Updated: Nov 22, 2022
In the show "Game of Thrones," the residents of the Seven Kingdoms always warned, "Winter is Coming." Trailheads said, "Winter is here," as we gathered in Stone Mountain for a return visit to the Yellow River Trail Loop. Read about our first visit here.
And, baby, we could have used a dragon to warm the way––it was a cold and windy day. But being rugged outdoorsmen, we didn't bellyache and stomp our feet like spoiled children. No. We dressed in a fashionable little something we call "layers" (aka: many shirts), allowing our body temperatures to heat themselves. Certain Trailhead members are cold-blooded, though, so they had a harder go of it.
On this hike, we almost had a full crew of six. Steve was MIA, off to Colorado to share driving duties with one of his sons and his dog on their way home for Thanksgiving. Steve's a good dad.
Trail Master Guy dressed in black yoga pants. We wondered if we were headed to a Barre class by the river. Would he command us to assume downward dog position?
Of course, Guy endured a good five minutes of rigorous verbal abuse, and then the mocking crew realized we needed the yoga-pantsed man to lead us, or we'd get lost and die. We changed our tune and complimented Trail Master on how well he filled out the yoga pants––they didn't make his butt look big at all.
And so, Guy led Roy, Brad, George, Patrick, Fio, and Elvis to explore some of the many trails in the Yellow River area. Did we mention our Trail Master wore black yoga pants?
Patrick, who last week suffered from an ailment called "head-up-assitis" (read about it here), was on his game this week, arriving at the right trail at the correct time and dressed in full Trailheads gear (you can order yours here). He even remembered to bring his handy walking stick. Incredible.
Roy had to take a break to tie his bootlaces within ten minutes of our march. Really? The same supportive cast razzed him mercilessly, and he took it in good cheer as he contemplated ways to kill us on the trails ahead. We are a loving lot. Roy was hoping we would keep walking and he could return to his car for a warm cup of coffee and listen to music until lunchtime.
We resumed our hike, and the conversations meandered like the winding trails ahead. The primary subject this week was coffee. Trailheads are all caffeine junkies and coffee snobs. George is a Nespresso man who recycles his K-cups like the environment-loving hippie he is. Roy likes Lavazza, Gevalia, Bushy Tail Ethiopian Yirgacheffe by Tennessee Valley Pecan Company, Starbucks Blond Roast, or Peet's Major Dickinson's if they are on BOGO at Publix. Patrick, ever the Costco fanatic, guzzles Kirkland House or French Roast (both are Starbucks toasted, roasted, and boasted).
But wait, there's more. Brad has a fancy schmancy Bonavita contraption he uses to brew his elixir of the gods––Fresh Roasted Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Kochere beans. He gets his special stash of beans in five-pound sacks discreetly shipped to his door from some caffeine dealer online named Jeffy "Jeff" Bezos––the guy sounded a little shady to us.
Guy has varied upper-crust tastes. He rolls with the Swiss Gevalia drip-brewed for his morning cups, then Bustelo Estilo Expresso Café Molido as a 24-hour cold brew for the p.m. hours or whenever he's jonesing for a quick fix. He'll also roll with Costco French Roast he uses for afternoon lattes.
The upshot is you won't find Maxwell House or Taster's Choice drinkers in our crowd.
We also discussed vampires, who are in the news thanks to Hershel, the career of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, George's many Pierre de Coubertin projects in the works, Patrick's third novel he's writing, Brad's pickleball game––you get the idea. Lots of random stuff.
And as usual, we discussed Roy's habit of tumbling. As it turned out, there was a sign specifically for Roy Tumbles warning of hazardous falls. During this trip, his Hoka Ones kept him upright the entire way.
We were proud of his accomplishment.
After a couple of hours, we decided to call it a hike. Now came the most crucial decision of the day––our lunches.
On Yelp, we eyed a Dickey's Barbecue Pit that was an eight-minute drive away. Patrick had recently enjoyed a sample bite of Dickey's brisket at Dallas Love Field, and it was a hunk of beefy heaven. Roy is also a Dickey's fan, having wolfed some at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport in between flights. And, no, the place isn't only in airports.
Dickey's was founded in Dallas in 1941 by a family passionate about barbecue. Today there are 550 Dickey's Barbecue Pits in 44 states. Those Dickey family recipes appear to be quite popular.
Yelp only gave the nearby joint 3.5 stars. Trailheads decided this warranted further investigation.
We fired up a caravan and motored to a plaza located a stone catapult shot from Stone Mountain next to a Big Lots and a Heavenly Ham store. The restaurant looks new, and the air had a seductive smoke aroma, but there weren't many diners.
The menu board features everything a barbecue lover could want, with one item conspicuously absent––Brunswick Stew. Then again, this is a Texas barbecue operation, and Brunswick Stew is a Southeast tradition. So, no stew for you!
We placed our orders (heavy on the meats) and went to sit out in the cold weather because Elvis and Fio don't sit properly on indoor chairs. Their furry butts keep sliding off the slick seat surfaces.
Now, let's talk barbecue and go to the tapes for the blow-by-blow.
George had braised brisket points and baby back pork ribs. He liked his brisket and said it was tender, smokey, and 100% delicious. He enjoyed his ribs but thought they were a little dry, drier than the ribs that Guy received. It seems other people always have the better, more tender ribs––how long will George play his pork ribs victim card? He was crazy for his creamed spinach––a side you never see on a barbecue joint menu, right? It was fabulous and would make Popeye's toes curl in delight.
Guy had the meat sampler: pork ribs, pulled pork, kielbasa sausage, and beef brisket. He wolfed his food while we attended to the defibrillator. When he resumed consciousness, he reported loving all the meats and he was a big fan of the collard greens and fried okra. We think we saw his yoga pants bulging in delight.
Brad had the brisket tips that he thought were very good but not in his all-time top tier. However, he raved about his sides––the hand-cut French fried potatoes (the kind Sling Blade dreams of), delectably savory red beans with jalapenos, and fried okra. He was what they call in the trade "a happy camper."
Roy rolled with brisket and was enamored with its tender texture and smokey flavor, the fat fully rendered into a tasty glaze. He also loved his fried okra. It delivered on all counts of okra healthiness and fried goodness. He said the cabbage coleslaw was solid, not a hall of Famer, but worthy of fork shoveling. The small bun underwhelmed him and Brad––who described it as a poor imitation of a classic French roll.
But then Patrick did something remarkable. He took his roll, cut it in half, and placed some delectable beef brisket inside. His bandmates looked on in amazement.
"Good gravy, man," they exclaimed. "What are you doing?"
"I am creating," Patrick said. He drizzled the meat with barbecue sauce, topped the bun, and lifted it to his face. He bit into it and smiled. "Voila!" he declared. "I have invented something revolutionary."
"A sandwich?" they suggested.
"No," Patrick protested. "That name would never catch on. I call my creation 'the meaty bun device.'" He stood and struck a heroic pose as he lifted his invention to the heavens. A ray of sunshine shone in, illuminating the bun.
Trailheads gave him a smattering of polite applause, fearing he had again developed a case of head-up-assitis. Patrick also liked his fries and pole green beans.
We encourage you to journey to Stone Mountain and discover the joys of Dickey's Barbecue Pit. There are nine sauces available––a flavor to suit any palate. And while you're there, create a meaty bun device and enjoy yourself.
Rating: Four Ribs*
Dickey's Barbecue Pit 2000 Bentley Dr. SW Stone Mountain, GA 30087 (678) 889-0065 dickeys.com/locations/georgia/stone-mountain/stone-mountain
*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.