It’s official. Nashville has emerged from the shadows of our friends to the West, and is currently sittin’ pretty atop many “best of” lists for BBQ. So why is Music City fast becoming just as beloved for cooking its drumsticks as it is for playing with them? The answer lies in these 11 amazing ‘cue spots...
Pat Martin’s whole-hog BBQ has taken the Nashville scene kinda by storm recently. Cooked slow & low as the pork gods intended, you'll find goodness like the Redneck Tacos, whose pulled pork is wrapped in a spicy, tomato-based sauce, and served on corn cakes. Popular locations in Mt. Juliet and Nolensville had Nashvillians basically threatening to riot unless there was some access closer to town, so thankfully the Belmont Blvd location recently opened to sate more local whole-hog appetites...
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The godfather of BBQ in Nashville, Jack Cawthon opened Jack’s in 1976 overlooking the riverfront on Broadway and 1st Ave. It was one of the few successful restaurants on lower Broad back when Demonbreun St was nothing but wax museums. Today, they have two other locations and the original now sits just a few blocks up next to Tootsies. They don’t discriminate on style, with a range of Tennessee pork shoulder, Texas brisket, smoked Boston turkey, and St. Louis ribs, and it's all delicious.
For over 25 years, Hog Heaven has been serving pulled pork goodness from a cinderblock hut next to Centennial Park. They have outdoor seating, but take it to-go and picnic beside the only full-scale replica of the Greek Parthenon in the world (!). Pork, chicken, turkey, whatever you get, just make sure it is smothered in their globally famed “Kickin’ Chicken” white BBQ sauce.
Beloved by tourists for their biscuits and fried chicken, locals know The Loveless Café is down for some quality 'cue. Just a mere 20 minutes from Downtown, it’s worth the drive to sink your teeth into their pit-cooked pork with honey blackberry barbecue sauce, or their pit-smoked turkey w/ cranberry barbecue sauce. Served on cornbread hoe cakes, or enjoy it “Loveless Style” on perfectly cooked hot biscuits.
Tucked behind the high rises of the Gulch, Peg Leg Porker has become a star on the Nashville BBQ scene since opening in 2013. A Nashville native, pitmaster Carey Bringle was raised on West Tennessee traditions and smokes his barbecue low and slow (as the pork gods intended) with a Memphis-style sauce on the side. Try the Memphis Sushi (a sausage & cheese platter on saltines) or the BBQ nachos to start, followed by the dry ribs, pulled pork platter, or the yardbird smothered in a tangy, white sauce and a Kool-Aid pickle on the side.
Edley’s is pretty much the perfect combination of BBQ and the Southern tradition of meat and three. Both Nashville locations, 12th South and East Nashville, make just enough meat for the day, and the brisket is first to go. Recommended? The Tuck Special, a brisket sandwich with house-made, spicy pimento cheese, over-easy egg, and drizzled in red and white sauce; or perhaps the pork tacos with slaw & pico de gallo. Sides are made daily, ranging from eight to 10 choices of secret, family recipes.
Bacon and Caviar or B & C BBQ began as a catering company where their smoked meats became the routinely requested encore. All sides are made from scratch daily, making it hard to choose just two... or three, but the "Grits of the Day" special is a safe bet. Forgo the bun and get the pulled pork over grits with a side of smoked or fried pork egg rolls.
This popular food truck upgraded to a brick and mortar in the fall of 2014, serving its smoked applewood chicken thighs (no frying here) in a variety of barbecue-based sauces. Whether you go for the boneless -- piled high and topped with their popular pairing of pineapple and mozzarella -- or opt for the dry rub on the bone with a side of pimento bacon mac ‘n’ cheese, be sure to wash it down with one of their moonshine cocktails. They house the city’s largest collection.
Puckett’s is known for its Southern staples like the chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and meat ‘n’ three platters, but their cherry wood-smoked barbecue is some of the best around. They were the only Nashville BBQ spot to rank in the top 20 of The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America. And the serving options are endless. Whether you choose pulled pork, brisket, ribs or chicken, you can have it in a skillet, on a platter with greens and smoked Gouda mac ‘n’ cheese, in a sandwich like the Tennessee Philly and Mojo Burger, or in a Redneck Burrito and lightly grilled.
Bar-B-Cutie is a long-running Nashville tradition that started out in a downtown pie wagon in 1940, and then became a South Nashville Car Hop in the ‘50s, all before becoming a successful smokehouse chain with multiple locations throughout Middle Tennessee and beyond. Their Southern-style sides are made fresh daily and the banana pudding is certainly worth the struggle of saving room for dessert.
