Trailheads Hike The Hooch, Crash Lanier Ladies Birthday Party, And Meet Morty For BBQ.
Updated: May 13
Our regular readers were probably worried sick that there was no write-up of last week's hike. Conspiracy theories raged:
The gang followed Roy Tumbles off a cliff to their demise.
Patrick received another multi-million-dollar book deal and gave Trailheads the high hat.
The mighty Hooch rose, embraced its favorite sons, and took them down the raging river like ragamuffin wanderers in a Mark Twain novel.
But all these speculations were unfounded, unsubstantiated, bot-generated, and simply wrong.
There was no write-up because there was no hike. It was supposed to be our annual Subscriber Invitational Hike (subscribe here and stay updated with all our shenanigans, reviews, and special events). Unfortunately, the event was a rainout. Trail Master Guy thought we were wimps for wanting to call it off, but his fellow Trailheads were more concerned about the health and well-being of our distinguished guest hikers––after all, they may not be rugged outdoorsy types like us. Few are.
We have each invested thousands of dollars in the latest high-tech, overpriced GoreTex and Spandex Instagram-ready hiking gear and spend hours daily on high-altitude survival training and conditioning. We're so dedicated, we even switched from heavy cream to oat milk for fancy coffee drinks.
So, after postponing the hike for a later date TBD, we sipped oat milk nonfat, quad lattes, nibbled blueberry scones, and received mani-pedis while watching HGTV.
You know, rugged, outdoorsy stuff. Since Guy called us "wimps," we decided to own it and eat hamburgers for lunch like the heroic Wimpy from "Popeye" who famously said, "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
We discovered a great burger joint in Chamblee on Buford Highway: Three Buddies. (As opposed to Five Guys). Check it out when you're jonesing for a delicious meal that'll make Ronald MacDonald cry. We were slightly apprehensive upon pulling into the Three Buddies parking lot but left full, fat, and happy.
Because Mother Nature felt guilty about washing us out last week, she rewarded us with a perfect day for this week's hike. Two of our crew were absent: George, the film maven, was shooting Olympic champions in Oslo and Paris, and Steve, the mover, was helping one of his sons relocate from Colorado to Austin, TX. We like Steve's son's choice of city for its barbecue.
Trail Master Guy selected the Island Ford Trail, a beauty we'd hiked once before (read about that thrilling adventure here). It is located along the banks of the beautiful Chattahoochee River.
Trailheads Guy, Brad, Roy, and Patrick wore our new HIKE THE HOOCH shirts––get yours here––ALL profits benefit Chattahoochee National Park Conservancy. You'll look good and feel like a big shot for helping preserve sweet nature. Don't you know that you're our hero?
Off we went with three-tailed companions: Fio, Elvis, and four-month-old Nilla. Two Trailheads also have tails, but we're not saying who. Guess.
Actually, at some point, we all did. During the 5th to 6th week of intrauterine life, the human embryo has a vestigial tail with 10–12 vertebrae. By eight weeks, the human tail disappears. It's creepy, amazing, and weird that there are two Trailheads who still can wag their tails.
The path was dry, the exposed roots many, and the river majestic. The water was high, and so were we on life. Far out, man. We grabbed our obligatory selfies and trudged along humming “If You Could Read My Mind” by Gordon Lightfoot who bade Happy Trails to us this week. Sundown, you better beware, if you find he's been creeping 'round back your stairs.
A group of women approached us laughing, having a wonderful time, and one woman wore a paper crown with candles that read "Happy Birthday." Being nosy, we had to know more.
The birthday girl was Debbie, and they introduced themselves as The Lanier Ladies hiking group from Gainesville, GA. They said, "It was a hike to get here." We instantly knew they were our kind of people. Like us, they are a collection of hiking friends. They had their t-shirts, but unlike us, they don't have shameless self-promoting stickers and merch. We gave them Trailheads stickers and invited them to check out our website and shop for fine original-design tees, hats, and hoodies in our Swag Shop. Where fashionistas meet before hitting the street. Or the trail.
After a pleasant conversation, we sang Happy Birthday to Debbie. If Lanier Ladies are reading this, thanks; we enjoyed meeting and hope to see you again soon down the path to truth and barbecue.
We met many new friends on the trail, including an 80-year-old Swiss woman and her daughter carrying her dog (which still qualifies as 'walking the dog,' right?). The mother enjoyed the trail and its elevations, although the heights didn't compare to the Swiss Alps. Fair enough, but we have the Hooch.
Many people hiked with their dogs, so we had frequent stops as we talked, and the curious canines checked each other out. Dog people seem to speak through each other's animals. They even look lovingly at their dogs while talking to you. Proud parents. And there appears to be an urgent fascination about what breed or mix each animal is.
Our hiking conversations were the typical grab bag of randomness starting with the mating habits of owls (Brad has three baby owls in his neighbor's owl house, which the "who-ters" got for an incredible 4.25% interest rate––owls are wise indeed).
Other topics included the brilliance of the shows "Bad Girls," "Slow Horses," and "Ted Lasso" on Apple TV+, the NBA Playoffs, Roy's shoulder injury incurred as a result of chivalrous pickleball playing protecting his teammate, Guy's wounded wing that not even a surgeon could fully correct, the Japanese horse running in the Kentucky Derby (will it win? Is the fix in?), and, naturally, a vigorous debate on the merits of Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian economic theories and how they impact the price of Silly Putty––does the stuff have an elastic pricing model?
