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Sunday, March 16, 2014
Neely's Bar-B-Que (Nashville, TN)
I'm always a bit skeptical of airport barbecue, but I needed some food in me before the flight back to Dallas. Neely's is run by Tony Neely, brother of Food Network's Pat Neely, so I hoped this airport location would offer up something at least halfway decent. I also couldn't resist trying out one more round of smoked meat before I left.
The airport Neely's is a pretty small operation, with no tables whatsoever. It's pretty much grab-n-go. I saw some guys handling the foil-wrapped meats in the back, so I kept my fingers crossed. That being said, I wasn't very optimistic by this point.
Granted airport food is always more expensive, but $14.00 plus tax is a bit much for a one-meat plate. Even their sandwiches start at $9.00 each, and a full rack of ribs is $22.00. Hell, just a small thing of cobbler is $6.00. I took the plunge anyway and ordered a Platter of sliced beef brisket, which also comes with three sides. They were somehow out of potato salad, so I settled for mac and cheese, bbq beans, and french fries. Neely's wasn't very busy mid-afternoon, but food still crawled out of the kitchen at a turtle-like pace.
The mac and cheese was exceptionally orange and looked really artificial. It reminded me of the macaroni at KFC, and was altogether pretty bland. The beans had a very thick consistency. There was some meat (I'm not sure what kind) mixed in, but I couldn't taste anything other than canned beans. They were pretty gross, so I just cast them aside. As you might imagine, the fries were nothing special and likely frozen. They also could have used more salt.
Their brisket had no bark and definitely no smoke ring. Much to my dismay, the brisket was also drowning in a thick barbecue sauce. It's sadly very common for fast food style barbecue joints to mask bland meats with globs of potent sauce. My razor-thin slices were really lean and dry. I thought I caught a hint of smoke at one point, but there was way too much sauce to know for sure. I managed to find a few small pieces of un-sauced meat, and it was virtually devoid of all flavor.
I certainly wasn't expecting world-class barbecue at the airport by any means, but I expected better than this, especially considering the price. Their slogan is "The Finest the World Over." I don't know if the rest of the Neely family can cook good barbecue, but what I do know is that the airport Neely's is absolutely terrible.
UPDATE (August 9, 2014): I was mistakenly under the impression that the Nashville airport Neely's Bar-B-Que was owned and operated by Pat and Gina Neely, of Food Network fame. As it turns out, Pat's brother Tony is actually the one who runs the airport Neely's. I apologize for this error, and I have edited my review accordingly.
Nashville International Airport
Concourse B, Gate B4
1 Terminal Drive
Nashville, TN 37214