While it might not have quite the barbecue renown of a city like Memphis, Nashville can still hold its own here in the South, with expert pitmasters serving beautifully charred Texas-style brisket and pulled pork sandwiches in the whole-hog tradition of West Tennessee. Here are Music City’s best restaurants for smoked meats and copious sides, from a takeout icon in the historic Black business district to a stunning Germantown beer hall.Read More
Where to Eat Finger-Licking Barbecue in Nashville
Try massive rib sandwiches at a takeout icon, Texas-style brisket at a gorgeous beer hall, and pulled pork sandwiches in the whole-hog tradition of West Tennessee
Shotgun Willie's BBQ
Bill Laviolette’s lunch-only East Nashville storefront — named for his favorite Willie Nelson song — gets major buzz for its Texas-style brisket and ribs, smoked over white oak and pecan wood, as well as a Tennessee-style pulled pork sandwich piled high on a brioche bun. As Shotgun Willie’s BBQ warns on its website, these meats do sometimes sell out, so don’t dawdle if you want a taste.
Butchertown Hall — a restaurant and beer hall that won an Eater Award in 2015 for its gorgeous digs — offers its take on Texas barbecue and a modern approach to butchery in Germantown. Order anything with brisket: oak-roasted brisket tacos, brisket by the pound, brisket-grind double burger. Also, don’t miss the chorizo-crowned queso or top-notch margaritas.
Mary's Old Fashioned Pit Bar-B-Que
Walk up to the window at Jefferson Street’s family-owned landmark, founded by Mary Seals in 1962 and located in the historic Black business district, to order one of the best plates in town, or try the iconic rib sandwich (good luck finishing the whole thing). The sauce is the star at Mary’s Old Fashioned Pit Bar-B-Que; it’s a mustard base with a peppery, vinegar-tinged flavor that helps tenderize the meat. And if you think you’re used to Nashville hot, the hot sauce here may cause you to question your abilities.
Central BBQ (multiple locations)
Central BBQ started smoking meats in Memphis in 2002, and the growing chain has made its mark on Nashville as well, including at this Hillsboro location and a temporarily closed Capitol View spot. Central’s known for using a classic Memphis dry rub before marinating its meats for 24 hours and then smoking them over hickory and pecan woods. The brisket, pulled pork, turkey, chicken, and ribs are favorites.
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Jack’s Bar-B-Que (multiple locations)
This barbecue temple has stood on Broadway since 1989, thriving since long before the area was nightlife central. Jack’s also has two additional locations now: one on Trinity Lane and another in a historic former music club at 1601 Charlotte Avenue. All three share a no-frills vibe and serve the full slate of barbecue styles, from St. Louis to Texas to, of course, Tennessee.
Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint (multiple locations)
Pitmaster Pat Martin is keeping the West Tennessee tradition of whole-hog barbecue alive and well, growing his Nolensville-based restaurant into a chain spread across several states, including Nashville locations in Belmont, Midtown, Nissan Stadium, and downtown. Don’t miss Martin’s quintessential pulled pork barbecue sandwich; other hits include wings, wet or dry ribs, brisket sandwiches, barbecue bologna sandwiches, and Redneck Tacos on cornbread hoecakes.
Peg Leg Porker BBQ
A longtime veteran of the competitive barbecue cooking circuit, West Tennessee pitmaster Carey Bringle opened Peg Leg Porker BBQ in the Gulch in 2013. This watering hole serves up some of the best wings and pulled pork around, and Eater named the dry ribs here one of the country’s 23 essential barbecue dishes in 2016. You’ll find more meaty goodness from the same team at Bringle’s Smoking Oasis in the Nations and Pig Star in Concourse B at the Nashville International Airport (BNA).
Edley's Bar-B-Que (multiple locations)
Edley’s Bar-B-Que is a local favorite that has grown to encompass several Nashville locations and beyond. Co-owner Will Newman shared some impressive stats back in 2016, revealing that the original 12 South location alone sold over 1,393 pounds of pulled pork per week at that time. The Tuck Special is a sandwich to behold: sliced brisket crowned with an over-easy egg, a hearty smear of pimento cheese, red and white sauce, and pickles. Whatever you do, begin with the hot chicken nachos and a side of jalapeno ranch, and save room for the banana pudding.
Pitmaster Shane Nasby opened his smoked meat source in Bellevue in late 2018. The fast-casual barbecue joint serves the likes of chopped and sliced brisket, pulled pork, and smoked turkey on decadent sandwiches or on trays. The Southern Shine sandwich stacks hand-pulled pork atop fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, and candied bacon with a drizzle of Honeyfire sauce on a toasted bun, perfect with sides like white queso mac and cheese and Hoosier corn pudding (inspired by Nasby’s Indiana roots). And the peanut butter banana pudding is unbeatable.