On a July day that The Weather Channel in Hell would call "warm as here," five Trailheads (Guy, Brad, Steve, Roy, and Patrick) gathered for a return hike on the Vickery Creek Trail in beautiful Roswell. George could not attend––he's working on a film project about—what else?—the Olympics. He won't tell us the storyline, but we know it and expect starring roles. George has been discussing his cinematic vision for a year on the trails, but now it's top secret. We were disappointed he didn't attend our hike since we were eager to see his fancy Pierre de Coubertin Medal from International Olympic Committee. Only three people have ever received this esteemed honor, and Henry Kissinger is one of them.
We refuse to hike with Henry. He'd bore us with his endless Nixon stories. Ahhh, those were the salad days, eh, Hank?
Because of the heat, we decided to begin our trek at 9 a.m. instead of our usual 10 a.m. start time. The humidity was chowder thick, and the heat was stifling. But on we marched––dedicated souls on their appointed rounds. Three of us had walking sticks (Roy, Steve, and Patrick). Guy and Brad walk their dogs for balance.
Fio and Elvis were excited to be reunited, and they led us up the steep hill pitted with jagged rocks and exposed roots eager to attack unsuspecting feet. Trail Master Guy led the way with his usual confidence and swagger. We asked him to dial back the swagger a bit––it was a little creepy. Although his animal magnetism did attract an impressive whitetail buck showing off all his horned glory.
We saw a young man dressed in black pants and a black tee-shirt walking two German Shepherds on the trail. He spoke with a Russian accent. We exchanged pleasantries and, after passing, decided he may be a hit man. You know the type. He's the guy who only Jason Bourne can stop with a rolled-up magazine. We kept our eyes open for fresh-dug graves and watched our backs as we journeyed.
Down the trail, a large group of hikers approached us. We greeted each other, and Brad said, "We're the Trailheads" (all of us wore Trailheads-branded gear, so it was pretty obvious). One of the women exclaimed, "Hey, I know you guys! You're on the internet!" We blushed, shielded our eyes from possible paparazzi lurking behind trees, and continued hiking. After a minute or so, we decided we needed to give their group one of our Trailheads logo stickers. So, Guy ran up the trail with a sticker in hand.
Yes, we may be celebrities, but we are still shameless publicity hounds. It must be our marketing background. Brad is handling the website, expecting a run on tee shirts from this group. They apparently also have a name for their gang, but we all forgot it, so it can't be nearly as cool as Trailheads.
As we trudged through the muggy atmosphere, we were sweating like Boris Johnson strapped into a lie detector machine. We saw what appeared to be two women hiking on a nearby trail. One of the women appeared to be wearing a teal-colored bra, or was it a bikini top? Was it a mirage? Brad began singing, "Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality." (If only his voice was as good as Freddie Mercury’s was.) Were Trailheads suffering heat strokes? We'll never know. We discussed that maybe sports bras might not be a bad idea at our age.
Fortunately, we were coming to the end of our journey and had brought towels to dry off and fresh shirts to wear so we didn't offend our fellow citizens. We're not sure which was harder, peeling the soaking wet shirts off our sticky bodies or getting the dry shirts back on them. The visual of five men fighting t-shirts in a parking lot with two dogs looking on must have been an entertaining or frightening sight.
Now it was time to find a barbecue joint for lunch. Patrick saw there was a Roswell Dreamland Barbecue, and since we had been big fans of their restaurant in Duluth, it looked like a good candidate. But Guy said we had tried going there before, and they didn't allow dogs, which is odd since the Duluth location welcomes dogs with smiles and full water bowls.
Patrick called and asked if the Roswell Dreamland permitted dogs. The woman on the phone said, "We only allow dogs if they are service animals." No dice. Elvis and Fio don't like serving food. They have trouble balancing plates on their paws. We decided we'd return to City Barbeque in Sandy Springs (here's our earlier review), where we were accepted, and dogs are loved.
This joint is like a great utility ballplayer––City Barbeque does it all well. And it features an extensive menu of barbecue favorites, all executed with care and loaded with flavor. The restaurant employees are friendly, helpful, and happy to see you. We like feeling welcomed, especially after finishing a demanding hike.
Brad got a meat sampler plate. He said the brisket might be some of the best he’s eaten, and Brad knows his brisket. Hell, the man had sampled what is reputed to be the #1 barbecue joint in Texas! Being a generous man, Brad shared nibbles of brisket bark with Patrick and Roy, who cooed in delight and rubbed their bellies.
The pulled pork was terrific. Steve said his pulled pork sandwich was mighty fine and appreciated the generous portions, and Patrick agreed, declaring the meat tender and tasty and mighty fine swine. That guy's another Wordsworth. Patrick had his pork sans a bun and spent the saved calories on crisp, delectable hush puppies. Bet you can't eat just three or four. He certainly couldn't.
Our poultry connoisseur, Roy, said the chicken was moist, juicy, and flavorful. He topped his chicken sandwich with creamy, tangy coleslaw and loved the combo. Guy liked it hot on this scorching day and ordered the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich. He said it was nice and spicy as steam poured from his ears. Trailheads were mightily impressed with all the protein offerings, and we went ga-ga for the sides.
Steve proclaimed the fried okra was "the best ever"––good enough to bring him back for the okra alone. High praise. Guy loved his coleslaw and tater salad. These sides tamed the heat of his Nashville fire. Roy said the collards were "good," which is high praise from an Alabaman collard snob. The fries are fresh-cut and fried to perfection. One order could feed the table. Brad even liked his Texas Toast, and Trailheads are not fans of the toast from Texas.
We were incredibly impressed by the extensive selection of sauces: Low Country, Original, Brushfire (for thrill-seekers), Sweet City Barbecue Sauce, and Swine Wine, a vinegary elixir that makes the meat magic. We also love that Jessica, the helpful woman who took our orders, came by to see how we liked the food. We told her we loved it and directed her to check out the upcoming review on our website.
Could anything make City more perfect? There are two things—serve Diet Coke instead of Diet Pepsi. We thought Roy was going to cry when he didn't see Atlanta bubbly. And offer Heinz Ketchup. Nothing else comes close the pride of Pittsburgh.
Thanks, City. And thanks, Jessica, the wonderful woman we're sure was honored to have served grub to the famous Trailheads, "as seen on the internet™."
Take our celebrity advice: don't miss a trip to the City.
Rating: Four Ribs*
6649 Roswell Rd NE
Sandy Springs GA 30328
*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: our group has acclaimed designers, and they think the ribs graphic looks cool.
Who are we to argue? Enjoy.