The Five Best Barbecue Joints in Nashville – December 2020

Speedy: When you think barbecue in Tennessee, your mind naturally goes to Memphis. While that city has a much richer barbecue history, Nashville is no slouch. After living in Music City for 3 years, I felt like it was time to put together the Nashville top 5. So, without further adieu, here are my top 5 favorite ‘cue joints to visit in Nashville:

5. Shotgun Willie’s (review)

New to the Nashville scene, Shotgun Willie’s is a Texas style joint that does everything well, but didn’t blow me away with anything in particular. Still, a very solid meal in a place where good brisket is hard to come by.  4000 Gallatin Pike Suite B, Nashville, TN 37216 sgwbbq.com

4. Peg Leg Porker (review)

One of the more well known Nashville spots, owner Carey Bringle is known on both the competition and television circuit. For my money, these are the best ribs in town. 903 Gleaves St, Nashville, TN 37203 peglegporker.com

3. Jack’s Bar-B-Que (review)

The true Nashville OG, no get no frills when you visit Jack’s, but you do get a damn good barbecue meal. This North Carolina boy considers this to be the best pork in town. Multiple locations jacksbarbque.com

2. Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint (review)

A year ago, I would’ve pegged Martin’s number one for sure, but as they’ve expanded, I’ve noted some inconsistency. Still, all the meats are good to great, the sides are top notch, and the atmosphere (especially at the downtown location) can’t be beat. A must visit in Nashville. Multiple locations martinsbbqjoint.com

1. The Oak Texas BBQ (review)

I had my first experience with The Oak earlier this year, and have made a point to find their tasty food truck two more times. Each meat I’ve had has been extremely good, including the best brisket I’ve had in Tennessee. Trust me when I say this is one food truck that’s worth seeking out. Food truck facebook.com/theoaktxbbq

Jack’s Bar-B-Que – Nashville, TN

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.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 2.5 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Sausage – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Jacks Bar-B-Que Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato