The world seemed to have been locked up for a very long time. Only those charged with maintaining the nation’s food supply were allowed onto the roads.
Despite the fear that overtook our nation and the toxins that would be spawned from this unprecedented level politic of prolonged isolation, I wouldn’t lie if I said that I don’t recall the Spring of 2020 a little wistfully these days.
It’s hard to beat driving at 65 MPH through Atlanta, getting smoked by an old man on 285 and standing there. We were called heroes by them for some time and were given bonuses for transporting pandemic.
But here’s what I cherish the most from that time: Denise, my spouse, decided that it was best for us to both die together if we had to go.We had been shattered by our mutual concern for each other’s wellbeing in absentia. She rode nine weeks in my 386 Pete with me and saw places she hadn’t seen before.
It would be like Barbara Mandrell singing our lives. We would share the intimacy that was forced upon us by having one bed doubled. We were able to live in such cramped quarters that we never fought, it was a miracle. After 41 years of holy acri …, ering, I can assure you, driver. matrimony, This just isn’t what we want. It was enough to just be happy to exist.
[Related: Mild winter gives way to tough decisions this COVID-19 season]
Among the most memorable things we did while we spent that Spring on the road, in the midst of all that news of meat packing houses closing down and the possibility of farm-fed protein becoming unavailable: We went on a last-ditch quest for the best barbecue in the country with truck parking, stopping at old mainstays of mine, and making some new finds, too.
Enjoy today’s results.
Georgia Brisket is unbeatable
#1) Gary Lee’s market, Brunswick, Georgia — I-95, Exit 29
Gary Lee’s Market in Brunswick in Georgia is hands down the best barbecue place where you can park your tractor-trailer in America. It’s South Texas, Kansas City and Piedmont. But, to enjoy Gary Lee’s famous slaw and brisket sandwich is to experience something truly unique, beyond regional taste.
Google reviews deemed it the best. “It melts in your mouth.”
It’s a venerable crack in the wall. It’s a mom-and-pop place, just off U.S. 82. Gary Lees is a well-known local, located at 3636 US-82 Brunswick just a few blocks west of I-95’s Flying J. Five stars
Caution:Gary Lee’s is closed Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-7: p.m. It is possible to fit one or three trucks, depending on how kind drivers were. If the doors close, you may have difficulty getting in.
It’s definitely worth a try.
#2) Papa Buck’s Barbecue, Metter, Georgia — I-16 Exit 104
We discovered Papa Buck’s while trying to weigh a load Vidalia onions at Jay’s fuel stop next door.
Even though it was takeout only, the staff were friendly and the restaurant was spotless. Denise was a huge fan of the pulled pork. It was a good brisket. It was close to Gary Lee’s.
From a single food truck in Twin City, Georgia in 2007, to two permanent locations in Metter in Georgia, the business has expanded.
Papa Buck’s Metter sits at 1085 S. Lewis St. You can find them open Monday to Saturday from 11 am to 8 pm. Five stars
#3) Ole Rudy’s Bar B-B-Q, Jackson, Georgia — I-75 Exit 201
Ole Rudy’s, a Georgia barbecue restaurant, was also founded in a food cart. Since the 1990s, I have been coming here to enjoy the barbecue since Ole Rudy’s used to set up in the BP parking lot and advertise his famed “Ole Rudy’s.” “Broonswick Stew”CB.
There isn’t a Texas pitmaster that can match his brisket and Brunswick stew. Gary Lee’s signature white bread sandwich over a generous amount of meat is what sets him apart.
It would be nice to have more sides. These are only served in cup sizes that are slightly larger than shot glasses. This doesn’t mean I don’t love it. It’s just that I wish there was more.
Ole Rudy’s can be found at 2831 GA 36 in Jackson. The shop is open from 10 AM to at least 11:59 PM seven days a semaine.
#4) Nick’s Bar B-Q and Catfish, Carlisle, Arkansas — I-40, Exit 183
When it all hit the fan in 2020, Nick’s set up a table at their restaurant and took care to the drivers from there — rain or sleet.
It can be found at 1012 Bobby L. Glover Hwy in Carlisle. It has four and a half stars.