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Feb 24, 2011 02:39 AM

Looking for the best BBQ in Eastern Tennessee!

I'm spending a few days in east Tennessee and would love to sample some of the best local bbq. I'll be near the TN/VA border, but am willing to drive for some great Q. Any feedback on your favorites would be appreciated!

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  1. If you go to Johnson City or Bluff City then Cootie Brown's and Ridgewood BBQ are good road stops.

    Cootie Brown's @ 2715 North Roan St., Johnson City, TN 423 - 283 - 4723.
    Ridgewood BBQ @ 900 Elizabethton Hwy., Bluff City, TN 423 - 538 - 7543.

    Phil's Dream Pit BBQ is excellent at Exit 67AB near Kingsport, TN go E on I 26 just a minute to Exit 10 then go N on Eastern Star Rd. a minute. About 5 minutes off I 81.
    Phil's Dream Pit @ 534 Eastern Star Rd., Kingsport, TN 423 - 349 - 6437.
    Just N about 10 miles on E side of I 81 is Dixie Outpost BBQ if you prefer at Exit 69. Go E on # 394 a mile or two then turn left or N on # 126 just a few minutes to Dixie.
    Dixie Outpost BBQ @ 3172 Highway 126, Blountville, TN 423 - 574 - 7447.

    Cootie Brown's
    2715 N Roan St, Johnson City, TN 37601

    Phil's Dream Pit
    534 Eastern Star Rd, Kingsport, TN 37663

    3 Replies
    1. re: Littleman

      We will be traveling down Route 81 from NY to Charlotte, NC via eastern Tenn for Memorial Weekend - welcome all suggestions for non-chain diners sefving bbq, places for breakfast, things to see along the way, etc. Thanks !

      1. re: Lynne451

        The Naked Oyster is a great place for lunch/dinner at Winchester at Exit 313. Try the buffet at Butcher Block BBQ @ Exit 307 in Stephens City. Just down I 81 a few miles at New Market is Southern Kitchen serving outstanding country food for breakfast, lunch and dinner at Exit 264. Harrisonburg has quite a few fine road food places convenient to I 81. I suggest you consider Jess' Quick Lunch or Little Grill at Exit 247. The Village Inn is very nice also at Exit 240. Staunton is just W of I 81 and a very nice town also. It's home to Mrs. Rowe's country food breakfast, lunch and dinner and Wright's Dairy Rite. Lexington, VA has a number of good restaurants like Bistro on Main for lunch/dinner, Macado's for sandwiches and Sheridan Livery Inn and Restaurant for lunch/dinner. Lexington is the home of VMI and W&L U. It's a beautiful town a few minutes W of I 81 and worth a visit. Home Place is a great restaurant several miles W of I 81 W of Roanoke at Exit 141 serving outstanding country food, good fried chicken and deserts in an old home. Just E of Lexington at Exit 188AB Frank's for the Memorie's is a great place for good road food with great outdoor dining.

        Naked Oyster @ 2444 Valley Avenue, Winchester, VA 540 - 678 - 0778

        Butcher Block BBQ @ 131 Town Run Lane, Stephens City, VA 540 - 869 - 4141

        Southern Kitchen @ 9576 South Congress St., New Market, VA 540 - 740 - 3514
        Jess' Quick Lunch @ 22 S. Main St., Harrisonburg, VA 540 434 - 8282 Little Grill @ 621 North Main St., Harrisonburg, VA 540 - 434 - 3594 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 540 - 434 - 3594 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

        The Village Inn @ 4979 South Valley Pike - S Main St., Harrisonburg, VA 540 - 434 - 7355

        Mrs. Rowe's Family Restaurant @ 74 Rowe Rd., Staunton, VA 540 - 886 - 1833

        Wright's Dairy Rite @ 346 Greenville Ave., Staunton, VA 540 - 886 - 0435

        Bistro on Main @ 8 North Main St., Lexington, VA 540 - 464 - 4888

        Macado's @ 30 North Main St., Lexington, VA 540 - 464 - 8201

        Sheridan Livery Inn & Restaurant @ 35 North Main St., Lexington, VA 540 - 464 - 1887

        Home Place Restaurant @ 4968 Catawba Valley Dr., Catawba, VA 540 - 384 - 7252
        Frank's for the Memories BBQ @ 2117 Magnolia Ave., Buena Vista, VA 540 - 261 - 5553 b

        1. re: Lynne451

          Just a little N of Roanoke at Exit 150A/150/B is 3 Little Pigs. In Christiansburg just down the road a piece is Dude's, Due South, Farm House and Summit. All are very good places to eat. On S on I 81 in Wytheville, VA stop at Smokey's BBQ at Exit 70 or 73. Peking Chinese Restaurant is outstanding also. C J's Pizza is good if you have kids.

