"Barbecue is the closest thing we have to cheese in France. It’s our food. There’s no getting around it.”
These words spoken by Patrick Martin of Martin’s Barbecue Joint in Nolensville, TN (about 20 miles outside of Nashville), tell of his love for the Que. We’re talking God and country love—first kiss love—favorite football team love—the kind of love a man feels when he’s found the "one." But his adoration for pulled pork goes far
beyond succulent slices of meat layered on greasy buns. With smoke in
his hair, fire in his eyes, and barbecue sauce in his veins, this Que
connoisseur specializes in the fine art of whole hog cooking–an
old-school culinary art form that has him winning recognition by
respected pit masters from Memphis to Manhattan.
With one visit to his restaurant—a wooden structure with a large front porch—I knew why.
"We cook ours low, slow and fresh every night, " says Patrick. The 22 hour process is enough to make anyone quit. "You can’t just go make another one right quick if something goes wrong. So it takes a degree of guts to replicate something that takes-up most of your day."
Though he learned to cook whole hog much later in life, Patrick was taught the virtue of doing things "properly" at an early age. As a kid his parents never owned a gas grille and never bought lighter fluid. "A charcoal chimney starts a fire just as fast," he says.
With whole hog so good "it’ll make a puppy pull a freight train", Patrick isn’t one to waste his bounty.
Meat that’s left over goes into the green beans and Brunswick stew. His flavor rich meals aren’t the only things I liked about Martin’s
barbecue joint. It’s the spirit of the place. The spirit of the man
behind the really good food. "Barbecue," he says, " It’s the one time when people’s social, racial, and
financial differences disappear. That’s the beauty of it–the beauty of
What to order: The Red Neck taco (sorry my camera wigged out before I could take a picture). It’s a humongous, and unbelievably tasty meal. Patrick starts with a plate sized ho cake, round with the taste of cornbread but the texture and look of a flap jack. Then he tops it off with pork, sauce, and cole slaw. Some roll it up like a burrito. I ate mine lady-style with a knife and fork.
What to take home: Homemade cracklin. Only real southerners know what this is. (for those who don’t, they’re like pork rinds but a lot tougher and crunchier) Patrick sells it in white bags so the grease soaks through. "If you can’t see through the bag," he says, "something’s wrong."
What’s for dessert: Mama Martin’s (Patrick’s mom) fresh coconut cake which she drives down from Memphis every week. It’s soppingly moist.
Check out Martin’s new blog to learn more about opening a BBQ joint.