Today I have a chance to stop into Martin's BBQ Joint in Nolensville. I had heard from a friend that "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" from the Food Network was there yesterday and I figured if it was good enough for them, I should give it a whirl. I am glad I did.
I looked them up on Google Maps before I went and noticed there were some mixed reviews, so I went a bit skeptical. I called ahead of time to check on MSG, and fortunately the owner was there to let me know they don't use it. This meant my wife could come to. The place has a real BBQ joint atmosphere. I enjoyed the "Dukes of Hazzard" and Willie Nelson motif they had going on. Nothing like staring at Daisy Duke and an album cover of Jerry Clower's greatest hits while chowing down. :)
We decided to go for the "Big Momma" platter which says "Feeds 2" and has a sampling of everything except chicken. So we ordered chicken to go with it so we could sample everything. Our sides were beans and slaw.
They have a variety of sauces, including a clear vinegar, extra hot, sweet, and regular. They were all OK, but we found ourselves tweaking them a bit (mixing them) to get the flavor we liked. Turns out we like the sweet and regular mixed for most things. They also had a white sauce, but we did not like this one at all. I know that is popular in Alabama, but it's pretty much useless everywhere else.
I usually never like the clear vinegar on pulled pork, but theirs was an exception. It was a little sweet, and went well to flavor the pork. The chicken was more of a rotisserie than BBQ, but it was moist. I am not a fan of putting rub on chicken as the skin never let's it really penetrate and you end up with a soggy crust on the outside. But it wasn't bad and still had good flavor. The brisket was very tender, but did not have as much smoke to I thought it would. It looked from the smoke ring like it would be extremely smoky, but it was mild. However, I think the brisket was better than most BBQ places in the Nashville area.
The ribs we good. We sampled both the baby backs and the spare. I generally like baby backs better, but I have to give them credit on doing the spare's correctly. They were not tough on the outside and pulled off the bone perfectly. I think next time, I will just go with a slab of those and my special sauce tweaking mixture. As for the sides, the baked beans actually tasted like baked beans and not from a can. They had a spice in them I cannot put my finger on, but they were good. The slaw was good as well (mayo based) and had the right amount of sweetness to it.
Overall, it's not the absolute best BBQ out there, but this was a good find to the Nashville scene, and I would rate this a solid 7, and would come back again. The staff was friendly from the taking of our order, to the delivery of the food. I also notice that singer Bo Bice (from American Idol) was in line and ended up sitting at the table next to us and apparently he thought the food was pretty good to. Just another day in Nashville.
I would recommend you give Martin's a try. It definitely represents Tennessee BBQ well.