It is no surprise that Nashville, the music city, is home to the best country music in America. Besides sightseeing and music, you can get their famous hot chicken here as well.
Nashville may not be Memphis when it comes to barbecue, and that’s okay. Downtown Nashville features smoked meat specialties from each of the three major interstate highways that cross within a mile of each other: ribs in the St. Louis style, smoked chicken in Alabama white sauce, vinegar-based sauces from North Carolina, and yes, Memphis-style ribs. With all this said, where is the best BBQ in Nashville?
It’s time to pack your bags to travel to Nashville. It’s the city with the best country music in the world, incredible food, and really hot chicken.
Let me tell you about the places with the best BBQ in Nashville before you start drooling on your keyboard.
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Best BBQ In Nashville: Top 10 Restaurants
2706 12th Ave. S., Nashville // +16159532951
Edley’s is the perfect mix of barbecue and southern tradition with three locations in 12th South, East Nashville, and Sylvan Park.
If you prefer pork tacos with slaw and pico de gallo, I recommend the Tuck Special, a brisket sandwich with spicy pimento cheese, over-easy egg, and red and white sauce.
Edley’s Nashville Hot BBQ is a thing, and if you thought there isn’t anything new in the world of ‘cue, you’d be wrong! Edley’s has worked hard to make their innovative Nashville Hot BBQ a thing. Every day, eight to ten choices of secret family recipes are available.
501 Gallatin Ave. Nashville // +16155219742
The Gambling Stick is a small food truck and canvas tent stuffed into the corner of Porter Road Butcher’s parking lot. Barbecue joints are notorious for their modesty, but no place in town is lower-key than The Gambling Stick.
The things they’re cooking up in that little trailer are quite amazing! For a unique taste and texture, try the pigsket sandwich, which is unlike any pulled shoulder sandwich you’ve ever had before.
Nothing quite like the sweet and spicy baked beans seasoned with burnt ends at any BBQ joint in town.
903 Gleaves St., Nashville // +16158296023
Taking its name from its peg-legged and highly proud owner, Carey Bringle, who lost a leg to cancer as a teenager, this indoor-outdoor restaurant doesn’t take itself too seriously, except when it comes to its Memphis-style smoked meat.
Since opening in 2013, Peg Leg Porker has produced one of the best BBQ in Nashville, and now it’s expanded to offer more dining space in the “Pig Pen.” Additionally, he has plans to open Bringle’s Smoking Oasis in The Nations and another spot at the airport.
To start, I recommend trying their Memphis Sushi, sausage and cheese platter on saltines, or barbecue nachos, followed by the dry ribs, pulled pork platter, or the yardbird in a tangy white sauce with a pickle on the side.
4000 Gallatin Pike Suite B, Nashville // +16159429188
Historically, the beef brisket was an afterthought at Nashville barbecue joints, rarely prepared and mostly tolerated as a change of pace from the usual pork fare.
Bill Laviolette, a local barbeque lover, discovered what they had been missing once he started importing Texas Prime brisket and sausages and cooking them in his massive smoker.
As a result, he has emerged as Shotgun Willie’s BBQ owner, Nashville’s undisputed smoked beef king, and a welcomed addition to the local barbecue scene.
Angus beef is the cornerstone of Shotgun Willie’s menu, boasting prime grade brisket from Braveheart Farms, the nation’s premier Angus program.
Their plates include mouth-watering Tennessee Style pulled pork shoulder and “Texas Size” salt and pepper pork ribs.
410 4th Ave. S., Nashville // +16152880880
The Martin’s Bar-B-Q joint has numerous locations in Tennessee, so you know that it’s the place you need to visit at least once. It’s impossible to be wrong with nine different locations. Alabama even has one, as does South Carolina.
You know it needs to be something really good when most of the South decides that it’s time for another barbecue joint, and Martin’s is that.
This restaurant boasts a completely fresh menu made every day, so you can taste home-cooked food, even if you aren’t at home.
Martin’s isn’t a place for everyone to fool around; the people who go there come to eat. Any diet will crumble under the smells wafting out of the smoker pit in the main room.
During football season, it is a popular hangout because of the TVs, patio, Biergarten, and top floor with games. However, Martin’s smoked pulled pork and dry ribs keep it busy all year long.
