One Star Ranch

Two decades on, One Star Ranch (aka the Rib Ranch) has become an anachronistic Atlanta landmark, recalling a more laid-back time when Buckhead really was a village. The Texas-themed barbecue joint cleaves to a fading hunk of asphalt on Irby Avenue, near the ghostly hulk of the former Rio Bravo Cantina. But the less than swanky setting doesn't seem to deter the stalwart regulars, who gather on the tented patio to devour Fred Flintstone-size beef ribs and swig Shiner Bock.

RAMSHACKLE SHACK: From the outside, One Star Ranch looks like the kind of shack you might find at the beach or on the side of a country road, which is certainly key to its quirky charms. Inside, the ramshackle effect is percussively punctuated by a swinging door that shuts with a slam every time one of the friendly, energetic staff runs an order out to the patio. The wide plank floors are layered with paint, and the walls are lined with rusty license plates and signed dollar bills. A stuffed armadillo has its own special niche alongside a dusty can of Lone Star beer. Tables are covered with plastic cloths and appointed with a roll of paper towels and a bottle of hot sauce. There's a steady soundtrack of blues music emanating from the speakers. And the bar in front is a convivial spot for locals to meet up for a drink.

BEHEMOTH RIBS: On a recent evening, it seemed like everyone was ordering the famously gigantic beef ribs. They come lightly sauced, with a mildly smoky perfume, and the dense texture is something like roast beef on the bone. The pork ribs aren't as consistent, running the gamut from nicely charred and well-rendered to fatty with a tough layer of silver skin. The combo plate is a good way to sample a big jumble of meat, served up in hefty hunks — just remember to order the thick, ketchup-based sauce (mild or hot) on the side. The moist pork is the best of the bunch, and the turkey is surprisingly meaty and flavorful. The brisket is a tad bland, and the sausage is oddly rubbery. Other choices include barbecued chicken and hot wings. And there's a $4.99 (12-and-under) child's plate.

SIDE STUFF: As at many barbecue places, the sides aren't exactly the strong suit here. Thin, crispy onion rings, sold by the "tub" ($4.99, $6.99), are the crowd-pleaser. Jalapeño cornbread is tasty but dense, dotted with kernels of corn and bits of pepper. Slaw is the standard, coarsely chopped cabbage in a creamy dressing. And while the chunky, veggie-heavy Brunswick stew won't win over traditionalists, its pleasingly tangy and spicy, with a minestrone-like mix of tomatoes, okra, corn and lima beans that makes it a good foil for the barbecue.

HOURS: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays
PRICES: Plates, $8.99-$29.99; sandwiches, $4.99-$6.99; sides, $1.19-$2.50
CREDIT CARDS: MasterCard; Visa; American Express
RECOMMENDED DISHES: Beef ribs; smoked turkey and pork; Brunswick stew
PARKING: Lot and street
VERDICT: Beef ribs and a flavor of old Buckhead keep the crowds coming to the Ranch.

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