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The 13 Best BBQs in Tennessee

Barbecue fans have no shortage of excellent places to eat in Tennessee. Southern barbecue in Tennessee uses both dry and wet barbecue methods for delicious meat that is moist and satisfying. If you’re looking for the best BBQ in Tennessee check out one of the restaurants below.

best BBQ in Tennessee

The Best BBQ In Tennessee – West Tennessee

1. Exit 87 BBQ & Catering


At Exit 87 BBQ & Catering you’ll enjoy the finest southern hospitality at this simple roadside restaurant. The small, family owned restaurant has been operating for nearly twenty years.

It doesn’t look like much, just a small stand across the street from a gas station, but the food speaks for itself. The meats are slow-cooked for twelve hours before being served to hungry patrons. Their homemade barbecue sauce is an old family recipe that has been passed down for three generations.

Walk up and order then take your food to go or sit and eat at one of the picnic tables. You can also order larger portions and family meals to make feeding a crowd easy and fast.

2. Hope Cafe and BBQ


Hope Cafe and BBQ is a non-profit restaurant owned and operated by Hope Recovery Center. Proceeds from the restaurant go to benefit the Hope Recovery Center and Women of Hope. Not only can you enjoy delicious smoked meats, when you eat at Hope Cafe you’re also supporting a good cause.

The BBQ meats are slow cooked with hickory wood for excellent flavor. Fresh ingredients and the finest meats make this Tennessee BBQ extra delicious. They are open Tuesday-Friday for breakfast and lunch.

3. Cozy Corner Restaurant


At Cozy Corner Restaurant they have been serving up authentic Memphis style BBQ since 1977.

The large menu has a lot of great choices including ribs, wings, BBQ nachos, sandwiches, and more. The meat is delicious even without sauce but they also offer a range of sauces from mild to super hot.

The ribs are smoky and delicious. The food comes out quickly and is served hot and fresh. If you like desserts, get some banana pudding or sweet potato pie for a sweet ending to your meal.

The restaurant is open for dine in or takeout Tuesday-Saturday.

4. Central BBQ


The founders of Central BBQ Craig Blondis and Roger Sapp first met at a barbecue competition in the mid-80’s. They decided to join forces and opened their first restaurant in 2002. Since then they have opened several more locations in the Memphis area.

The restaurants all offer great atmosphere and amazing food. Come enjoy some of the finest Memphis style barbecue while relaxing with friends or family in the casual dining rooms.

They make ribs using a dry rub with their own special blend of spices. Meat is marinated for 24 hours before being smoked with hickory and pecan wood for an excellent, smoky flavor.

Chef making smoked pork ribs

The Best BBQ In Tennessee – East Tennessee

5. Love that BBQ


Love that BBQ is a casual barbecue joint serving classic, homestyle BBQ cooking. The restaurant is homey and welcoming and the prices are affordable.

The BBQ pork, chicken, and brisket sandwiches are offered in both medium and large sizes to suit any appetite. You can get traditional barbecue sides like hush puppies, mac and cheese, baked beans, and cole slaw.

For dessert they offer different cakes every day plus banana pudding on Tuesday and Thursday.

They are open Monday-Saturday for lunch and dinner. Thursday-Friday they’re open until 7:00. Other nights they’re open until 6:00.

You can get family packs to serve a crowd, and they also offer catering with seasonal options like smoked ham and turkey for Thanksgiving.

6. Sweet P’s Barbecue – Downtown Dive and Uptown Corner


Sweet P’s Barbecue has two great locations to choose from, each with it’s own unique style.

The Downtown Dive is located in a charming old brick building in the art district of downtown Knoxville. The style is dive bar meets barbecue joint. They have a beer garden out back where you can sit and enjoy a number of beers and wines.

The food is served cafeteria style, you’ll give your order at the counter and your food will be placed on a tray that you take down the line to the register to pay.

The Uptown Corner location in North Knoxville is a full service restaurant with sit down table service. In addition to the delicious barbecue, they also offer a full bar with cocktails, wine, and beer.

