Here is an eatery where you really, truly can have it your way. To complement sliced pork, pulled pork, inside white meat, outside dark meat, pork ribs, or sliced beef, or smoked chicken, your waitress will present you with a choice of sauces: East Tennessee Red, North Carolina Vinegar, Devil’s Dew, South Carolina Gold, Alabama White, Texas/Oklahoma Style, Richard Petty brand, Maurice’s Gourmet Sauce, and Sauce from Hell.
What’s truly remarkable about Dixie Barbeque is not how many different things it offers, but how good the different things it offers are. Proprietor Alan Howell is a fanatic on the subject of smoked meat; and when he talks about his ribs, he scoffs at the big national chains that boil ribs to soften the meat and that, furthermore, serve wimpy baby back ribs instead of big, meaty pork ribs. Here at Dixie, the ribs cook a minimum of four hours over smoldering wood; pork shoulders go a full twelve. The result is delicious meat, the smoky flavor of which stays with you for hours after eating a meal. Our favorite among the choices is chopped pork – juicy, flavorful, and elegant in a quintessential Carolinian way. Next-best is sliced pork typical of Eastern Tennessee. And we cannot dine here without at least a quarter rack of ribs. They are crusty and chewy, smoke-flavored and delicious even without any sauce whatsoever.
On the side of whichever meat you like, available companions include barbecue-flavored baked beans, chunky fried potatoes laced with sweet onion, creamy white cole slaw, and a zesty slaw dressed with mustard-tinged barbecue sauce.
Of the various sauces, pick your poison. We would only remind you that Johnson City is East Tennessee, and Dixie’s Barbeque’s East Tennessee sauce – opaque cinnabar-red and radiant with spice – is fantastic. Unless you say otherwise, this is the sauce that comes on barbecue sandwiches.