Tennessee’s Real BBQ – Braintree, MA

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Ever since our trip to Nashville, We’ve have been on the lookout for delicious BBQ in the Boston area (because surely the South can’t be the only place that does BBQ right). We’ve had some definite missteps — after hearing rave reviews, we went to Sweet Cheeks BBQ in Fenway, only to be sorely disappointed in the small portions, overpriced food, and lack of authentic flavor. However, on a recent excursion to Braintree, we stopped in at Tennessee’s Real BBQ, which is the closest we’ve come so far to recreating the Southern BBQ experience we’ve been craving.

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Look to the right as you walk in and you’ll see their wall of accolades — Tennessee’s has won basically every award possible for everything from their ribs to their spices to their sauces. And their food really lives up to the hype. The center of it all is the sauce. There are three kinds — sweet (my personal favorite), tangy, and spicy. Each is thick, with the perfect creamy consistency and packed with flavor. They keep extra sauce in barrels for you to help yourself to during the meal and if it wasn’t for common decency and a desire to not be banned from the restaurant for life, I would literally drink the sweet BBQ sauce directly from the barrel and have absolutely no qualms about it. It’s really that good.

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Nate got the North Carolina Pork BBQ sandwich with a side of homemade cornbread. The sandwich was packed with a generous amount of pulled pork that was smothered in the tangy sauce. I got the BBQ Dixie Chicken — I opted for the quarter bird option (although I could have gotten a half-chicken if I had been hungrier) with the sweet BBQ sauce. It was juicy and delicious and came with three sides of my choice. I decided on the macaroni and cheese (creamy with a little bit of crunch on top and especially good with a little bit of the BBQ sauce mixed in); the cucumber salad (slightly salty, slightly sweet, and it was green so I counted it as a “healthy choice”); and the BBQ baked beans (hearty and a nod to our Boston heritage!).

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Tennessee’s is a bit of a dive, but that’s part of its charm. The ceilings are covered in bottle caps, the walls are covered in pictures of cartoon pigs, the napkins are actually paper towels, and the silverware is plastic. But the portions are huge, the food is reasonably priced (we ate for about $20 and left absolutely stuffed), and everything comes out impressively fast. If you’re looking for Southern comfort food, Tennessee’s Real BBQ in Braintree is really the next best thing to being there.

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