May is National Barbecue Month and what better way to celebrate than to hit the roads and plop down at a table in one of the many barbecue restaurants scattered across the Tennessee River Valley region.
Knoxville, TN (PRWEB) The Tennessee River Valley runs through the heart of the South where barbecue reigns king. Each year, barbecue fans make their way to one of many restaurants to enjoy the different styles of barbecue, sauces and rubs. While Kansas City, Memphis, Texas and the Carolina’s have been the hot spots for barbecue connoisseurs, other areas in the South have carved out their own niche featuring this age-old culinary technique. To celebrate National Barbecue Month, the Tennessee River Valley has compiled a list to give barbecue connoisseurs an idea of some of the best places in the region for barbecue.
Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que
Located in northern Alabama not too far from the high-tech city of Huntsville, is Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que. This fourth generation owned family business has racked up over 65 barbecue awards in the last 18 years including five Memphis in May Grand Champion titles, 10 state championships and 10 world championship titles. Smoked pork, tangy, peppery white sauce and homemade pies top their menu.
The history of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Que dates back to 1925 when Bob Gibson began perfecting his barbequing skills in his backyard in Decatur, Ala. Word spread quickly of his smoked pork and chicken and unique barbecue white sauce. Today, Big Bob’s is managed by his grandson Don McLemore and his son-in-law Chris Lilly.
Lilly, named one of the 25 most influential people in barbecue, knows a thing or two about barbecue. In 2009, he wrote his first cookbook, "The Big Bob Gibson BBQ Book." He is also the spokesman for one of the two biggest names in barbecue, Kingsford Charcoal. Through his relationship with Kingsford, Lilly uses his platform to educate barbecue connoisseurs on not just the merits of using Kingsford, but also on the traditions of barbecue.
“When you mention barbecue in the Tennessee River Valley region, many people picture whole split chickens dunked in a vat of barbecue white sauce, a north Alabama original. But, think of this region as half way between Memphis and the Carolina’s. Here, you get the best of both worlds, from dry rubs and sweet sauces to simple seasonings and vinegar sop mops,” said Lilly.
Located at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains near Canoe Creek, in Rainbow City, Ala., Local Joe's offers smoked meats, baked goods and local produce. The menu features barbecue by the plate, sandwich or bulk, stuffed baked potatoes, fresh salads and loaded nachos.
Local Joe’s is home-owned and operated by Jodie and Karen Stanfield and their family. The old home place that has been turned into a store still has the original tongue-and-groove hardwood flooring, wooden windows and large front porch.
Along with some of the best smoked pork, chicken and turkey around, fresh, local-grown produce as well as local honey, homemade pork skins and pimento cheese are also available to purchase. A wine room and a bakery filled with homemade baked goods including strawberry bread, cinnamon rolls, cakes, cookies, muffins, sausage balls and more are also located on the premises. It’s definitely a feast for one’s senses.
Hawg Wild BBQ and Catfish House
Located in Hiawassee, Georgia, Hawg Wild BBQ and Catfish House has everyone covered from Carolina barbecue and Lexington barbecue to ribs, barbecue chicken and brisket. These barbecue specialties are what set Hawg Wild apart as well as their wide variety of delectable sauces. A mild and tasty golden fried catfish is also served, along with hushpuppies for those who are not in the mood for barbecue.
Everyone’s meal starts off with a basket of hushpuppies. Additional menu items include chicken wings, Brunswick stew, smoked turkey, smoked chicken, fresh salads and fresh sides and homemade desserts, ice cream and fresh fudge are there to tantalize your sweet tooth. Lunch and nightly specials are offered every day of the week.
Krambonz BBQ serves smoky pulled pork, triple meaty baby back ribs, beef brisket, loaded potatoes, chicken and yummy smoked chicken salad sandwiches. While the quaint restaurant is known for its barbecue, its popularity is also due to its location where they have greeted visitors from near and far who are in search of an outdoor adventure. Located in Tellico Plains, Tenn., the gateway to the Cherohala Skyway, many visitors stop by to pack a picnic lunch before heading off on their adventure. A National Scenic Byway, the Cherohala Skyway is a 40-mile scenic roadway that crosses through Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee and the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina and features 15 scenic overlooks, picnic areas and trailheads for hiking. The town is also home to beautiful waterfalls, some of the best trout fishing in the country, plenty of hiking trails and horseback riding trails.
Barbecue connoisseurs will have to have to wait to sample the famous chicken barbecue and pork found at the next stop on the list. While barbecue is not traditionally thought of as an Irish delicacy, the annual Irish Picnic in McEwen, Tenn. is known for its barbecue. Held annually the last Friday and Saturday in July, the Irish Picnic is billed as the largest outdoor barbecue festival in the country.
Hosted by members of St. Patrick Church and the friends of the Parish, the Irish Picnic started as a fundraiser to raise money for a church bell and has grown to a two-day event which features the best barbecue around, live entertainment, a silent auction and game booths. Set for July 27-28, 2018, the annual event is now in its 163rd year.
During the two-day event, approximately 21,000 pounds of barbecue pork is slow cooked over hickory bark coals during a 24-hour laborious process. Visitors arriving early on Friday can feast on the 4,200 chicken halves that will be prepared by lunchtime Friday. In addition, free live music and dancing in the outdoor bandstand keeps everyone entertained. Admission is free.
While National Barbecue Month may be winding down, these restaurants in the Tennessee River Valley serve barbecue year round and are worth the drive. Plan a trip easily with the Tennessee River Valley Geotourism MapGuide, an online guide to explore authentic places and adventures that have been recommended by locals.
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