One Fine Meal: Ford’s BBQ is fired-up in Tucker

The Pitmaster Platter at Ford’s BBQ includes pulled pork, brisket, turkey, sausage, ribs and a choice of four sides. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Pitmaster Platter at Ford’s BBQ includes pulled pork, brisket, turkey, sausage, ribs and a choice of four sides. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Editor’s note: Recently, we launched One Fine Meal, a weekly series that spotlights well-executed food from restaurants in greater Atlanta. Do you have feedback about the new series? We want to hear from you. Send your comments to ligaya.figueras@ajc.com.

Over the past decade, Atlanta has become a serious barbecue destination, with B’s Cracklin’, Community Q, Fox Bros. and Heirloom Market BBQ among the favorites.

Given the buzz, it’s not surprising that more restaurateurs have jumped into the barbecue game.

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Fried okra with pickled onions and pickles is available from Ford’s BBQ in Tucker. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Fried okra with pickled onions and pickles is available from Ford’s BBQ in Tucker. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Ford’s BBQ, in bustling downtown Tucker, is a good example. It’s a spinoff from James Maggard, Justin Bradford and the team behind Local 7, which is located just down the block on Main Street.

Ford’s opened in late November, but the owners decided to keep a low profile for the first couple of months, feeling out what customers wanted, and tweaking the menu to match what was selling.

Sides at Ford’s BBQ include vinegar slaw, mac and queso and collard greens. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sides at Ford’s BBQ include vinegar slaw, mac and queso and collard greens. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

Obviously, opening any kind of restaurant during a pandemic is tough, but barbecue always is good to go. And, Ford’s storefront wisely offers two entrances — one for dine-in customers and another for takeout orders.

When I stopped in for takeout one afternoon, I immediately was greeted at the counter and given a menu to peruse.

During the wait for my order, I took a look around outside, where there was a spacious covered patio, and a smokehouse still under construction. The sight of a pair of fired-up commercial Lang cookers and stacks of oak logs seemed a good sign, and the wafting perfume of smoked meat was enticing.

Bradford, who is the pitmaster, doesn’t cleave to any particular style, though it’s a sure bet his brisket is Texas-influenced. There are some Mexican influences, as well. And, most of the sides would be right at home at nearby Matthews Cafeteria, or any other Southern-style meat-and-three.

Because I wanted to try a little bit of everything, I decided on the Pitmaster Platter, which includes pork, brisket, turkey, sausage, ribs and four sides. Unfortunately, when I got home, the sausage was missing, apparently due to a purveyor problem I wasn’t privy to.

Ford’s BBQ is from the team behind Local 7, which is located just down the block on Main Street in Tucker. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Ford’s BBQ is from the team behind Local 7, which is located just down the block on Main Street in Tucker. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

The meat ranged from good to great. I’m glad I ordered the fatty brisket, which was sliced nicely, with a translucent layer of fat and a lingering smokiness. It was my favorite, by far.

But, I liked the pork a lot, too. It came chopped, and was moist and tender, with some crunchy bits, making it sandwich-ready for the next day. The turkey was surprising flavorful, and subtly smoky. The ribs were hearty, but not quite as rendered and neatly portioned as I would have liked.

I’m not big on sauce, unless I’m making a sandwich, but the hot mustard, vinegar and red hot chile pepper were equally good with the chopped pork. There’s an Alabama white sauce, too, if you must.

As far as the sides, crunchy fried okra with pickles and pickled onions was a hit, and easily could serve as a starter. Crispy-spicy vinegar slaw, creamy mac and queso, and perfectly tender collards all were good.

Ford’s meats are available by the pound, and you can order sides by the pint or quart. I think that may be the best way to go, especially if you’re feeding more than two.

And, next time, I won’t forget to order banana pudding or a fried pie for dessert.

Ford’s BBQ in Tucker has separate sidewalk entrances for dine-in and takeout. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Ford’s BBQ in Tucker has separate sidewalk entrances for dine-in and takeout. Bob Townsend for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Bob Townsend

Credit: Bob Townsend

FORD’S BBQ

Menu: barbecue

Alcohol: yes

Recommended dishes: sliced beef brisket, chopped pork, fried okra, vinegar slaw, collard greens

Price range: $$

Service options: dine-in; takeout

Outdoor dining: yes, a large covered patio

Experience: The food was ready after a medium wait. I wandered outside and enjoyed checking out the smokehouse. I was missing one item from my platter, which apparently wasn’t available. It would have been nicer if the sauces had been labeled.

Address, phone: 2337 Main St., Tucker; 678-691-7075

Hours: 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays

Website: fords-bbq.com

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