The Tennessee Grill & Bar serves superb smoked meats and more
By Niki D’Andrea
The smell of slow-smoked meats and tangy barbecue sauce fills the large and bustling space that is The Tennessee Grill & Bar every night, creating a mouth-watering wait on especially busy nights, like Wednesdays, when tender, smoked chicken wings are on special, and Fridays, when the all-you-can-eat fish fry draws locals in droves for hand-carved and battered fish.
This neighborhood breakfast and barbecue joint serves some of the best food in Anthem, and some of the best barbecue in the Valley. The ambiance is open and airy, with lots of big windows, and welcoming, with flat-screen TVs hanging throughout the restaurant showing various sports.
The aforementioned slow-smoked chicken wings are just the start, slathered in “hot sauce” that was not really hot – at least not by the standards of someone who enjoys raw jalapeños and Tabasco sauce on almost everything. But those thighs and wings were toothsome and juicy, with smoky overtones that sat well on the palate until washed down by whiskey – or beer. There are several of each on The Tennessee Grill menu.
Fried pickles pack just the right amount of flavorful crunch in circular, ridged chips that yield juicy, warm interiors. The onion rings are also a nice starter, or better yet a crispy side to accompany Bob’s Bitchin’ Burger, named after Tennesse Grill owner Bob Adler. This burger is serious – two plump patties of hand-pressed hamburger made from freshly ground brisket and chuck, grilled to order and served on a bun that can’t hold up to the bulging, juicy beef. But the weak bread is the only weak thing about this burger, which bursts with beefy flavor.
Sandwich seekers will find a variety of equally fresh and tasty options, from a crunchy turkey bacon club wrap to a plump po’ boy bulging with shrimp on a French roll, piled with coleslaw and tomato slices and drizzled with roumelade sauce.
The hearty breakfast omelettes and chicken sandwiches and wraps and such are all good, but the barbecue is really what’s cooking at Tennessee Grill. Not only do the savory smells establish that right away, but so does the décor, in the form of shelves of sauces and rubs for sale by the register in the lobby, and the T-shirts hanging on the wall that say things like “You pull my pork, I’ll rub your ribs,” “‘Take my last piece of bacon’… said no one ever” and “We have the best smelling butts in AZ.”
Ribs steal the show – tender and easily sliced off the bone, they possess a charred, chewy exterior bursting with flavor from the meat rubs and smoker. Tennessee Grill’s house-made sauces are a nice complement, especially the smoky and tangy Smoky Mountain Zinger BBQ Sauce. The Smoky Mountain Bourbon BBQ Sauce also adds a nice kick to the palate, but lovers of truly spicy food will be disappointed – there’s nothing truly incendiary, or even mildly hot, among the condiments.
Pulled pork is perfectly tender and delightfully chewy, full of flavor and moist from the barbecue sauce, and it’s among some of the best of its kind around. Brisket is thick and tender, slathered in sauce and hard to share despite its generous proportions.
All dishes are served with grilled and lightly buttered dinner rolls. Some sides are stars in their own rights. Potato salad – mayonnaise-dominant, as opposed to some more mustard-y varieties – is creamy and tasty. Tater tots are crispy and hot, and the baked beans are deliciously spiked with green chili.
Platters with various combinations are available for diners who can’t decide on just one meat.
But wait, there’s more. While Tennessee Grill lacks a bona fide happy hour, its drinks are always reasonably priced ($7.50 for a 22-ounce draft beer) and they offer an impressive menu of fruit smoothies and specialty coffees.
With its proximity to shopping malls, the I-17 and Discount Tire (customers frequently while away their wait for new wheels at the bar), Tennessee Grill has become a popular stop for travelers and shoppers, in addition to its longstanding status as a neighborhood favorite in Anthem.
Those sublime smoky barbecue smells are enough to draw us back.
The Tennessee Grill & Bar
4220 W. Summit Walk Court, Suite 1202, Anthem
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