Tennessee barbecue styles in Chattanooga

Photo by Sugar's Ribs

Some things just go together, like boats and the Tennessee River, a day off and hitting snooze + Memorial Day and barbecue. And, if you’ve ever been in a heated debate with someone about which style of barbecue is superior, this one’s for you. 👇

The barbecue style we see most in East Tennessee is chopped whole hog + pork shoulder with a vinegar-based sauce — a reflection of Western North Carolina’s influence.

But we can’t talk about Tennessee barbecue without mentioning Memphis, the style known for both dry and wet pork ribs. Memphis-style barbecue also includes pulled pork shoulder served with tomato-based barbecue sauce + barbecue on other foods, like pizza, nachos, and even spaghetti.

Where to try local barbecue

🍖 Charlie’s BBQ & Bakery, 2309 E. Main St. | Wednesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. | The menu has everything from dry-rubbed ribs to brisket sandwiches — try the pulled pork cornbread waffle plate.

🍖 Hillbilly Willy’s, 115 Browns Ferry Rd. | Tuesday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. | Word on the street is that their Memphis-style barbecue is spot-on.

🍖 Main Street Meats, 217 E. Main St. | Sunday-Thursday, 12-9 p.m.; Friday + Saturday, 12-10 p.m. | The Sat., May 28 family meal is smoked spare ribs, just in time for Memorial Day.

🍖 Memphis Street BBQ, 5722 Main St., Ooltewah | Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. | Enjoy a truly authentic taste of Memphis-style barbecue.

🍖 Sugar’s Ribs, 2450 15th Ave. | Sunday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. | A Chattanooga staple, this restaurant (which has goats in the yard) serves barbecue with a vinegar-based sauce, just like our WNC neighbors.

Bonus: Don’t eat meat? Try the jackfruit BBQ nachos from Cashew + Your Local Seitanist will have a “cookout” style menu with smoked seitan brisket, wings, and all the sides.

Make it at home

BBQ entreé

From Chef Jernard (on Instagram + Twitter at @chefjernard) of TV show New Soul Kitchen” and “New Soul Kitchen Remix” on Cleo TV

Cast Iron Skillet Barbecue Lasagna

  • 1.5 pounds ground beef or ground chicken
  • 2 tbsp. minced Garlic
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil 
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano 
  • 1 29 ounce can diced tomatoes 
  • 1 12 ounce bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce 
  • 1 package of oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 1 pint part-skim ricotta cheese 
  • Half cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 pound shredded or sliced provolone 

Step 1: In a skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef or ground chicken, add garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes — drain. Mix in basil, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, diced tomatoes, and BBQ sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 2: Preheat the grill or oven to 375° F.

Step 3: In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta, parmesan cheese, and mozzarella.

Step 4: Layer a third of the lasagna noodles in the bottom of a large cast iron skillet. Cover noodles with half of the ricotta mixture, half of the provolone cheese, and a third of the sauce. Repeat. Top with remaining noodles and sauce. Sprinkle additional parmesan + provolone  cheese over the top.

Step 5: Cook on a BBQ grill or bake in the preheated grill or oven for 35 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

A side dish

From Chattanooga Chef Erik Niel, owner of Main Street Meats and Easy Bistro

Herbed Cucumbers

  • 8 Pickling Cucumbers-peeled in stripes, seeded and sliced into half moons on a bias
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • Herbs: Marjoram, chives, dill, tarragon, mint, and basil — pick and mince

Step 1: Combine all in a bowl and chill for at least 1 hour.

Step 2: Transfer to a serving plate.

Step 3: Scatter herbs heavily over cucumbers before serving.