In other words, B.S. Like usual.
We had been hiking for a long time when Trail Master asked whether we should continue with a shorter or longer route.
"What do you mean?" his three companions asked. "Isn't this a loop trail? We thought we were heading back to the parking lot."
"It's not a loop trail," our guide replied.
"We are hungry! We will soon die!" they whined. "Get us back––FAST! What do you mean we have to hike on the trail we just hiked to get back?! No fair!"
So, we began backtracking while scoping out barbecue options on Yelp. We found a winner––Morty's Meat & Supply in Dunwoody. It was fresh meat, a place we'd never been before. First, we had to confirm it was a barbecue joint, not a deli.
We plugged the coordinates into our GPS, and satellites guided us into a large retail center parking lot. We slowly cruised past various establishments with no sign of the mysterious Morty's. We asked a woman walking to her car if she knew where it was. She pointed behind her. "Back in there, I think," she said. Bingo!
The restaurant opened in December and had that new barbecue joint smell. Umm. Morty's Meat & Supply has a terrific slogan: "We smoke the good stuff." Trailheads imagined going to the counter and encountering a droopy-eyes dude in long dreads dressed in tie-dye.
"What's up, man?" he'd ask, reeking of Willie Nelson's bus (happy 90th, red-haired stranger).
But no. A nice young man named Ryan was working the counter. Morty's menu is extensive, with some pleasant surprises like a brisket and pastrami Rueben sandwich special, Brussels sprouts, Brussels sprouts slaw, meatloaf, and pork and mac eggrolls. We ran the bases with Morty's smoked meats: turkey, brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis-style ribs, sausage, and smoked chicken wings. The animal world was on high alert: Trailheads were in town. HIDE.
After ordering, we got eating utensils and loaded up on sauces. The sauce dispensers are fast, so be advised (Roy is still discovering sauce on his body days later). The dogs secured us a shaded table in the courtyard, and our food soon arrived. Everything looked good enough to eat, so that's what we did.
Curious Trailheads asked Ryan who Morty was. Ryan said there was no Morty; Chat GPT generated the name. We didn't believe him, and he smiled. "Morty was the owner's grandfather. He loved cooking and smoking meats." So, Ryan was a wisenheimer, eh? He's our kind of guy. We dug in.
The brisket was delicious–moist, tender, and infused with a smoky flavor. Guy liked his smoked turkey. It was like eating Thanksgiving dinner inside a house fire. He was all over the cowboy beans, even though he didn't order them. They just showed up on his tray. Brad agreed the cowboy beans were incredible. We hoped our cowboys wouldn't start re-enacting the campfire scene from "Blazing Saddles."
Roy raved about the fried Brussels sprouts cooked perfectly with a delectable, sweet flavor. He got the St. Louis-style ribs but wished he had ordered the brisket when he saw the delectable slices of juicy beef. As our official slaw sommelier, Roy became an enthusiastic fan of Morty's Brussels sprouts cabbage patch.
Roy made the mistake of holding a rib just a little too low, and Fio snatched it from his hand with surgical precision. Amazingly, no fingers were lost. The rib, however, was over half gone before Guy could reach deep into her mouth and retrieve it—bone and all. Roy couldn't stop imagining his fingers floating around in Fio like little riblets. Tasty treats!
Brad loved the smoked sausage link and went ga-ga for the brisket. He was especially impressed with what Morty does with potatoes. They are cut into thick curly slabs and fried crisp, packed with flavor. We've never seen anything like these babies and are smitten.
Trailheads loved the music playlist, which included Simon & Garfunkel, Talking Heads, and Elvis Costello. During "Watching The Detectives," Elvis the dog looked up and said, "Wait––you mean there's another Elvis?"
Patrick gobbled his smoked wings. The meaty wings had a subtle smoky flavor, dusted with flavorful spices, and cooked to perfection (crispy, baby, crispy). He dressed them in Morty's delicious house barbecue sauce, a harmonious marriage of vinegary tang with a peppery punch. There are also Carolina gold mustard, Alabama white, and jalapeño hot sauces. Get creative and take a walk on the wild side like a strutting Lou Reed.
The pulled pork was very tender, moist, and smokey. Top it with sauce and get your fork to working–– you've got some good eating, friend. The corn muffin was tasty too. Slather on butter and let it work its magic.
David, one of the owners, stopped by and asked us how everything was. We gushed our love as he smiled. "I'm glad to hear that," he said. We told him about Trailheads, and David told us about Morty's and his vision for this corner of Dunwoody built around a spacious courtyard with a monster-sized TV. He said the yard gets packed during big sporting events.
He opened the neighboring Bar(n) booze(n) bites, a neighborhood cocktail joint with a stationary food truck dubbed The Funwoody Food Truck. And soon, he'll open a seafood restaurant named Message in A Bottle across from Morty's. The people behind this operation have impressive credentials; you can read more about them on their website below.
Trailheads had happy bellies and wobbled away from Morty's Meat & Supply, each quoting Gen. Douglas MacArthur saying, "I shall return." Give this place a test drive soon.
Rating: Four Ribs*
Morty's Meat & Supply
5509 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road
Dunwoody, GA 30338
*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.