The first time I ate Honest-to-God BBQ was in this joint not far from where my wife’s parents lived. It was religious experience and I was damned for eternity on how pork should be done. Then in Miami, there was this joint near MIA where smoked pork was done so good, even my quiet Father In Law demanded to see the owner, identified himself as long-time BBQ eater and proud Southerner and congratulated him on a most delicious BBQ.

What both places had in common was huge stacks of wood on the back to feed their pits: They BBQed on site. Hell, many times we visited, the pork went from the smoker to our plates or bag to go home. It does not get any fresher than that.

Yesterday to celebrate my weigh loss, I took the missus and MiL to a very famous location in town, recommended by several people as to have the best BBQ in town. When we arrived there, I saw no smoke, neither I smelled the wafting aroma of pork over coals nor I saw cords upon cords of wood stacked anywhere. It was not a stand-alone place, but at the end of one long building with other assorted stores  Still, I gave them a chance only to be properly disappointed.

Half a rack of baby backs.

To be nice, I’ll just say it was bland and I am complimenting it. No noticeable smoke ring, but at least it was soft.

The place had a selection of different BBQ sauces, but that is not the issue. Any meat, properly prepared should be able to stand a test of flavor without the need of external post-cooking sauces or creams. The fries were OK, the coleslaw the same and both overpriced.

And they put sugar in their cornbread. I believe that is illegal in Tennessee.

These were done by yours truly. Suckers tased 50 times better and cost a helluva lot less.



The smoker collapsed once again before we moved to TN, so I just dumped it figuring good BBQ was available everywhere.

I was wrong.

If I find a good source of pork, I will seriously think about getting back into smoking my own. That unless I do find a true BBQ joint and not an overpriced strip mall pork restaurant.


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By Miguel.GFZ

Semi-retired like Vito Corleone before the heart attack. Consiglieri to J.Kb and AWA. I lived in a Gun Control Paradise: It sucked and got people killed. I do believe that Freedom scares the political elites.

12 thoughts on “I broke my own rule about where to eat BBQ.”
  1. A lot of those places, the meat spends 10 minutes in a smoker and finishes cooking in an oven. And yeah, that’s what you get – super bland, no characteristic smoke band, and 50 assorted sauces for the tight pants and manbun crowd to enjoy with their craft beer.

    Ask around at work or church, find the old timers and they’ll tell you where to go. And yes, the wood stacked high along the back wall is a big clue.

    Also, I like sweet cornbread. I use honey instead of sugar, but still sweet and tasty. As a compliment to hot chili or baked beans, the sweetness is great. But for BBQ? Everyone knows you just open up a bag of the whitest white bread you can find and take a slice. And around here, fries is for hamburgers. You gotta find a place with good tater salad. And baked beans.

    1. “A lot of those places, the meat spends 10 minutes in a smoker ”
      I do about2 hours of full smoke out of wet hickory then wrap in foil with a good dose of apple juice inside.

  2. Excellent point about the sauces. They should be there to enhance and complement, not be the “first line of flavor” as Mrs B. puts it.
    I remember when I learned this principle, it was with a very well prepared filet mignon.

  3. There are real BBQ joints around the Knoxville/Sevierville area – easily spotted by the smoker out front, with smoke emerging therefrom. Also, they tend to look like they’ve been there for quite some time and don’t bother keeping up with fashions.
    Perhaps Nashville has gotten too cosmopolitan to have real food for real people? That happened to Silicon Valley long ago; the traditional and/or quirky eateries mostly got driven out and replaced by shiny establishments with trendy “food” for trendy cosmos (e.g., a flashy, expensive seafood place that didn’t offer basic grilled slabs of fish without incomprehensibly-named sauces).

  4. “When we arrived there, I saw no smoke, neither I smelled the wafting aroma of pork over coals nor I saw cords upon cords of wood stacked anywhere. ”
    That was the warning sign. Never go into a place like that. Run, don’t walk, away.

    1. Bingo. That was the same advice I was given decades ago and stick to it as much as possible to avoid bland BBQ, a heresy. LOL!

    1. In Louisiana, if you see a truck on the side of the road netting crawfish from a drainage ditch outside a chemical manufacturing plant, follow it to whatever gas stop it goes to. The boiled crawfish out the back of that joint are the best.

  5. Found a really good BBQ place last year.. In downtown SEATTLE of all places..

    Pictures on the wall showed why it was so good.

    The four or so 20′ long smokers were actually down in South Seattle.

    Looked like they have gigantic versions of the one I have at home, with the offset firebox on one end, and the barrel / rack and stack pipe on the other end.

  6. The fact a place like that exists in the south is a scandal. My only guess is there are so many transplant locusts from the north around that don’t know any better.

    I’m with SiG here. You should smell the place from the parking lot.

    There’s one near me that is fantastic, right on a frontage road.

    You can smell the awesomeness driving past it. When you enter, you walk by the pits, where you buy your meat, then go inside to get the sides. You are literally getting your BBQ not 20′ from where it was smoked.

    There’s another one up the road in Plano, literally on a city block. And back in the alley is the smoker and stacks of wood. There’s nothing better than walking around, catching that smell and thinking “Man, someone smokin’ a pig”

Only one rule: Don't be a dick.

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