After eating BBQ earlier on Tuesday, you would assume I was “BBQ’d” out but there is no such thing as “too much BBQ”. In reality though, eating BBQ for dinner wasn’t my choice. Haley and I weren’t hungry after work so we sat around playing with the pups and watched some TV. It was a little after 8 PM when we realized we better eat some dinner. Giving consideration to the restaurants around us, Haley wanted to eat at Cheddar’s yet again, but I said we should try something new… besides I needed another restaurant to write about. She then said Chili’s but to tell you the truth, I don’t like Chili’s that much (or Applebee’s for that matter). I just started naming off places that were fairly close to us and when I started listing the BBQ joints, she intensely yelled out “Famous Dave’s”!
Famous Dave’s is a chain of corporate-owned & franchised barbecue restaurants located in 36 states around the country. Founded by Dave Anderson, Famous Dave’s serves a variety of barbecue ribs, beef brisket, chicken, pork as well as signature sauces all created by Dave himself. Famous Dave’s takes pride in the fact that their pit barbecue is so good, it has won over 400 awards from festivals, contests, newspapers, and magazines. A complete list of these awards is featured here.
I’ve been a fan of Famous Dave’s for a long time. Hands down I think it’s one of the best tasting, corporate-chain BBQ restaurants you’ll ever encounter. Not only is their BBQ top notch but their sauces and sides are also good (which is very important). You can’t have a restaurant that serves A+ dishes and then have D- rating on everything else. Back in Lexington where I first experienced Famous Dave’s, I used to eat there a couple times a month until that restaurant shut down. I blame the location in which it was built… but I digress.
Smyrna’s Famous Dave’s is styled similarly like all the others I’ve visited in the past across different states: a large quasi-log cabin/shack with similarly styled interior. The hostess stand is decorated with several trophies showcasing Famous Dave’s award winning BBQ to let their customers know they are about to experience some BBQ that others deemed top notch. Throughout the restaurant, old-fashioned memorabilia such as old signs, deer trophies, and antique trinkets are emblazoned across the walls.
When we entered Famous Dave’s, there was a cardboard cutout that mentioned a “Feast for Two” for just $19.99. While I can’t speak for other Famous Dave’s restaurants around the country, the ones in Tennessee feature daily weekday specials. The one for Tuesday was the one that was just mentioned. At first I didn’t think anything of it. Every time I see a “meal for two” special that other casual dining restaurants advertise, it ends up being really small portions of food that still leaves you wanting more. I inquired about this special to our waiter and he explained what it was on the menu and thoroughly answered all our questions about it.
Simply put, the “Feast for Two” is half the size of Famous Dave’s All-American BBQ Feast. Served on a garbage can lid due to the size, The All-American BBQ Feast features a full slab of St. Louis-style spareribs, a whole chicken, 1/2 lb. of either Texas beef brisket or Georgia chopped pork, coleslaw, Famous Fries, Wilbur Beans, four corn-on-the-cob, and four corn bread muffins. The price for the All-American BBQ Feast is $56.99 and feeds 4-6. The “Feast for Two” is normally priced at $30.99!! So seeing how it was reduced to $19.99 (a savings of $11), we jumped on this deal and substituted the coleslaw and corn-on-the-cob for Cheesy Mac & Cheese & Southern-Style Green Beans.
We first got a small bowl of homemade potato chips. Not remembering ever have gotten these at Famous Dave’s in the past, our waiter said that they were to taste test the sauces prior to our meal coming out. What a great concept! Here are the five sauces that are featured at Famous Dave’s:
- Rich & Sassy® - Dave’s Original Recipe: The sauce that made us Famous; sweet and tangy with hand-picked herbs and spices.
- Georgia Mustard®: A vinegar, brown sugar and mustard-based sauce. A favorite in the Appalachians and southeastern states.
- Texas Pit®: A tangy tomato-based sauce with a black pepper kick made for slathering on brisket and chicken.
- Sweet & Zesty®: Authentic “right out of the pit” flavor that balances citric sweetness with spirited spice.
- Devil’s Spit®: You can only imagine how far Dave went to get this one.
So where to begin on this lid of tastiness… every single item on was great. I think the most impressive was the barbecued chicken. I’ve had fall-off-the-bone meat before when it comes to pork but never experienced it with chicken. The chicken was tender, juicy, and full of flavor that took absolutely minimal effort to remove from the bone.
The Georgia chopped pork was fantastic as well. They exhibited the same characteristics as the chicken; tender and not too dry or greasy. There weren’t any visible fat particles in our serving which meant that every bite was 100% savory, meaty chopped pork.
The St. Louis-style spareribs were seasoned and lightly covered in caramelized Sweet & Sassy BBQ sauce where it had a delicious, dark brown bark coating the meat. Meaty and slightly chewy like a piece of good steak, these ribs really satisfied the appetite. They weren’t “fall-off-the-bone” tender like some people prefer, but I like my ribs that way. Maybe it stems from the fact that Korean BBQ (kalbi) doesn’t fall off the bone either.
The Texas beef brisket had a savory, smoky flavor with a texture similar to corned beef. Not every person likes brisket (myself included) just because of the texture. Brisket breaks up into smaller particles as you chew it… it’s hard to describe but it’s just a sensation I don’t like. The flavor of it was great though and I ate it all anyway.
As I mentioned before, a good restaurant also has great side dishes and Famous Dave’s does not disappoint. The Wilbur Beans are moderately sweet baked beans with lots of meaty chunks of smoked pork, brisket, and hot link sausages with a slight spicy kick from diced jalapeño peppers.
Dave’s Cheesy Mac & Cheese consists of macaroni in a smooth and creamy cheese sauce with a lot of heat from diced jalapeños. The heat is quite intense, so be warned if you don’t like spicy food.
The Southern-Style Green Beans had a mix of bacon, potatoes, and onions in a broth. The onion flavor was a bit strong and I would have preferred more of a bacon flavor.
The Famous Fries were thick cut with the potato skin intact and exceptionally crispy.
Last but not least are the amazing corn bread muffins. The corn bread muffins had the same texture as traditional corn bread but they tasted like yellow cake. These little “corn bread cakes” are so good, I use them as a benchmark for sweet cornbread everywhere… but to this day, I have yet to find any restaurant to serve corn bread as good as Famous Dave’s.
Famous Dave’s is a popular franchise for a very good reason: they have awesome food and their awards prove it. I haven’t had BBQ this good since the 2010 Music City BBQ Festival. My past visits to Famous Dave’s involved me getting just an entree with one kind of barbecued meat. When I visited this past Tuesday, little did I know I was going to be able to sample all of their favorites for such a cheap price. While their daily specials offer lots of value, I definitely recommend going on Tuesday for the “Feast for Two” or Friday for the “All-American BBQ Feast” so that you can experience Famous Dave’s at its finest. When you do, be prepared to get some to-go boxes… because you’ll definitely have some of the best leftovers for the next day.
991 Industrial Boulevard
Smyrna, TN 37167
Bill Total: $24.89 For Two