This type of finger-licking goodness is only found in the southern states. So, bring only people who are willing to let you pick off their plates! No wonder it’s named as one of the best BBQ in Nashville!
416 Broadway, Nashville // +16152545715
In 1976, Jack Cawthon, the godfather of Nashville barbecue, opened this restaurant overlooking the river. Here’s why it’s the place with the best BBQ in Nashville.
Jack is a good ol’ boy named Jack, but his style is all Tennessee. Oak and hickory-smoked chicken, pork shoulder, chops, ribs, and hot links flow from grills that resemble those in old gas stations.
One of the best meals you can enjoy in any city can be made by slathering some sauce on it and picking up some sides.
In total, there are three locations today, and the original sits just a few blocks up from Tootsies. So, make sure you visit this fine-looking BBQ joint!
500 Church St., Nashville // +16157702772
Nashville is home to many fine BBQ spots, but Puckett’s is a true smoker’s delight with its cherry wood-smoked meats.
Among Puckett’s many southern favorites are chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and meat and three platters, but its cherry wood-smoked barbecue is one of the best in the area.
There is no shortage of serving options – you can choose between pulled pork, brisket, ribs, or chicken, which can be served in a skillet, on a platter with greens and smoked Gouda mac ‘n’ cheese, in a sandwich like the Tennessee Philly or the Mojo Burger, or in a tortilla, known as the Redneck Burrito.
501 Donelson Pike, Nashville // +16158720207
Originally a downtown pie wagon in 1940, Bar-B-Cutie evolved into a carhop in the ‘50s, then into a smokehouse chain with multiple locations throughout Middle Tennessee and beyond.
There’s a lot of nostalgia at this classic Tennessee BBQ joint, which is worth its weight in side dishes alone. Its Texas toast and Thanksgiving turkeys make it a favorite fast-food chain in a fast-paced environment.
Among their strong sides are cornbread dressing, fried okra, turnip greens, and stuffed potatoes.
So, whether you’re taking a quick lunch break, a low-key date, or stopping off to wander around Nashville, this is the spot for you.
2725 Clifton Ave., Nashville // +16153294418
The restaurant opened in 2006 in a former gas station with the goal of serving the best barbecue in town.
Music City is filled with delicious food, and there is none better than Swett’s. The restaurant serves classic comfort foods such as meat and three, catfish, and chicken for lighter fare. A Chicago specialty, rib tips are suitable for the hearty eater if you’re looking for a spicy dish.
There is something on the menu for everyone in the family, including meat options and sides. Make sure you don’t leave without sampling Swett’s famous cobblers, packed with nostalgia your taste buds will appreciate throughout the year.
8127 Sawyer Brown Rd #304, Nashville // +16157396121
Many types of barbecue sauce are available at grocery stores, but most of the sales come from bottles with a sweet/heat flavor blend.
HoneyFire BBQ has quickly become a hot spot for great barbecue. The restaurant is known for using apple wood and hickory to smoke all of their meats, combined with locally sourced ingredients.
There’s nothing better than smoked chicken wings dipped in the sauce or smoky ribs coated in a sweet, sticky glaze.
HoneyFire also offers some over-the-top sandwiches, such as the Southern Shine, topped with pulled pork, fried green tomatoes, pimento cheese, and candied bacon.
Best BBQ In Nashville: Summary
Barbecue is a religion of the American South, and Nashville is nothing if not a Southern city.
Because of its unique geographic location, it features the cuisine of many different regions of the deep South in Tennessee alone: Memphis dry-rub ribs (a dry rub cooking method pioneered there), East Tennessee’s world-renowned sausage, Central Kentucky BBQ sauce, and as well, the famous Western Kentucky Hill Country barbecue.
So, whether you’re looking for dry or wet ribs, Eastern-style or Western, you won’t be disappointed by the selection in Music City.
Visiting other destinations in Tennessee? Check out our other delicious guide:
Igor Jovanovski is an aspiring digital nomad, travel blogger and graphic designer who really loves food. He also has a creative side, and he works as a freelance graphic designer in his spare time. He has traveled across Europe quite a few times since he was young and recently started his mission to visit every country in the world! Igor’s favorite thing about traveling is the way he gets to know new people, food, places and cultures.
This exciting experience helps him create his own stories and make memories that will last forever