Nancy and I spent a long weekend in Nashville, and had a great time. The two immediate lures were (1) the Barbecue Bros ranking of the top five barbecue places in Nashville, and (2) really cheap airfares on Southwest.
The Barbecue Bros are three friends from High Point, North Carolina who, as every good North Carolinian, like to eat barbecue. The Bros, Speedy, Monk, and Rudy hopped on the internet to review barbecue places, which they do jointly in a lively, bantering conversational style, and to share news bout barbecue and other barbecue lore. You should check out their site.
The Bros have now scattered — Speedy to Nashville, Monk to Charlotte, and Rudy to Holland, Michigan, which I imagine is the barbecue equivalent of Siberia. I see, however, that Kingsford, the best low and slow charcoal, recently gave a Preserve the Pit Award to Daddy Pete’s BBQ in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a mere 38-minute drive from Holland. Just sayin’.
I had a fun lunch with Monk last time I was in Charlotte, as described here, and arranged to meet Speedy during when Nancy and I undertook our Nashville tour de barbecue. We initially planned to meet at the picnic tables outside Shotgun Willie’s, ranked #5 (#1, The Oak Texas BBQ, a food truck, wasn’t open). Rain drove us indoors, however, and we wound up at Edley’s, a popular place that needed a re-check. Here we are —
Let’s get down to business. Speedy decided to check on their ribs and ordered a half rack with extra cornbread. (All of the plates come with cornbread.)
Nancy ordered a pork plate with potato salad and cole slaw.
And I ordered a pork plate with green beans and macaroni and cheese.
And how was everything? Speedy said the ribs tasted like they’d been cooked a lot earlier. He shared a rib with me, and Speedy’s assessment was spot on. The ribs definitely were tired, and they didn’t have a lot of meat. Speedy was very high on the corn bread, though.
Nancy immediately noted the ribbon of barbecue sauce across the meat and decried it as being too sweet. That’s why I married her. She liked the slaw and potato salad, and heartily joined in Speedy’s praise of the corn bread.
I joined Nancy’s criticism of the sauce, but I do give Edley’s credit for not drenching the pork with the sauce, a la Central BBQ in Memphis, or Pierce’s near Williamsburg, Virginia. Most of the pork was untouched by sauce, and although it was sweet, it wasn’t treacly. The pork was chopped pretty fine, but it wasn’t at all dried out. There wasn’t much in the way of smoke flavor, but it was okay.
The sides were better than the meat. The macaroni and cheese was baked, as it should be, and very tasty. The green beans were outstanding, and the pot likker was quite good. Edley’s gives you a generous chunk of cornbread, and it’s grilled after being baked to get that caramelization you can see. Oh, and it’s jalapeño cornbread. Very good, and just right for crumbling in pot likker.
Edley’s has a nice atmosphere. You walk up and order and they bring your food. There’s a full bar and some TV sets if you’re interested, and it’s quiet enough that you can carry on a conversation. It’s in up-and-coming East Nashville, across the river from downtown. Free parking spaces were in short supply, so we had to pay to park, but the price for 2 hours was (drum roll) one dollar. A pork plate is $11, and you can get tacos and catfish and hot chicken in addition to the barbecue menu. And I appreciate Edley’s listing banana pudding as a side dish, just one step short of listing it as a vegetable.
It wasn’t the best barbecue I’ve had, but it was pretty good, and Was pleased with the sides. All in all it was a great lunch. It was a treat meeting Speedy. He has a brother in the DC area, and I hope to take them to 2fifty Texas and some other Washington area barbecue places when he comes to visit his brother. Meanwhile, I won’t tell you that Edley’s is the best place to go for barbecue in Nashville, but if you’re over in East Nashville and want something other than ribs, you should stop by.
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