On a beautiful March day, the Trailheads convened in Cartersville to scale the heights of Pine Mountain. We were missing a couple of our members. Steve was in Dahlonega with his honey for the premiere of a PBS documentary on Merrill’s Marauders, heroes of the China-Burma-India Theatre of WW II. Steve’s father-in-law was in that brave crew.
Roy was also absent. He and his bride headed to someplace called Manhattan to see fancy art museums, mimes pulling themselves on invisible ropes, and attending David Byrne’s “American Utopia” to make all other Trailheads envious.
But our dedicated soldiers marched on. Guy, Brad, George, Patrick, Elvis, and Fio traversed the treacherous trail of jagged rocks and exposed tree roots, scaling the elevation of Pine Mountain. Patrick, who has more artificial joints than most robots, had his trusty walking stick by his side. Roy also uses a stick when hiking, but perhaps he wouldn’t need it as he strolls down Broadway sipping his gin martini drowning three olives. The other Trailheads go stickless, relying on their keen senses of balance to avoid the cruel effects of gravity.
Along the way up the steep trail, we met many friendly hikers–– they are the best people in the world, in our opinion. We made the climb, our numbers intact, and the view from atop Pine Mountain was magnificent, the clear blue March sky a blank canvas on which no cloud dared sully.
We worked our way back down, having earned an honest hunger and made a beeline for Scott’s Walk-Up Bar-B-Q in downtown Cartersville, a charming small town that appears to be growing at a healthy clip. We had received the recommendation for Scott’s from Jc Mitchell, a member of Hiking Georgia, a Facebook group over 74,000 members strong. We asked this hiking hive for great hikes with nearby barbecue joints, and the helpful community gave us recommendations galore.
Like we said before, hikers are the best people in the world. And members of Hiking Georgia are the cream of the crop. Thanks for your many recommendations. We tip our Trailheads caps to you (feel free to buy our merch here, all profits help the families of brave firefighters).
Scott’s Walk-Up is in an unassuming white building started by Scott Panter in 2008, and the man knows his way around a smoker. In the back of the restaurant was a cord of wood waiting to cast its magical spell on meats. Inside, there are lots of pictures on the walls–– Cartersville sports teams, pro football action shots, and autographed 8” x 10” glossies of Reese Witherspoon, Clayton “Astro Clay” Anderson, Nebraska’s only astronaut, and Betty Lynn, who played Thelma Lou on “The Andy Griffith Show” kissing Don Knotts on his cheek.
We suspect that got a rise out of Barney.
We Trailheads have a saying: “If the barbecue is good enough for the star of “Legally Blond,” a Nebraska astronaut, and Barney Fife’s girlfriend, well, it’s good enough for us! So, let’s get to the review, shall we?
Patrick said the pulled pork was excellent–– so good that he wished they would have stacked the meat a little higher. It was tender, delectable, and bursting with smokey goodness. Guy reported the chicken was superb. Juicy and flavorful. He and Brad raved about the ribs, and they did look mighty tasty. Those guys gnawed every smoky morsel off the bones, moaning in ecstasy, while holding Patrick and George at bay with their plastic knives.
George ordered the smoked pork tenderloin, an item we had never seen on a barbecue menu before. He said it was delicious, but he would go in a different direction on a return visit. We thought George might have just been putting on airs, what with his ordering tenderloin like some fat cat, but Fio and Elvis were glad he did because the kind man shared his grub with them.
Their tails tell no lies. They wagged enthusiastically with approval.
The Brunswick Stew was stellar, a beguiling mixture of smoked pork, corn, tomatoes, and Cartersville love. Our only beef with the Brunswick was the small portion size. It only teased our stew appetites.
The coleslaw was well-received, it won’t make the Cabbage Hall of Fame, but it did the job. The collard greens were enjoyed, especially with a few squirts of Scott’s tasty barbecue sauce. There’s a sweet recipe and a Carolina vinegary version (we believe there’s also a peppery mustard variety, but we didn’t have it on our table). There was also white bread, untoasted sandwich buns, and Lay’s potato chips–– not much to be said about those. They were what they were.
In short, Scott has the smoked meat game down pat. He knows how to get the best out of hunks of wood. No wonder the joint was jumping with hungry locals scarfing down its fantastic fare.
Bottom line: Reese, “Astro Clay,” and Thelma Lou know a good thing when they taste it. And Trailheads approve. Thanks, JC, for your tasty tip.
Rating: Four Ribs*
206 N. Tennessee Street
Cartersville GA 30120
*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.