RE: Chicago to Clearwater, FL
If you enjoy authentic barbeque, here's a suggestion from the Stern's books (chosen for its proximity to I 75): Melear's Barbecue on highway 85 in Fayettesville, Georgia. They are just south of Atlanta. There are 2 other Melear's in the area, but you want to visit this one. Jane and Michael called it "a north Georgia" pork shrine. They're open every day but Sunday. Phone number: 770-461-7180
Here's what Michael Stern's review said:
Reviewers Ratings Visit Again 100%
Miles Worth Driving 100 Miles
Three generations of the Melear family have been known as barbecue men; and Kenneth Melear’s place on the road south out of Atlanta has built a solid smokehouse reputation for more than forty years. It is a place to eat pork by the sandwich, on a partitioned plate, or from a bowl, or to take it home by the pound. What sweet pork it is, infused with the taste of hickory and oak pit smoke and accented by a vinegar sauce. The sauce has just the right amount of sweetness to harmonize with the meat and is only gently peppery. There is a hot version available for customers to add, but fair warning: It is ferociously hot! We suggest putting some on the side of a plate and using it as an occasional dip.
The most interesting pork variation is the sandwich, which comes on white bread, the outside of which is toasted crisp on the grill, thus adding textural drama to the otherwise totally tender meal. On the pork plate you get potato chips, pickles, bread, and a smooth, rib-sticking Brunswick stew … which is, in fact, yet another form of pork, in this case, pulverized to the consistency of a fine hash.
To accompany these elemental smokehouse meals, Melear's serves spectacular iced tea – extremely pre-sweetened, as is the custom in this part of the country, presented in tumblers that are a foot tall and about half again as wide at the mouth. When you get to the bottom of this tub, it is refilled on the house; and it will continue to be refilled for as long as you are parked in a high-backed chair at one of Melear's aged wood tables. - Michael Stern, 7/15/2000