Bluff City’s Ridgewood Barbecue is competing against heavy hitters in Memphis, a town world-famous for its food; Lynchburg, the home of another famous Tennessee brand; Brownsville; and Nolensville for the title and a visit from Bill Hagerty, commissioner of the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development.
In honor of May’s National Barbecue Month, the state agency solicited Tennesseeans to nominate their favorite establishments through a Facebook poll, and presented more than 50 of those last week for online voting.
The department narrowed those down to five, one of which is the popular place off the Elizabethton Highway.
To reach the top five, Ridgewood smoked other local favorites, including Piney Flats’ Pardner’s Bar-B-Que, and the Firehouse, Dixie Barbecue and Red Pig Bar-B-Que in Johnson City.
Absent from the final five are any restaurants in the state’s capital city, which recently beat out Memphis, Kansas City, Missouri, and all of Texas as Travel + Leisure’s Best City for Barbecue in America.
In 1948, Ridgewood was established by Jim Proffitt and some partners as a roadside cow-and-suds joint, but Proffitt switched it over to barbecue five years later when Sullivan County banned alcohol sales.
Jim Proffitt died in 1980, but from there, his sons, Terry and Larry Proffitt, took over. Now, Larry’s daughter, Lisa Peters, runs the place, maintaining many of the recipes that won the food fame with locals.
To vote in the Facebook poll, visit the Department of Economic and Community Development’s page at www.facebook.com/tnecd.
Follow Nathan Baker on Twitter @JCPressBaker. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jcpressbaker.