Athens Eats: Runt’s BBQ

I’ve not been so enthused to whip out a restaurant write-up in quite a while. Not to say that I haven’t eaten at some fantastic establishments lately, but right now I am downright overwhelmed with satisfaction, relief, and pretty much unabashed eating ecstasy.
I need to share.

Let me begin with a brief story. Last year, my appetite fell madly in love with an infamous little barbecue joint by the name of Butt Hutt. Twas your typical foolish love story… I fell hard and I fell fast– I fell for Butt Hutt’s heaping styrofoam-plated portions of BBQ bliss, I fell for its appetite provoking title, I fell for its undeniable charm… of being attached to a gas station. It was nothing but idyllic romance for a solid year. Alas, Butt Hutt temporarily fled, before I could ever say goodbye. My beloved took its sweet time migrating to a big fancy new home. After months of anticipation,  finally came the glorious day when we would be reunited. We were…
I was left heartbroken at the table, feeling highly betrayed.
Never betray me when it comes to food. I get real ugly. Real fast.

Because this isn’t the time to have the heart of a hater, we’ll just leave it at that.

The nasty scene went down one week ago. I thought I’d never love again. But then…
there was a beacon of hope, I saw a sign. A really nifty new sign raised where old Butt Hutt’s used to stand.

It was like… on a Thursday, God said “Let there be barbecue.”

And so it was.

Lads and ladies, welcome to Runt’s.

Swing open the door to be greeted with delicious smoke-tinged aromas and a jovial salutation from behind the counter of the eatery’s charming interior.

I was enamored with the place before  ever receiving a bite to eat  based solely on the superb quality of customer service my accomplices and I experienced upon arrival. Make no mistake, when I say customer service, I don’t mean polite and punctual attendance… that’s a given. I’m talking genuine and affable interpersonal communication.

Jittery with excited hope for BBQ redemption, we stepped  up to place an order and found ourselves face-to-face with the guy running the whole shebang. Within minutes of speaking to the man who temporarily remains nameless due to my personal brain cell deprivation, three things became increasingly obvious:

  1. This dude knows what he’s doing when it comes to dishing out food.
  2. This dude legit loves people. You might call him a people person.
    I would.
  3. This dude doesn’t stop at good, he’s one of those going for great kind of guys.
All highly desirable qualities for an individual in this industry to demonstrate.
After graciously handling my near obnoxious interrogations concerning both his business history and menu, as well as providing ridiculously generous assistance in aiding us to form dinner selections, my trio stood convinced that we had found a BBQ haven that will not betray.
Every question answered with utmost honesty. Every assertion delivered with pure sincerity. Every kind gesture offered without pretense.
That’s just how I like it… barbecue with a heaping side of authenticity.

I guess we can actually talk food now.

Needless to say, there was nothing even slightly close to disappointment  sitting anywhere near our table.

Runt’s offers a meat selection ranging from BBQ to bologna, and enough trimmings to drive you crazy with indecision. Corn nuggets, fried okra, baked beans, chicken mull, stew, onion rings, waffle fries, potato salad and slaw presently decorate the sides board with a dazzling promise of southern satisfaction.

Moist and void of any trace fat globs, the classic pulled pork BBQ blend resonates with sumptuous smokey flavor. Though delicious bare, the tender strings of meaty magnificence sing with full potency when accompanied by one of Runt’s various house-made sauces.

As much as I adore the pig, prolific BBQ sides are what truly steal my affections.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, and I’ll probably keep saying it till I have a heart attack… never ever pass up a good corn nugget. There’s just no  indulgence quite like feeling the immaculately crisp encapsulation  shatter under your own ravenous teeth, giving way to a sweet creamy corn core. Textural and tantalizing, these golden gems will ever remain one of my ultimate deep-fried desires. Likewise, Runt’s okra serves as a delectable testament as to why fried food remains in existence.  Both items illustrated a distinct level of grease mastery in that the crust remained perfectly crisp throughout the entire course of the meal and the bright flavors of vegetative interiors were not at all lost to any hint of overwhelming oiliness.

Now, baked beans. You need to understand that I possess a devout passion for these legumes, but I am a complete total unashamed self-proclaimed baked beans snob. It’s not often that I grant a full seal of approval to another’s beans, but it happens.
And yeah, it so happened.
Be forewarned, these ain’t your mama’s baked beans.  Unless you had a super cool mom. If so, go give her a hug right quick.
Anyway, these beans might initially cause purists to raise an eyebrow… but I have a feeling that if you happen to be a fan of all things meaty, saucy, and delectable, then you’ll be a fan of Runt’s baked beans. Unique in their composition, this sweet & savory delight includes lima beans, pork, and beef in addition to traditional navy beans. Rich in textural and deep-bodied flavor complexity, the dish could potentially bring me to reevaluate my standards for baked beans.

Paying roughly under 8 bucks for a munificent pork pile, tailed by two side dishes, two slices of country white bread, and a drink, Runt’s offers a hard deal to bypass.

It may not be enough to say that I heartily anticipate my next venture in sampling further menu selections.

Like many dispersed throughout this great nation,  I bear a certain affinity for great barbecue. For those of us blessed enough to have encountered the true BBQ experience, we know it’s more than a meal… it’s a dagum institution.
One in which there is absolutely no margin for posers.

It’s not pretentious, It’s not sophisticated, it’s not picturesque of the evolutionary culinary movement currently flowing from below the Mason-Dixon… but done right, a well-rounded barbecue banquet will most certainly set souls alight with joyous satiation.


Might I reiterate that the pleasure to be found in such a southern feast fails to reach full potential until paired with a sentiment of sweet and simple hospitality.

Served by people who seem as though their life purpose is to make sure you head home happily fulfilled and with fat smile on your face, I’m pleased to say that I witnessed a dinner reach full BBQ potential last night.

So pleased in fact that we may or may not have scared the staff with our eager gratitude.

My roommate may or may not have verged on tears.

And we may or may not have raved in the street following the chowfest.

I’m not saying any of that is normal behavior. However, I am saying that we can expect to see nothing but delicious future developments from Runt’s BBQ.



Runt’s is located at 699 Baxter Street and operates from 11 am to 9 pm, Monday through Saturday.


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