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In Dahlonega, The Barbecue Is Golden

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

On a beautiful day after Hurricane Ida had made its way to the Northeast, the Trailheads – minus Patrick, who was playing contractor at home – convoyed to Dahlonega. The former gold rush town is an easy one-hour drive for those coming from the big city. It was an hour-and-a-half for Guy coming from his lake house (the idle rich maintain at least two properties, don’t you know).

Lake Zwerner Trail was lovely, well maintained, and had a lot more elevation than I expected. We contacted Patrick, our official licensed CueFinder, to round us up some grub when we finished hiking. Housebound, he had been doing extensive research and identified North Georgia BBQ in downtown Dahlonega.

When a place names itself after an entire region, it must take its business seriously. As we pulled up, we saw a large-covered patio in front. Elvis and Fio wagged tails in appreciation. We masked up and entered, pleasantly surprised to see others masked. We honestly didn’t expect that in the northlands. A charming young woman greeted us and complimented the guys wearing commemorative, collectible Chigger Holler shirts (available soon in our swag store!). We praised her shirt that read “I Hate Everyone. Except You.” I often agree with the first part of that statement. She was kind and helpful, living up to the second part of the shirt’s motto.

As we strolled to the counter, we noticed the phone number on the door read 706-PIG-MELT. Coincidentally, North Georgia BBQ has a special dish called The Pig Melt. We wondered which came first, the phone number or the Melt? We had never encountered a melted pig in our travels. What alchemy must they be performing in their smokers to achieve a melted pig specialty? Guy was our Melted Pig guinea pig (that just doesn’t sound right, does it?). He boldly ordered the sandwich with no knowledge, beyond pig, of its composition. It turns out The Pig Melt is kind of like a grilled cheese barbecue pork sandwich made with Texas toast, so it’s thick and hearty.

The un-melted pork was exceptional. I asked for the inside/outside (something many places don’t understand) and got it. There were lots of pieces of tasty, chewy outside bark. The rib eaters raved about their racks (that sound dirty, doesn’t it?). And for a small pittance, you can add a rib to any dish. Sadly, no one tried the brisket, which means a return visit is in order. Patrick usually samples the brisket, so we missed his beef grazing, along with his clever commentary, wild rantings, and inane gibberish about astrophysics.

North Georgia BBQ was out of slaw, which surprised us. How is a barbecue place out of slaw? What demented person came in that morning and purchased all the slaw? Fortunately, they had all the usual barbecue sides, plus collard greens, so we got by. Somehow.

The pork was very flavorful. Smoky and juicy. As good or better than a lot we’ve had. They have an impressive arsenal of sauces: sweet and hot sauces, Carolina Gold, Carolina Vinegar, Alabama White, and a couple of others I can’t remember. The Carolina Vinegar was wonderful poured over my smoked pork. I used the sweet sauce like ketchup for my fries, and it’s a winner, too. We were so full after the main course we didn’t even consider dessert. You know the food’s good if we didn’t even sample cobbler.

We took a stroll through the Dahlonega square, and it’s a charming town. Trailheads grabbed some Lattes at a cute little lunch and coffee shop, then headed out. The Barbecue Coma Effect hit me halfway home, and I had to make an emergency caffeine stop at Starbucks.

The rest of the crew made it home fine. Of course, Fio and Elvis did the driving.

Rating: Four Ribs*

North Georgia BBQ

59 E Main St Unit 2, Dahlonega, GA 30533


*About Our Barbecue Rating System

Trailheads do not claim to be food experts, epicureans, or sophisticated palettes. We are hungry hikers who attack a selected barbecue venue and ravage our way through whatever smoked fare and fixings they’re dishing.

Our reviews feature what we believe are the highlights of the menu we sampled. So our intent is not to trash talk the saintly folks who tend to smoldering smokers on hot, humid summer days. They are sacrificing themselves in the noble art of smoking meats and feeding the drooling masses. Many are independent entrepreneurs who are the backbone of this humming American economy.

Now that you know our standards, you may wonder why every barbecue place gets a four ribs rating. The answer is easy: we have acclaimed designers in our group, and they think the ribs graphic looks cool.

Who are we to argue? Enjoy.


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