Just back from a quick trip up to North Georgia.
We went to the Smith House in Dahlonega, an old standby that's still pretty good. They've really fixed the place up, and the all-you-can-eat family style lunch is $11.19 plus tax. Included: fried chicken, some kind of fried mystery meat in gravy (pork chop or country steak? definitely not the ham the menu said,) rice and gravy, turnip greens, pole beans, cabbage salad, fried okra, sweet potatoes, fried apples, other vegetables I can't remember, homemade rolls and corn muffins, sweet tea in a pitcher on the table, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Nothing altogether memorable (although the fried chicken and greens came close) but somehow the overall experience transcends the individual dishes. Disappointment: they don't serve any pickles, jams, or other relishes before the other stuff is brought out. They still sell squash pickles by the jar, but you won't get them as part of the meal like you used to. Service was uninspired, but not really a problem.
Better was Mickey Pigg's barbeque in Altos, GA, up US23/Highway 365. Saw the smoke rolling out of the smoker from the road. I instantly hated the gimmicky chain-like name, but that's the last negative comment you'll hear. The thick-sliced pork loin was outstanding and the side dishes OK (minor observation: they should have cooked the frozen fries a bit more, and the baked beans are really just that, not BBQ beans.) Amazing sauces - I've eaten BBQ all over the South and never though anyone's sauce was good enough to take home, but I got a bottle each of regular and hot (well, at $1.75 for a 12 ouncer it wasn't a big commitment, but I really did love their sauce, and my wife agreed.)
Now often we guys have to BBQ alone, because the really good places are dumps in bad parts of town, run by seedy characters. Here's why Mickey Pigg's is a great place for the ladies, too: they have five consecutive 100% annual health department scores posted in the entrance (it's a really clean place) and ... here it comes ... they have a BAKERY inside! Never heard of that in a BBQ place. Everything but the sandwich buns are made right there, and we're talking about foot-tall, Southern-Living-Cover quality coconut cake, dense and moist carrot cake, cheesecakes of several kinds, homemade pies, and a whole display case full of other desserts (even the blue jeans and boots crowd was looking over that case carefully while waiting for to-go orders, of which there were plenty.) It's a family affair, with the sons of the owners running the smoker, other children doing the baking, etc. Very nice folks, and a wonderful stop along a great section of travelin' road.
Up the road (US23) by the way, we wouldn't dare miss a stop at Hillside Orchard Farms betweem Clayton and Dillard. They have an unbelievable operation that covers farm to food plant and bakery. If you wondered how many items you could produce that contain Vidalia onions, try counting what's on their shelves: salsas, relishes, jellies, dressings, and tons more - shelf after shelf of bottles and jars, all made right there. In the bakery, fried pies (sweet potato and peach both smelled great,) fresh cider donuts, breads (apple, peach, and sweet potato) and apple fritters and cinnamon rolls the size of your head. If I was going as far north as Atlanta, I'd definitely go the extra distance to visit this place - it's my favorite roadside stop of all time. I also found their web page at http://www.hillsideorchard.com/ (if you recognize the picture but not the name, you probably were there as I was a couple of years ago, when it was called Tiger Farms - I've still got my tee shirt.)