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Fat Matt's Rib Shack, Live blues and the love of good barbecue bring people from all over town to the small, boxy barbecue joint. An Atlanta landmark, Fat Matt's turns out ribs, chopped-pork barbecue sandwiches and chickens by the score. With classic sides like a creamy coleslaw, "rum" baked beans and Brunswick stew, this is the place to get a small (or large) slice of hog heaven. L, D $ 1811 Piedmont Avenue. 404-607-1622. www.fatmattsribshack.com.
Fox Bros Bar-B-Q, ***** Despite problems with consistency, Fox Bros. serves up super-smoky ribs, pork, chicken and brisket that inspires passionate barbecue love on good days. The atmosphere the brothers have created is admirable, turning the space into what feels like a genuine Texas shack. L, D $$ 1238 DeKalb Avenue. 404-577-4030. www.foxbrosbbq.com.
Maddy's, Jeff Buckalew worked at Fat Matt's for years before opening his own barbecue spot in Decatur. The family resemblance is unmistakable, but Matt and Maddy aren't twins. What Maddy lacks in rough-and-tumble bluesiness, she more than makes up for with good manners, cleanliness and a big, fat smile. The food seems fresher and feistier at dinner. Hone in on the ribs and the Brunswick stew. L, D $ 1479 Scott Boulevard, Decatur. 404-377-0301. www.maddysribs.com.
Ms. Betty's House of Ribs, This smokehouse of a barbecue joint is tailor-made for take-out, whether for a no-worries dinner or a catered afternoon of TV sports watching. The portions come as small as a rib sandwich or as large as a whole slab of ribs. The sides include everything from French fries to green beans and there is a range of sauces to choose from as well. But watch out, even the mild sauce has a peppery kick to it. L, D $$ 1281 Bouldercrest Drive. 404-243-8484.
Rolling Bones, We've always liked Rolling Bones, but since chef Todd Richards took over, our affections have grown. Richards has updated the 'cue – the sandwiches are less sloppy, the meat has more of the limelight – and is serving some seriously cool new items, including duck barbecue and smoked trout. Sides have also been given special consideration – the creamy potato salad with Benton's bacon has just the right mix of creaminess, smoke from the bacon and celery crunch, with none of the sugary undertones of lesser potato salads. Don't miss the duck sandwich with fig preserves. Winner of Best Barbecue 2009. L, D. 377 Edgewood Avenue. 404-222-2324. www.rollingbonesbbq.com.
The Swallow At The Hollow, The barbecue joint is long on hefty portions and intelligent updates of country classics. From pit-cooked portobello mushrooms to baby back ribs and mac-and-cheese, the cuisine has wide, if definitely Southern-style, appeal. L, D $$ 1072 Green Street, Roswell. 678-352-1975. www.theswallowatthehollow.com.
Big Easy Grille, New Orleans-style restaurant that offers weekly specials. L, D. 1193 Collier Road. 404-352-2777. www.bigeasygrille.com.
Front Page News, Cajun cuisine and watering hole. Decent brunch. Large bar and patio, good for big parties. L, D $$ 351 Moreland Avenue. 404-475-7777. www.fpnatl.com.
Parish Foods & Goods, HHHII At this double-duty, two-level New Orleans-style restaurant, don't expect the classics. A search for jambalaya will be in vain, as will a search for printed menus (the owners are going way green). The baked goods - from one of the best pastry chefs in the city - are a highlight. The menu upstairs does feature some New Orleans-inspired food, and the market downstairs makes a mean muffaletta. L, D $$ 240 North Highland Avenue. 404-681-4434. www.parishatl.com
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