Old Clinton BBQ (Gray, GA)
We had a day of running errands, so we took the 35 minute drive up to Gray, GA to check out a BBQ joint that we’ve heard good things about: Old Clinton BBQ. Their sign proclaims “Best In Georgia” and, while we haven’t eaten at many Georgia barbeque joints, we find it hard to believe there are too many that are better.
Old Clinton BBQ has been around since 1958 (which I think is the same year their website was built). It’s not hard to see why they’re still around. The food is amazing and even on a Tuesday afternoon at 2pm, they had a steady stream of customers.
Old Clinton serves some unbelievable ribs. These ribs are easily in the top 5 that either of us have ever had. The $9.50 plate comes with 4 huge, meaty ribs. These things are easily an inch thick and tender, full of great smoky flavor. They’re so moist and juicy that you don’t even need additional barbeque sauce (though a little squirt does up the ante). You won’t be hungry after these.
Pulled pork is a staple of any good barbeque place. Old Clinton didn’t disappoint here either. It’s not quite up to the level of the ribs, but that’s a pretty tough act to follow. Nonetheless, the pulled pork is amazingly tender, moist, and smoky. Like the ribs, it needs no sauce. The serving size is really big, especially considering you only pay $6.50 for the plate.
The Brunswick Stew is the bowl that you see in the pulled pork picture. For a full description of what it is, see our review of Georgia Bob’s Barbecue Company.
This was a great, tasty bowl of stew. We’ve only had it twice so it’s hard to compare, but this was thinner with a stronger corn flavor. It’s better than the stew at Georgia Bob’s, that’s for sure. We’re not actually giving it a rating because we’ve only had it twice, but it was GOOD!
Their potato salad is your everyday basic mustard-based potato salad – not great, but not bad either. If you like potato salad, you’ll like it. If you don’t, you probably won’t. It definitely wasn’t Scott’s Mom’s potato salad. Even people that don’t like potato salad like hers. We’ll give it a 3/5.
Scott isn’t a fan of cole slaw at all. There’s been maybe 1 cole slaw in his life he’s liked, until now. He rated this as “not bad for cole slaw” and ate a few bites. Edie loves cole slaw and thought this was really good too. It’s a chopped slaw – the cabbage was cut down into small pieces rather than long strips. It’s tangy and vinegary rather than the usual creamy, mayonnaise-based cole slaw. And the cabbage was still crunchy instead of limp. This gets a 4/5.
BBQ Baked Beans
Let’s just go ahead and start by saying that neither of us like most baked beans. They are usually excessively sweet and just pretty underwhelming. These, on the other hand, have a deep smoky flavor, a touch of meat (which we think was ground beef), and were, quite frankly, incredible. They still have a slight brown sugar sweetness, but unlike most baked beans, it wasn’t overpowering. These are true BBQ baked beans that we had no problem polishing off. We give these a 5/5.
If there’s one thing we don’t like, it’s overly sweet barbeque sauces. Old Clinton’s is a thinner sauce, most likely the ketchup and vinegar base that is common around here. It isn’t sweet like too many barbeque sauces tend to be. It’s flavorful, heavily spiced (but not spicy). It has enough black pepper to bite you, but it won’t overpower your taste buds. Basically, it’s a perfect complement to the meat. It could be thickened up a touch, but that’s a pretty minor quibble. It actually works really well with the pulled pork because it sinks in rather than sitting on top. On the ribs, it runs right off. We give the sauce a 4.5/5.
There wasn’t any table service. It’s just a lunch counter type of place where you place your order, pay and get your food. Everyone was super friendly and had those nice Georgia accents though. The food came out fast and hot. There isn’t really much else to say about it.
Since we’ve eaten barbeque twice this week, the comparisons between the two are stuck in our heads. At Old Clinton, we got bigger servings of better food, all around. The sides were better, the sauce was better, and most importantly, the meat was better. And we spent $17, $2 less than Georgia Bob’s, to get it. It’s hard to argue with the value you get at Old Clinton. You leave full and the food is well-made and delicious.
The Doggy Bag, By Knox
YUM! Juicy pulled pork with a few beans and a scrap of rye bread – all delicious and none of that vegetable crap to have to pick around. The portion size could have been substantially larger, but obviously that is not the fault of the restaurant. I could inhale the tasty pork from Old Clinton all day.