Both locations serve a lot of the same BBQ favorites like fried pickles, pulled pork, beef brisket and ribs. There are more choices at the Uptown Corner location but you can’t go wrong with either restaurant. Both have great service and excellent food.

7. Preacher’s Smokehouse


For some of the best BBQ in Tennessee don’t miss Preacher’s Smokehouse. This small, family own restaurant serves fantastic food at very reasonable prices. They offer weekly specials to help you get even more bang for your buck.

The mac and cheese is creamy and delicious and the ribs are so tender they fall right off the bone. The portions are large so come hungry!

They are open Thursday-Saturday only.

8. Hickory Cabin Restaurant


At Hickory Cabin you can get some incredible barbecue from this small, counter service restaurant. The kitchen offers an open view so you can watch the crew hard at work making your food.

They have a large menu with many standard BBQ favorites like pulled pork sandwiches, chicken wings, and fried green tomatoes. They also have burgers, baked potatoes, salads, and much more.

Catering is available. If you don’t see what you want on the catering menu, just ask! They are happy to accommodate special requests whenever possible.

9. Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Q


Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Q bastes their meat in a special sauce before smoking over hickory wood for up to 14 hours. The meat comes out tender, juicy, and absolutely delicious. Extra sauce is served warm on the side so you can add as much or as little as you like.

If you have a non-meat eater in your group they even offer a number of great vegetarian options like buffalo cauliflower, Potato skins, and hot pepper cheese squares

barbecue chicken wings ready to eat

The Best BBQ In Tennessee – Middle Tennessee

10. Peg Leg Porker


Peg Leg Porker is an award winning restaurant located near the Gulch area of downtown Nashville. All of their food is fresh and delicious. The meats are smoked daily, sides are prepared fresh from scratch, and the breads and desserts come from a local bakery.

Since good barbecue can’t be rushed, they only serve what is prepared each day. Once they run out you’ll have to wait until tomorrow. Only the best BBQ in Tennessee locations run out daily!!!

Peg Leg Porker also has it’s own signature Tennessee bourbon. The pit master Carey Bringle started his own bourbon brand that was first released in 2015. The bourbon is released annually as long as supply is available.

11. Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q

Nashville, Smyrna, Franklin

Jim ‘N Nicks Bar-B-Q has three locations in and around Nashville.

The restaurant was founded in Birmingham in 1985 and has since expanded to several locations in the South.

At each location you’ll find a commitment to authentic southern barbecue flavors and great customer service. Meats are cooked low and slow over hickory wood for that great smoky, BBQ flavor. Southern hospitality is very important at Jim ‘N Nicks so you will always be treated with the finest courtesy.

If you can’t get enough of those great flavors you can purchase some cheese biscuit mix, barbecue sauces, and seasonings to take home.

12. HoneyFire BBQ


HoneyFire BBQ is a locally owned and operated restaurant that started as a catering company. They expanded to a brick and mortar restaurant in 2017.

Their menu includes traditional barbecue favorites combined with creative new flavors. You’ll find items like smoked sausage and sliced brisket alongside unique choices like baby back egg rolls.

They have their own line of several great sauces all made in Tennessee including sweet and spicy barbecue sauces, habanero infused honey, and white barbecue sauce.

13. Hogwood BBQ


Last, but not least on our best BBQ in Tennessee list is Hogwood BBQ. According to Hogwood BBQ, it’s the fire that makes BBQ great. Not only the fire they cook with, but the fire in the hearts of the people who prepare your food. It’s fire that makes the food special.

There is no shortage of great food here. Choose from several tasty meats including pulled pork, beef brisket, St. Louis ribs, carved turkey, and sausage. They also offer daily specials and a number of signature sides like rosemary potato salad, icebox pickles, and hatch chile cheese grits.

BBQ smoked pulled pork sandwich with pickles and barbeque sauce

Time to Eat the Best BBQ in Tennessee

Are you feeling hungry yet? Whether you want a pulled pork sandwich, some super tender ribs, or a healthy serving of barbecue sides like baked beans and mac and cheese, you’re sure to find some delicious food at one of Tennessee’s best BBQ restaurants. For more things to do in Tennessee, check out these Tennessee articles.