Smoky, Savory, and Saucey: Nashville's Best Barbecue Joints

Nashville's not Memphis. We don't have barbecue running through our veins. When you cut us, we don't bleed barbecue sauce. But we are Southern. And we have taste buds. So just because we don't have a signature barbecue style, doesn't mean we don't have plenty of smoked meats from which to choose. In fact, it might even be better here in Music City. You can choose from Texas-style brisket or Memphis-style pork. From spicy or vinegary or sweet or even white sauce on pork, turkey, beef, and even vegetables. 

It used to be that all barbecue joints were dives. And certainly, there's something kind of authentic about a barbecue place that makes you feel like you're in someone's backyard, the smoker making the whole neighborhood (and your clothes and your hair) smell good. But increasingly, barbecue places are morphing into traditional restaurants with full bars, real flatware, plates, and glasses. Plan a visit long enough to try them all. Just bring extra napkins.

Nashville's only a few hours drive from Memphis, the home of pork barbecue, and at Jack's they're giving Elvis' hometown a run for their money. Award winning and finger-lickin', Jack's doesn't shy from sharing the secret to their success: After...  Read More

You want history? Bar-B-Cutie dates from 1950 and was one of the city's first drive-in barbecue joints. Still serving terrific pork after all these years, the restaurant has become an object of civic pride. After all, with a name like that how...  Read More

The first thing one will notice about the Peg Leg Porker barbecue restaurant is its name, which derived from owner Carey Bringle, who survived an aggressive form of bone cancer that took his right leg. This experience caused Bringle to change...  Read More

In a shabby white shack behind McDonald's and facing Centennial Park, you'll find a great little barbecue joint. It is so unassuming you may pass by it. Don't! Make a u-turn! Because this is one of the barbecue places you don't want to miss,...  Read More

12th Avenue South
Edley's Bar-B-Que
Photo courtesy of Daniel Howard

Edley's came to the 12 South neighborhood in 2012, and it was so popular that the restaurant opened a second location within a few years. The patio faces 12 South and wraps around to a side street where patrons can sit and watch car, bike, and...  Read More

Sylvan Park

The south is known for its unique cuisine and its strict adherence to the concept that the quality of the food is far more important than how fast you can make it. The Slow & Low BBQ Bistro is clearly fond of that idea. As the name suggests,...  Read More

Swett's Restaurant

Swett's began as a tavern in 1920, but turned to the meat-and-three scene in 1954. The family-owned business is proud of the diversity of its clientele. Recipes at Swett's are never written down, ensuring a different experience every time you...  Read More

Shotgun Willie's

Three pitmasters have come together to roll out the one thing they thought Nashville's barbecue scene was missing: Texas-style brisket. They launched Shotgun Willie's BBQ, a food truck that specializes in just that. The brisket is so tender it...  Read More


B&C Melrose BBQ, also known as Bacon & Caviar, is a gourmet barbecue and catering service located just south of downtown Nashville. Their menu changes with the seasons as they buy as many locally grown ingredients as possible. The staff are...  Read More


Once featured on Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives" program, Martin's BBQ Joint is now one of the prime venues in the Nashville area's restaurant scene. This Nashville staple may no longer be a dive, but it still carries with it a...  Read More


Meet Margaret Littman

Journalist Margaret Littman is a both a relative newcomer to Nashville as well as an old-timer, having returned to what was her college town as a grown-up. 

She is the author of many...  More About Margaret