If you're coming to Nashville to try some legit BBQ from the home of smoked meat, it's impossible to test every BBQ joint in town. There are too many. So, where do you start? I haven't listed every BBQ joint in Nashville, how could I? Instead, I've focused on BEST. The pitmasters are world class and the cooking methods go back generations. These restaurants are consistently rated as the best in Nashville year after year.
The below Nashville BBQ restaurants have been consistently ranked the overall best BBQ in Nashville. I promise that you will experience the best southern BBQ in the South if you visit any of these places.
You'll find the service to be excellent and the atmosphere charming. All the restaurants have their own style and décor. Half the fun is going in and seeing how they have laid everything out.
As with the most popular restaurants in Nashville nowadays, you may have to stand in line to get your food. Don't let that scare you away; I would suggest it's totally worth it!
For this roundup, I have not included any chain restaurants. Instead, these are the real-deal Nashville BBQ joints run and reviewed by passionate locals. If you were my own family member who was visiting Nashville, this list would be my top recommendations.
Of course, many fantastic places have yet to be included. As you drive around Nashville, you'll see smokers smoking excellent meats on the side of the road. This also only consists of the areas outside of the downtown area. You don't have to drive far to find these joints.
The most famous Nashville food is undoubtedly hot chicken. A close second, however, would be smoked meat. Nashville is home to some of the best pitmasters in the country who have set up shop right here. While in town, try some other famous Nashville food like meat and three, Goo Goo Clusters, and fresh biscuits.
What is your favorite bar-b-que joint in Nashville? Tell me in the comments below!
Best Nashville BBQ
Bringle’s Smoking Oasis
Bringle's serves up the most mouth-watering BBQ in Nashville, and it's also got a great story behind it. It was started by an award-winning grill master and Nashville native, Carey Bringle. His family has been smoking meat for generations. He started grilling from a young age until, shockingly, he was diagnosed with cancer at 17. He beat the disease, spurring him to go for even more success.
The menu is stacked with smoked brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and beans. It's southern smoking and grilling at it's finest.
They are located 15-20 minutes from downtown Nashville within The Nations neighborhood. Click here to learn more.
Peg Leg Porker
Carey Bringle is also the founder of Peg Leg Porker. When he was struck with cancer at age 17, it caused him to lose one of his legs. Thus, the restaurant was named after him. Peg Leg Porker has won numerous national awards, and Carey has had the opportunity to cook with the best in the business. Fortunately, here in Nashville, we get to call him our own.
Every day they serve up phenomenal meats which are worthy of your visit. They are located in The Gulch, just a stone was throw from the heart of downtown Nashville.
It is a popular restaurant, and it's not unusual to need to stand in line for your food.
I recommend “Memphis Sushi.” It includes cheese, perfectly smoked sausage, pack of saltines, and it's sprinkled with some spices and chili. Next, I recommend the half rack of ribs with dry rub, smoked green beans, and Mac and Cheese. You'll find that the ribs fall straight off the bone with every moist and flavorful mouthful. Learn more here.
Jack's Bar-B-Que is on lower Broadway, next to the Ryman Auditorium and The Stage. In fact, it's a smack dab in the middle of lower Broadway. So, if you plan on taking advantage of the whole Nashville experience, here's your chance to pop out of a Nashville honky-tonk and into one of the best BBQ joints in Nashville. Jack has been running the show since 1976
Jack's includes 6 different types of meat and lots of side items. The style is a cross between Texas and Tennessee. The restaurant features 6 different sauces to choose from, and they slow-cook their brisket for 18 hours! I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. Jack is an all round good guy. You might even spot him in the store greeting customers.
You'll know much more about Nashville after just walking around and looking at the wall. It's filled with Nashville history and memorabilia. Learn more here.
Shotgun Willie's BBQ
When Bill (Shotgun Willie) moved to Tennessee from Texas, he bought with him a passion for Texas brisket and a desire to combine it with the slow cooking process of Tennessee BBQ. The name comes from Bill's second favorite Willie Nelson song, “Shotgun Willie”. Unfortunately, his favorite song, “I gotta get drunk,” was inappropriate for a BBQ joint name 😉
He opened in Nashville in 2020 when the only option was to provide takeout. Since then, the store has become a full-fledged dining restaurant and has been met with raving reviews.
Aside from the brisket, the side dishes are traditional BBQ sides created with the same level of passion as the meat.
They have a chicken dip Mac and Cheese side, and a great green bean recipe cooked down with cuts of beef that provides a unique taste.
My favorite dessert is the bourbon banana pudding. Shotgun Willie's won the Nashville Scene's “Best Barbecue” award in 2020.
Edley's Bar-B-Que has three locations throughout Nashville with a massive variety on the menu. Their specialties include fried pickles and the beef brisket burger with egg, pimento cheese, and BBQ sauce. Another highly recommended dish is the BBQ nachos with beef, chicken, or pork with sauce.
Edly's has been awarded the best Bar-B-Que in Nashville for four years by The Nashville Scene. Learn more here.
Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint
Martin's BBQ has three locations in Nashville. However, their best and most prominent location is downtown on 4th Avenue. This location features multiple levels and bars. It's huge.
Marin's is a unique location in that they still practice cooking the whole hog, west Tennessee style. The entire pig is slow-cooked. Pat Martin, the owner and pit master, has been called a “smart country boy.” He spends 4-5 hours simply stoking the fire that will be needed to keep the fire burning at 170 – 180 degrees.
Some favorite dishes include the wings with dry rub, the deviled eggs, and the Red Neck Taco. The taco is similar to a soft pancake topped with whatever meat you want, coleslaw, and sauce.
They boast that nothing is ever frozen or microwaved – everything is fresh! Learn more here.
This last BBQ joint is close to my heart. My father-in-law, the late Joe Chambers, the founder of the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, used to take me here.
Joe, a southern man through and through, needed to educate me, an Aussie lad, on what meat and three looked like in Nashville, Tennessee.
He decided to show me by taking me to Swett's Restaurant. Think about it for a moment, Joe had lived in Nashville for almost 50 years, and this is where he decided to take me. Swett's has entertained celebrities, politicians, and locals for its 62-year existence.
The cafeteria-style restaurant serves all the best southern food you can expect. I recommend the fried, smothered pork chops with gravy in terms of BBQ. Also, you can only try the BBQ if you try sweet tea.