12 Bones in Kingsport TN has only been open a few months now but they have become my favorite local rib spot. Located on Main St across from the Chamber of Commerce, they are a branch of sorts to the original 12 Bones in Asheville NC (website for the asheville location - menu is pretty much the same http://www.12bones.com/
A couple of things I like about 12 Bones..
1) They cook a decent rack of BB ribs and the selection is different from day to day. Today they offered
Mango-Tango - a VERY spicy concoction with almost all the heat coming from a thin slightly sweet sauce.
Brown Sugar - Slightly sweet
Memphis Style - A dry rub
Blueberry Chipotle - slightly sweet, smoky flavor..a little heat.
But tomorrow you may find some of the above along with a strawberry jalapeno or a raspberry rib, etc. They aren't afraid to mix it up and offer something you probably haven't tried before. I like that simply because it gives me ideas for home cooking.
2) Their sides often change as much as the ribs. There are usually 6-8 sides to choose from and during todays visit I noticed 3 that I hadn't seen before.
In addition to the ever changing ribs and sides, they have a very good std menu of pulled pork, salads, beers, etc.
Ok, off we go...
Outside of the building...kingsport is working hard to revitalize their downtown area.
Another outside..close up.
This is their menu board area.
In this photo you can see the top of the cardboard menus where they post todays rib selections. Look where it says Mango-Tango...
The Chow - this is a plate I split with my wife. A rack of ribs - we selected two half racks today. One brown sugar and one mango tango. Above the ribs and to the left is Broccoli casserole. A piece of cornbread is covering up a very generous pile of collards with smoked meat.
The ribs were good but one thing I've noticed is when you arrive early I always think the ribs could use a little more time cooking. If you arrive later in the day they are great! regardless, the mango tango's were very hot and the brown sugar ribs were moist and sweet.
I like broccoli casserole but find most restaurants serve it overcooked so there is no bite left in the broccoli or they cut the broccoli so small it overcooks into mush. Not the case here. Large, slightly crunchy pieces of broccoli made up about 80% of this dish. The cornbread was a little dry for my liking but it usually is and I always leave full without bothering to eat it anyway.
The collards you can't see in the picture are as good as you will find. Growing up in the south, we ate collards all the time and they were often set on the table at the same time as a bowl of white vinegar seasoned with sugar and chopped onions. No vinegar here but the collards are good enough to stand on their own. Always cooked perfectly (not over cooked or watery) with just enough smoked meat to have a taste in each bite. Regardless of what else may be on the sides menu, the collards are always on my plate.
Below is my daughters plate of Pulled pork sandwich, mac and cheese, and garlic green beans. The pulled pork always has a decent smoke to it but it's also a little dry so the sauce they serve on the side is recommended. The garlic green beans are from a can (one of the few items on the menu that is not made fresh) with seasoning added. Not great but I'd order them again. The mac and cheese is a bit of a disappointment with very little flavor of any kind, it's as close to "just noodles" as I think you can get. I've tried it twice now and it was the same both times.
While we were eating the cook brought over a small bowl of their corn pudding..a dish I had asked about when ordering but decided against. Very good dish! Fresh tasting corn in each bite and a beautiful top and side crust that provided a contrast of textures in each bite. Recommended!
If you're passing through the area on 81, take a 15 minute detour over to downtown kingsport and try out 12 Bones!
edit to add: forgot..12 bones asheville recently won a good morning america contest.. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Story?id=3906705&page=1