Possibly the barbecue place in Hamilton County that’s most easy to miss is the one that doesn’t have any kind of sign, just a name printed on the door. But this restaurant is worth a visit; it’s a little better than this area’s average and has some of the sweetest and nicest employees of any place I’ve tried in town.
It’s been a little while since my stop; the story of our trip to Memphis took over the blog completely and it took a long time to write those eleven posts. I recall wanting to try one of the barbecue places on my to-do list and decided on Big Jeff’s because there’s still so much of Chattanooga that I haven’t seen, and this neighborhood was one I had not driven through. If you go east from exit 5 on TN-153, as I have many times, you’ll be taking 58 north and east of town, up through Harrison and on the way to Georgetown. But going west brings you back into Chattanooga over a very short truss bridge that spans the South Chickamuaga Creek, and then through some very old residential parts of town, including the historic Glass Farms neighborhood. Quite a lot of old churches down that way.
But before you get to this old part of town, there’s a tiny complex of old businesses stacked up around a gas station near the highway, and Big Jeff’s place is one of these. One thing that will become immediately obvious to anybody who visits: the owner, Jeff Bowen, is the biggest fan of the Dallas Cowboys in town. In this hobby, you get so used to barbecue places decorating their interior with college colors that seeing NFL colors is an oddball and pleasant change.
Bowen is called Big Jeff for a reason. If he teamed up with Big Marv out in Decherd, the two of them could knock down Tokyo. And, like Big Marv, he’s an incredibly nice guy. He loves cooking and he and his team really seem to enjoy serving all their customers. He opened this place two years ago and while it keeps a low profile, plenty of people have found it. I certainly wasn’t there by myself.
It’s worth noting that Big Jeff’s prices are among the highest in the area, but his portion size is the runaway winner. That is a pile of pork; you could make three sandwiches from one plate. Honestly, one plate and maybe an extra side and that’s dinner for my family. And yes, it’s pretty good. It’s a similar flavor profile to Spencer B’s in Ringold. It’s smoky and dry, wanting some of the sticky-sweet brown sauce.
Not a bad little stop at all. I’m glad that my search for Chattanooga barbecue brought me here and I’ll probably return for a sandwich or try his ribs sometime before too long.
Big Jeff Barbeque
4272 Bonny Oaks Dr
Chattanooga, TN 37406
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