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Apr 11, 2007 10:51 AM

Looking for GREAT BBQ in Nashville

I am going to be going to Nashville to sight see for a day, we are looking for a couple of great options for food. We are really looking for a great BBQ place! As well as any other local treasures! Any information would be greatly appreciated!!!!

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  1. For barbecue, the easiest to find is Hog Heaven, a shack next to Centennial Park, sort of behind the MacDonald's on West End Avenue. My favorite is Mothership BBQ out in Berry Hill, about 4 miles south of downtown out 8th Avenue. It's off Thompson Lane in a little tangle of streets called Berry Hill, all of which have flower names: Columbine, Iris, Azalea.
    Several postings earlier in April down this board, including "Quintessential Memphis and Nashville" and "Hidden Gems in Nashville" have some terrific local recommendations made recently, but if you could be more specific about what you're after -- fancy, homey, downtown, brunch, near the airport -- I can help you narrow down your options.

    4 Replies
    1. re: fluffernutter

      We are really looking for homey kind of places, nothing fancy, just good food at reasonable prices. We are going to be sightseeing, the opry, country music hall of fame, a trip to a plantation, that kind of stuff, so we just want to experience the local atmosphere.

      1. re: traveler85

        The Hall of Fame itself has a cafe that's good -- I had a great summer salad there with watermelon and feta cheese. Not sure how late they serve. Joe's Crab Shack is right there under the Shelby St pedestrian bridge a block or two away from the Hall of Fame-- haven't been since the mid-1990s, so I can't attest to the quality, but you could turn it into a cheap, fun evening with a stroll from the Hall of Fame to the restaurant, then across the Shelby Street bridge at night. Also a block away is Sole Mio, the best Italian in town. For $20 to $25 a person without wine you get superb, handmade food. You're also a block from The Palm steakhouse, which is good but I find it spendy.

        The best value non-ethnic food downtown is Demos on about third and Commerce. It's about a 6 block walk from the Hall of Fame through the heart of downtown. Steak, spaghetti -- just good solid food at good prices. A copy of their menu is here:

        For plantation visit and eating, go to Belle Meade Plantation. Martha's at the Plantation is a great restaurant attached to the visitor center there. Call first -- you may need a reservation for dinner, but you can usually get a seat at lunch. Also on that end of town is Cheekwood, a mansion and botanical garden that's a gorgeous afternoon. There's a restaurnt there, too, called The Pineapple Room.
        The Hermitage is also beautiful, and there's a pretty good restaurant not so far away called Elllendale's.
        If you're at the Opry complex, the restaurants at the hotel are a good choice but there's not much local atmosphere there. In the Opry Mills mall, which is part of the campus, there's a good Texas-style bbq place -- it's at one side of the crescent-shaped food court, and a Tony Roma's rib place. The Mexican place at Opry Milles isn't in the food court, but down one of the endless hallways, is called something like Uncle Tio's or Uncle Pablo or Tia Carmen. Anyway, there was an Ecuadoran lady making the tortillas by hand, and they were just fantastic.

        Happy Hounding!

        1. re: fluffernutter

          You will like Demos if you think Chef Boy-Ar-Dee is a taste treat. Otherwise, avoid it. And don't eat the BBQ in the Opry Mills food court; it sits under a heat lamp all day. If you want Texas-style BBQ, go to Judge Bean's.

          1. re: nm1

            I would also suggest avoiding Demos. Even my teenagers hate it.

    2. Arnold's Country Kitchen on 8th Avenue, a block or so south of the junction with Lafayette, is probably the best "meat & three" in the universe, if you want the quintessential Nashville Experience. If you're there on Monday you're in luck, because that's fried chicken day, though everything is good there (that's Arnold in the bow tie, carving the roast beef). Get in line by 11:30 for the shortest wait - it's a "plate lunch" place, served cafeteria-style.

      Monell's in Germantown (North Nashville) used to be our closest thing to Miss Mary's Boardinghouse in Lynchburg - don't know if it still is. Loveless Cafe, out Highway 100 near the end of Natchez Trace, is once again worth its reputation, and worth the drive for breakfast or lunch. As for barbecue, I second the recommendation for Hog Heaven - try the chicken with the white barbecue sauce! My second-favorite pulled-pork place, though, was Cantrell's just off of Ellington Parkway in East Nashville; that was years ago, though, so I don't know if that still exists.

