Memphis, Nashville both rank in Southern Living's Top 50 BBQ Joints in the South list. But who really won?

Nine Tennessee barbecue joints made the Southern Living shortlist of the 50 best in the South. 

Adding more fuel to the Memphis vs. Nashville fire, five of the restaurants are in West Tennessee — and only two are in the middle of the state. 

A road map for the best barbecue across the South, this list was chosen by the magazine’s editors. These are their top picks chosen after traveling the region and sampling barbecue.

Best barbecue across Tennessee

Food writers Jennifer Chandler of the Commercial Appeal and Brad Schmitt of the Tennessean tour the Memphis bbq scene Memphis Commercial Appeal

If anyone wants to try to hit all nine Tennessee locations in one trip, the drive is approximately 9.5 hours (and 565 miles) from up in Bluff City (north of Johnson City) to down in the other Bluff City (Memphis ... it's Memphis). 

The four Memphis restaurants that made the list are A&R Bar-B-QueThe Bar-B-Q ShopCharlie Vergos Rendezvous and Cozy Corner.

Nashville's Peg Leg Porker and Nolensville's Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint were also on the list. 

Other Tennessee list-makers: Scott's-Parker Barbecue in Lexington, Helen's Bar BQ in Brownsville and The Ridgewood Barbecue in Bluff City. 

The Tennessee locations are scattered across the ranked Southern Living list. Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway, South Carolina, landed in the top spot for the second year in a row.

High-ranked Memphis joints

Peg Leg Porker Bbq With Alabama White Sauce (Photo: Submitted)

Memphis' A&R Bar-B-Que landed in the 10th spot.

Cozy Corner ranked 37th, while Rendezvous came in 40th and Bar-B-Q Shop 47th. The Ridgewood rang in at 43rd, Peg Leg Porker was 36th, Martin's Bar-B-Que was 20th, Scott's-Parker was 18th and Helen's Bar BQ made 15th.

According to Southern Living, the criteria used when compiling the list was “the overall dining experience: the physical setting, the aroma from the pits, the sauces and dishes served alongside.”

“Whether it’s a bare-bones take-out stand or a full-service restaurant with a wine list and clean restrooms, each place needs a spirit and flair that’s all its own. We try to cast as wide a net as possible, too, seeking out the restaurants that best embody the particular barbecue style of their region.”

The complete list of winners can be viewed online. 

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