Six made-in-Tennessee bucket list barbecue spots

Food at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint in Nashville, Tennessee

Tennessee is nationally renowned for its barbecue. The state is home to mouthwatering brisket, fall-off-the-bone ribs and melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork. Hungry yet? Read further for your Tennessee barbecue check list. How many have you visited?

Rendezvous – Memphis

The famous Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous is one of the first stops you’ll want to make when you arrive in Memphis. The iconic ribs are the star of the show, but you can also order pork shoulder sandwiches, lamb riblets, beef brisket and charcoal-broiled half chicken. Pair your ribs with slaw, potato salad or beans. It’s a Made in Tennessee taste of heaven.

Helen’s Bar-B-Q – Brownsville

Follow the woody smoke to rural West Tennessee where you’ll find Helen Turner laboring over juicy pork shoulder. She holds her own as one of the nation’s few female pit cooks. See the process then taste the product with a succulent pork sandwich or ribs that will make you want to lick the plate clean.

Martin’s Bar-B-Q Joint – Nolensville

Each day begins at 5 a.m. when the low ‘n slow, live-fire, whole-hog barbecue and sides are prepared from scratch. Order the Redneck Taco (pork, brisket, sausage, chicken, turkey or catfish on top of a cornbread hoecake with slaw and sauce) or a huge plate of barbecue with two sides, or the Big Momma Sampler (4 ribs, ¼ lb. of pork, ¼ of brisket and two sides). Be sure to visit all locations in Mt. Juliet, on Nashville’s Belmont Boulevard, and downtown Nashville.

Peg Leg Porker – Nashville

The single-legged man behind the brand, pitmaster Carey Bringle brings legendary barbecue lineage to the table. From barbecue nachos to the Yard Bird Platter (half a chicken with two sides), you’ll walk away from this establishment full of ‘que and planning your return.

Calhoun’s Barbecue – Knoxville

Visit the original location (there are nine across East Tennessee) and dive into a slab of award-winning, hickory-smoked baby-back ribs. They also have gluten-free options from salads to filet mignon and char-grilled shrimp skewers.

The Firehouse – Johnson City 

Sink your teeth into barbecue that has been hickory smoked for 16 hours. Packed full of flavor, you can’t go wrong ordering the pulled pork or chicken, smoked beef brisket and tender baby-back ribs basted with The Firehouse Original Sauce.

Eat your way through Tennessee at more barbecue spots throughout the state.