The Top 10 BBQ Joints In Tennessee

(c) Southern Foodways Alliance/Flickr
(c) Southern Foodways Alliance/Flickr
Photo of Matthew Keyte
9 February 2017

In Tennessee, barbecue is taken very seriously indeed. Smoked hogs, ribs and brisket are smoked for hours on end after being marinated in secret rub recipes until they’re tender, moist and packed with flavor. Here’s a list of 10 of the best rated BBQ restaurants around today.

Central BBQ | © Sean Davis/Flickr

Central BBQ

Restaurant, North American, $$$
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Central BBQ in Memphis is an award-winning, multiple-venue restaurant. All the meat is slow smoked after being rubbed with their trademark spice rub and marinated for 24 hours to give the meat flavor. Then the ribs, chicken, pork, brisket, and sausages are smoked in the pit over hickory and pecan woods and served up with onion rings, fries and potato salad to suit your tastes.

Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que

The Hickory Pit is all about quality food in a no-frills setting in Chattanooga. It’s the food that’s the star, with only 20 patrons able to sit down and eat at any one time. The food is regarded by many as some of the best BBQ in the USA; owner Mike Ford cooks his pork for 14 hours and his ribs for five to six over hickory wood after an application of dry rub. You can choose from plates of chopped pork and beef or chicken, sandwiches, and baked potatoes stuffed with delicious smoky meat.

Hickory Pit Bar-B-Que, 5611 Ringgold Road, Chattanooga, TN, USA, +1 423 894 1217

Jack’s Creek Bar-B-Que

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Jack’s Creek is a family-owned and run setup that still uses the recipes of 50 years ago. This is barbecue the way it used to be — the building has remained the same for those 50 years too. You can pick up ribs, bologna, chicken wings and whole chickens and nachos with sides of slaw, beans and chips.

Double J Smokehouse

Double J Smokehouse is famous for ribs and live music. There are now two locations, one at West Memphis and the other in Downtown. Ribs, steaks, ‘gator tails, burgers — all are on the menu, with the rib racks, slow smoked over pecan wood being particularly highly rated. Or, mix it up a bit and have a BBQ baked potato packed with cheese, smoked pork, onions and sour cream.

Double J Smokehouse and Saloon, 124 Patterson Avenue, TN, USA, +1 901 347 2648

Payne’s Bar-B-Q

Famous for serving up one of the best barbecue pork sandwiches in the country and famous too for the unpretentious appearance of the place, Payne’s Bar-B-Q in Memphis has been described as barbecue perfection. You can enjoy smoked sausage, ribs, bologna and, of course, the slow-smoked pork shoulder sandwich, with pulled, chopped or sliced pork made to your tastes.

Payne’s, 1762 Lamar Avenue, Memphis, TN, USA, +1 901 272 1523

Jim Neely’s Interstate Barbecue

Restaurant, BBQ
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The Neely family are legends on the BBQ scene in Tennessee. The patriarch is Jim Neely who set up the Interstate Barbecue in a converted store in Memphis in 1979. Ever since the Interstate Barbecue opened, it’s been gaining plaudits and picking up awards. Make sure you try the pork and beef ribs, and try out the foot-long hot dog, which gets a great write-up by Serious Eats here.

Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous

Restaurant, North American, $$$
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This Downtown Memphis BBQ joint has become an institution. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Prince Albert of Monaco and the Rolling Stones are among the famous names to have sampled the food at Rendezvous over the years. Rendezvous remains one of the best places around for BBQ ribs and pork shoulder.

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