Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
7238 Nolensville Rd.
The name of this place is Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint.
So what do we know about this place right off the bat?
Right. It’s not going to be an authentic BBQ joint.
Because authentic BBQ joints don’t call themselves “joints.”
It’s kind of like the difference between my authentic redneck friends and the ones that call themselves rednecks.
My authentic redneck friends don’t even know they are rednecks. In fact, they might even be mildly insulted if I referred to them as such.
So I don’t.
Of course my nouveau redneck friends would take it as a compliment.
The other reason I was suspicious of Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint was its location.
This is Exurban Hell, USA.
Twenty-five miles south of Nashville, Nolensville is one of those quiet rural towns that have the misfortune of being within commuting distance of a big city.
Exurbs like Nolensville are where white Republicans flee to when they’re tired of the indignities of urban and suburban life.
Or when they have kids and have convinced themselves that the government schools in the exurbs are vastly superior.
Yep. Southern exurbs like Nolensville are the types of places where the 22% of registered voters who voted for Obama won’t admit it to the other 78%.
Where Republicans go when they want the idea of rural living but can’t bear to give up Home Depot or Starbucks.
Cookie-cutter McMansions on three-quarter acre lots. Minivans and SUVs. Applebee’s and Panera Bread.
My problem with the exurbs is they lack authenticity.
The whole point of rural living is to slow down and immerse yourself into a culture that is genuine and timeless.
Where everyone knows everyone.
Where the old man at the Mom-n-Pop store speaks with such a thick drawl you only understand every third word – but you nod your head anyway.
Where the local pit master runs a BBQ joint that’s been a joint for decades, and he would be somewhat offended if you told him so.
But in exurban towns like Nolensville, rural living quickly becomes displaced by urban refugees and relocated Yankees willing to commute two hours a day just to get a taste of country living, no matter how inauthentic.
And, located in a modern suburban strip mall, Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint perfectly represents the town in which it resides.
Or so I thought.
The first thing I noticed is that there’s nothing inauthentic about the smoke billowing out of the big black smoke pit sitting right in the middle of the restaurant.
And that’s a smell, my friends, that can’t be faked.
Martin’s slowly smokes its pork and beef over hardwood for hours.
This place might be as polished as the granite counter tops in the customized templates of homes down the street, but the BBQ is strictly old-school.
I decided to order the “Redneck Taco” — which in reality, is neither.
While no authentic redneck would ever order it, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t delicious.
The “Redneck Taco” comes as a slab of cornbread with pulled pork, coleslaw and tangy BBQ sauce poured on top.
While Martin’s offers a variety of BBQ sauces, it uses its vinegar based sauce over their “taco.”
The cornbread soaks up the tasty bits of pork, slaw, and sauce.
The pork itself benefits from all the flavors, which was a bit dry and bland by itself.
The baked beans were top notch, spiked with green pepper and lots of brown sugar.
And the walls of this exurban “joint” are decorated with a cluttered display of rebel flags, license plates, trucker caps, pigs, and pictures of Hank Williams.
Outlaw Country poured from the restaurant’s sound system. You just don’t hear the ragged sounds of Merle Haggard, David Allen Coe, and Loretta Lynn on the radio anymore.
This is the brand of country music that the “Music Row” execs 25 miles north of here banished from the light of day.
They’re the people responsible for shoving pop-country down our throats and across America’s airwaves.
And thanks to pop-country, Nolensville is now a town consumed by pre-fab, cookie-cutter, McFarmhouses where the residents come to Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint after a two-hour commute from the city and eat real BBQ and listen to real country music.
For them, that’s as real as it gets.
Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying Shirt.