Like so many of the best food places in the South, Dicky’s Hickory Pit isn’t built of flashy signs or clever advertising, but of a genuinely good take on barbecue. This north Nashville dive is a simple drive-through establishment along a side road, but people love the place. It’s amazing, spend some time to sit and enjoy your meal and you’ll find a ton of people lining up for some quick brisket to go. It’s just the right kind of place to get your fingers sticky with a sample of delicious southern barbecue.
Center Point BBQ has been in the business of providing seriously good food to Nashville since 1965. Though it looks humble from the outside, there’s no mistaking the laurels adorning the pit barbecue joint’s walls; hundreds of autographed photos proudly display just who Center Point has made into believers; from country stars like Taylor Swift to George H. W. Bush and his son, to the 2009 Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders. The aroma of freshly smoked hickory wood wafts through the parking lot, a testament to the flavors being created within the red bricks.
But then, Tennessee Barbecue is serious business.
One of Dayton’s few resident Barbecue joints, OinkADoddleMoo Smoky BBQ has three locations and a food truck, all catering to diners in the Dayton area. With a brightly-colored and cheery environment, it almost seems like a restaurant for kids. Indeed, the atmosphere of the restaurant is welcoming to barbecue lovers of all ages, but the flavors and delicious smoky barbecue sold here will really appeal to the tasty meat fanatic. It’s got all the ritz and clean concept of a corporate chain, but as of now, OinkADoodleMoo really enjoys the benefits of a hometown restaurant.
One motto on City Barbecue’s website really embodies what this business is all about: “Other restaurants serve barbecue, we’re a barbecue restaurant.”
Since its inception in 1999, this Dublin-based chain of 20 restaurants has exploded all over the state and into neighboring Indiana. City Barbecue really goes for a classic community smokehouse feel; exposed skeletal walls filled with paraphernalia of local high school sports, dominated by an oversized counter where the line of hungry customers watch as red meat is slathered with sweet Midwestern Barbecue sauce. It’s a shame that few barbecue chains tend to do well, but City Barbecue seems to be bucking the trend, and deservedly so.
Nestled a little off the beaten path in central suburban Dayton, KD’s Kettering BBQ brings a very rare sight for this part of the city: home-grown barbecue. There are a lot of restaurants in this area, but in spite of the heavy commercial presence on the more visible nearby streets, KD’s seems to have gained a steady following among locals; it’s a modest place with down-to-earth managers (who apparently like American soldiers and Britney Spears) the place is nonetheless just too loveable to pass up.
As a fairly recent relaunch from another former restaurant, Cosmo’s Family Restaurant in Bowling Green seeks to be a jack-of-all-trades type of place. With traditional diner-type breakfast items to heavy steak dinner, barbecue and other things, it’s got everything but pizza (a wise choice considering the flood of pizza places in town) and quite n extensive menu of goodies to try. I can’t imagine finding something you won’t like on the menu as just about every food type sees some kind of representation. Whether or not the food is prepared that way, however, may be up for debate.
Right along the main stretch of Clintonville in Columbus’ north suburbs, I am certain I have found the city’s best barbecue. Pig Iron epitomizes barbecue even in its appearance; the little restaurant along High Street doesn’t look like much, and maybe the big metal pig outside its window is a little gaudy, but the spirit of good barbecue is substance over image. And Pig Iron has an abundance of tasty, tasty substance. This place is the kind of guilty pleasure that makes it hard to want to find new restaurants to review.
The newest addition to Court Street in Athens, Wings Over Athens is actually a part of a chain of 30 Wings Over… locations generally spread throughout the East Coast and Midwest, based in Massachusetts. The airplane-themed wings place boasts the added accessibility of being a late-night option for food, and therefore you’ll find it near many a college campus, dishing out wings by the pound to nightcrawlers and bargoers. The wings are the crux of the menu and I can see the appeal of a place like this to the intoxicated. It replaces Killer Tomato, which closed shop down the street.
Cincinnati has many restaurant institutions. Invariably, most people know about the most prominent of them, Greater’s Ice Cream and Skyline Chili have so many locations around this part of the state, they’re the easiest to remember for sheer muscle memory. There are other, smaller institutions which nonetheless hold huge influence. Since 1951, Montgomery Inn has been one of them. The inn itself sits in the eastern suburbs of the city, and now it operates a pair of branch locations and a very notorious boathouse, which according to its site is the most popular restaurant in Cincinnati. 800,000 customers a year can’t go wrong.
One of many family-oriented offerings on Cincinnati’s west side, Brotherton’s is a small family-owned restaurant with a diverse following of locals and a menu to match. The restaurant is surrounded by “family” based chains yet it seems to be holding its own. With good cause, at that.