Let's Eat, Wilson County: Tom’s Blue Moon Barbecue a cut above the rest (with video)

Brad Major • Oct 27, 2015 at 7:00 PM

I do not remember all of the places we went, or anything that particularly stood out, except for each place had different sauces – sweet, spicy, vinegar-based and so on – because I thought most of the food was all basically the same at that age. So the unique sauces were what stood out in my mind.

Fast forward many moons, and here I am traveling around Wilson County, seeking out the places unique to our area, and it is time to review Tom’s Blue Moon Barbecue, which has been one of the most-suggested places by people who read our columns or watch our videos.

They rave about the smoked sausage, the beef brisket, the pulled pork, catfish and smoked chicken, to name a few. The problem is that I have ventured in and out of a meatless diet for years and do not consider myself a worthy assessor of the quality of all-things meat at Tom’s, so I brought in a trusted friend, Jason Moles, friend of Let’s Eat, Wilson County and co-owner of Gardens on Main in Lebanon.

The layout of the place

Tom’s décor is among the most unique in Lebanon. As you walk in the rustic-looking building, you are greeted by the smell of smoked meat, sounds of diners chatting and the view of a dining room with sauces completely circling the room perched on a shelf just out of my reach. Fortunately on each red-and-white checkered covered table is a sauce station complete with sweet and sassy, sweet and spicy or Carolina mustard options.

You walk over to the serving line where you are face to face with the carving station showcasing their raved-about brisket and all of the sides made fresh on site. The menu is behind the station offering up all of the meats, sides, combos, children’s meals and a few anecdotes to boot. When the weather permits, there are picnic tables on the front patio.

The menu

The menu is no shocker, I mean the name of the place has barbecue in it, but that can be deceiving for people not born and raised in this area. You see, for those of us who call the South home, barbecue is a meat, while for other people born in less cultured areas of our Union, barbeque refers to the style of cooking used to prepare the meat in question. So for the sake of argument here for the rest of this column, any reference to barbeque will default to the pulled pork that is a staple to nearly every Southerner’s diet. One thing that immediately caught my eye was the Elvis tacos, which consist of your choice of meat piled on top of griddle-fried cornbread.

In addition to barbecue, Tom’s is well known for their beef brisket, smoked chicken, smoked sausage, catfish, ribs and even the smoked bologna and hamburgers, too. If meat is what you want, look no further. But what is most impressive to me is the choice of sides, not just the usual canned baked beans and frozen fries most barbecue joints offer, but some true sides that you can, and I often do, make my full meal.

Their mac and cheese is so good and holds together. The broccoli casserole is so cheesy and good. The cole slaw is good as is the potato salad, but they have two items that are a must that I try – house-made crispy potato chips and hand-cut real French fries.

You have to try this

Obviously most would say the brisket or the Elvis tacos, people rave about the catfish and ribs, my children love the smoked bologna, but what sets this place apart is the attention they give to their sides. DeAna, my trusted co-pilot, chose the mac and cheese. And trust us, it is good.

Jason chose the broccoli casserole, and for me, hands down the thing you have to try is, well there are two items, the house-made chips and the hand-cut French fries. When you eat real cut French fries, you wonder why every place doesn’t do this. So maybe that will be my mission to revolutionize the local restaurant industry to ban frozen fries.

Final verdict

Tom’s has something for everyone in a family friendly environment. On one of our visits, we hung out with Smitty the Clown, and I must admit clowns are usually not my thing. But Smitty was funny and great with children, and we all left with balloon hats.

They also have live bluegrass on the weekends, so check their website for who is playing this weekend.

Before I go, I have to mention the banana pudding. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go in the back and learn the recipe, but give me time. Do not leave Tom’s without getting an order. If Dad and I had found this back in the day, I think we would have been happy. Dad, with the quality of the barbecue and me, with the variety of delicious sauces, we should add this one to the list.

Let’s Eat, Navigation System

You will find Tom’s at 711 Park Ave. in Lebanon, right across the street from the Fairgrounds. Tom’s is open Tuesday through Sunday opening at 11 a.m. each day. Find them at bluemoonbbqlebanon.com or call 615-444-7920.

Let us know what you think and keep the feedback coming. Find us on Facebook at Let’s Eat, Wilson County and e-mail us at letseatwilsoncounty@yahoo.com.

Brad Major is community engagement engineer with Tressler and Associates and heads up the Let’s Eat effort for The Democrat.

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