Porkers Bar-B-Que, Chattanooga TN

I’ve been driving and walking past this restaurant for ages and finally sat down for a pretty good lunch here, punctuated by some very good slaw and a really nice spicy sauce.

Porkers originally opened in 1989, and they do what certainly tastes like Memphis-inspired barbecue here, although they advertise it as Chattanooga-style. Thick, sweet sauce, mustard slaw, and beans are the standard accessories to go along with dry and smoky chopped pork. I came by for lunch one day in late November and found some things that I liked and some things that I didn’t. One thing I definitely did was their great old building. It’s apparently almost a hundred years old and I love the layout of the place. My inner design snob gets really happy when I see such a nice, well-kept place as this.

Regular readers know that I’ve been down on eastern Tennessee barbecue since moving here. Most of it’s pretty good, but none of it thrills me. And all of the pretty good places have an asterisk or two to qualify them. So it is with Porkers. I was reminded of something Marie wrote when I was trying the pork and the chicken. She had written about our visit to Stamey’s in Greensboro NC earlier in the fall and noted that I enjoy chopped chicken more than she does, as she almost always finds it too dry. I huffed and puffed inside as I read that, because no, I only like chopped chicken when it’s done right and it isn’t too dry. The chicken I was served here was way, way too dry. It was actually pretty terrible.

Two other heavy strikes out for this place, as you might can guess from the photos: frozen service fries left unattended and uncared for before being dumped on a plate, and beans straight from a can. Thankfully, the pork was a huge improvement, and I really enjoyed the slaw.

Mustard slaw is really rare around these parts, and while this doesn’t have a very strong mustard flavor, I’m glad of the chance to try it. Some of this and a little of the hot sauce on a sandwich would be very nice indeed, because the pork is pretty tasty. They smoke it in a little shed out back – hickory wood with a propane assist – and it has a good flavor, smoky and dry. The mild sauce is not bad, but I was really pleased with the hotter-than-usual mix. This just goes to show that you never can tell… if I had just ordered a sandwich, I’d have left really pleased. It’s the other stuff that let me down. So next time, I just won’t order the other stuff.

Porkers is owned by Beau Tucker and his wife Tracy, who became owners in 2008. They’d worked with the restaurant since 1994, so there’s been a pretty steady run of things here. It’s a very popular place, and while it isn’t among my personal favorites, I’d certainly be happy to come back for a sandwich or two any day. I’d also like to try the ribs the next time that I visit.

Porkers Bar-B-Que
1251 Market St
Chattanooga, TN 37402

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