You should go to Lexington, Tennessee. It’s a town of about 7,700 souls, situated midway between Memphis and Nashville. John McAfee, the guy who started the computer security company of that name and could live wherever he wants, has chosen to live there, so it clearly has many charms. Maybe he likes barbecue. Some local folks claim that Lexington is the barbecue capital of the world, based on the number of barbecue places per capita. I scoff at that claim, but the reason you should go to Lexington is, indeed, barbecue.
When I ask you to go to Lexington, I admit that both Memphis and Nashville have some very good barbecue, and it’s close to a two-hour drive from either city to Lexington. I will tell you, though, that two hours is hardly too far to travel for B.E. Scott’s Bar-B-Que.
I did not know the true value of B.E. Scott’s before I went, but I had read that it’s one of only 27 places in the US that cook whole hogs over wood. That was enough reason for me to travel to Lexington from Memphis to open Day 3 of the Great Memphis Region Barbecue Sandwich Tour.
As I drove into Lexington I saw B.E. Scott’s signs.
I was immediately impressed by the size of the smokehouse
They can, and do, cook a lot of hogs there.
The restaurant itself includes a window at which you place and receive your order, in my case a regular (not large) barbecue sandwich, chopped, and a bag of potato chips. (Lay’s. There were no local brands.)
I got my sandwich, lumbered over to a table in a large and comfortable dining room, and got down to business. As you can see, the pork is packed tight. There was no skin, but apparently, if you want some skin in your sandwich, they will oblige.
As is my wont, I pinched off some pork for a taste.My reactions were, as follows:
I tried a bite of the sandwich with some of their excellent vinegar and pepper sauce. My reactions were, as follows:
- Vinegar and pepper.
I had some slaw on the side. The slaw had a fine chop, and lots and lots of vinegar. I tried a bite with slaw on the sandwich. My reactions were, as follows:
- Vinegar and pepper.
- Cabbage and more vinegar.
The meal, including a glass of water (I was on a diet), cost me $4.79. Next time I go there, they can charge me five times that, and I will pay with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. Heck, I’ll get two sandwiches.
B.E. Scott’s* also sell bags of pork skins that have been dusted with spices. I am wary of pork skins dusted with spices after my pork skins and pimiento cheese experience at Sam Jones Barbecue, so I didn’t get a bag for later. They also sell chicken, bologna, ribs, and, at Thanksgiving, turkeys. A whole lot of turkeys.
The presiding genius behind Scott’s is now Zach Parker (barbecue bros video at link), the son of the great Ricky Parker (another barbecue bros video), who went to his reward in 2013. Mr. Ricky was among the rural geniuses celebrated by John T. Edge in Saveur’s BBQ Nation. As a child, Mr. Ricky followed the crops between Tennessee and Michigan. He dropped out of school at 16 and started cooking pigs at Mr. Early B. Scott’s. Later, Mr. Parker bought the place from Mr. Scott, and sometimes the place is called Scott’s-Parker’s. But Mr. Ricky was a work horse, not a show horse, and Zach is, too: the sign still says B.E. Scott’s.
Like his father, Zach Parker is a non-celebrity chef. There are a lot of those, a lot of barbecue places out there that actually are better than most of the “Best List” places. Think of Bum’s, which has remained in the shadows since someone from National Geographic ate at the Skylight Inn, just down the road, and brought it to the attention of the Great and Powerful Oz, aka the New York Times. That placed it, deservedly, I stress, on every Best List around. The Skylight Inn truly is great, but Bum’s is better, the absolute best of Eastern North Carolina. There are so many non-celebrity chefs making great barbecue far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife.
You should take a look at B.E. Scott’s Facebook page, assuming you’re willing to expose your entire life to Mark Zuck!%^$*#@. What happened? I can’t seem to fix it. Well, the heck with it.
Anyway, I like that Mr. Parker highlights an employee on Scott’s Facebook page every Tuesday, including Mr. Leon, one of the pitmasters, who starts the fires every morning; Justin James, who’s on the woodpile; Jaleon Bailey, who carries around the 200+ pound hogs — a whole lot of 200+ pound hogs (they do a whole lot of catering); Daniel Walls, who makes the sandwiches; Ms. Terri, a manager and customer service; Mr. Anthony who’s on the pit and shoveling coals; Anita Lindsay in catering and operations; and that’s as far as I went back, and I’m sure there are more and that I’ve described a fraction of their actual contributions.
If you’re in Memphis or Nashville, you owe it to yourself to drive to Lexington and eat at B.E. Scott’s. If you are farther afield, you have no good reason not to fly to Memphis or Nashville, both being cities well worth a visit, and drive over to Lexington. Go there and try some of the barbecue that Mr. Leon and young Justin and big Jaleon Bailey and Daniel Walls and Ms. Terri and Mr. Anthony and Ms. Anita and all the rest of the crew, who, working together, doing what needs to be done, produce great barbecue under the aegis of Zach Parker. You will love it. Go to a Top Place. Get some great barbecue.
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*I keep referring to it as “B.E. Scott’s” rather than just “Scott’s” to distinguish it from Scott’s in Hemingway SC, and Rodney Scott’s in Charleston and Birmingham, and probably elsewhere.
I keep calling it B.E. Scott’s to avoid confusion with the wonderful Scott’s in Hemingway, South Carolina, or Rodney Scott’s outstanding place in Charleston, or all the other Scott’s barbecue places around the country.