When J and I were planning our honeymoon, we decided we were doing a BBQ tour. Originally, the plan included a stop in Memphis, but once we realized how far Memphis was from not only Nashville, but Lansing, we scrapped that part and will hit it later. I was a little bummed. I could spend a few days in Memphis just eating. Screw the sights, bring me some good Q!
Since we were going to Nashville, I knew there was still a way to get that good BBQ. There’s one Memphis family who has a Nashville location as well and once we left Pigeon Forge, we went straight there.
Neely’s BBQ is on Nashville’s northwest side. It’s located inside the Waterfront Plaza on Rosa L. Parks Boulevard which also goes at Metrocenter Blvd…at least according to our GPS. When coming from I-65, it’s really hard to see. In fact, we missed it and almost missed on the return trip. It sits a little ways off the road and there are so many trees in front that you can’t see the sign. There’s no signage out by the street either. I could smell bbq, but I couldn’t find it.
Once we finally did find, it wasn’t the building I was expecting. Even with Pat & Gina’s fame, the restaurant is in a strip mall next to a pizza joint. It still has a roadhouse type feel. Inside the restaurant is what I like to see from a BBQ joing. The floors are aged hardwood and all the walls are covered in marker. Thousands of people have left their own unique mark on the restaurant walls and support beams.
There’s a long order counter near the door that overlooks the kitchen. There were actually two registers, but we didn’t know it. We got in line behind someone who must have been visiting for the first time like us. He looked over the menu for a long time. Some regulars behind us got annoyed and went around us to the next register which we didn’t even know was there. It was hidden by the Coke machine.
When it got to be our turn, we also had to look over the menu that was taped to the counter. We didn’t see any paper menus at first and there’s nothing above the counter. We both knew we wanted a pulled pork sandwich, but we had to pick sides.
I use a recipe from “Down Home With The Neely’s'” to make macaroni and cheese which J and I both love, so J decided to try the restaurant mac ‘n cheese to see if it compared. She also got an order of baked beans while I got the french fries.
After ordering, you just kind of hang out and wait for your food. You can see into the kitchen and when it’s ready, someone gets on a microphone and calls out an order number. We were standing right there, so the guy who brought ours could “save his mic time.” Around the corner from the pick up area were little containers of BBQ sauce. They didn’t put bottles on the table, but you were free to take as much as you needed. I’m sure this cuts back on waste.
The food is served on styrofoam plates and in styrofoam cups. J got her pulled pork with slaw. I didn’t. The meat already comes sauced which is a little disappointing, but there wasn’t a lot on it. It’s actually what I would do myself. The meat was delicious. It was so tender and fall apart in your mouth. I destroyed my sandwich and finished it off in a matter of seconds. I seriously considered going back for a second one. It’s the type of BBQ I crave here in Michigan, but have a hard time finding.
J said the baked beans were alright, but they had brisket in them and she prefers pork. That was probably the only disappointing thing we had. The mac ‘n cheese was exactly what we make home. Well, it’s actually a little creamier, but that’s probably because I don’t really know how to make a good bechemel sauce. The fries were also amazing. They were fresh cut and nice and golden brown. I grabbed a couple more things of BBQ sauce to dip my fries in. I grabbed a hotter one while J grabbed a sweeter one. I liked mine better, but she liked hers better. I shared my fries just because I knew they were exactly the way she likes them cooked. I didn’t share too many though.
The Neely’s lived up to expectations. I hate the show. I really just don’t like Gina’s personality. I love the recipes though and I’m glad they share. The restaurant was awesome. The whole drive to Nashville I was worried about being disappointed. I wasn’t.