Butchertown Hall may not be what you’d expect from a best-of-barbecue list, but the Texo-German eatery smokes some of the juiciest, German-inspired barbecue with a taste of Texas Hill Country. Their brisket is slow-cooked for 14 hours over white oak chips, charred to perfection, and served with either handmade tortillas, Texas toast, or on a sandwich. Go for the Texas Trinity and sample their brisket with ribs and one of their house-made sausages.
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Kendall Mitchell Gemmill is a Nashville native who loves to talk about Nashville barbecue, particularly to people from Memphis.
1. Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint3108 Belmont Blvd, Nashville
2. Jack's Bar-B-Que416 Broadway, Nashville
3. Hog Heaven115 27th Ave N, Nashville
4. Loveless Cafe8400 Highway 100, Nashville
5. Peg Leg Porker903 Gleaves St, Nashville
6. Edley's Bar-B-Que2706 12th Ave S, Nashville
7. B & C BBQ2617 Franklin Pike, Ste 112, Nashville
8. Smokin Thighs611 Wedgewood Ave, Nashville
9. Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant500 Church St, Nashville
10. Bar-B-Cutie501 Donelson Pike, Nashville
11. Butchertown Hall1416 4th Ave N, Nashville
This Belmont meatery does an array of BBQ deliciousness (brisket, turkey legs, fried bologna sandwiches, etc.), but its claim to fame is the classic pulled pork BBQ sandwich drenched in the Sweet Dixie Sauce. Martin's is definitely in the top ranks for the best BBQ in Nashville.
The godfather of BBQ in Nashville, Jack Cawthon opened Jack’s in 1976 overlooking the riverfront on Broadway and 1st Ave and they're still doing barbecue as good as ever, with tasty options like Tennessee pork shoulder, Texas brisket, smoked Boston turkey, and St. Louis ribs.
For more than 25 years, Hog Heaven has been serving pulled pork goodness (as well as pork, chicken, turkey, etc.) from a cinderblock hut next to Centennial Park. And if you want their signature taste, make sure you get your meat smothered in their famous Kickin' Chicken white BBQ sauce.
This legendary Highway 100 diner sets the standard for Southern homestyle fare, with loads of tantalizing standards like country ham, chicken biscuits, catfish, and pork chops. The restaurant has seen several different owners since it first opened in the 1950s, however, the top-secret biscuit recipe has stayed the same. Breakfast is the meal Loveless is most known for, but if you go for lunch or dinner, you can justify a pie tasting as the final course (we won't judge, though, should you order pie before noon). Visiting on a Saturday or Sunday? Prepare for a long wait; the best time to go is late morning during the week to avoid the weekend warriors, though you can always kill time in the general store.
Located just behind the Gulch, this Downtown resto has simple yet charming decor, a terrific patio for Summer nights, and a number of succulent BBQ items like their Memphis Sushi (a sausage and cheese platter on saltines), BBQ nachos, and the Yard bird Platter (half chicken and two sides).
Edley’s is the perfect combination of BBQ and the Southern tradition of meat and three. This spot makes just enough meat for the day and the brisket is first to go, thanks to their best-selling brisket sandwich with spicy pimento cheese, over-easy egg, and is drizzled in red and white sauce. Sides are also made daily, ranging from eight to 10 choices of secret, family recipes.
Bacon and Caviar (or B & C BBQ) began as a catering company where their smoked meats became the routinely requested encore, so they obliged and now have this location, as well as another, serving up tasty 'cue from pork to chicken to sammies and more.
They may have upgraded from a food truck to a store front, but nothing about the delicious barbecue at Smokin Thighs has changed. Be sure to wash down their delicious on the bone or boneless barbecue entrees with one of their moonshine cocktails. We are huge fans of their smoked applewood chicken thighs.
What started out as a grocery store in the '50s is now one of Downtown Nashville’s best restaurants. It is mostly well known for its breakfast, but you can also snag a quality lunch or dinner, with options ranging from steaks to chicken and waffles to burgers, salads, and more.
Bar-B-Cutie has been cooking up Tennessee's favorite barbecue since the 1940's. Not only do locals love their barbecue selection, but they love the Southern-style sides and banana pudding made fresh every day. We highly recommend the banana pudding if you are able to save room for dessert.
This new American spot has a beautiful interior and features a great beer garden with wood-fired and smoked menu items. They also have great brews and specialty cocktails. Both locals and tourists agree that if you are going to chow down on some barbecue in Nashville, Butchertown Hall is the best place to go.