Road Trip Eats: Southern Soul Barbeque
A few weeks ago we waxed poetic about the roadtrip between Athens and St. Simons Island for Georgia/Florida. We mentioned that a great local restaurant to try out was Southern Soul. Actually, we didn't mention it at first but many people quickly let us know this was not a destination to leave out of a travel guide. So we added it in. We'll admit, we were silly for not including this as one of the highlights of being on St. Simons Island. To rectify this, we've got a recap of our trip to Southern Soul with lots of pictures for your viewing pleasure.
We can't say much about Southern Soul that hasn't already been said by Garden & Gun, Food Network, Southern Living, and many more. It's good BBQ. But it's more than just good food. It's in a beautiful place, has friendly staff, inventive menu specials, and killer marketing. It's a place you want to say you've been to. Just look at their instagram page. Not your grandfather's BBQ, but still has the respect of even the most traditional BBQ lovers. They've also done an excellent job promoting their sauces (we enjoyed mixing Sweet Georgia Soul and Hot Georgia Soul) and they've even been featured in the New York Times business section for capitalizing on the "novelty snacks" movement.
You stand in line to order, and the decorations inside are what a BBQ restaurant should look like. Beer signs, license plates, various animal paraphanelia (deer antlers and stuffed pigs?). There's a great beer selection if you prefer that with your BBQ, but we chose Sweet Tea since it was barely noon (and we had a long weekend ahead of us).
For the sake of journalism, we ordered the sampler platter. Many of the folks with our group just ordered a sandwich plate...but for you, the reader, we had to try lots of things. We ordered the trifecta of meats, with ribs, pulled pork, and brisket. For sides we opted for Mac & Cheese, Fried Green Beans (recommendation from a friend), and we added Brunsick Stew so we could have a taste.
Above is our sampler platter in all of it's glory. Two people had a very hard time finishing this. If you're not into gluttony, it should be plenty to feed three. Everything was good, but the pulled pork really blew us away. We might say that it's some of the best pulled pork we've ever had. It was tender and flavorful, a perfect ode to Georgia-style BBQ.
The brisket was good, but we've had better at Wiley's Championship BBQ in Savannah (same for the ribs). It was very lean, so if you prefer for your brisket to not grease up your insides, this is a good one to try.
The ribs were also good, but not quite as tender as we would like. This could probably be chalked up to us being picky, or maybe the massive crowds the restaurant had to deal with for Georgia/Florida weekend. On that note, props to how quickly the line moved and how efficient the staff was. They definintely know how to handle crowds.
As far as sides go, the Mac & Cheese was good and traditional, like Mac & Cheese should be at a BBQ joint. The Brunswick Stew was tasty but we could have used a little more spice in it...but we also love all things spicy so it may be made for the masses instead of people who dine on such spicy things they physically sweat from it...but we digress.
The fried green beans were especially delicioius, crispy yet fresh, and we had no problem polishing those off. A perfect appetizer or snack for a table, it's probably good we don't live on St. Simons Island or we would stop in to have this more than we probably should.
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Southern Soul, so much so that we went on both Thursday and Friday for lunch. Friday we had their lunch special, the "Weekday Worker." This includes a sandwich and side with a large fountain drink for $7. It probably won't come as a surprise that we had pulled pork as the meat of choice for our sandwich. We also opted for the baked beans as our side, and they were also delicious. Why don't we have pictures of this meal? We didn't have our camera with us on Friday because we weren't planning on eating at Southern Soul. As we were walking past a park on the island a friend we knew drove by and asked if we wanted to go to Southern Soul for lunch. After literally jumping in the car in the middle of the street, we happily accompanied them to that friendly BBQ restaurant. Who were we to deny someone the experience of Southern Soul just because we had already eaten there the day before?
The seating inside is limited but there's large picnic tables outside, perfect for large groups. When it's crowded you can plop down next to some other BBQ afficianados at the large picnic tables and start a conversation, turning strangers into friends. While BBQ is one of the most hotly debated topics across the American South (regional preferences, meat of choice, sauce of choice), we think it has a way of bringing people together. When you ask your neighbor at the table to pass more napkins and the BBQ sauce, there's a good chance that can spark up a conversation. On Thursday we had a table of 9 people, ranging in ages from 24-26 years old. We had an older gentleman, likely in his 70's, ask to join our table since it was so crowded. Thus sparked up a conversation of food, football, and stories of particularly coloful local personalities between him and our grouup.
How often do you see a table of young adults happily chatting with a 70 year old whom none of them are related to? Probably never. Unless you frequent crowded and delicious BBQ Joints in the South.