Wednesday, April 08, 2009

BBQ Quest: F.A.T.S. Barbecue

While my fellow Wigshoppers were busy chowing down on sushi last week, I was in Memphis splurging on good barbecue so I'd have a good base for comparison for my Knoxville barbecue quest. What can I say, I am nothing if not dedicated to this quest.

Max and I hit the ground running on Saturday afternoon, deciding to try F.A.T.S. barbecue on Whittle Springs in North Knoxville because, well, it was the first one that was suggested. They say first impressions count, and if that's the case F.A.T.S. does it right. It doesn't fuss with appearances, which usually means in the barbecue world that it's busy fussing over the food instead.

photos by max.

I particularly loved that it has a sign advertising a drive-thru which no car will ever access because the two smokers are planted in front of it. The smoker on the cinder blocks was an especially nice touch.

I was a little bit overwhelmed by the menu. It's plastered all over the counter and there are basically tons of ways to order the same four or five different things. The guy taking our order talked me out of the half-rack of ribs, saying it was probably too much for me, which was fine since it's good pulled pork that seems to be more elusive in this town. I ordered what I thought was a pulled pork sandwich, though it turned out to be kind of chopped, and Max did too. Between the two of us we got beans, slaw and mac and cheese as a side.

The pork was decent, but didn't knock me over. It was tender but not terribly flavorful and chopped a little too thin for my taste. But the sauce, boy howdy -- they got that one right. It's tomatoey and sweet. It's so thick it could be its own meal. The beans were pretty good too, though they come with humongous hunks of jalapeno, so eat at your own risk. The mac and cheese was garlicky and tasty but seemed to have been sitting around for a while, so it was a little stiff. And though I'm a barbecue snob, a slaw snob I am not for I am far too picky. Max says it would have been good had it not been drowning in mayo.

The best part of the meal was the ambiance, in which I mean the great outdoors. There's nowhere to eat inside. You either take it and run or you take it to one of the picnic tables in the parking lot. I love picnic meals, and sitting in the warm sun on Saturday afternoon was a perfect antidote for some spring fever. I'm guessing the experience would not have been quite as pleasurable if it had been raining.

So even though the sandwich didn't satisfy my search for good Knoxville barbecue, I'll still recommend F.A.T.S. on a beautiful sunny day.

F.A.T.S. Barbecue
2701 Whittle Springs Rd
Knoxville, TN 37917
(865) 524-1929


ck said...

I can't believe 4 of 8 Wigshoppers were drawn to F.A.T.S. with an our of each other! I agree with the ambiance- reminds me of Master Blaster BBQ in Chattanooga. I think the pork was old- we need to go back when we see the smokers smoking.

Anonymous said...

I just like that you used the phrase "boy howdy." I love macaroni and cheese to an indecent degree. Let me know when you find a knock-your-ass-off mac and cheese on your search. Also, I love coleslaw, but it has to be vinegary. Too much mayo = yuck.

Chris Eaker said...

I like FATS, but the meat tends to be rather greasy. But I usually go because the sides are out of this world. The potato salad is excellent.

The Modern Gal said...

CK: You just said Master Blasters and that warms my heart. Obviously the Wigsphere force was with F.A.T.S. on Saturday. We shall reconvene there in hopes of getting fresher pork.

Em: I will taste test every side of mac and cheese I can find.

max said...

I'm still in recovery mode. Luckily I went backpacking right after the meal and got to deal with it churning in my insides.

max said...

And the cole slaw was great, don't get me wrong, it was a little on the mayonaissey side, but if i were in a gluttonous mood I would have ingested more.

B said...

mg, i'd like for you to keep a running list of the bbq joints that use the same styrofoam to-go containers as their plates.

The Modern Gal said...

B, I think you're on to something. I'll see if there's a correlation between barbecue quality and presence of styrofoam to-go boxes.

Mickey said...

I liked FATS; Courtney did not. It definitely has that authentic ambience.