      For a good look at your possible choices, go to and look for dining recommendations. This is the very good local free weekly, and their capsule reviews are generally much more reliable than is commonly the case.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Will Owen

        Cantrell's was sold a year or so ago. The new owners still serve BBQ there but I haven't been there so I can't say how it compares to the original.

        1. re: Will Owen

          Is that Will as in "will and tanya"? Where are you now? What's good to eat there?

          1. re: fluffernutter

            We're in Pasadena (where Tania's from), but come back to Nashville every October. What's most wonderful here is Mexican and Chinese - we're at one end of the San Gabriel Valley, home to almost 700 Asian restaurants, mostly Chinese or Chinese/Vietnamese. What's not is that good biscuits are hard to come by, good cornbread impossible (except at our house).

            I have to admit I'm going by what I've read in the Nashville Scene and heard from friends about the changes Morales has made at Loveless, and all of that has been laudatory. Downhill was where it had been going - I know I liked the atmosphere more than the food, the last few times we went there. We will definitely try it this next trip. We're trying to get another Hound, an LA native who loves it when I cook Southern, to come with us.

            1. re: Will Owen

              Behind the mask of fluffernutter, I'm Nicki Pendleton. Long time no see -- I'm envious of the weather and the eating in your locale. I supposed I'd trade reliably great Asian food for biscuits any day. Oh, and the wine's cheaper too, I bet. Maybe we'll catch some Loveless one of these visits!

              1. re: fluffernutter

                Both Asian food and wine are cheaper here! However, the topic of this particular thread being barbecue, I have to say that while there is edible stuff available in LA County, the best is maybe up to Corky's quality, and it tends to be expensive. I'm looking forward to finding the real thing next visit.

                Give me a holler at <> when you get around to it.

          2. re: Will Owen

            What changed with Loveless? It seems like over the last 2 years, people have mourned the change in management, citing terrible food. Can you bring me good tidings of Loveless?

            1. re: thinks too much

              New ownership-- I think it was purchased by Tom Morales of TomKats.

          3. its about a 20 minute or so drive out of nashville but by far and away the best bbq in the entire area is a new place in Nolensville called Martins bbq......the other places are not even in the same discussion. I've eaten great q everywhere (north carolina to texas) and it is some of the best i have ever is as authentice as it gets. my wife and i heard about it from friends about and recently the papers have been giving it some serious rave.......definetly worth the drive. arnolds is a must stop (meat & 3) and so is the copper kettle on granny white blvd. elliston place soda shop is also a must. good eatin' to you!

            1. Since no one else has mentioned it on this page, I'm going to chime in for Judge Beans BBQ on 12th. It's run by a Texan, so things are primarily brisket oriented. But, oh... on it's best days that brisket can hang with Texas. The smoked wings are fantastic too, and the ribs (after years of being barely tolerable) have finally crossed over to being pretty damn good. Oh, live music at night, fresh cut fries, and Blue Bell for dessert.

              I'll second Jack's as being solid but not spectacular. I like Hog Heaven's location and the hole in the wall environment, but I don't think it's anything special. Heck, every time I've ordered a sandwich there I've watched them pull out a plastic baggie of meat and toss it in the microwave. I can get that at Whitts. Where exactly is the meat being smoked there?

              1. If your plantation tour choice is The Hermitage, Center Point BBQ is a few blocks south of the main entrance on Old Hickory Blvd - down home and decent, not spectacular, nice folks, good corn cakes to put that pig on. Hog Heaven next to Centennial Park the same, but in this weather (high 90s) the lack of indoor seating there makes it a tough choice unless you are taking it home. Check out the Scene site recommendations for hot chicken places if you want to try something distinctively Nashville.

                1 Reply
                1. re: lmnash

                  I agree with Judge Beans for Texas brisket and do also like Hog Heaven (especially the white sauce which I've only also found at South Street -- which is another fun place that serves great pulled pork among other things.

                  I saw a mention of Mothership BBQ above and they are now closed, just fyi.