For generations, Old Clinton Bar-B-Q has been among Georgia’s best-known roadfood shrines. As soon as you walk through the sawdust under the low-hanging porch into the unassuming interior, itself a nod to a simpler time, you’ll feel very welcome. Though terms like “best” and “world-famous” can be found on nearly every barbeque joint’s shingle, you’ll find few locals who would dispute this claim. Features in Southern Living, USA Today, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Washington Post have cemented its fame to non-locals. Clinton native John T. Edge, the leading food writer of the South, describes the barbeque in his book Southern Belly: “Sweet, smoky meat hacked to shreds, perfumed with a sauce tasting of vinegar and pepper, maybe a hint of tomato; Brunswick stew, thick with chicken, fresh pork, and corn; milky coleslaw, rich with mayonnaise. To this day, I don’t think I’ve tasted a meal that satisfied me so.”
Roy and Mittie “Lady” Coulter opened the restaurant in 1958 after the four-laning of US Highway 129 forced them to close their general store, across the highway on Greene Settlement Road. When Roy passed away suddenly in the restaurant’s kitchen in 1962, Lady took over the operations and remained chief cook until her death in 1996. The Coulter’s son Wayne is the proprietor today and he’s changed very little about the place. He did make one welcome change about twenty years ago, though: My mother never air-conditioned the place…and we had a big pit inside the restaurant where the smoke would sweep across the room. We’d have to open all the windows to air it out. We put in a wall that covered the pit in the ‘90s, got a new smoker, and finally cooled the place down a little bit.
If you’re using GPS, use this address: 4214 Gray Highway, Gray, Georgia 31032. You probably won’t need it, though. Once you see the little white pig and the wrap-around Coca-Cola signage, you’ll know you’ve arrived. There’s a new location on Highway 441 in Milledgeville, as well.