in Atlanta was to seek out a legendary barbecue joint to eat an American-sized meal of smoky meat, then roll home in pain. We were in luck; according to her research along with a personal recommendation made to me by a U.S. customs agent in the Toronto airport, Fat Matt’s Rib Shack was the place to go.
As the entire establishment is lit by neon beer signs, the task of taking photos with my iPhone became challenging. I didn’t want to be that person using a bright flash, either, as this was a real mellow, local joint. I did use it once, to capture the photo below of my chopped pork sandwich.
The place was absolutely packed with a combination of locals and visitors. It’s the type of joint where you order at the counter, grab a self-serve lemonade or sweet tea, and take any seat that’s available. A couple guys with electric guitars were sitting up front and started playing the blues about 10 minutes before we left.
Fat Matt’s has a small offering, and they focus on doing a few things very well: ribs, whole smoked chickens, and chopped pork sandwiches. I did the sandwich, served with a small bag of Lay’s, and chose potato salad as a side. Melissa went for a half slab of ribs, and mac ‘n’ cheese. The namesake ribs did not disappoint. I even bought a bottle of Fat Matt’s barbecue sauce to bring home. Stickers were free.
The day I arrived in Atlanta, we hit up a permanent food truck park that I had discovered online. We were excited. I won’t give too much away about this one since I’m writing a piece for SOAR Magazine about my food truck experiences, but I will show what we ate there, as both items were pretty delicious. My pulled chicken taco from the barbecue truck was served with pickles (which I’ve heard is Kentucky-style) and homemade pear coleslaw. Melissa had a chicken tikka masala naan wrap from the Indian food truck. Both were tasty.
One last food highlight comes from a fantastic part of Atlanta called Decatur. Technically Decatur is it’s own city, but it is what’s called an in-town suburb of Atlanta proper. So many people call it a city within a city. It definitely has a very quaint, small-town feel and is home to many highly-regarded restaurants, plus over 50 independent shops.
Having done my research, I knew that Cakes & Ale was located in Decatur (Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurant in America 2011). We were there in the middle of the day, and so only their cafe/bakery was open. Here I enjoyed a perfect panini from their small, daily lunch menu. Salty soppressata ham, creamy ricotta and arugula pesto grilled to crunchy perfection on house-made bread. We shared a salad of roasted root vegetables with cilantro-fennel sour cream served on the side, for dipping.
Check out more photos in the gallery below, and come back soon for my upcoming California food highlights!