Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Mary's Old Fashioned Bar-B-Que Pit (Nashville, TN)
With an immediate need to give my eyes a break from the endless spreadsheets, as well as a growing need to calm my rumbling stomach, I set out in search of a quick workday barbecue lunch. Mary's Old Fashioned Bar-B-Que Pit is one of the few places close to my office that I hadn't yet crossed off my to-do list, so I figured that today was as good a time as any.
This north-Nashville landmark has been in operation for over half-a-century. Mary herself has since passed away, and her granddaughter and grandson-in-law now run the show. I hoped that Mary passed down her culinary know-how along with the bricks and mortar.
Once you get within sight of the old walk-up-service windows on the building's front facade, Mary's immediately seems something quite ancient. The windows are no longer in use, but their nostalgia-inducing presence is still felt. That aside, Mary's is rather unassuming and plain as far as restaurants go. If you were expecting anything remotely resembling ambiance here, then you came to the wrong place. Mary's is about one thing and one thing only: food.
There are no multi-meat combos (and, incidentally, no beef) on the menu at Mary's, but that didn't stop me from creating a sandwich duo to compensate. My lunch o' smoked goodness included a pork shoulder sandwich and a dark-meat chicken sandwich, as well as a side of potato salad. I was surely going to spend the rest of the workday in a full-on food coma.
The potato salad came pre-prepared out of a store-bought tub. Ugh. It was passable, but really not worth describing in detail. My compliments to Kroger, I suppose.
Their regular pork shoulder sandwiches are served on basic grocery store hamburger buns, so corncakes are definitely the way to go. Unfortunately for me, they were out of corncakes today, so I settled for the hamburger bun. Thanks again, Kroger! The pork was tender and moderately juicy but didn't pack a lot of punch in the smoke department. There wasn't much seasoning to be found either, even though there was plenty of bark to go around. I did enjoy the crunch and acidity of the pickle slices that they added though.
To my surprise, the chicken sandwich was literally just a bone-in leg quarter stuck between some white bread, as opposed to the customary pulled chicken. The bread had soaked up so much juice that it was a soggy, useless addition. On first glance, the chicken skin looked a lot more pale than I expected for barbecue chicken. I dug in anyway, and my initial bite revealed an excellent heat level from the spices. The meat itself was a little dry, and the skin was a little limp. There was no meaningful smoke to be found here either. All in all, the chicken was fairly boring despite its spiciness.
I wish I could have visited Mary's Old Fashioned Bar-B-Que Pit in its heyday. Sadly, the current iteration of Mary's isn't worth a return trip.
Mary's Old Fashioned Bar-B-Que Pit
1106 Jefferson St
Nashville, TN 37208