Nothing says summer like smoked pork or ribs, collards, fries, and coleslaw—the makings of the finest Southern barbeque feast. But you don’t have to dine in to enjoy some of the best barbeque that Knoxville has to offer—it also makes for a sublime reward after a day spent in the outdoors.
So, as summer rolls in, here's a sloppy but mouth-watering guide to some of our favorite barbeque spots in Knoxville, perfect for the next time you need a fuel-up on the way back from the trails or to simply spread out on the grass for a family picnic.
Love That BBQ
An authentically East Tennessee take on the classic Southern ‘cue, Love That BBQ in South Knoxville has staples that are hard to find at other area joints, like smoked bologna and pig burgers. The no-frills eatery is a testament to old school barbecuing, a family-oriented spot that focuses on the food and the customers—and not much else.
Full Service BB
With more than a decade of slow-cooked deliciousness under its bulging belt, the Maryville-based Full Service BBQ has earned a sort of cult following for its quality and service station vibe: Its original location in an abandoned gas station inspired the name. It’s since expanded with stop-off restaurants in North Knoxville and Farragut, making it easy to drop by while on the go.
The only thing that threatens to outshine the sweet-smoked meats at Archers BBQ is the mouthwatering sweet potato chips it serves up on the side, and maybe its arsenal of varying BBQ sauces to boot. Owner Archer Bagley brought some Memphis flavor with him when he opened shop in Knoxville, using a hefty dose of dry rub for his meats and opening small restaurants in all corners of town, including the relatively new locale downtown on Gay Street.
Sweet P’s Barbecue and Soul House
Another Maryville startup that’s stretched its sloppy chops into Knoxville proper, Sweet P’s Barbecue now has two locations: its original "Soul House" on the Little River in Maryville and the “Downtown Dive” on Jackson Avenue in Knoxville. Expect a wait for a table during peak dining times, but you’ll be glad you stuck around for the lip-smacking grub.
Dead End BBQ
Quite possibly the poshest barbeque joint in town, Dead End BBQ has earned a huge following for its restaurant-like approach, blending messy Southern tradition with a pleasant wait staff and trendy West Knoxville location, though it also has a shop in Maryville. Depending on which restaurant you dine at, Dead End donates $1 to local high schools for each order of the Rebel Yell BBQ Burger—something you might ought to try, for a good cause of course.
It’s hard to spend any time in Knoxville and not come across Calhoun’s, whether it’s by word of mouth or because of its prominent downtown location on the banks of the Tennessee River. It’s grown to more than a half-dozen restaurants around East Tennessee for a reason, and if you haven’t stopped in for a bite you don’t know what you’ve been missing: sublime signature wings, sandwiches piled high with smoked meats, and a slew of sides like mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. You can even order a Family Feed Pack: a box of barbeque, slaw, and beans that’s perfect for any picnic.
Originally written by RootsRated for Visit Knoxville.