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Page history last edited by Mark P 15 years, 3 months ago

Background on Atlanta Restaurants

As part of my trip to Atlanta, I did much research on Chowhound, Yahoo travel, and numerous guide books for recommendations on good restaurants nearby. I knew I wanted to eat at places serving food I couldn't get back home. That meant I was going to avoid sophisticated restaurants serving contemporary food -those are pretty much the same everywhere-. That also meant I'd avoid most cuisines from particular countries like Mexico, Thailand, India, Japan, etc. -- I couldn't imagine Atlanta having better renditions of those cuisines than I can find in the bay area. (My research, although it pointed out good restaurants of each of those types, generally seemed to support this conclusion.) Thus, Southern cooking was the main style of food left on my list. Thus, I was seeking comfort/soul food like fried chicken and barbecue.


I occasionally found myself violating my policies by heading to some non-Southern restaurants, mostly because I can get sick of eating fried food.


Context for this Particular Restaurant

I didn't want to finish my vacation in Atlanta without getting good barbecue. A number of people of people complained barbecue in Atlanta simply wasn't as good as many other places in the South. I knew I'd have to pick carefully. Thus, on the evening of my last day there, I selected Swallow at the Hollow at my final dinner destination, partially due to this chowhound thread about Atlanta barbecue.



Swallow at the Hollow's web site:



Swallow at the Hollow Review


I'm sure for many years when I think of a true Southern barbecue experience, I'll think Swallow at the Hollow. Now only were the ribs good (although the side were not), I loved the atmosphere. It's not only the communal tables made welcoming by friendly Southerners; it's also the live country/folk music. It's exactly what it wants to be.


This panoramic movie captures the feel of the joint.


Indeed, I didn't believe the following quote when I read it in my guide book. Now I do. 

"Eating barbecue is a social event--even at restaurants, where long tables are set up with squeeze bottles of extra sauce and pitchers of sweet tea."



Perhaps the only odd feature of the restaurant is the few televisions playing Fox News.


As for the food, I had a whole rack of baby back ribs. These were good -good enough that I finished the whole rack!-, with the right amount of sauce. Some pieces were a light burnt/charred, some subset of which were enjoyable.


At the table were three sauces for the ribs, reflecting the three main varieties of barbecue.

  • Vinegar-based sauce. Not my thing.
  • Mustard-based sauce. Too strong for me.
  • Tomato-based sauce. Good. Very earthy, thick, and dark. Still, I think it may detract from the simple quality of the ribs themselves.


With my ribs, I got:

  • Beans. Flavored with a sweet pepper (cayenne?), these were too sweet for me. Literally. I couldn't eat much of them.
  • Coleslaw. Good. Not very creamy.
  • Pickles (sliced). Slightly mustardy.
  • Biscuits. (I ordered these after a long discussion with my waitress in which explained the difference between a biscuit, cabin bean, and Texas toast.) My biscuit was buttery, a little like corn bread.



While I ate, I listened first to a duo of a guitarist and singer, then to a group of four bluegrass players (two guitarists, one bassist, one banjo player). Although I don't generally like this type of music, it's hard to find live music disagreeable.


I also chatted with the person sitting across from me. She's a singer/songwriter, formerly lived in Arizona. She also performs at Swallow at the Hollow. When she first sat down, she assumed I that, because of my notepad, I was a songwriter. I think that's from her stint in Nashville, where everyone you meet is trying to get into the business. She's actually made it to some degree in the business -- she has released CDs. Here's her official web site:



The joint has a quirky sense of humor.


Swallow at the Hollow is in a fairly remote, almost rural area, not considered part of the Atlanta metropolitan area. The building reflects this. As I got out of my car, I could smell the smoke from the barbecue.


The total for my large meal was $22 not including tax and tip.

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