Warning: There might be a BBQ fist fight at Southland

By Sarah Lacy , written on June 5, 2014

From The News Desk

Let me preface this entire (bizarre) post by saying that Travel + Leisure's readers are clearly full of shit. The magazine recently produced a slideshow that ranked Nashville-- home of our big tech event next week-- as the number one BBQ city in the US.

I should be thrilled to see that. Another reason to get attendees and speakers excited right?

Unfortunately, as a journalist committed to the truth, I can't be. It's widely known that Memphis-- original home of me-- is a jillion times better at BBQ than Nashville, any other city in the south, or really, the world.

The puzzling results became a little clearer when I saw this was a reader poll. Nashville has always had an enthusiastic and opportunistic base of boosters, while Memphians tend to eat our awesome food and mope around about it. (See also: Look-at-me flashy country heritage v. sad, mopey blues heritage.) To wit: The feature shouted out Central BBQ in Memphis, which doesn't even rank in my top 15 of must-hit, gritty Memphis sandos. Clearly flawed methodology.

I first learned of this survey from my pre-conference, get-to-know-you chat this week with former Vice President Al Gore. I scoffed, and he backed up the wisdom of the crowds saying I need to try some Nashville BBQ with a more open mind. But he's recently gone vegan so with all due respect to the former Vice President, let me say again: These results are just flat wrong.

That said, Nashville -- due to its Memphis proximity if nothing else-- clearly deserves to be in the top five, and Californians and New Yorkers coming to Southland will not be disappointed in the spread. I was delighted to see that two of the Nashville BBQ spots that were shouted out in the poll are two of the ones we're featuring in the parking lot of Southland next week: Martin's and Edley's.

Each of them may not have been too happy to see the other one listed, however. From what I understand they are fierce rivals with Martin's just opening up a rival location near the prime stomping ground of Edley's. Our Tennessee folks on the ground have warned me that an actual BBQ-soaked fist fight may erupt in the parking lot. I recommend you enthusiastically sample both just to keep everyone happy.