Monk: If this pandemic ever comes to an end, I would love to make it to Cattleack BBQ in Dallas. For now, I will dream.
Description: Ranked best barbecue by D Magazine in 2018, the meat cutters at Cattleack serve beef ribs, brisket, and pork ribs to lines of people waiting to eat at the backyard-themed restaurant. What started off as a hobby for owners Todd and Misty David, Cattleack BBQ has now become a popular lunch spot able to seat hundreds of people.
Despite its popularity, it remains open for lunch only twice a week on Thursdays, Fridays, and the first Saturday of each month. We visited the popular BBQ joint to check out the seven smokers on their property, try our hand at slicing brisket, and serve customers alongside the owners.
Monk: Houston-based Khói Barbecue is a “Viet-Tex” pop-up that melds Vietnamese flavors with Texas barbecue in dishes like brisket pho or beef ribs marinated with kalbi (which is technically Korean) or a Vietnamese bò lá lốt sausage made from brisket trimmings. For more information, check them out on Instagram.
Description: At Khói Barbecue, brothers Don and Theo Nguyen use the Vietnamese ingredients and cooking methods from their childhood to influence their Texas Barbecue pop-ups, creating dishes like brisket pho and smoked chicken rice & yuzukoshō.
Name: Jack’s Bar-B-Que Date: 11/11/20 Address: 1601 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN Order: Three meat combo – brisket, pork, sausage, collards, baked apples, cornbread (link to menu) Pricing: $
Speedy: One place in Nashville that does not get nearly enough love (including from yours truly) is Jack’s Bar-B-Que, a true OG of the Nashville ‘cue scene. Jack Cawthon opened his first restaurant on lower Broadway in 1989, and now has three locations including a different spot on Broadway, in the North Gulch on Charlotte Ave (where I visited this day), and in North Nashville. I have visited the Broadway location several times, but usually weekdays during lunch (back when people went to offices), or weekends while honky tonkin’ (back when people went to bars). I always told myself I’d write a review when I had time to visit and order more of the meats, and that time finally came.
Monk: I remember offices and bars…
Speedy: The Charlotte Ave location is much more spacious than on Broadway (I haven’t been to the North Nashville location), but in both places, you walk up to a cafeteria style line to order. Like a good Texas joint, the brisket and sausage is sliced right in front of you, but the pork has been pre-chopped. The sides, likewise, are in warming bins. The order of a three meat combo was an obvious one, though I was sad to leave out the ribs. Alas, next time.
Before diving into how everything tasted, let’s talk about value. The three meat combo is $17, which includes generous portions of each meat, two sides, and cornbread. If that was weighed out and served by the pound, you’d be paying close to twice that. Their by the pound prices are several dollars lower at each meat, including only $16.25 for a pound of brisket.
Great, so the barbecue is priced like it’s 2013, but how does it taste? Damn good. The brisket has a nice pepper flavor, and plenty of bark. It’s moist and tender and tastes great. It doesn’t quite melt in your mouth like the top-tier Texas brisket, but overall, it’s very good.
The pork at Jack’s is Tennessee pork shoulder. This may not be a popular opinion, but I prefer the shoulder to whole hog. The reason? The outside brown. The shoulder from Jack’s has plenty of outside brown chopped in. I didn’t taste any dip chopped in, but it was not dry at all. They call it Tennessee pork, but this is the closest I’ve come to finding Lexington-style pork shoulder (which we all know is the best) in Tennessee. Truly outstanding.
Monk: Now this Tennessee pork shoulder is intriguing, and something I gotta try the next time I’m in Nashville.
Speedy: The sausage was the one meat that was a slight disappointment to me. While smoked well, the flavor was a little plain. Next time, I’ll skip the sausage.
I don’t talk about sides much in my review, but I enjoyed the apples and the collards and absolutely loved the cornbread. Just a nice stamp on a great meal.
All the times I’ve been to Jack’s Bar-B-Que, it’s consistently been quite good. While not the sexiest place in Nashville (and certainly not the newest), it remains one of the best.
Even in the midst of a pandemic and all that 2020 had to offer, Tim Carman of the Washington Post went ahead with his annual “best barbecue joints in DC” list, with the main change being that he got takeout from every joint he tried. And he found that, even while getting more and more expensive, the state of barbecue in DC is strong and only improving. To wit, three of the joints in his top ten were brand new to the list.
Cheers to Tim Carman for pushing ahead!
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