Knoxville has seen its barbecue population multiply in recent years, to the point where keeping up with all the available options might be dangerous to your prolonged cardiac health. Here’s a guide to the all the restaurants we know of in the city limits. (And yes, we probably missed some places in this ever-morphing scene—just let us know which ones.) For a full list of barbecue restaurants in the Knoxville metro area, be sure to visit our website Restaurant Guide.
B&D Rib Shack
5200 Rutledge Pike 247-7258
At B&D, the focus is clearly on the meat. The majority of the menu is devoted to ribs, chicken, and pork. There are also turkey legs, beef brisket, sausage links and the Famous Pig Burger. Of the 24 menu items, only eight are sides, refreshments or desserts. You can get traditional sides like baked beans and coleslaw, or if you like something off the beaten path there’s grilled cabbage. But B&D isn’t serving anything that will distract you from the meat. Catering available.
100 N. Central St. 637-4255
This Old City staple is a local favorite as a comfortable late-night watering hole. The Backroom’s menu features hickory-smoked pork, ribs, and Texas brisket. Offering a wide variation of the BBQ sandwich and huge bourbon and beer selections, along with a horseshoe-equipped patio, makes it the complete BBQ/bar experience.
Big Fatty’s Catering Kitchen
5005 Kingston Pike 219-8317
Big Fatty’s Catering Kitchen is best known as a “soul food” joint. While Fatty’s has made a name for itself with heaping blue plate specials, traditional Southern sides, and an amazing banana pudding, they also know their way around BBQ. For those who prefer the BBQ between buns, they have a chicken sandwich topped with a sweet and tangy sauce. Monday’s blue plate special is a meat loaf slathered in BBQ sauce. Saturday’s special changes from week to week, but if you’re lucky enough to stop in on BBQ night, then you’re sure to leave satisfied. Catering available.
7545 Brickyard Rd. 938-9222
80 E. Tennessee Ave., Oak Ridge 658-0605
Powell’s own barbecue icon has now opened a second location in Oak Ridge. Order any of their smoked meats by the pound for takeout or sit down for a tasty dinner. For lunch, try a salad topped with smoked turkey or salmon or a combo with brisket, chicken, and a delicious side item. Catering available.
121 West End Ave, Farragut 675-4366
8402 Kingston Pike 691-0088
3700 Magnolia Ave. 523-3550
4500 N. Broadway 687-2959
4401 Chapman Hwy. 579-1747
5806 Kingston Pike (Northshore) 588-0528
Celebrating 38 years of serving East Tennessee real hickory smoked BBQ, Buddy’s is definitely the people’s favorite—voted Best BBQ, again, in Metro Pulse’s Best of Knoxville poll. Catering available.
10020 Kingston Pike 673-3444
400 Neyland Dr. 673-3355
4550 City Park Dr., Lenoir City 988-9838
625 Turkey Cove Lane in Turkey Creek 288-1600
Calhoun’s Microbrewery: 6515 Kingston Pike 673-3377
If there’s one restaurant in town that’s nationally famous, then it’s certainly Calhoun’s. The restaurant’s signature hickory smoked baby-back ribs won a “Best in America” title at the National Ribs Cookoff soon after Calhoun’s opened in 1983—and it’s been on a roll ever since, becoming a perennial Best of Knoxville winner for both its ribs and its barbecue (they claimed Best Ribs again this year). But the menu offers other specialties like fried Southern catfish, grilled steaks, chicken and seafood, too. And its downtown location has a river view that can’t be beat, especially on a Game Day.
3101 E. Magnolia Ave. 595-0212
Metro Pulse readers agree that Chandler’s makes some great home-style Southern food. May 19 marked the restaurant’s 10-year anniversary. They won best “Meat and Three” in this year’s Best of Knoxville poll, and they also nabbed runner-up for best ribs—their specialty. The rotisserie chicken and macaroni and cheese are no-fail choices as well. If you want soul food, this is the place to go.
3621 Sutherland Ave. 212-5655
Stand-out barbecued chicken and a signature red sauce put Dead End BBQ on the map, earning it the title of Best New Restaurant in the 2010 Best of Knoxville poll. Try a combo platter so you can sample the brisket, pulled pork, and famous chicken. Also serving a variety of creative BBQ-based appetizers (try the bacon-wrapped shrimp), burgers, and smoked meats. Don’t forget to finish with the homemade banana pudding.
1201 E. Magnolia Ave. 525-9305
Good things come in small packages and the same can be said of Dixson. Tucked in the corner of Jessamine and Magnolia, Dixson has a small menu and not much seating (even if you add the outdoor patio), but the quality more than makes up for it. Cash only.
