Thursday, September 2, 2010

Welcome To Nashvilleland: You Must Be This Tall To Eat Here

Jack’s Bar-B-Que
416 Broadway
Nashville, TN
Visited August 17, 2010

Beer selection: A lame selection of $5 bottled beers

Food: Tasty, but over-priced BBQ

“Nashville Sucks!”

Among the so-called “creative class” it’s the most popular mantra since “Hope & Change.”

I have 32 songs on my Tennessee I-Pod playlist (yes, I have a playlist for most states). 17 of those songs are about Nashville specifically, 16 of which reflect the aforementioned theme.

Music City’s number one product is cheesy pop music.

And I do mean “product”.

Corporate hacks pick some pretty guy or gal out of a face book who can barely carry a note, write them a song with lame lyrics, provide them a backing instrumental track, and market the slop to middle aged white women.

If these aspiring artists had a creative bone in their body, it’s quickly squelched. So, it’s just easier to pick someone who doesn’t, goes the Nashville corporate thinking.

So I wondered, how good can corporate Nashville BBQ be?

I went to Jack’s to find out.

Nashville, Inc. became crystal clear the very first time I stepped foot in the famed Wild Horse Saloon over a decade ago.

A “band” of “guys” who looked like they were recruited off a male cheerleading squad or a Jetblue employee picnic were on stage “singing” what can only be described as “music” that reminded me of Milli Vanalli with a twang.

I’m pretty sure above the pulse of the synthesizers I could make out Hank Williams rolling in his grave.

I spent almost a decade hiding in my hotel room on subsequent Nashville trips.

Then I got up some courage and checked out Lower Broadway.

Lower Broad is a touristy version of what Nashville used to be, or so the corporate hacks want the tourists to think.

You have the famed Ryman Auditorium, a converted church that hosted The Grand Old Opry for three decades before the corporate hacks decided to move the Opry, appropriately enough, to a theme park out in some God-forsaken, soulless expanse of Nashville suburban hell.

Right along side the Ryman is a smelly alley that leads to the back doors of a series of touristy honky-tonks.

Touristy honky-tonks?

Isn’t that kind of an oxymoron? Not in Nashville.

Tootsie’s is the most famous, known as the place where Willie Nelson and Patsy Cline’s husband got drunk one night and wrote “Crazy”, the most famous song in the history of the juke box. I suppose Tootsie’s has its divey charms, but $6 for a PBR is a bit ridiculous, even if there is no cover charge.

The best place on the Lower Broad strip is Robert’s Western World, a former cowboy boots store where PBRs are just $2.50, and you can still hear real musicians playing real instruments performing real country music. You can even get a decent burger or fried bologna sandwich from the dude at the griddle in the back.

Next door is where you can find Jack’s. And I was hungry for some BBQ.

Jack’s reminded me of dining at EPCOT in Disney World.

The food was pretty good, but over-priced. And the joint, which had the atmosphere of an amusement park cafeteria, was mobbed with stroller-pushing tourists and their screaming kids.

For $25, I stood in the cafeteria line and got the three meat platter (three ribs – only two of which had meat, plus sausage & pork), baked beans, green beans, a slice or two of corn bread, a tiny piece of chess pie and a Shiner Bock.

While that sounds like a lot, Jack’s doesn’t exactly go over board on portion sizes. The three meat platter is more of a sampling of a few bites of this and a few bites of that.

But what do expect at a theme park? I mean, Nashville?

The good news is the BBQ was legit. Smoky and tasty, just like it should be, especially the ribs (the two with the meat on them, that is).

Jack’s is exactly what tourists from Pennsylvania think BBQ should be.

Keep it simple, don’t get too creative and charge the hell out of ‘em for it.

And that’s why Jack’s is a perfect metaphor for the theme park that is Nashville.
Rating: Would Wear Shirt If It Were Free

Jack's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon


  1. Why would you go to a "touristy" area of Nashville to find good food or drink? Get out and about. The "history" of the area you were in is certainly historic, i.e., the first area of the country where prostitution was legalized, but there has only been a "rebirth" in the second ave./lower broadway area of downtown during the last couple of decades. Everything fell into disrepair in the 70s and 80s. I know you can find better BBQ by driving a few miles. You've got to get out and drive in the bad neighborhoods and spot it. You can't just google or read a book. Those rating are notoriously political and susceptible to manipulation.

  2. I should mention that many of these corporate maestros running the show in the "city of nashville" are yankees (and another word that I won't use) who've come in, bonded the heck out of the city and use the local left-wing college and university students for votes and leftist types who want to "rejuvenate" the city through gentrification. The freaking mayor is a Yankee from Massachusetts! Just like every other major city in the country, Nashville, too, has raised taxes and bonded the heck out the place to build it back up. The Wall Street Yankee banksters push all those bonds. All these towns look the same "downtown." Louisville, Charlotte, Nashville. They all have the same big government planned "rejuvenation." Arenas, stadiums, convention centers, museums, etc. Drive out 20, 30, 40 miles. Or, as I recommended, get in the rough neighborhoods to find good, low priced food. Touristy area for BBQ? Get real...