Aug 9, 2016
Beef barbecue isn’t hard to find in Atlanta. Most menus feature brisket, and the city might just have more options for smoked beef short ribs than Fort Worth. But that wasn’t the case in 2007, when twins Justin and Jonathan Fox opened Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q just east of downtown Atlanta. In what seems like the barbecue dark ages compared to the Atlanta scene today, the pork sandwich was king, and ribs or chicken battled for second and third place. A lot has changed over the past nine years.
Jonathan moved from Fort Worth to Atlanta in 1999 for a graphic design job. Justin followed a year later and got a job at a local restaurant. Most of their high school friends had left Fort Worth, and they were looking for a change—but they didn’t factor in how much they’d miss brisket. Growing up, they took frequent visits to Angelo’s and the old Railhead location for granted. “Being from Texas, we missed the taste. It wasn’t brisket with mustard, pickles, and onions [in Atlanta],” Justin said, referring to the yellow mustard on brisket sandwiches at Angelo’s and Railhead.
There was certainly plenty of barbecue around back then. Fat Matt’s is still well known for ribs, and Harold’s pork sandwich was legendary before it closed in 2012. Still, the “old school Southern barbecue places and rib joints” that Justin recalled weren’t satisfying their brisket craving, so they bought a smoker and started making their own in the backyard. “It became every single Saturday night that we were cooking barbecue for our friends,” Justin said. They brought it to the masses when Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q opened its doors on August 23, 2007.
Customers came in asking for pork initially, and some sneered because they didn’t offer a selection of barbecue sauces. “We didn’t put any sauce on the meat, and that confused some people,” Justin said with a laugh. Even the smoked chicken outsold brisket in the first few years. Only recently has brisket gained equal footing with pork when it comes to sales, and more beef options have become a centerpiece to the menu. The Tuesday only Montreal-style smoked meat is a stunner. Cured and smoked brisket is cut thick and piled high on rye with a little mustard. It would’ve held up well against the best in the country during my great pastrami search last year (as would the pastrami at Atlanta’s General Muir. Maybe pastrami is the next hot item in this town).
Within the past two years, a beef short rib has made its way to the regular menu. An enormous hunk of beef glistened beneath a heavy bark of salt and pepper when it came to the table (pictured at top). Southern greens came alongside, as did an homage to Texas: Frito pie served in the bag, which is one of their most popular sides. A juicy link of the house-made jalapeño cheese sausage and a half rack of huge spare ribs weren’t far behind. I’d have thought I was eating barbecue in Texas if it hadn’t been for the bowl of Brunswick stew.
The brisket was impressive too. I’ve eaten at Fox Bros. many times, but it’d been about three years since my last visit (full disclosure, it was a book signing party they hosted for me). They could make a mean brisket, but I have also eaten a few duds on some of my early visits. There weren’t any problems this time around. Slices from the lean and fatty side were superb. Justin admitted to the ups and downs, but said they’ve made consistency the current focus. A wood-fired Oyler rotisserie went in a year and a half ago, and that’s where all the briskets are smoked over hickory and oak. I didn’t get to go back to check on their claims of greater consistency, but I can attest that their high side is way up there.
Atlanta barbecue joints still sling plenty of pork barbecue, but brisket is no longer an outlier. You can hardly open a barbecue joint in town without it. Sam’s BBQ1, Community Q, Grand Champion BBQ, and Heirloom Bar-B-Que are known as much for their quality brisket as anything else, and that’s just naming a few. Instead of debating whether or not brisket belongs on the menu in Atlanta, barbecue fans in the city now argue about who does it best. Fox Bros. should be in that conversation, and the Texas brothers are proud that they could help normalize brisket. You can also stop in on a Thursday get a chicken-fried steak, because, as Justin reminded me, “We show the Texans some love around here.”
The Oyler Pit revolutionized the art and science of barbecue when it was first introduced in 1968. J&R has been refining this extraordinary pit for decades and chefs consider it the finest barbecue pit in the world.
What’s the secret to the longevity and popularity of the amazing oven? Many theories abound. Some feel the natural purity of the fuel, the “ferris wheel” rotisserie action, the constant basting, or the unique air, smoke, and humidity control features account for the mouth-watering result. Other culinary experts contend that the miraculous meat results from it being “massaged” as it passes through alternate temperature zones while it revolves. This debate may rage for many more decades, but the diners who love their barbeque don’t really care. They just want more!
With the Oyler E Models, the company adds safe and clean electrical energy to assist the wood fire, using electrical resistance elements. There is no flavor tainting or explosion hazard with these electrical elements. It simply and dramatically reduces wood usage while preserving the character of what barbecue purists everywhere credit as being the best pit in the world.
If you are going to be in the business of barbecue, please do it right! The Oyler defines authenticity. We use wood to cook the meat, we do not use gas. In fact,we hate the idea of using gas in a barbecue pit. Your customers will notice the difference.
The Oyler maintains precise temperature control, unattended for up to 14 hours, by using a unique air control system.
So well designed and insulated, you will be amazed to experience how little wood is required to cook big loads of barbecue.
The Oyler was the first (and remains the only) wood fired barbecue pit to receive the Underwriter’s Laboratories Listing for safety. We have gone to great lengths to make the Oyler safe. It even earned the coveted “zero clearance to combustibles” installation specification.
Speaking of big loads, the Oyler can handle your high volume demands. The Model 700 can cook 1000 pounds per load and the Model 1300 can cook 1800 pounds!
Large dampers operate automatically when the front doors are opened to direct the smoke rearward and out the stack rather than into your face.
The Oyler is the most “forgiving” piece of cooking equipment you will ever use. You will not need an experienced “pit man” to turn out great barbecue. The front doors are huge, allowing easy loading, unloading, and removal of racks for cleaning. The fire is easy to start, and due to our design, the live coals in the firebox last 72 hours! That means for most customers the fire only has to be started once! As long as you cook once every three days, fire starting is simply a matter of scooping out a few ashes and adding fresh wood.
|700*||56"W X 104"D X 79"H||18-17" X 42"||120V/8A|
|1300*||67"W X 120"D X 88"H||18-18" X 54"||120V/8A|
|1000 LBS||216 SLABS||144 SLABS||324 HALVES|
|1800 LBS||360 SLABS||288 SLABS||432 HALVES|
*E Models Same size and rack configuration 240V/70A