Name: Archers BBQ Date: 6/12/22 Address: 5200 Rutledge Pike, Knoxville, TN 37924 Order: 2 meat sampler with pork and ribs, hush puppies, and slaw (link to menu) Pricing: $$
Monk: On the long drive back from Crossville, TN (about an hour west of Knoxville and home to one of the latest Buc-ees) earlier this summer, I made a pit stop at Archers BBQ in east Knoxville. Archers BBQ is the vision of Archer Bagley, a Memphis native who was an early investor in Fox Bros BBQ in Atlanta. According to the website, he struck out on his own and headed north to Knoxville where he has since opened 5 locations of the restaurant.
Archers (or at least this location) smokes their cue in a Southern Pride assisted by wood as evidenced by the nice-sized woodpile next to their cooking shed. On this summer Sunday, there was light traffic into and out of the store in a former gas station.
I went with a 2 meat sampler of 5 oz of pork and 3 bones and found both to be slightly above average. Light smoke but perhaps not the freshest barbecue on this day. Even with its Memphis heritage, Archers favors an international house of barbecue approach with all the meats and then all the sauces on the side. Average also summed up my sides of hush puppies and slaw.
So, not a full throated recommendation of Archers BBQ but I’d be curious if I’d have different results on a Friday or Saturday. Maybe I’ll try again next summer.
Name: Sweet P’s Barbeque & Soul House Date: 7/19/18 Address: 3725 Maryville Pike, Knoxville, TN 37920 Order: Sampler (brisket, pork, and ribs) with side salad, slaw, greens and beer (link to menu) Price: $29
Monk: In 1999, the Knoxville, TN funk-soul band Gran Torino had a modest regional radio hit in the southeast with “Moments with You.” I recall liking it in high school but listening today, it seems a bit overproduced and saccharine. In any case, fast forward 10 years and the band is no more but lead singer Chris Ford has found another passion in barbecue. After years of catering, he opens up a barbecue restaurant just outside of Knoxville in a former marina off the Little River, Sweet P’s Barbeque & Soul House. Six years later, he is successful enough to open a second location in downtown Knoxville. While the music life may have not ultimately worked out for Chris Ford, he seems to be in the early stages of building a mini barbecue empire in Knoxville.
I knew that Grant of Marie, Let’s Eat! was a fan of Sweet P’s from his visit and it was his suggestion to stop there two years back when I was last passing through Knoxville on the the way to Lexington, Kentucky. Unfortunately, it would have been too much of a detour on that trip, so I stopped at Full Service BBQ instead (which worked out ok). This time through, I was heading to Nashville, so a swing through south Knoxville to hit Sweet P’s made much more sense.
I had been on the road for 4+ hours from Charlotte after a small breakfast so went for the sampler platter of pork, brisket, and ribs which came with 3 sides. Grant mentioned in his review that he was a big fan of the pork (the only meat he got on his visit) when he went and for me it was by far the best of the three meats. The pork came unsauced and sitting in a bun but I opted not to eat as a sandwich and instead used a fork. It was smokey and moist and with a few dashes of the table vinegar sauce (one of three available), it stood out above the rest of the meats.
The brisket was a bit overdone (or perhaps held and reheated from the previous day based on the texture) and sprinkled with a sweet and savory rub that just was not pleasing for me. A few bites in and I knew I didn’t have to finish my portion.
The ¼ rack of ribs were better than the brisket while still being just slightly above average. It was also sprinkled with the same rub as the brisket, though this harkened to more of a Memphis dry rub so didn’t bother me as much as the brisket. They weren’t overdone and pulled away from the bone properly with each bite.
As for sides, the slaw was standard but the greens were a bit of a mess. Knowing what lay ahead in terms of drinking and eating that weekend, I chose a side salad as my third side, which ended up being the side that I ate the most of.
Outside of the pork and side salad most of the meal ended up in the to-go box. If you are stopping at Sweet P’s Barbeque & Soul House while in the Knoxville area, my suggestion would be to save some money and stick with the chopped pork plate.
– Ed Mitchell is no longer opening a stall at the upcoming Morgan Street Food Hall & Market in Raleigh but the News Observer has more information on his food truck which can be booked for holiday events
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