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Trailheads Do A Billy Goat Hike, Get Experienced At Tonyo’s BBQ Experience.

Santa had come and gone, George and Steve were on the road celebrating family and a birthday, and Brad was taking family members to the airport (he no doubt took them in his new, cutting-edge electric Fisker that he can’t stop gassing on about). That left the True Trailheads of Guy, Roy, and Patrick to fly our flag on a beautiful, cool December morning.


When duty calls, heroes respond with Fiona serving as our scout.


Trail Master selected one of our favorite Chattahoochee River Trails, East Palisades Trail and The Bamboo Forest. How many hikes offer you cliffs, a majestic river, and panda bear bait? But on this journey, we would enter the main trail differently––along the Billy Goat route.


The path had dozens, no hundreds, of exposed roots that didn’t bother trying to hide. They lay in wait, giggling in gleeful expectation of unwary feet. We descended along steep elevations and paths carpeted with slick, damp leaves.

And yes, beneath the ground cover were more roots and rocks looking for gravity's assistance in their nasty takedowns. 


Brave Trailheads commandeered their trusty boots on the righteous path of discovery and adventure. They were as sure-footed as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing across the iron beam of a skyscraper under construction. Ginger, as always, was leading backward and in high heels. Fred went along for the ride.


We beheld the perils below, a steep incline serving as an entrance ramp to the cold creek below, narrow slick paths festooned with roots and rocks, and flying above us, a swarm of dragons looking to cook their barbecue lunches. But onward we went-- oblivious to life threatening dangers at every turn.

One could almost hear orchestral music punctuating our every step, swelling as cymbals clashed, tambourines jangled, and sitars wailed. Then again, it might have just been a drum circle in the far-off distance or over-active imaginations.

Amazingly, we somehow made it to the river below. We felt like three Percy Jacksons at the end of a quest.

The Hooch was as high as hippies at Woodstock (watch out for the brown acid, man!). Guy kept repeating "Number 9, number 9," and then broke out into a rain chant.


Along the way, we discussed the passing of Tom Smothers and our love of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour with a writing staff that included Steve Martin, Bob Einstein (Officer Judy, and later, Super Dave Osborne), and Rob Reiner. The world desperately needs funny people, and with Tommy’s passing, we’re down one.


We also talked about Paul McCartney’s influences for the songs he’s written. We didn’t know “Got to Get You Into My Life” was a love song to pot. That bad boy Bobbie Dylan turned on The Beatles, so he should get a co-writing credit, right? And please heed the previous warning about the brown acid, baby. It’s nasty stuff.


Trailheads hiked their way to the glorious Bamboo Forest, which was down quite a few trees thanks to an enormous hardwood tree that fell in the forest, and even if no one was there, we’re sure it made quite a racket. But the Bamboo will endure and be back.

Bamboo is relentless, sprouting new shoots from its ever-spreading root system. We made nice with some other wanderers but spotted no pandas–– they probably had all taken a powder back to China.


Our tanks were empty, and we still had to backtrack to the parking lot. Trail Master plotted what he said would be "the easiest way out." Roy and Patrick suggested calling a chopper for an air evacuation because that would be the absolute easiest way out. But Guy said, “No dice.” We’d have to use our legs. He is a cruel task master.


We bravely trudged back up the long, winding path as woodland creatures looked on impressed.

“Goodness,” we heard a squirrel say. “Those Trailheads look majestic.”

An eagle soaring overhead was overheard saying, “Truly, they are magnificent two-legged creatures."

A deer watched us passing by and said, “There are perhaps no better specimens of the human species.”

And a turtle looked up to say, “Meh. I’ve seen better.”


Roy almost took a tumble. We were unsure if he was doing this to keep “on-brand” or just as a plea for attention, but he turned his ankle and still gutted it out like a champ. He rocked, but he did not roll.

That was good because Guy and Patrick weren’t up for hauling him out (though Roy imagined being dragged up the hill on a sled made of bamboo shoots lashed together).


