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Random bites: J.J. Bonerz, Barberito's, Marco's
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J.J. Bonerz Ribs and Wings Bar

This Bay Street bar and smokehouse earns its keep with late night crowds of beer–drinking, shots downing guests.
But at lunch, the smoked ribs, wings and pulled pork are hot and fresh, the Cole slaw still creamy and moist and the emphasis is food, not frivolity. Yeah, it’s a fun and funky interior 24/7, but some attention goes into the chow. Meats are smoked fresh daily, slaw is made fresh and pizza dough comes handmade from a sister restaurant where pizza is king. On two recent visits, I found varying degrees of doneness on my baby back ribs – meaning they cook by time, not by temperature. My old friend, championship pitmaster Wiley McCray pounded the difference into my thick skull – and I’m a convert to timed smoking. Each piece of meat varies and cooks differently. Wiley has a wall full of awards to prove his point. Meat was falling off the bone on my second visit. That’s tasty for sure, but overcooked. A nice fat layer preserved moistness, the handmade rub is flavorful, but the final dousing with sweet barbecue sauce should be offered only on the side. Wings, basted in the Bonerz homemade secret sauce, were, again, nicely smokey, but I think I prefer the stronger flavored sauces like teriyaki or mild BBQ.  The Carolina–style slaw is right on the money; baked beans are barely a click above heated, canned pork and beans. Some of my companions complained about pricing for a half slab with two sides. I checked market prices and Bonerz Lil’ Boner – a half rack with fries and beans – is $2 to $3 less  than competitors like Sticky fingers or Blowin’ Smoke. Yeah, throw in some wings and a beer – and you’re looking at $30 with a tip. A sample of pulled pork was tender and wonderfully flavored. Barbecue, like so many regional cuisines, is a darned near holy and absolutely subjective topic – your results may vary. Excellent service, full bar and a nice selection of domestic and craft beers make stopping in for an after work drink a real possibility for us older dudes.

11 W. Bay St./944–4343

Bits and pieces...

I remember barely a year ago that Chef Johnny Baker III and his was the Lone Ranger on the southern end of Habersham Village. Now Baker has neighbors – both family–friendly, casual dining destinations.

Barberitos (4525 Habersham St./349–6750) takes the Moe’s Southwest Grill model a step or two further and offers a cozy, inviting dining room, more salads than Moe’s and several vegetarian options on its made–to–order menu of burritos, quesadillas, fajitas, tacos and nachos.

Marco’s Pizza (4521 Habersham St./349–6957), on the north side of, touts dough hand made each day and robust meat toppings to set it apart from fellow pizza competitors. Again, a nicely done interior is inviting and bright. Add–ons like chicken wings, chicken tenders tumbled in a variety of sauces and subs and salads round out a diverse menu.
A small ice cream counter is calling my name with a chilly tub of Moose Tracks.