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Memphis BBQ Scene

Harish

Memphis BBQ Scene

Restaurants (Memphis style BBQ)
The best thing you can do in Memphis just about cheaper that you can anywhere else is to eat some of the best BBQ to be found in America. There are countless places serving up Memphis style BBQ. (more than 75 Actually). When you say BBQ in Memphis, you mean pork shoulder, not ribs so much. Every little joint has its own "secret" method of handling fire and wood. Here is a list of the BBQ places must visit when in Memphis.
Dating back to 1922, when Leonard Heuberger opened a restaurant called Leonard's Lunch, Leonard's is the oldest surviving name in Memphis barbecue. Serving coleslaw on pulled-pork sandwiches is a universal Memphis tradition that began at this restaurant, and it has some of the best ribs in the city, which you can get wet or dry. The delicious dry-rub is a classic paprika- and chili powder-heavy rendition without all the sugar that overpowers a lot of modern rubs.
Leonard's Pit Barbecue
5465 Fox Plaza Dr
Dating back to 1922, when Leonard Heuberger opened a restaurant called Leonard's Lunch, Leonard's is the oldest surviving name in Memphis barbecue. Serving coleslaw on pulled-pork sandwiches is a universal Memphis tradition that began at this restaurant, and it has some of the best ribs in the city, which you can get wet or dry. The delicious dry-rub is a classic paprika- and chili powder-heavy rendition without all the sugar that overpowers a lot of modern rubs.
The downtown location of this iconic Memphis barbecue joint is the perfect side dish to an afternoon at the National Civil Rights Museum. The transcendent pulled pork – almost always voted the city's best – can and should be doused in a number of sauces so good you'll want to drink them by the pint. For good barbecue it's best to avoid the tourist-centered places Downtown. But if you go a little south of Beale St to the South Main district, to the Downtown location of Central BBQ, you'll be rewarded with a menu that frequently tops local polls for best barbecue. And since the sauces are self-serve, it's a great place to sample a variety to see what you prefer among the four options: mild, hot, vinegar, and mustard.
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Central BBQ - Downtown
147 East Butler Avenue
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The downtown location of this iconic Memphis barbecue joint is the perfect side dish to an afternoon at the National Civil Rights Museum. The transcendent pulled pork – almost always voted the city's best – can and should be doused in a number of sauces so good you'll want to drink them by the pint. For good barbecue it's best to avoid the tourist-centered places Downtown. But if you go a little south of Beale St to the South Main district, to the Downtown location of Central BBQ, you'll be rewarded with a menu that frequently tops local polls for best barbecue. And since the sauces are self-serve, it's a great place to sample a variety to see what you prefer among the four options: mild, hot, vinegar, and mustard.
Even though "pulled" or "chopped" pork shoulder sandwiches that make Memphis BBQ so unique in other restaurants, here I always go for the Memphis style ribs. They are just out of the world.
A&R Bar-B-Que
1802 Elvis Presley Blvd
Even though "pulled" or "chopped" pork shoulder sandwiches that make Memphis BBQ so unique in other restaurants, here I always go for the Memphis style ribs. They are just out of the world.
Some of the best ribs in Memphis are served at a dimly lit bar where the owner puts a Greek spin on the Memphis staple, and we're not talking about the Rendezvous. Around since 1953, Alex's Tavern is a dive bar that's pretty much always open and full of cigarette smoke. And the Greek-seasoned ribs, cooked for eight hours with apple and hickory wood in a Tucker cooker, are consistently perfect. Call ahead to see if they're available -- Alex's can only cook one case at a time on the Tucker, and when the ribs are out, they're out (but if they're out, don't hesitate to grab a Greek Burger or the chicken wings).
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Alex's Tavern
1445 Jackson Avenue
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Some of the best ribs in Memphis are served at a dimly lit bar where the owner puts a Greek spin on the Memphis staple, and we're not talking about the Rendezvous. Around since 1953, Alex's Tavern is a dive bar that's pretty much always open and full of cigarette smoke. And the Greek-seasoned ribs, cooked for eight hours with apple and hickory wood in a Tucker cooker, are consistently perfect. Call ahead to see if they're available -- Alex's can only cook one case at a time on the Tucker, and when the ribs are out, they're out (but if they're out, don't hesitate to grab a Greek Burger or the chicken wings).
