brunswick, ga trip report

my two brothers retired this year, we hadn’t taken a trip with just the three of us in around…50 years, so we decided on a southern bbq/fried chicken/fried seafood overnight to brunswick, georgia, a short two hour ride from our place in st augustine.

our research started with @johntannerbbq most excellent I95 dining guide which had been recently expanded to include additional brunswick recommendations:

i’ll post each of our stops as separate posts in this thread.



first stop was sista’s soul food, a small but excellent ayce buffet. in our early twenties, the three of us competed to see who could eat the most fried chicken at a wonderful soul food restaurant in my mom’s southern town. I finished with 21 pieces and a five piece lead only to be passed by my middle brother who slowly but surely carried the day with 23.

we talked about renewing our competition but given the daunting number of stops we’d planned and the specter of post trip weigh-ins, decided to eat a little more judiciously. we each managed two plates of food. The expertly fried chicken was the highlight, collards were good but while the other sides were competently prepared, nothing really stood out except the delicious sweet tea.

in a show of Southern hospitality, the chef stopped by each table to see how everyone liked the food. my brother complained: “after eating two giant plates of food, i can’t eat another bite, what’s up with that?”. We took a photo out front and one of the lovely owners ran out to take a photo with us! we’ll definitely be back, a screaming value, $14 ayce and i’m still thinking about that fried chicken.


A couple of things:
-is that Brunswick Stew on the buffet? You are where it originated and didn’t have any?
-we’ve thought about stopping in Brunswick on our way back from Fla several years, but always keep going to St. Simons Island instead. Maybe next time. Looks good.

One aside:
did you wear a hat so as to not show the same hair “style” as your brothers?

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  • no brunswick stew on the buffer, my experience has been brunswick stew shows up on southern bbq menus as opposed to soul food but admittedly there is some overlap.
  • we stayed at an airbnb on st simons island, next review covers a restaurant there.
  • in the south I wear a upf50 hat when outside, period. one of my brothers already had surgery for a non-malignant growth on his head, the other has sun damage yet I can’t get either of them to consistently wear a hat. very frustrating.

Our next meal was to be at Southern Soul, one of the best bbq restaurants in the South and a place that has been on my bucket list for about five years. The restaurant is on St. Simon’s island, about 20 minutes from brunswick. The day before we arrived I called the restaurant to double check their hours and get the low down on when they were likely to run out of meat.

me - Hi, what time do you close on Monday?
ss - we’re not open on Monday
me - your website says you’re open
ss -we’re not open
me - well that’s disappointing, my brothers and I paid for an airbnb on the island so we could eat your food.
ss - we’re not open on monday
me - Perhaps you should update your website to reflect that so other people don’t make similar plans or worse, show up at your restaurant on monday.
ss - we just made the decision to close, we’re short handed, this is the first monday we’ve closed.

to their credit, they posted something on facebook about an hour later but their website still states they are open on mondays.

So, after some back and forth, we decided to try the Crab Trap, also on St. Simons Island. We each started with a bowl of their very good crab soup, I had the oyster platter, one of my brothers the local shrimp platter and my other brother a seafood platter with scallops and crab cakes.

Wow, it was all great, especially the local shrimp platter. believe it or not, prices seemed quite t a bit lower than manhattan :slight_smile: Of note, were the battered fries, a local specialty, I don’t even want to think about what was going on with arteries after this meal.

So, in the middle of our table was a hole into which we could throw our shrimp shells. Beneath the hole was a small garbage can, at the end of our meal, I got the bright idea to move the garbage can, place my head in the hole and ask the waiter to bring the next group over to the table.

I was thinking we could exchange witty repartee and perhaps they’d feed me odd bits of this and that. Unfortunately, the waiter refused and in fact, didn’t find my hijinks entirely amusing. for the record, I’d had nothing stronger than half sweet, half unsweetened tea.


I bet your mom found you 3 to be real comedians night after night. :upside_down_face:

Enjoying your trip report in an area that I have absolutely no experience with but I want to visit. TY!


Well, I think your damn waiter was a party pooper!

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We go to Southern Soul whenever we are on St Simons Island. Sorry you didn’t get to try it – it’s one of the only BBQ places that I’ve been where all styles (Texas, St. Louis, Carolina…) are done well. Our other definite dinner stop is Georgia Sea Grill, a middle range app/entree/dessert/wine/coffee type place.

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Very slight family resemblance, eh?

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up early next morning for some st simon island picklelball, where I felt it my duty to educate the welcoming locals that no matter how stupid it made me look and contrary to popular belief, lobbing is just not allowed. I think this is an excellent place to record for all time that I was 2-0 to my brother’s 1-1. Modesty prevents me from revealing just how little beer I had to promise our opponents to support my claim that I carried my brother to victory in the game we played together.

after checking out of our airbnb, we headed off st simons island to mack’s bbq in brunswick. Knowing we needed to pace ourselves for what was to become a three meal lunch, we ordered a 1/2 pound each of ribs, pulled pork and smoked turkey.

compared to sc/nc, mack’s seems to go easy on the smoke and in fact, while the smoked turkey was moist and flavorful, we didn’t detect even a trace of smoke. The ribs and pork were perfectly cooked with just a hint of smoke, the pork a little bland but made for good eating with any of three sauces they put on the table.

