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Tuesday, November 22, 2016
South Street (Nashville, TN)
Today's lunch adventure was to a place whose official name is South Street Original Smokehouse, Crab Shack & Authentic Dive Bar. For the sake of simplicity, let's just stick with South Street.
South Street is, at most, a ten-minute stroll from my office building and an equally short hop from the Vanderbilt University main campus. They've apparently been in operation since 1991, but even as a Vanderbilt undergrad in the early 2000s, this place somehow stayed off my radar. Better late than never, I suppose.
Judging by the scene outside, part of me was expecting sort of a Joe's Crab Shack vibe, but there was surprisingly little vibe of any kind to speak of. It's basically just a combination of unpainted shiplap and red brick, with not much else in terms of decor. Although, there are a couple of random trees and a treehouse running right through the main entrance, which I guess counts for something.
They have a Smokehouse Trio combo plate available, but not being in the mood for sausage, I went all-in with the BBQ Half Feast: a half-pound of pulled pork, a half-rack of ribs, and a half-chicken with two sides, for which I picked Cuban corn and homemade tater tots. Clearly there would be some leftovers coming out of this lunch, or at least there should. The phrase "my eyes were bigger than my stomach" doesn't even begin to describe the enormity of this plate.
The automatic jalapeño cornbread was commendable. It was only slightly spicy, but not the least bit dry or crumbly. Their Cuban corn was charred beautifully. It came topped with a sprinkle of cilantro and cojita cheese, in true street corn fashion. Of my side dishes, the homemade tater tots were the clear front-runner. The crispy panko batter and creamy potato interior blended together nicely, almost like a potato croqueta.
South Street smokes their pork over hickory, after which point it's pulled by hand. My helping had plenty of bark mixed in, as well as a nice smoke level throughout. There were also hints of vinegar from the mop sauce. It was decently tender, with only a few moments of dryness. The pork was admirable, but with room for improvement.
The Chicken is pumped with South Street's secret blend of seasonings, then smoked. I found a tasty blend of spices on the skin (my favorite part!), and the meat beneath was definitely juicy. A mild smokiness was about what you'd expect for barbecue chicken. It comes with a side of Alabama white sauce for dipping, and although it wasn't really necessary, this spicy sauce certainly jazzed things up a bit.
Their ribs come dry rubbed, which I generally prefer to sauce. They could have used much more seasoning though, such that I wouldn't really call it a true dry rub. These bones also weren't quite as juicy as I would have liked, but they were undeniably smoky. The crust was a little overly crisp, like bacon that's been cooked too long, perhaps from finishing on the grill or in the broiler. Overall, the ribs were ok, but fell short in a few key areas.
I'm glad that I finally discovered South Street. Things were a little hit or miss, but I enjoyed my meal enough warrant a return trip. A word to the wise though: If you are dining alone and order the massively excessive Half Feast like I did, be prepared to get a lot of judgmental stares from the other customers. Don't worry though, they're just jealous.
907 20th Ave South
Nashville, TN 37212