Lately, I find myself in the North Buckhead / Sandy Springs area a lot, and I seem to be eating at 521 Kitchen & Que (5465 Roswell Road, Atlanta, GA 30342, Tel: 404-998-5459) more and more.
It seems like only yesterday barbecue in Atlanta meant poorly smoked meats left to sit thoughtlessly in a steamwell for hours upon hours before being drowned with an overly cloying sweet sauce, and served.
But about a dozen years ago the barbecue we eat here in Atlanta began to change, for the better. The que joints began serving properly smoked meats with a deep purple ring to prove it. Beef was introduced as a form of barbecue. And, it doesn’t arrive slathered in a nasty, inedible sweet sauce — the meat is perfectly capable of standing on its own. The way it should be.
I am giddy to see that not only are these new-style (to Georgia) barbecue joints busting at the seams with patrons, but they have become the norm.
521 Kitchen & Que, despite being off most people’s radar, is just another one getting it right. Sliced brisket has just the right amouint of bark, they only offer locally raised chicken and the slightly sweet but insanely addictive kale slaw is a work of beauty —the perfect contrast to the fiery, vinegary house made spicy barbecue sauce that is visibly flecked with little bits of pepper and other seasonings.
Everything down to the pickle that tops your sandwich seems to be made in-house with one exception: the bread. Like everybody else around town, they serve H&F bread. This stuff is everywhere.
Everything I’ve tried at 521 Kitchen & Que has impressed in some way. My only complaint is its location — it resides in a busy Fresh Market-anchored strip center with very little parking. And, it is near one of the ends where spaces are even more limited, next door to an Ace Hardware. But the que is good enough to overcome this one single flaw.