Now, some barbecue trucks do it well. Papa T's in Hermitage cooks out of a portable smoker, but he doesn't move it very often. Smoke et Al puts out some great food too, but for the most part the barbecue I've had from food trucks around the country hasn't been able to hold a candle to a good old-fashioned pit.
Lately, I've begun to hear some Twitter chatter about a place called Slow and Low BBQ Bistro, so I figured I'd go check them out. The first thing I noticed was their address. Actually, that they had an address, 195 N. First St. I'm guessing unless you park on that side of the river for Titans games or you're a fan of the low-budget wrestling at the Stadium Inn, you've probably never been to this location, tucked between the river and the I-24/James Robertson Parkway interchange.
But to their distinct advantage, Slow and Low has a regular spot where you can find them Monday through Friday when the barbecue urge strikes you. They have ample parking in the gravel lot, and they have even constructed a small commissary kitchen behind the trailer for food preparation. Plus, they actually have a sign just like a real restaurant that will give you the time and temp. These are all quite positive developments. On weekends, they pull up the anchor and travel to festivals and concerts to serve their wares, so perhaps you've seen them at the Wanderland Urban Food Park at Elmington Park or at concerts at Fontanel.
Their food truck is very well-constructed 30-foot long mobile kitchen, and I was pleased to see they were using an Old Hickory brand smoker. From my experience, these smokers put out some very consistent food and are excellent for smoking different types of meat at the same time. Slow and Low doesn't try to do too many things, which is another positive.
I also tried one of the smoked chicken legs and a few slices of brisket. The chicken was moist and perfectly cooked, with just enough hickory flavor to separate it from your normal roasted bird. The brisket was trimmed quite a bit fattier than I normally prefer, but that did keep it from drying out, and it was a simple process to slice off the extra fat with the provided plastic knife.
The sauces are excellent, with the mild having a pepper-and-vinegar base rather than a ketchupy consistency, and the hot version adding just a bit more kick. Both complemented the smoky shoulder sandwich very well, and the hot sauce torqued up the chicken leg nicely.
There's no place to sit at Slow and Low, so it's strictly a grab-and-go operation, but it's not like you'd want to linger and take in the scenic beauty of the surrounding truck stops and budget motels anyway. Owner-operators Herman and Trey Sutherland and Burke Mahling have a good thing going on at Slow and Low.
In addition to their regular daily business, they also handle catering gigs and will make a killing on Titans' game days. Drop in and give them a try and let us know your thoughts here in the comments. The best part of all is that you can always figure out where they'll be cooking, and there's even a sign!