Ambience is deliberate dive. Cuisine is wipe-your-hands-on-your-jeans BBQ. Much of the traditional smokehouse fare served at this casual restaurant by the river is very good indeed.
Among the meats, I recommend velvety pulled pork, which is moist and flavorful, presented sauceless. Three different sauces are available: thick, which is East Tennessee sweet-tangy; thin, which is more vinegary, like in North Carolina; and hot, which is jazzed up with chipotle peppers but is not tongue-searing. The sauces are good on pork. They are vital on brisket, which, while tender, suffers from lack of succulence. Sauce helps that. Ribs are packed with spice and juicy enough that sauce really isn’t necessary.
Side dishes include luxuriously cheesy mac ‘n’ cheese, cumin-spiked green beans, eggy potato salad, and collard greens dolled up with carrots, blackeyed peas, bits of celery and bacon. Wonderful red beans and rice loaded with disks of smoky andouille sausage is available as a side dish — or as an entree — on Wednesdays. For dessert, banana pudding is a rich, creamy swirl just right after a spicy meal.
I came at an off hour and got got treated well and served right away. During busy weekend mealtimes, expect to wait.
Note: a second Sweet P’s, Sweet P’s Downtown Dive, is located at 410 W. Jackson Ave. in Knoxville. (865-281-1738)