Back Room BBQ
- Address: 100 N. Central St.
- Phone: 865-637-4255
- Hours: Open 6 p.m.-2 a.m. daily
KNOXVILLE — A few weeks ago I stated that I’m growing tired of going to the Old City, even though I’ve now found myself drawn there three times in the past month.
Every time we go there, I try to convince my friends that we should head somewhere other than one particular bar that seems to be their usual first choice. With so many bars in close proximity, it doesn’t make any sense to park at the same one all night, which is a habit among my friends.
So we keep branching out by going to other bars in the area. In doing so, my opinion on a lot of those other bars in the Old City hasn’t changed much.
Except with Back Room BBQ.
I’ve always enjoyed going to Back Room. I found it pleasant enough, but it was rarely my suggestion to go there. But recently I noticed several things that made me have a new respect for the venue.
First and foremost: The place is never crowded. It’s never empty, either; there are always at least a few people there. Because it’s a tiny bar that’s technically still part of the much-larger and much-more-popular Patrick Sullivan’s, the potential for the crowd to overgrow the small venue is high. But yet it never seems to be the case.
It’s not too loud; it’s not difficult to get a table or sit at the bar (even though there are only five or six tables indoors and a few stools at the bar and in the adjacent room where the pool table is).
There’s never a long wait for drinks. This is more than most bars in the city can claim.
But even though the crowd is sparse, they’re still there. It’s not like a desolate old saloon — there are still groups gathered at tables or sitting outside. It’s just not an obnoxiously large number of people.
Patrons typically are in their 20s or 30s, but since neighboring Patrick Sullivan’s draws in a wide age range Back Room’s crowd can get diverse.
It seems one has a decent chance that the pool table will be open. It’s only in use half the time I go there. Even if you’re not up for pool, the dimly lit side room is typically quieter and calmer than the rest of the venue. It’s a great hangout spot for a small gathering.
But the real gem of Back Room is its back porch.
This time of year it’s cooling down around 10 p.m., so porch-sitting is actually possible without enduring 95 degree heat and 100 percent humidity. The outside seating area seems like it might actually be larger than the inside area, with metal tables abounding. It’s secluded from the rest of the Old City (it’s not like sitting on the very open Urban Bar patio) and equidistant to the bar and the bathroom — optimal seating arrangements.
The atmosphere is that of a straightforward Southern barbecue venue. It’s unique in the sense that the other venues nearby aren’t trying to capture that vibe, with many of them not even feeling very Southern.
Back Room does occasionally feature live music with small bands propped against the front window playing through a small PA system. Although this raises the decibel level, the few times I’ve been there for live music the volume hasn’t hurt my ears or made it difficult to converse with others.
On my recent Saturday night adventures, two friends and I simply sat at an indoor table, enjoyed the tunes and drank some bottled domestic beer and chatted. We could’ve done that anywhere, but Back Room hosted the evening well.