After hearing such great things about Atlanta’s emerging BBQ scene, I was eager to taste Hattie Marie’s Texas BBQ because it’s one of the city’s most popular restaurants. I don’t know how and when the hype started, but it is real even though the food and dining experience do not measure up.
The first sign of problems was quite literally a sign. As I inched closer to the register after waiting outside in line close to an hour, I was greeted by a large message spelling out all the things Hattie Marie’s did not want to happen in their restaurant, including an ALL SALES FINAL warning similar to the one we saw in Gocha’s Breakfast Bar.
Hattie Marie’s doubled down on their rhetoric with a NO UNHOLINESS restriction. What did that mean exactly? Admittedly, I was rather drunk while I waited. Should I have left and sobered up? And what about the folk courting gluttony by eating enough to get sleepy?
After secretly praying for the Good Lord to wash away my sins, I became curious about the various Texas BBQ designations. South Texas focuses on barbacoa, East Texas serves chopped beef, and West Texas cooks over direct heat like we do in Miami. The open plates I viewed in Hattie Marie’s were prepared in the Central Texas BBQ style.
The service was standard and detached. The ladies were polite and worked very fast in a space so packed that you couldn’t think. I ordered the plate with all the meats and after waiting for an additional hour, made my way to grab the food. Since the restaurant’s dining area was closed by then, I ate on the hood of my car.
The meats were cooked well, except for the incredibly dry chicken with skin like an old, cracked leather baseball catcher’s mitt. Honestly, the chicken was irredeemable and quite possibly unholy, a direct violation of the restaurant’s policy.
The pulled pork was smoked beautifully, but the flavor was completely absent. It might be enjoyable with a good quality sauce because the restaurant’s was terrible. Conversely, the ribs didn’t really need sauce because the flavor was delicious enough for me to come back, but only if the wait is 20 minutes or less.
As far as the sides, I had to wonder if the folks enjoying them tasted the same sides I tasted. There is absolutely no way Hattie Marie’s can say with a straight face that the collard greens and cabbage should taste like that. The potato salad was Kroger-like, and the mac and cheese was edible, but nowhere near the standard you’d expect from a restaurant with this reputation.
With some of the most popular pit masters bringing their smoked deliciousness to the ATL, Hattie Marie’s might not be able to hide behind their unwarranted hype. Celebrity pit master Rodney Scott is poised to bring his expertise to the city. And Cracklin’ BBQ’s Bryan Furman is considering opening up again after his previous outpost caught fire.
Based on the subpar food, the so-so service, and the unwelcoming signage, I was not able to write a glowing review that would have extended the wait time after our followers descended on Hattie Marie’s. I can only recommend the ribs, but you can try the restaurant for yourself at 3699 Main St, College Park, GA 30337 or give them a call at (678) 927-9216.