Visited August 17, 2010
Beer selection: A lame selection of $5 bottled beers
Food: Tasty, but over-priced BBQ
I have 32 songs on my playlist for when I visit Tennessee (yes, I have a playlist for most states). 17 of those songs are about Nashville specifically, 16 are about how much Nashville sucks.
Music City’s number one product is cheesy pop music.
And I do mean “product”.
Corporate hacks now pick out some pretty guy or gal who can barely carry a note, write them a song with lame lyrics, provide them a backing instrumental track, then market that slop to middle-aged white women.
And if an aspiring artist actually has a creative bone in their body, it’s quickly squelched.
So I wondered, how good can corporate Nashville BBQ be?
I went to Jack’s to find out.
“Corporate Nashville” became crystal clear to me the very first time I stepped foot in the famed Wild Horse Saloon over a decade ago.
A “country band” of “guys”—who looked like they had been recruited from a male cheerleading squad—were on stage “singing” what can only be described as “music” that sounded like Milli Vanilli—but with a twang.
I’m pretty sure above the sound of the synthesizers I could hear Hank Williams rolling in his grave.
After that experience, I spent almost the next decade hiding in my hotel room on subsequent Nashville trips.
Then I found some courage and checked out Lower Broadway.
Lower Broadway is now the touristy version of what Nashville used to be—or so the tourists are supposed 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 (rather prophetically) to move the Opry to a theme park out in some soulless expanse of Nashville suburbia hell.
Alongside Ryman Auditorium is a smelly alley that leads to the back doors of a series of touristy honky-tonks.
Isn’t that kind of an oxymoron? Well 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 jukebox.
I suppose Tootsie’s has its divey charm, but $6 bucks for a PBR is ridiculous, even if there is no cover charge.
The best place on the Lower Broadway strip is Robert’s Western World, a former cowboy boots store where PBRs are just $2.50 and where real musicians play real instruments and perform real country music.
You can even get a decent burger or fried bologna sandwich from the dude working the griddle in the back.
Next door is where you’ll find Jack’s BBQ. And I was hungry for some BBQ.
Jack’s reminded me alot of dining at EPCOT in Disney World.
The food was pretty good, but overpriced. 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 line and got the three meat platter (three ribs, sausage, and 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 of food, Jack’s doesn’t exactly go overboard with their portions. The three meat platter is more of a sampling. A few bites of this, a few bites of that.
But what do you 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 (well the two that actually had meat on them).
But all in all, Jack’s is exactly what tourists from Pennsylvania think BBQ should be.
Simple, predictable, and expensive.
In fact, Jack’s is the perfect metaphor for the theme park that is Nashville.
Rating: Would Wear Shirt If It Were Free