Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Community Q BBQ - Clairmont Road - Atlanta Georgia

You can find Community Q BBQ at 1361 Clairmont Rd, Decatur, GA 30033 in the no-man's land between Emory and Decatur in a shopping center across the way from the Veteran's Hospital. Nearby is the venerable Athen's Pizza and the empty shell of Bojanic. Parking is a mixed bag - in general you park in the lot out front, but this center is very busy - at times I've pulled in then decided to go elsewhere as the lot is not only full, but difficult to manage.

I've eaten at Community Q BBQ a number of times - I've tried to eat there even more, but have turned away when they've run out of items (they post what's out on the door). This BBQ joint is incredibly popular so except long lines during prime times. The interior is more of what I call a traditional BBQ joint - nothing pretentious and lots to remind you that you're hear to eat delicious smoky pork. I notice there's a lot of students and local families which is always a good sign - no douchey hipsters in this crowd.

The menu is posted on the wall as you order at the counter - while these days that's called "fast casual" I think that most BBQ restaurants have managed ordering in this fashion for as long as I can remember. Maybe they invented that technique - who knows? It's indeed effective. I ordered the 1/4 slab with 1 meat (pulled pork) and 2 sides (collards and Brunswick stew - basically my go-to). You grab a cup and fill up at a table while you wait for your name to be called. The place was busy so I sidled up to one of the long-row tables towards the back-left, sharing the space with a few couples. My companion was this carved wooden pig - not the prettiest date I've ever had but not the worst either.

The food took a while to get to me - about 10 minutes or so, but was worth the wait. The crusty 1/4 slab was layered on top of the pulled pork with a piece of white bread as a "hat" - underneath was red-and-white checkered paper between the food and a tray. I've waxed on my opinions on BBQ before but as a reminder, I think there are two extremes: Heavy smoke with lots of rind (traditional southern style); and light smoke but juicy meats (more of a Memphis or Missouri style). The BBQ here was a bit center of the two with the emphasis on the smokiness, which is difficult to master. The too-smoky style tends to cover up the taste of the meat. The juicy style has very little smokiness. At Community Q you get juicy meat with a nice bit of smokiness where you can taste the meat but still get the feel of the smoke and rind - superbly done! This is definitely in my top 10 for Atlanta.

The sides were above average - the collards were soupy but not slimy at all - basically cooked like I make them at home. The Brunswick had great smoky flavor but seemed a bit heavy on the corn (at least for me) and maybe a bit more acidic than I like. I'll order it again as it's good enough to grow on me. Overall the food here is excellent.

I thought the service a bit slow, but it was a busy night and I was by myself so I didn't complain. Under other circumstances I may not have waited for it. My meal came up to $17.50 plus tax, tip and drink which may be a bit pricey for many but isn't too bad for intown. Overall I give Community Q BBQ 4/5 stars.

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
Community Q BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  

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