@SteveR will be happy to learn we ordered brunswick stew in its birthplace and it was excellent: spicy, chock full of vegetables and meat, perhaps the best I’ve had to date.

I’m thinking mack’s is a restaurant where if you’re in brunswick and in the mood for bbq, it’s worth a stop but not “destination bbq”.


thanks steve, sea grill looks great, will definitely give it a try next time. I believe in my review of the excellent gary lee’s market in brunswick, I ruminated a that unlike other states, georgia doesn’t seem to have an indigenous bbq style so one is likely to find texas brisket sharing a menu with chopped pork.


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originally we’d planned one more bbq lunch before heading back to fl but decided we just couldn’t pass up willy’s wee nee wagon. willy used to sell out of a truck but eventually settled into a permanent hot dog stand.

we joined the long line at willy’s but it was really hot out so I decided to let my two brothers, who as Floridians seemed better equipped to handle the weather, do the bulk of the ordering while I found some shade. This turned out to be a strategic mistake as I hadn’t shared my decision to never eat another boiled (as opposed to grilled) hot dog and never, ever eat another polish sausage.

before finding shade, I did request a willie nee’s pork sandwich and it was delicious. But why my brothers ordered a boiled kraut and tomato dog is beyond me, especially when so many people were eating fried fish sandwiches, homemade chili and chili cheese dogs. Just more proof that they, or more probably I, was adopted. the silver lining was that the polish sausage was quite good, causing me to re-align my world view of the sausage family.


That’s a great looking plate!

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Ah, labor shortages. They play havoc with restaurant hours. They should have explained the problem at the outset. You found a good alternative, though, so aside from the waiter’s lack of appreciation for art, the meal sounds like a success, especially the shrimp!

And never trust a brother to order for you when you get to sit in the shade. The silver lining is learning that polish sausage can be good. It’s always great ot have another food choice.

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Great work. My two brothers and I don’t always get along so well but we do know how to eat.


Are you sure you guys are related?

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As i think back over the many, many embarrassing moments of my life, writ large is my father flirting with waitresses of my own age. I was given to recall those awful moments at Twin Oaks BBQ where I was faced with the cringe-inducing spectacle of my 65 year old brother flirting with our 20 something wait person. completely unfazed, she made joke after joke at my brother’s expense until I came to realize that if you’re looking for Southern sass, in the same way one used to go to the Carnegie deli for their famously unfriendly wait staff, Twin Oaks is your place. At the point she sweetly said to my brother “you have those big, honking ears but you’re still not listening to me” I fell in love and would have offered to marry her on the spot were I a mere 40 years younger.

we split a big bbq sandwich, the generous portion of unsauced chopped pork spilling over the sides of the bun. the pork itself tasted of smoke, a nice texture but a little bland. Later I learned their pitmaster didn’t rub or season the pork butts, I didn’t ask, but I’m guessing their pit is gas as opposed to wood-fired. we loved the onion rings, my younger brother declaring them best ever however we were 2-1 against the fried green tomatoes, their exterior crust tough and overcooked for our palates.

We decided to take a selfie, our wait person insisted she and her sister join our photo. She informed us photos of the wait staff have been posted by people all over the world, I’m guessing our experience was not all that unusual but I’m not going to post the G to PG rated photo as I’m sure some would find it objectionable.

As we piled into our car for the trip back to fl, I was fixing to ask my brother whether his behavior was a vestige of accepted southern sexism (cringe) or the result of intermittent reinforcement (cringe, cringe, cringe [how do I insert the sign for infinity?]) In the end, I decided some questions are best unasked between siblings.



This was one the funniest threads in recent history. TY!


Now you have me interested in that photo!

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So that’s basically it for the eats, a couple of last thoughts before I put this thing to bed. I weighed myself right before hopping into my brother’s car and, after eating 2 plates of soul food, cobbler, two pieces of cake, crab soup, an oyster platter, a rib, the equivalent of a pulled pork sandwich, a hot dog, a pork sandwich, fries, onion rings, fried green tomatoes, buc-ees nuggets and lots of sweet tea, I lost two pounds. Not sure what to say about that other than your mileage may vary.

Over the course of my travels as well as judging and competing in bbq contests, I’ve eaten an awful lot of bbq. I’ve watched with wonder and excitement as world class bbq spread to places like ny, va and georgia. The bbq we ate on this trip didn’t quite rise to that level but I feel perfectly comfortable recommending it to someone bombing down I95 wanting to scratch a bbq itch but finding, as we did, gary lee’s and southern soul closed. otoh, I’m still thinking about the fried chicken at Sista’s Soul food…

On the way home my brother insisted we stop at a Loves gas station since I’d never been. Wasn’t sure what he was thinking about, kinda gritty, no interesting food but then he led me into the bathroom where I discovered one could smell good all day long for just $1.25

I’d be remiss in not thanking @johntannerbbq again, his I95 road guide guide was invaluable in planning our trip so a couple of places to put on your radar john, Original Jay’s Chicken and Fish in Brunswick and Steffens Restaurant in Kingsland. We didn’t get to either but we passed by Jay’s and it looked like my kinda place, strong reviews and menu for Steffens.

well, that’s a wrap, hope y’all enjoyed the ride!