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

The Oak Texas BBQ & Catering – Nashville, TN (food truck)

Name: The Oak Texas BBQ & Catering
Order: 3 meat combo (brisket, beef hot link, bacon brisket) + cilantro slaw
Pricing: $$

Speedy: If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – ordering brisket outside of Texas is a dangerous proposition. However, a few places have opened my eyes to the possibility of awesome brisket outside of Texas, and one in particular made me a believer in food trucks. So when I found out The Oak Texas BBQ was going to be outside my new favorite brewery in Nashville (shout out, Crazy Gnome), I knew I had to try. 

Monk: It’s been a fun ride watching Speedy walk back his original declaration of never having brisket outside of Texas.  

Speedy: I showed up just after noon to a small line, and I quickly got excited seeing the two large Texas style offset smokers burning large chunks of wood. By the look (and smell) of things, I was in for a treat.

Of course, I went with all three meats offered, plus the cilantro slaw on the side (skipping the cheese grits). It wasn’t long before this delicious Texas trio was delivered to my picnic table and I was able to dig in. Of course I started with the brisket. I asked for a mix of fatty and lean and was given two generous slices of brisket. The brisket was cooked perfectly, had sufficient moisture, and a wonderful, peppery bark. It didn’t quite melt in my mouth in the same way that the best brisket does, but it was definitely a brisket to be remembered. Martin’s has officially been unseated as the best brisket I’ve had in Tennessee. 

Monk: Wow, that’s high praise, as Martin’s was fantastic when we tried a couple years back and declared that it was just a slight notch below the best in Texas.

Speedy: Next up was the beef hot link. The hot link had good flavor but could have used a little more snap in the casing, and maybe a touch more heat. I enjoyed it, but it was a distant third place in terms of meats for me. 

Finally, saving the best for last, was the “bacon brisket” aka smoked pork belly. My goodness was this delicious. Surrounded by the same peppery bark as the brisket, but with that great pork flavor, this was the best barbecued meat I’d had in months. Really, really phenomenal stuff and a must order. 

Monk: I smoked a pork belly a few months back in a similar manner (in addition to pork belly burnt ends) and freakin’ loved it. I still haven’t smoked a second one yet, so I need to do that soon so I don’t make myself a liar.

Speedy: The cilantro slaw was nice and crunchy, but could have used a little more vinegar zing. However, it was worth ordering. 

Monk: The Oak sounds fantastic and definitely worth a stop next time I’m in Nashville. Will they be a regular food truck at Crazy Gnome (which I also want to check out)?

Speedy: Great question, Monk. I know they have plans to be back on September 26, but don’t know otherwise. I’m definitely hopeful that it becomes a regular occurrence. 

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 5 hogs (at Crazy Gnome)
Brisket – 4.5 hogs
Beef Hot Link – 3 hogs
“Bacon Brisket” – 5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 4.5 hogs