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Sweet Somethings

by Austin Holt | Jezebel magazine | April 30, 2014

It’s the way all good barbecue begins. A man, fiddling around in his backyard, stumbles across a fine technique for slow-roasted pork butt. He tinkers around with a couple of sauces and invites some friends over to try it out. If it passes muster, he opens a restaurant.

In this case, that guy is Howard Hsu. And the restaurant part? A no-brainer. The scion of a long line of restaurateurs, Hsu’s the guy behind McDonough’s superb El Granero Taqueria, not to mention the Atlanta Food Truck Park. A little while back, he put his name on Sweet Auburn Barbecue, in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market.

But good ’cue needs room to grow. So Hsu, along with his sister, Anita, decided to throw open the doors of location No. 2 in the heart of Poncey-Highland. The result is big on Southern comfort with a hint of Asian fusion, now in its very own brick-and-mortar (the raw hardwoods and metal fixtures are a fine reallocation of the old Pura Vida space, for those who are familiar with this SoPo ’hood).

Asian flair with your spare ribs? A classic that totally works. Sure, you’ve got your meat and sides in spades—we can’t tout the pulled pork enough, especially when you tie Brussels sprouts and mac and cheese into the mix. But don’t leave without sampling some stunning bookends. The pimento cheese and candied-bacon wontons app is as life-changing as it sounds, but says nothing of Sweet Auburn’s signature dessert: a homemade praline basket filled with ice-creamy sweetness and fresh fruit—guaranteed to muster mumbles of “Oh, my God…” from your table.

Now, throw in a bar with crafty cocktails and local brews on draft; keep the kitchen open till whenever on the weekend, and you’ve got the perfect excuse to bring your Va-Hi game slightly south.

Sweet Auburn Barbecue
656 N. Highland Ave. NE