Tennessee’s Best BBQ Off the Beaten Path

18 Comments By 

Where do you think serves up the best BBQ in Tennessee? Here are a few of our favorite barbecue restaurants in the state:

Larry's Bar-B-Q at the Wagon

Larry’s Bar-B-Q at the Wagon in Decherd

Known for its mustard slaw, this restaurant off of I-24 near Winchester, sandwiched between a Shell station and a strip mall, is a cross between a country barbecue joint and a cozy café. Read More >>

Helen's BBQ

Helen’s Bar-B-Q in Brownsville

We love the pulled pork, Polish sausage and ribs at this small West Tennessee BBQ joint, but don’t take our word for it. Pitmaster (mistress?) Helen Turner has been crowned the first-ever Queen of Barbecue by the Southern Foodways Alliance. Read More >>

Corner Pit BBQ

Corner Pit BBQ in Bryson

This family-owned barbecue joint in rural Giles County has been around since the 1960s, and the same vinegar-based sauce has been passed from owner to owner. The current pitmasters use a wood-smoking pit to cook the pork and added a spicy tomato-based sauce to the menu, along with farm-to-table burgers made using beef raised on their farm just a mile down the road. Read More >>

Ridgewood Barbecue - BBQ Restaurant in Bluff City, TN

Ridgewood BBQ in Bluff City

Foodies come from miles around to enjoy one-of-a-kind barbecue from a family that cares about maintaining the restaurant’s original charm. Ridgewood’s signature BBQ dish is pit-cooked with a heavy-smoked taste, then sliced thin and piled on platters or massive sandwiches with a tangy sauce. Read More >>

Bozo’s Hot Pit Bar-B-Q in Mason

Located on Highway 70 between Memphis and Brownsville, Bozo’s is the place to go for tender, juicy ribs on Friday or Saturday nights, with sweet slaw and baked beans on the side. Read More >>

shoulder, big ed's, red boiling springs, tn

Big Ed’s BBQ in Red Boiling Springs and Lafayette

With two locations in Macon County, Big Ed’s smokes its pork to perfection. Order the shoulder sandwich, but you should probably ask for the “dip” – hot, vinegar-based pepper sauce only available in the small northern Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky region – on the side.

Is your favorite barbecue restaurant not on the list? Let us know in the comments which BBQ hot spot we should hit up next!


  1. kenneth bland

    January 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    Try Shaffers Bar-B-Q, located north of Lawrenceburg on Highway #43.
    Texas style beef at its best outside of Texas. Their sliced beef sandwich
    is all that a person can handle. Try it with their regular Texas style BBQ
    sauce and you will not be disappointed.. Tender, juicy and tasty.

    • rock

      October 11, 2015 at 8:18 pm

      you got that right!

  2. Max

    March 1, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Give Jack’s Bar B Que a try, Broadway in Nashville. The ribs are awesome!

  3. Jason Lewis

    August 18, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Folks if you want some lip smacking country style BB-Q I give you 2 choices. For some real old timers bbq with an asian twist, well really the people who cook are at least. James at Excell BBQ located on hwy 12 in Clarksville Tn just outside town in Montgomery Co. Learned his firing skillls from a man by the name of Walter Dyce of the Fredonia Dyce family. And let me tell you the ribs are AWESOME,but bring some wet paper towels to really enjoy them. Freshly cooked on Fri,Sat.Sun,try it.. The next place is a little off the beaten path but don’t worry Mr. Robert’s got signs for those folk who are directionally challenged, anyway he’s in Thomasville Tn,in Cheatham Co. just over the Montgomery Co. line near the Robertson Co. line off Hwy 41-a or get off I-24 At the Maxey Rd. exit and go the gas station and they can tell you the way. They got this dish called the Wease Bowl it’s good ole white beans with BBQ and a good ole fashioned ho cake of cornbread on top, watch out! its good with a little sauce so try these two places you can’t go wrong

  4. Sandra Smith

    August 19, 2011 at 4:45 am

    For some of the best ribs you will ever eat, head to the Cozy Corner in Memphis, home of the world’s best ribs!

  5. IRA V

    August 19, 2011 at 8:07 am


  6. Boo

    November 3, 2011 at 11:13 am

    The Firehouse in Johnson City..Best BBQ around….

  7. Melinda

    May 2, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Smokin’ Joes in Maryville, TN is awesome! Love their Sweet & Spicy sauce on a pulled pork sandwich! I’ve been to joints in Memphis and they just can’t compare to Mr. Joe Higgins bbq.

  8. David Felts

    May 2, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    There’s is a new place in Erin, Tn. called Papa’s. They are located directly across from Erin Elementary School on Hwy 13. Great bar b Q.!!!!