The barbecue sandwich may be the most popular form of Memphis barbecue, but it's facing serious competition for that title from a more recent upstart. Barbecue nachos first appeared on a Memphis-area menu at the Germantown Commissary in 1982. Today it's hard to find a barbecue joint that doesn't offer the simple yet delicious combination of pork, cheese, and barbecue sauce on a bed of tortilla chips.
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Germantown Commissary
2290 South Germantown Road
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The barbecue sandwich may be the most popular form of Memphis barbecue, but it's facing serious competition for that title from a more recent upstart. Barbecue nachos first appeared on a Memphis-area menu at the Germantown Commissary in 1982. Today it's hard to find a barbecue joint that doesn't offer the simple yet delicious combination of pork, cheese, and barbecue sauce on a bed of tortilla chips.
Tops is one of the quintessential sandwich shops, with 15 locations around the Memphis area. It's a local chain, but that doesn't mean any of the locations use cheap shortcuts like gas-fired pits -- they all cook their shoulders over charcoal in open pits. You'll hear plenty of locals tell you that the hand-pattied double cheeseburgers are even better than the shoulder sandwiches, but rather than debate it, the best approach is to try both on the same bun. You can order shoulder meat by the ounce, so ask for a couple ounces of chopped pork and barbecue sauce added to your double cheeseburger for the ultimate Tops experience.
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Tops Bar-B-Q
1286 Union Avenue
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Tops is one of the quintessential sandwich shops, with 15 locations around the Memphis area. It's a local chain, but that doesn't mean any of the locations use cheap shortcuts like gas-fired pits -- they all cook their shoulders over charcoal in open pits. You'll hear plenty of locals tell you that the hand-pattied double cheeseburgers are even better than the shoulder sandwiches, but rather than debate it, the best approach is to try both on the same bun. You can order shoulder meat by the ounce, so ask for a couple ounces of chopped pork and barbecue sauce added to your double cheeseburger for the ultimate Tops experience.
Corky's BBQ is slow cooked and hand pulled, it's the best Memphis style BBQ.
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Corky's Ribs & BBQ
5259 Poplar Avenue
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Corky's BBQ is slow cooked and hand pulled, it's the best Memphis style BBQ.
For the most intense barbecue sandwich in Memphis, try a Spicy Jumbo from Payne's. The huge portion of chopped pork also has a sizable sampling of charred outer meat from the shoulder, referred to as "bark" in barbecue circles. With generous servings of bright red sauce and neon-yellow slaw, the sandwich wallops the taste buds with a mix of smoky meat, mustard, vinegar, sugar, and spicy heat. But be ready to eat fast, as the bun disintegrates and leaves you on fork duty.
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Payne's Bar-B-Que
1762 Lamar Ave
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For the most intense barbecue sandwich in Memphis, try a Spicy Jumbo from Payne's. The huge portion of chopped pork also has a sizable sampling of charred outer meat from the shoulder, referred to as "bark" in barbecue circles. With generous servings of bright red sauce and neon-yellow slaw, the sandwich wallops the taste buds with a mix of smoky meat, mustard, vinegar, sugar, and spicy heat. But be ready to eat fast, as the bun disintegrates and leaves you on fork duty.
Pizza first came to Memphis in the '50s, when Horest Coletta traveled to Chicago to learn to make it for service members formerly stationed in Italy. Initially it was a flop; as hard as it is to believe today, pizza seemed too foreign for most Southerners of that era. But Coletta knew Memphians would try anything that had barbecue on it, so he put a pit in his restaurant's basement and began covering his pies with shoulder meat. Elvis loved them, his legion of fans soon followed, and the back room he always requested at the original S Parkway location is still designated the Elvis Room and decorated with his memorabilia.
Coletta's
1063 S Pkwy E
Pizza first came to Memphis in the '50s, when Horest Coletta traveled to Chicago to learn to make it for service members formerly stationed in Italy. Initially it was a flop; as hard as it is to believe today, pizza seemed too foreign for most Southerners of that era. But Coletta knew Memphians would try anything that had barbecue on it, so he put a pit in his restaurant's basement and began covering his pies with shoulder meat. Elvis loved them, his legion of fans soon followed, and the back room he always requested at the original S Parkway location is still designated the Elvis Room and decorated with his memorabilia.