The three Trailheads had passed many other hikers and gave cheery greetings. We decided to greet people like the Three Stooges did, with each of us saying “Hello,” ascending the musical scale, and then saying “Hello” in unison. We practiced this about ten times, failing to execute it once. Instead, we kept saying "Hello," "Morning,” and "Hi." Very unstooge-like. How can we possibly live up to the intellectual performance skills of Le Trois Stooges?


We finished our climb and saw the glorious asphalt of car heaven. Having finished our pursuit of truth, we had to get on the path to barbecue. We wanted to go to Herb’s Rib Shack, a favorite, but there was no answer when we called to see if they were open. 

Then, we found a joint in Smyrna we’d never been to called Tonyo’s BBQ Experience. The name piqued our interest––was this what Jimi Hendrix meant when he asked, “Are you experienced?”


Guy had reservations about visiting, but they didn't take them. We directed GPS satellites to find Tonyo’s BBQ Experience so Trailheads could discover fresh meat for our extensive barbecue reviews.


“Tonyo” is the nickname of Head Chef/Owner Antonyo Lindley. Since 2010, he has offered his “Chef Tonyo Experience Catering” for large gatherings, personal chef services, and community giveback projects. His business partner in the restaurant is Benjamin Woods, Jr., a serial entrepreneur with restaurants, a professional cleaning service, and a clothing boutique store.


The place is located in a shopping plaza next to a nail salon. Perhaps we’d get a mani-pedi after lunch (our cuticles are horrendous). A couple was leaving the restaurant with to-go boxes. Guy asked if the food was good.

“Yes,” the man answered. “We love it.”

“Especially the ribs and brisket,” the woman said.

We thanked them and entered the restaurant confidently.


The place was empty except for a woman behind the bar and a man seated there. A check-in station had a sign reading “PLEASE WAIT TO BE SEATED.” The woman (who turned out to be hostess, waitress, bartender and food runner) told us we could sit wherever we liked. Trailheads get that kind of special treatment because we’re esteemed restaurant critics.


The Experience had white tablecloths and cloth napkins. Was this high-end barbecue for the swells? Would Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Tim Cook be arriving shortly? We grabbed our table, and the server brought us menus and took our drink orders. Of course, we asked her what she recommended, and she immediately responded, “The brisket and ribs are amazing.” We had our game plan–all three of us ordered the two-meat platters with ribs, brisket, and various sides. Let’s go to the blow-by-blow.


The star of the show was the ribs. They are St. Louis-style and meaty and tender and smoky and delectable. Yes, they eat clean to the bones, and you will enjoy the journey. These are legit winners. Grab some and get chewing.


But the brisket was on the dry side. It had a good flavor, but unfortunately, it was not tender. Perhaps we got the last of a brisket. These things happen. That said, we did enjoy the smoky taste, and the bark was flavorful.


Roy liked his collard greens. He said they had a spicy kick that left some heat on the back of his throat. This vegetable means business.


Patrick thought the green beans were okay.


But he raved about the Brunswick Stew. “This baby has some heat,” Patrick said. The stew was chocked with tender smoked pork and peppered with sweet corn and savory spices. It was a stew that meant business. He was an instant fanboy.


The garlic toast had a delicious flavor but needed more time to be toasted to a golden brown. It was still yellow. Bring the heat, Tonyo!


And both Guy and Roy liked their slaw. It was crisp and creamy and had an excellent flavor—a perfect complement to the meal.


As we ate, a few more people came in for lunch.


Trailheads had a good experience at Tonyo’s BBQ Experience, and with our bellies full, we waddled to the car for our trips home and nap-time. Billy Goats sleep well after their perilous climbs. We think our napping skills might even impress cantankerous turtles.

Rating: Four Ribs*

Tonyo's BBQ Experience

3315 South Cobb Dr. SE

Suite 300Smyrna, GA 30080

*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.

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