D.B.A. Barbecue stands for “Doing Business As”, although owner/ manager Matt Coggin originally wanted to name the restaurant “Kermit” after a legendary Blues singer. Walking around D.B.A. Barbecue, you’ll notice some of the decor lends itself to the New Orleans Jazz theme. Even the music (courtesy of Matt’s iPod), on certain days, may be playing jazz. I had the pleasure of meeting Matt recently when he invited me to check out D.B.A. in the Virginia Highlands.
D.B.A. opened in June at the Virginia Highlands Festival. Since then, D.B.A. Barbecue has gone through some changes including a revamp of the menu and a new chef. Drew Kirkland, the new chef, brought with him a smoker along with greater experience than prior chefs.
On the recent Saturday night when I visited D.B.A., the smoker was doing it’s thang and the pleasant aroma was wafting around the parking lot as I made my way into the restaurant. Earlier in the day I went on a 6 mile hike, so as a treat, I was looking forward to chowing down on some barbecue and sipping on a cold beer. But, to my surprise, there was a full bar and decent, if not intriguing cocktail list. I chose the Sweet Tea Vodka and Glen chose the Watermelon Mojito. Something about sweet tea and barbecue just go well together and this drink hit the spot. If you like martinis and pickle juice, they have a drink for you too.
Looking around, I noticed the nod to New Orleans with the paintings Matt picked up at Jazz Fest, one wall painted with the Abita beer logo and another wall sprinkled with record albums of some of the jazz greats. I also loved the touch of using the mason jars for lights.
I went a little crazy with appetizers, sampling the corn muffins, bacon-wrapped shrimp, deviled eggs, and boiled peanuts. Of the four, the clear winner was the bacon-wrapped shrimp. The 5 large shrimp sat on a bed of house made coleslaw and were topped with spicy bbq sauce – absolutely delicious. One surprise was the coleslaw is like getting an extra side thrown in and the red onion adds a great flavor overall to it. If you have more than 2 in your party, you’ll need 2 orders guaranteed.
The corn muffins were wonderful, as well; soft, sweet and with real corn pieces, I could have eaten them all. But keep in mind, the dinner platters are pretty large, so, think carefully, before spending $1 per roll on these (total 4 in an order). If you want a snack in addition to the shrimp go for the boiled peanuts. At only a buck, they are your better value vs. the rolls.
Had I been on my own, I would have probably ordered a platter with 2 meats. But we chose to order the sampler platter ($40) which comes your choice of 4 sides and a large portion of all meats: beef brisket, smoked turkey, pulled chicken, pulled pork, wings, spare ribs and baby back ribs. You better have at least 4 people in your group if you order this baby.
Of the selection, my favorites were the beef brisket and pulled pork. They were the juiciest and most flavorful of all items in the offering. However, the ribs were a close second, with a very meaty selection. I’ve been to some barbecue joints that have don’t offer much meat on the bone, which leave you feeling like you got the shaft, but this was not the case at D.B.A.
Oh, and the wings – as soon as I bit into them I was transported back to the days when Chinese restaurants used to include a chicken wing with your take out order. Remember that? I always loved the crispiness of the skin on these which is duplicated at D.B.A. Definitely out of the ordinary and available as an appetizer as well.
There are 3 sauces to choose from: Regular, Spicy and Mustard. The Regular is sweet and tangy. The Spicy was good though not as hot as I would have expected, perhaps I’m just used to eating very hot and spicy. However, it did the trick on my wings. My least favorite was the mustard – called Verley’s (made by one of D.B.A.’s customers) – pretty bland with no umph to it.For sides, we chose, collard greens, creamed corn, fried corn on the cob, and potato salad. Although I ordered 2 corn sides, I don’t regret it as each served a purpose: the creamed corn had a sweet taste as you would expect, but it was balanced by the pepper and had a slight char to it as well. And the fried corn on the cob, was amazing too- much better than the so-called fried corn on the cob I had here. Again, if you don’t order the shrimp as an appetizer (you’re crazy) then you should definitely get the coleslaw as a side.
I’m not much of a collard greens fan, but Glen loved them. Perhaps it is the bacon and ham hock used when they cook them. Sorry Vegans. And the potato salad was decent, not overly creamy as far as potato salads go.
I know that the staff knew I was there to review the restaurant, but putting that aside, I observed very friendly interaction with all diners. I really do like visiting restaurants when the staff seems to genuinely happy to be there and enjoy their work.
1190 N Highland Ave NE
Atlanta, GA 30306
404 249 5000
Extras: Free parking on site – a rare find in the Highlands.