Updated: Jul 21
All six of the famous Trailheads "as seen on the internet™" gathered inside the perimeter to hike Zonolite Park Trail, a 0.7-mile meandering stretch of paths AllTrails described as "Easy" and "You're serious? Are you sure you can handle this beast, tenderfoot?! HAHAHAHA!!!"
Mock all you like, hiking snobs, but with Trail Master Guy leading our parade, we were sure it'd be a dangerous adventure.
Zonolite Park is 12 acres carved out of an asbestos-laden wetland near Briarcliff and Clifton Roads in 2011. The asbestos came from freight trains stopping at the former site of a W.R. Grace Co. plant and dumping 1,225 tons of raw material for attic insulation marketed under the brand name Zonolite (silky-throated Bing Crosby pimped this stuff in print ads). In 2001, dedicated volunteers from the Southfork Conservancy removed 27,000 tons of contaminated soil, cut paths, and restored bushes and trees native to the park.
We were confident we wouldn't catch fire on our hike with this asbestos history, and we may be able to get in on the Mesothelioma craze.
We reunited with our illustrious companion George Hirthler, who recently jetted to Switzerland and was awarded the prestigious Pierre de Coubertin Medal from International Olympic Committee. Fellow Trailheads gathered around to wear this impressive armor, take pictures, and brag to others that we had won the award. We are a pathetic bunch.
For this hike, we all sported the new limited edition Happy Birthday Yellowstone Trailheads shirts, with all profits donated to the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, working to defend the wild heart of North America. Please buy some shirts and look good while doing good.
We bravely hiked into the woods and past Nickel Bottom Community Garden and a pollinator garden. Elvis and Fio were eager to lead us on a journey down to the Southfork of Peachtree Creek, where they scampered and played in the water. Elvis was so excited that he ran off into the tall vegetation on the creek bank, then hurried back to the water. The big dog lept, then tumbled down a small hill. Poor Elvis thought there was hard ground to land on, but he only found soft weeds. We heard Mother Nature giggle at her prank.
We snaked around the trails, up and around the hipster office spaces where Guy giggled in delight, having found fisheye mirrors for artsy-fartsy group selfies. We posed like high fashion male models and then did it all again.
As we began our third (or was it the fourth time around the loop in some configuration), we found our way to Johnson Road and journeyed into Herbert Taylor Park. We hiked this trail last August, but the path was overgrown and looked like prime breeding grounds for chiggers, ticks, and poison ivy. Trailheads marched on, machete-less, through the dense jungle of weeds the size of trees.
We had the power of having worn George's medal to protect us. Then we trudged and muddled our ways back out again. We'd had enough "easy" hiking for one day. We returned to our cars and ventured to the nearby Pig-N-Chik BBQ on Briarcliff for grub.
George couldn't join us for lunch since he was off to be interviewed for an Olympics podcast (he's famous now), and Steve grabbed his lunch and headed home for a business Zoom call. WTF––where was their commitment to our noble cause, "On the path to truth and barbecue"?
Pig-N-Chik BBQ has three Atlanta locations boasting "BBQ So Good You'll Oink!" That's a slogan you must turn your nose up to do justice. This joint resides in the old location of Dusty's, an Atlanta barbecue tradition. It had big smoker shoes to fill. Pig-N-Chik's menu includes pork and chicken, pork ribs, beef brisket, sliced turkey, salmon, chicken salad, and meatloaf. Tofu lovers are out of luck here.
There's also a full complement of sides: Brunswick Stew, steamed broccoli, mac 'n cheese, fried okra, baked beans, green beans, slaw, collard greens, tater salad, corn off the cob, fries, hush puppies, sweet tots, fried pickles, side salad, and pickle spears. Whew–– you'd better come decisively.
The man working the counter was friendly, and although he likes dogs, the health department won't allow canines on the restaurant porch. Elvis and Fio considered this discriminatory and contemplated bringing a lawsuit (those mutts are very litigious). They are often much more hygienic and fragrant than we are after one of our hikes.
When the counter man asked Roy for his order, Roy requested a pulled pork sandwich "and those little fried things." The man cocked his head, realized Roy was having an attack of the vapors after braving the heat and humidity of the day, and said, "We've got quite a few fried things." With further interrogation, the guy learned what Roy craved was fried okra. As most of you know, okra is a challenging word to remember (as are many four-letter words). We've sent Roy in for a full brain scan workup.
Everyone got their orders to go since Elvis and Fio couldn't join us. We went to Brad's home office nearby, the site of Trailheads Poker Night this past Monday evening.
That night, Brad served us racks of meaty baby back ribs he'd prepared, and we painted them with Roy's coveted homemade 'Hager Barbecue Sauce.' Although the highest (and lowest) rating we give barbecue joints is Four Ribs, we agreed Brad's Ribs earned FIVE RIBS! Also on the menu was Shields Meat Market's Brisket Chili—which was terrific. Shields is Atlanta's oldest meat market and Trailheads' official baby back ribs supplier. Check out Shields Meat Market and tell them Trailheads sent you.
Okay, barbecue fans, let's have some Pig-N-Chick BBQ. The pork was excellent: smoky, succulent, and flavorful. Roy got a pulled pork sandwich (inside and outside for maximum flavor and texture) and liked that P-N-C used bread instead of a bun. Buns seem so "bunny," he said. We just stared at him.
Patrick went for chopped pork with a side of hush puppies––there were only four of the precious crispy brown orbs, and they tasted great. The stinginess of puppies allotted made him consider throwing the offense into Elvis and Fio's lawsuit. He settled down after his belly was full. Maybe the Pig-N-Chick folks knew that was all he could handle.
Brad and Guy liked their beef brisket, commenting on the delicious bark and tender, smoky beef. Brad exclaimed this was "right up there with his favorites!"
As for the sides, Roy savored his "little fried things," and Steve also enjoyed the fried okra (at home). Let's face it––frying makes everything better. Roy said the collards had good flavor and texture, and he loved the chunks of ham. He enjoyed the white barbecue sauce on his okra and pork. We all liked the sweet barbecue sauce; the hot vinegar sauce kicked up everything it touched. Nice. Pig-N-Chik BBQ nails the sauces.
Both Brad and Patrick sampled the Brunswick Stew. It was hearty with a nice flavor and had lima beans––which Patrick wishes would stay in Lima-- wherever Lima is. Peru? Ohio? Oh, those troublesome four-letter words!
Brad said the bread with his platter would have been better toasted, but we're nitpicking now. Maybe deep frying the bread would help. We've established frying makes everything more delectable.
We were fans of Pig-N-Chik BBQ. We wished they allowed dogs and banned lima beans, but so it goes when you're on the path to truth and barbecue.
Rating: Four Ribs*
1815 Briarcliff Rd NE
Atlanta GA 30329
*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.