  9. Tommy Staggs

    May 14, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Three BBQ’s come to mind that are not on your list that you should definitely tryout.
    1. http://jacksbarbque.com/ in Nashville, TN
    2. http://baconandcaviar.com/ in Nashville, TN
    3. Shaffer Farms Texas BBQ in Summertown, TN

    • Jessy Yancey

      May 19, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      Hi Tommy,
      Thanks so much for these suggestions! We live in Nashville and can attest that Jack’s and B&C are both top-notch barbecue – and we’re also happy to report that Martin’s just opened up a location here in the city. We’ll have to try Shaffer Farms next time we’re down in the Summertown area. Thanks!

      Jessy Yancey
      editor, Tennessee Home & Farm

  10. Brad M. Kanner

    May 24, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    I have not been to any of the other 4 BBQ’s, but I have been to Ridgewood BBQ and in my opinion it SUCKS!!!!!
    I have owned 2 BBQ restaurants in NC and I can speak with authority that using fresh ham is not what any real BBQ Chef would ever use. There is not enough fat in ham to make the BBQ juicy and flavorful. And that’s what I found out at Ridgewood BBQ. Also there sauce is sweet and fairly thick, I prefer the original type of sauce from Eastern NC which is apple cider vinegar and red pepper flakes. As most chef’s know apple cider vinegar add’s to the flavor of Pork, it doesn’t just taste like sweet tomato based sauce.
    I have always cooked either pork shoulder or boston butt’s and I cook then at 225 degrees for 13 to 18 hours and an inside temp of 185 degrees. And I serve my own sweet hushpuppies with lot’s of onion. The only bread I ever used was for sandwitches.
    When NC started growing rice they imported asian’s from the Caribbean by way of Asia and black’s that knew how to plant and prepare rice patties, when they came they brought spices as long as vinegar and red pepper flake’s.

  11. Linda

    August 21, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    I am on the road quite often and my favorite food is barbecue. I have tried many different restaurants that serve barbecue. I was raised on pork. My Granny had a smoker. I do my own canning and cook from scratch. I came in 3rd one year in the County for blue ribbons for my canning and baking. Therefore, I expect restaurants to be a little more discriminating with their barbecue when people are paying money to enjoy the taste and flavor of good barbecue. It takes more than one thinks to made a cook barbecue sandwich. Most places use a cheap bun for their sandwiches which by the time they get to the table they are soggy and the sandwich falls apart. It is difficult to find a restaurant that puts time and effort into developing a tasty sauce. This includes all the barbecue places in Crossville, Dunlap, Dayton, Cookeville and some in Nashville. One along a main highway in Crossville has a sauce that is too spicy for those that want a mild sauce and the coleslaw is too wet. When you put coleslaw that has been chopped too fine and is runny on a cheap thin hamburger bun, the sandwich again falls apart by the time it gets to your table. Flavor in the pork is hard to come by. The pork at this restaurant in Crossville tasted as though, it was sitting in water. The pork at Praters on Manchester Hwy near Morrison had more flavor than most. However, they need to do something with the consistency and flavor of the coleslaw and find a new bun to serve with their barbecue. It’s been some time since I was at Martins Barbecue in Nolensville and I will be going again next week. They are at the top of my list. The pork shoulder was flavored to perfection. The Piedmont styled tomato sauce was tasty. My passion for barbecue seems to have put me on a mission to find the best barbecue in TN

  12. the bbq king

    April 26, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Brad Kanner: For someone who’s ‘owned two bbq restaurants in NC’ you are not very knowledgeable about different regional bbq’s. A histoy book tells it better than I could: “In the Appalachian Mountains to the east, you are likely to encounter smoked hog shoulders or hams served with a thick and sweet sauce. Perhaps the most famous and quintessential example of this style can be found at Ridgewood Barbecue in Bluff City, where a barbecue platter consists of thinly sliced pieces of smoked ham drizzled in a dark red, sticky-sweet sauce with home-cut French fries piled in a poetic mess on top.”

    East TN bbq is traditionally made with ham, and in lots of bbq towns elsewhere in the country, they whoop you if you showed up with a bottle of vinegar. Stay on your side of the mountain and don’t worry bout it.

  13. Keith the traveller

    September 15, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    If you are north of Nashville near Springfield, TN during lunchtime on the weekdays go to Willie Mae’s and order anything they make. I love the brisket but a lot of my co-workers love the pulled pork, chicken, sausages, or turkey.

    The only BBQ I have found that come’s close is Black’s in Lockhart, Texas

    Get there early because they sell out and there is no more until the next day.

  14. BRYAN J

    October 18, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    1. Center Point BBQ in Hendersonville
    2. Shaffer Farms in Summertown
    3. Hog Wild in Parsons
    4. The BBQ Shop in Memphis
    5. Helen’s BBQ in Brownsville

    Check out Where 2 Q on Facebook. I travel all over the US, and these are the best of the best in Tennessee

  15. Pingback: Restaurants bbq tennessee - Ratekcbbq

  16. Pingback: tn bbq restaurants nolensville - Whitesbbq

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay Connected

Made in Tennessee giveaways, exciting events, delicious recipes and more delivered straight to your inbox.