Nashville is less well-known as a BBQ destination, largely because it lacks a distinctive style to call its own. But instead of uniformity it has an eclectic array of smokehouses dishing out diverse meats, with flavors and sauces inspired by the best of the rest in the southern States. Follow a bite of sweet St. Louis ribs with a nibble of smoky Texan brisket, or try some of the city’s one-off inventions, such as Martin’s Redneck Tacos.
At Rippy’s, you can sample Nashville’s legendary music scene along with your platters of meat, as a stage in the main dining area hosts live music most nights of the week. A speciality of the house is smoky pulled pork served on sweet cornbread and drizzled in a tangy BBQ sauce, a combination that goes mightily well together. Add to this great ribs, chicken and sides, and you’ve got a perfect place to nestle down for a night of sensuous pleasure in the heart of Nashville.
Edley’s is a friendly and gregarious kinda place, which bustles with people from the local area, supplemented by BBQ fiends from across the rest of the United States. It’s a bit of an all-rounder, equally at home cooking up tender moist brisket, chicken in a flavorful white sauce, and crispy fried catfish. Their sides get a little more experimental than the classic mains they dish out – the hyperactive menu frequently bills new creations with old favorites like fried green tomatoes and cream cheese veggie pizza.
Martin’s contains a startling sight – whole crisp-skinned hogs smouldering in a pit beside the bar. There they cook for a whole 24 hours, before being sliced up and served to the hungry customers, salivating at the scent of the bubbling pork. The place has the usual array of meats covered, including brisket, wet spare ribs, dry baby back ribs, and smoked chicken. But it has a few more unusual items too, such as its famous and delicious Redneck Tacos, filled with pulled pork, cool coleslaw, and a spicy vinegar sauce.
Jack’s is a real mash-up of a BBQ joint, cherry-picking styles from across the American South. There’s pork shoulder from Tennessee, smoked turkey from Boston, spicy sausage and tender beef brisket from Texas, and slow-smoked St. Louis-style ribs. Usually such a scattered approach is a warning sign, but Jack’s long lines snaking down the street serve as a testament to the quality in all their diverse offerings. Tying all of these smoking styles together is Jack’s own distinctive sauces, modelled on the trademark tastes of several states.
Hog Heaven is a small, predominantly take out joint which gets the perfect balance of humour and passion. It focuses on the basics, with brisket smoked for 20 hours and flavorful pulled pork encrusted with a satisfyingly chewy bark. But Hog Heaven’s claim to distinctive fame comes in its combo of pulled turkey and a fantastic white BBQ sauce, the latter evincing a tangy sweetness that perfectly complements the well-smoked poultry.