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Ridgewood Barbecue

900 Elizabethtown Highway, Bluff City, TN - (423) 538-7543
Posted By Paul Helbert on 1/15/2011 1:15:00 PM
When I taught in Upper East Tennessee in the mid-to-late sixties, I ran across the late Mrs. Proffitt's Ridgewood Restaurant, just out 19E on the Elizabethton Highway east of Bluff City, TN. Since that time I have often gone out of my way to stop there. On my most recent stop I was pleased to see a Roadfood article on the wall along with all the others.

We always get one beef and one pork barbecue sandwich with two orders of their barbecued beans. Why one of each? Because sometimes one sandwich seems to best hit our taste, and at other times, it's the other one which does it. We swap halves and seldom agree on which one wins. We tried the fries once, but they were limp. Apparently, that's how the locals like them. I don't know if any of the rest of the offerings on the menu are any good. The barbecue is all I ever see anyone eat.

In my estimation, the nearest anyone else has ever gotten to the Ridgewood's barbecue is Sonny's in Florida, which is pretty good. Partner's on 11E near Johnson City, TN comes only fairly close, and Bear's in Bristol was similar but they went out of business years ago, probably because folks could just drive on down to the original in another ten minutes.

Everyone I've ever told about the Ridgewood has agreed, after trying it, that it is the best barbecue they ever tasted. (There have been a few Texans, some Georgians, East Virginians, and Carolinians who would not try it out of prejudice, or could not get past their quaint, regional notions, but that is their loss).

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Barbecue Beans
Beef Barbecue
Pork Barbecue
pork plate
Beef Barbecue
French fries
Rate this place
Mostly what you see are French fries -- delicious, hot-from-the-kettle fries -- but beneath them is a heap of smoky pork slices bathed in tongue-tingling sauce.
"Mostly what you see are French fries -- delicious, hot-from-the-kettle fries -- but beneath them is a heap of smoky pork slices bathed in tongue-tingling sauce. "
Michael Stern





Smoky, sweet, and laced with meat, Ridgewood's beans are a must-eat side dish.
"Smoky, sweet, and laced with meat, Ridgewood's beans are a must-eat side dish."
Michael Stern


Just north of the restaurant is this smoky building where hams are slow-smoked over hickory wood for hours.
"Just north of the restaurant is this smoky building where hams are slow-smoked over hickory wood for hours."
Michael Stern


The sandwiches are huge and definitely sharable. Order one plate of fries for every 2-3 people.
"The sandwiches are huge and definitely sharable. Order one plate of fries for every 2-3 people."
Rae Augenstein


This is the view from a booth near the kitchen:  a beef sandwich and a pork plate, just assembled by the cook and ready to be carried to a table -- OUR table, we pray!
"This is the view from a booth near the kitchen: a beef sandwich and a pork plate, just assembled by the cook and ready to be carried to a table -- OUR table, we pray!"
Michael Stern


Although it is far off the beaten path, the Ridgwood is almost always crowded.  Expect to wait at peak mealtimes.
"Although it is far off the beaten path, the Ridgwood is almost always crowded. Expect to wait at peak mealtimes."
Michael Stern



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