          Dude's Drive In @ 1505 Roanoke St., Christiansburg, VA 540 - 382 - 7901
          Due South BBQ @1465 Roanoke St., Christiansburg, VA 540 - 381 - 2922

          Farm House Food @ 285 Ridinger St., Christiansburg, VA 540 - 382 - 4253

          Summit Restaurant @ 95 College St., Christiansburg, VA 540 - 382 - 7218

          Three Lil Pigs BBQ @ 120 Kingston Dr., Daleville, VA 540 - 966 - 0165

          Smokey's BBQ @ 1090 East Main Street, Wytheville, VA 276 - 228 - 9014 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 276 - 228 - 9014 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

          Peking Chinese Restaurant @ 105 Malin Drive, Wytheville, VA 276 - 228 - 5515 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 276 - 228 - 5515 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

          C J's Pizza @ 1025 West Lee Highway, Wytheville, VA 276 - 228 - 8448

      2. When you go to Ridgewood, and you must go to Ridgewood, be sure to try the beans and sweet slaw (which is different than the slaw that can be served on the sandwiches.) I also like their blue cheese with crackers.

        Ridgewood has only two meats that they BBQ, and they do both excellently.

        It's not fare to compare them to rib places and shredded pork. Two very different styles of cooking, which is why Ridgewood is a necessity. Then you can start eating your way through smoky meats of the mountains.

        1. I'm in the same boat as the OP. Tons of great sounding suggestions here, but hard for an outsider like myself to isolate the differences other than location.

          If you had to pick two or three that simply can't be missed, what would they be? I'm driving all the way from NYC so location isn't an issue.

          4 Replies
          1. re: rushbikes

            (First, I abhore Mrs. Rowe's; it's too much like the very bland food I grew up eating on the other side of the mountain. As one cousin put it "She cooked greens so long you could no longer tell what they began life as.")

            When you get to Tennessee, Ridgewood is just down the road from Bristol. It is a must visit. Then wander on off the interstate and visit the Rhododendron up in the mountains or Greenville for President Andrew Johnson's home. One of their daily lunch specials is pulled pork.

            Take a drive down towards Chattanooga and stop at Benton's bacon (and ham) near Madisonville. (Gotta take something home as a souvenir.) Visit some of the old fort state historic parks, and stop at a grocery store for fixin's for a picnic on one of our lakes.

            You're not in a rush. Enjoy the mountains and the uncluttered highways, so very different from New England's higher population countryside.

            On you way into Cades Cove, stop in Walland for some hoop cheese.

            On your way back north, download the state of Tennessee' s Moonshine Trail map and visit backwoods valleys with two lane roads. Smile when you remember Robert Mitchum drivin' on Thunder Road.

            In Knoxville, Calhoon's on the river, next to the University of Tennessee is pretty standard BBQ. You are there for the river, for the ambience, and for the Spinach Maria as well as the ribs and chopped pork.

            Also in Knoxville, check out Litton's. It's up Broadway in a town called Fountain City which centers on a huge duck pond. Litton's hamburgers are superb, as are their sides and their deserts are made to be split for two or more diners.

            1. re: shallots

              Exactly the sort of thing I was looking for! Thx

              In your opinion, what's the best BBQ in the whole of TN?

              1. re: rushbikes

                You need to understand that East Tennessee and Memphis (West TN) might as well be in different states. Not that you can't find decent smoked pork in E. TN, but its not the same as Memphis and its surrounding area. Having lived in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis, I warn you that you may be disappointed if your expectations are too high.

                If you do make it to Memphis ever, you would have to try Cozy Corner, BBQ Shop, Payne's and Central - all do certain things very well, and its hard to say that one's the best. Maybe BBQ Shop for best all around.

                Enjoy your trip.

                Cozy Corner Restaurant
                745 N Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105

                1. re: Michael H

                  For us, Ridgewood is an hour and a half drive, each way. It's our default 'special occassion' destination when the (birth)day is great weather and we want to appreciate Tennessee. The "pulled pork" sentence belongs under the Litton's comment. Ridgewood has two things :Sliced pork and sliced beef. I love the sliced pork with slaw on the side. I really like their sweet slaw (that isn't served on the pork.) Often we buy a quart of their baked beans to bring home and enjoy for a week, if they last that long. So, I guess you'd say that it is our favorite.

                  If you are a vinegar-holic, plan to drive home through North Carolina for their very different Q.

                  The place we eat most often is the Rib shack at the corner of US Hwy 11W at Love Creek Road in Knoxville, just east of I-40, I-640 west interchange. I like their chopped pork and I love their pigsburgers. Their pigsburgers are often our take home food when we've been to the city (Knoxville) for stuff.

                  Borrow one of the books about Carolina BBQ from your library; it's a start at understanding nuances and regional preferences. (Then read the foodie Blog called Homesick Texan -with hundreds of recipes-which will explain Texas' beef brisket obsession.)