Alan Natkiel, owner and founder of Georgia’s Northside Southern Kitchen. (Scott Merrill)
Chef Alan Natkiel, owner of Georgia’s Northside Southern Kitchen and Beer Market in Concord, says he “ran away” from the horse farm he grew up on in Hill in the ’70s and ’80s after high school. “It was either move to another horse farm or run away from the farm to the city,” he says, half-jokingly. “I did that by attending Emory University in Atlanta.”
In Atlanta, Natkiel fell in love with restaurant and bar work and the authentic southern style of eating. “It’s a longer process,” he says, describing how gatherings after church or parties took place around the process of cooking the food. “One comparison would be Thanksgiving. That’s how I view the southern cooking experience.”
Natkiel’s journey into the culinary world of barbecue and eventual restaurant ownership took off after college and a move to New York City, where he worked as a wholesale manager for an Italian coffee company and then for a restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. When the restaurant job went south, he decided to take a road trip to hit as many barbecue places as he could with the hope of opening his own restaurant one day. With just his dog Georgia, a Sicilian mastiff who Natkiel says was the “calmest most Zen dog ever” and the namesake of his restaurant—he headed to Texas and traveled throughout the south.
Upon returning to New York City, Natkiel used money from a small inheritance to open Georgia’s Eastside BBQ, a 14-seat restaurant on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in July 2007. The day before opening, a glowing review by Florence Fabricant, a famous food critic for the New York Times, helped start things off right and provided a boost in confidence.
Natkiel starts his cooking process with a dry spice rub, then cooks the ribs with a covered braise. He finishes the ribs on the grill rather than smoking, which leaves them “lush and tender, with heat from spices and a slather of his own edgy sauce,” Fabricant wrote in her 2007 review.
After years of success, the restaurant eventually closed and Natkiel moved back to NH, first experimenting with a pop-up restaurant in Concord and then Georgia’s, which opened in 2019 in the old Korner Kitchen Kupboard on North Main Street. Natkiel did the work to make the building ready to cook the variety of pulled pork, barbecue ribs, buttermilk fried chicken, brisket melts, as well as Mississippi Mud Pie and other baked goods that come from his mother’s cookbook. The restaurant also carries a variety of craft beer and soda.
Georgia’s BBQ Ribs Plate with pickled beets, coleslaw, potato salad, and a biscuit. (Scott Merrill)
Natkiel, whose love of food was imparted by his mother, says he believes people in NH want a variety of options. “People here have had broad experiences with food. I’ve always thought we have great ingredients but not a lot of variety,” he says. “People are desperate for authentic new stuff.”
When he’s not cooking, Natkiel is taking care of his employees and his community. During the pandemic he donated meals to the staff at Market Basket in Concord and he also donates to a variety of causes he believes in, including veterinarians.
For more information, visit georgiasnorthside.com.