As we crossed TN and checked out Chowhound recommendations, we were able to eat a lot of good BBQ. Here are our comments, organized East to West:
Pigeon Forge--We went to Corky's as it has long been one of my Memphis favorites. This location was not as good as the Memphis main location. I ordered my ribs dry-rubbed, with sauce on the side. The brought ribs with sauce basted on and no dry rub. When I asked them to take the ribs back, they asked if I would accept a "side" of dry rub! Man, that's just completely lame. So I finally got what I wanted and they were really good and up to what I had experienced in the past.
Nashville--Ah, Martin's....now there's a fine place. Just a little hole in the wall well outside of town, but really good Q. I went with the ribs again and made a mistake by asking them to put the HOT sauce directly on the ribs. While I could handle the heat (heavily habenero-based), the heat detracted from the flavor of the ribs, so I scraped it off, got some of their basic sauce and managed to save the day. Ribs had a great flavor and the open mike yielded some very decent music.
Nashville--Jack's. On Broadway and just a few steps from the Ryman and the Country Music HOF. I stayed with ribs and they were decent, but not as good as Martin's or Corky's. Still, their convenient location makes them a good option.
Memphis--Rendezvous. Best ribs of the TN trip. Yeah, I know some people dis' em because a lot of tourists go there, but they were the only ribs of our trip that absolutely did not require any sauce. Just good smoked meat. Truly exceptional.
Memphis--Payne's. I went with the recommendations on this board and grabbed a sliced pork (not to be confused with a pulled pork) sandwich and it was incredibly delicious and surely the best value of the entire trip. Do order a side of the beans as they had the best beans in TN, IMHO. Really funky place and I'd advise not to go into the bathrooms before you eat (or after, for that matter). Kitchen was clean!
Memphis--Interstate. Went to the original location on S 3rd. This was surely the most disappointing recommendation of all. Ribs were average at best and VERY GREASY...the sauce seemed to be a combination of BBQ sauce and grease. Perhaps we just went there on the wrong day.
While I realize that BBQ is a VERY subjective topic, just like pizza, I wanted to throw in my 2 cents worth. For my money, the best BBQ in the country is in Lockhart, TX, but that's another topic for another day. Cheers.
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