13 April 2009
NASHVIILLE BARBECUE: Part 11 - Murfreesboro
Murfreesboro seems to have expanded every time I visit. There appears to be no limit to the growth of the Bucket City, along with the rest of Rutherford County. Did you know that Murfreesboro is now considerably larger than Jackson? Anyway, in a city of almost 100,000 people, there is surely no shortage of barbecue restaurants. Most of them we have already covered, either as chains, local chains, or Memphis imports. But there are a couple of Murfreesboro originals that are worth looking into.
Pope Taylor's Bar-B-Que is just outside the city limits on Woodbury Highway. It's in an old tin-roofed building next to a similar building that houses Pope Taylor's Market. I'm not sure if Pope Taylor's Market is still open. Anyway, the people that run the barbecue place are just as friendly as can be. It's a limited menu - pretty much just barbecue sandwiches, hamburgers, and a few side items.
The barbecue sandwich is of course pulled pork. The generously portioned pork comes having been pre-sauced with a very vinegar-based concoction. As a result, the pork is very moist, but does not have much flavor beyond the vinegar and a little bit of smoke. Overall, a very average pulled pork sandwich.
Slick Pig Bar-B-Q is closer into town on East Main Street. They've been a Murfreesboro fixture since the Spongebath days, which, in Murfreesboro years, is like, a long time. No discussion of the Slick Pig is complete without mention of their smoked chicken wings (see photo at top), which have justifiably earned the place great acclaim. There is no sauce involved, and they are not spicy. They're just perfectly seasoned, slow-smoked chicken wings that are so tender that the meat pulls right off when you take a bite. The wings are so addictively good that in all the years I've been going there, I can't remember ordering anything else. Let's see how their standard barbecue fare stands up.
The pork sandwich came on a griddled bun, which is always a good thing. The pork was relatively tender, and with good flavor that was complemented by the Slick Pig's very good hot barbecue sauce. This was a very tasty sandwich.
The ribs were a winner as well. They were untrimmed spares which were cooked perhaps a bit too long. But hey, I would rather the meat be falling off the bone than be undercooked and tough. The meat had outstanding, rich flavor, and the sauce once again shined, providing sweetness and a little bit of heat.
So it appears that the Slick Pig does excel beyond just their chicken wings. Based on my experiences, this has to be considered one of the best barbecue restaurants in Middle Tennessee.
Highlights: Slick Pig pork sandwich (Real Good), Slick Pig ribs (Real Good)
Disclaimer: Please note that these reports are based on particular servings of barbecue at a particular day and time. Barbecue can be prone to fluctuation. Your experiences may vary.
More reports in this series:
Part 1 - The Legends
Part 2 - The Chain Gang
Part 3 - Local Chains
Part 4 - Jefferson Street
Part 5 - Clarksville Highway
Part 6 - East Nashville
Part 7 - The West Side
Part 8 - Memphis Imports
Part 9 - T for Texas
Part 10 - Williamson County
Part 11 - Murfreesboro
Part 12 - La Vergne & Smyrna
Part 13 - Wilson County
Part 14 - Catching Up in Nashville
Part 15 - Hendersonville & White House
Part 16 - Portland & Gallatin
Part 17 - Robertson County
Part 18 - Dickson County
Part 19 - "Barbecue by any other name..."
Part 20 - Places We Missed
Part 21 - More Places We Missed