There’s no faster way to get a bunch of barbecue enthusiasts talking than to ask them which state does its slow-cooked smoked meats best. For our money, Tennessee has to be near the very top of the list. The state is something of a geographic crossroads for barbecue styles, and it has taken different influences to make something wonderful of its own.
When you talk about Tennessee barbecue, you’re really talking about pork. Wherever you go – Memphis, Chattanooga, or the mecca of smoky barbecue itself, Nashville – you’ll find eateries putting their spin on ribs, pulled pork, smoked shoulder, and of course, sauce.
We’ve put together a list of some of the best barbecue joints in Tennessee. Why not take a bite?
A&R Bar-B-Que, Memphis
Many Memphis natives will tell you A&R Barbecue is the best BBQ joint in the city. They have good reason for saying so. There’s no doubt A&R is one of the best spots for grabbing some traditional Memphis-style ribs or even the signature A&R turkey leg. Everything on the menu is worth trying, especially if you like your BBQ sauce spicy.
Payne’s Original Bar-B-Que, Memphis
In business since 1972, Payne’s Bar-B-Que serves some of the best pork barbecue in the whole state (if not the country). Payne’s boldest, most distinctive menu item is the barbecue sandwich: a slow-smoked pork shoulder pulled, sliced, or chopped, and then topped with red barbecue sauce and smothered in a bun with a scoop of coleslaw. It is simply perfect.
Porker’s BBQ, Chattanooga
Chattanooga may not have all the big barbecue names of Nashville, but it has its claim to fame with Porker’s. The eatery’s pulled pork stuffed potato is so good, patrons – including the President of the U.S. – have come from all over the country to grab a bite.
Whitt’s Barbecue, Nashville
There’s a good reason why Whitt’s Barbecue is so regularly voted the best barbecue in Music City (the eatery has won “Best of Nashville” every year since 1988). It’s because the family-owned operation serves up some of the tastiest beef, chicken, and turkey you’ll ever get your hands on. Every true Nashvillian knows to go to Whitt’s when their appetite starts calling.
Hog Heaven, Nashville
This hole-in-the-wall in west Nashville has been serving up lip-smacking pulled pork goodness for more than a quarter century. While there’s room to sit, we recommend grabbing some beef brisket and ribs (plus some delicious corn bread or homemade peach cobbler) and eating beside the nearby full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon, which according to Thrillist is the only such structure in the world!
Jack’s Bar-B-Que, Nashville
Jack’s Bar-B-Que founder Jack Cawthon is known as the “Barbecue King of Nashville” for good reason. Ever since he opened his restaurant in 1976, it’s been one of the city’s most popular spots for finger-lickin’, hickory-smoked barbecue. You’ll find everything from Texas brisket to Tennessee pork shoulder to St. Louis ribs here, all of it delicious. Here’s some advice: Try to avoid rush hour!
B&C Melrose BBQ, Nashville
Bacon and Caviar, or B&C Melrose BBQ, started out as a catering company. It wasn’t long before everyone was clamoring for its gourmet, made-from-scratch barbecue at every opportunity. All B&C ingredients are fresh and locally grown, allowing chefs to change menus with the seasons. If you’re looking to enjoy some of the finest food in Nashville, B&C has to be one of your stops.
Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, Nashville
This Nashville staple achieved national fame with an appearance on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives,” but the locals loved Pat Martin’s whole-hog BBQ back before it was famous. With multiple locations around the city, you have every opportunity to get your hands on every bit of tasty goodness. For a real treat, try the Redneck Tacos, filled with pulled pork and spicy sauce.
Butchertown Hall, Nashville
If you’re looking for a little change of pace with your barbecue, head on over to Butchertown Hall in Germantown. This unexpectedly awesome Texo-German joint offers up German-inspired barbecue by way of Texas hill country, according to Thrillist. It’s hard to go wrong with slow-cooked brisket (it spends 14 hours smoldering over white oak chips) served on handmade tortillas or Texas toast.
This article is intended for informational purposes only. It may not reflect the official policies of Elephant Insurance or current developments.