Location: 10020 Georgia 92, Woodstock, GA 30188-6428 (678) 402-1662
Parking: Located in a Ingles strip Mall on Hwy 92 just east of 75. Parking is no problem.
Menu: Bu-Ba-Q menu
Service: Table service for the main dining area and take out counter.
Cooking on: Old Hickory cooker
The Vibe: When I first visited Bu-Ba-Q a couple years ago they had recently moved into a former Slopes BBQ space and had not really made the space their own. Since then, Bu-Ba-Q has doubled the space of the dining room to accommodate roughly 120-150 diners. Every spare inch of the restaurant is decorated with scads of Bubba's competition BBQ trophies. Currently #6 in the National BBQ competition team rankings, Bubba walks the walk and talks the talk. Of all the restaurants that claim to serve competition style BBQ in Atlanta, Bubba is certainly the most active and successful competitor in the city. My family ate at Bu-Ba-Q just a little before 1pm on a Sunday, so we caught the after church crowd. Families of all shapes and sizes were having a nice Sunday lunch and the dining room was easily three quarters full. Servers were challenged with keeping up with their tables, seating new guests, and busing finished tables. Bu-ba-Q could use a little front-of-house consulting to help them iron out the service kinks. If you are going to go full service, dedicated hostesses and bus boys are a must. Waiters should be focused on tending to seated guests. All of this to say....I'm not a fan of full service BBQ restaurants. But maybe it was one of those days when the hostess and bus boys called in sick.
The Food: Truth be told, my first visit to Bu-Ba-Q shortly after they opened went so poorly that I didn't think I would be back to visit. But a couple food friends, including a well-known magazine critic, urged me to give Bu-Ba-Q a second chance. This day we sampled ribs and pulled pork. I thoroughly enjoyed my ribs - properly smoked and not overcooked. But as you can see in the picture, the pulled pork was over-pulled and dry (aka hammered). The pork was the same for my wife and daughter's pulled pork sandwiches. I'm just guessing, but I suspect the pork may have been held in a steam table which can quickly lead to dry pork. The Brunswick stew did not offend but was not remarkable. Collard greens bordered on dull with no sparkle of acid or bite of red pepper. Out of the four sauces on our table - mustard, hot and spicy, vinegar, and sweet - I preferred sweet. The vinegar sauce had a very strange bitter quality to it and was too similar to the hot sauce. Bubba's menu is extensive and wanders a bit outside the normal fare for a BBQ restaurant. Burgers and steaks are offered as well as something called the Hog-a-changa which appears to be a BBQ riff on the mexican american chimichanga. My suggestion would be to cut the menu by at least 50% and bring that intense focus common in competition BBQ back to the restaurant.
Bottom Line: Bu-ba-Q is doing a great job of putting out BBQ for the masses. There's nothing wrong going on, but with a few tweaks a lot more could be going right.