Double B’s Barbeque
501 Hwy. 321 North, Lenoir City 951-5151
Double B’s is a celebration of all things barbecue. They serve pulled pork, chicken, wings, beef brisket and, of course, country-style ribs. The sides are classic cookout: baked beans, coleslaw, corn-on-the-cob, fried okra, or turnip greens. There’s also the famous “pit tators”—chunked potatoes with the peel, cooked with green peppers, onions and smoked sausage. And there are seven homemade sauces, ranging from sweet to “hot-as-ye-get.” Finish it off with sweet tea and cornbread—the complete barbecue experience. Catering Available.
208 Advantage Place 694-9990
Award-winning ribs, plus tasty sides served in a casual atmosphere. Catering available.
F.A.T.S BBQ Carry Out & Catering
2701 Whittle Springs at Washington Pike 524-1929
North Hills’ take-out place and catering. True hickory smoked pork BBQ plus chicken, ribs, excellent homemade side dishes, hamburgers and hot dogs.
The Hog’s Leg
1506 Callahan Dr. 859-0380
Owner/Chef Jason McNeil worked under Kenny Ciao (of Stir Fry Cafe fame) for a few years before opening his own place. You can taste the attention to detail. Delicious BBQ, subtly seasoned, home-made kettle chips, and vinegar dressed coleslaw. Catering available.
1039 Summer Wood Rd. 692-1003
This barbecue carry-out mecca off Middlebrook Pike has earned a legion of hardcore followers. Their party trays, family packs, and take-home meals offer a food solution for casual dinner and special occasions alike. Be warned there’s no place to eat your BBQ at the restaurant—you’ve got to take it elsewhere.
Ott’s Pit BBQ
12828 Kingston Pike 966-9538
Ott’s is a Lenoir City legend. Although the current incarnation is not the original, that doesn’t make it any less of a local fave. The newer Ott’s still has the famous Ott’s BBQ sauce and potato salad, and there are some new additions to the menu as well. Try out the smoked chicken or baby back ribs for Ott’s updated offerings.
Pup’s Pit BBQ
7660 South Northshore Dr. 531-4540
Ever since setting up shop in a rickety shack on the edge of a raging Interstate 40 feeder road, Pup’s Pit has won a reputation for competition-standard fare among the city’s barbecue cognoscenti. “No-nonsense classics are prepared with a disarming simplicity that borders on candor,” wrote our reviewer, the Gourmet Nose. Now it’s in a more traditional locale, but the barbecue is just as good.
7428 S. Northshore Dr. 951-2880
RouXbarb chef Bruce Bogartz brings his award-winning culinary palette to full-service barbecue—with classic Cajun/creole offerings like jambalaya and etouffee. But be sure to try the BBQ lamb ribs, sausage, and tofu (?!).
Scruggs’ Real Pit Bar-B-Que
1920 E Magnolia Ave. 524-4333
This package store/barbecue has been a longtime east side institution, and probably the longest-running ’cue establishment in town (since 1974). They soak, pit-smoke, dry-rub, chill, cut, and then bake their barbecued ribs, in that order—the same way for over 35 years. Catering available.
The Smoke Box
2827 E. Magnolia Ave. 525-0062
Well, it does look like a box—a tall take-out only building that’s been a few different eateries in the recent past. But what’s more, the tiny joint with a smoker out back produces box meals: the Rib Box, Wing Box, Fish Box, even a Salad Box. All are priced very reasonably—tax and drink included!
350 N. Peters Rd. 692-9940 or 692-9941
This national barbecue chain out of Florida offers a complete menu, ranging from barbecue specialties of every sort to Southern-style dishes like fried catfish. Sonny’s also has a vast salad bar with 30 items.
3725 Maryville Pike 579-0100, 804-4843 (catering)
Specializing in a unique blend of Southern cuisine, from Tennessee Brisket to Tomato ’n’ Blues salad, not to mention the best smoked wings in town, Sweet P’s guarantees rockin’ soul food for any occasion. Its restaurant at Willow Point Marina makes for scenic patio dining; plus, it has one of the best jukeboxes in town.
5306 North Middlebrook Pike 247-6653
Many followers of the smoke claim this is the best in town, with numerous online reviewers attesting to TD’s vinegar-based sauce and excellent ribs.
9670 Countryside Center Ln. 357-4449
A relaxing bar and grill that’s good for families looking for dinner and friends looking to have a few cold beers. Their tender, succulent BBQ is cooked on a traditional grill right in the parking lot. And they’re right next to the Coastal Connection Seafood Shop, which means Vernon’s offers some nice marine fare. Also featuring music from local bands.