Nashville Restaurants and Food
2292 Rosa Parks Blvd. (Metro Center)
The first thing that comes to mind when entering Neely’s is that this place feels like a barbecue joint. And best yet it smells like it. It’s a big space with a sunny dining room overlooking the Metro Center lake. There’s a cross section of Nashville there for lunch: suit and tie businessmen; delivery truck drivers; a group of elderly African American women out for a luncheon. You can even write on the walls at Neely’s and it’s not surprising that many of the messages reference the ribs.
I ordered up dry style pork ribs with sauce on the side. I like to taste the meat and control how much sauce I want. The Neely’s rub is heavy on the paprika with just the slightest hint of hot spice. You can get the ribs wet and also beef ribs if that’s what you prefer. The dry ribs have a bit of chew to them; they don’t fall off the bone and are still tender. You can dip in mild or hot sauce. The mild is great: a little smoky and a little sweet. The hot has a bit of a kick on the backside. The combo of juicy ribs and tangy sauce is hard to beat. These are some of the best in town. I’ve been to Neely’s a bunch of times now and I’ve never been disappointed.
The best part about Neely’s is that while the meat is king the sides don’t take a back seat. The barbecue spaghetti has a little heat and great chunks of pulled pork. The yellow slaw may be some of the best around. It’s a creamy but with a bite to it; certainly not the wimpy, bland chopped slaw that some places serve. You get all of this piled high on the plate. It’s almost too much for one sitting, even for a big eater like myself. So, I brought home the rest of the slaw for the Veggie Eater. Usually I don’t torture her on barbecue runs. But Neely’s has Mac and Cheese, fries, potato salad, baked potatoes and even a lettuce salad. Could these sides actually keep a Veggie Eater happy in a barbecue joint? Well, let’s see what she thought of the slaw before we get carried away.
Veggie Eater: I was the recipient of leftovers…Meat Eater saved me some slaw, knowing how I love good slaw. I was not disappointed. It was a mustardy, vinegary mixture with a hint of heat. It appears to have been freshly cut, as the cabbage pieces were all odd shapes. It restored my faith in slaw, after a particularly bad experience last weekend at an East Nashville bar. It’s even better when doctored up with some of the barbecue sauce.
Meat Eater: Now I know usually we only review Nashville original joints, and Neely’s started in Memphis. But Neely’s is thoroughly Tennessee and they only have three locations: two in Memphis and the one in Nashville. Sure they have the fancy Food Network TV show and that may mean more locations in the future. No matter what happens it’s hard to think of Neely’s as a chain. When you have sauce smeared all over your face and a fork full of barbecue spaghetti headed inbound it’s hard to think of a place that could be more Southern and or a meal that could be more enjoyable. I paid $16 with tax and a drink.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Nashville Restaurants and Food