Being that Memphis is known for its' BBQ, we frequently get asked by out of town visitors where they should go sample the wares, so to speak. After an audible groan on our part, we argue, we plead, even beg on bended knee and ask that they not follow through with their plans for a BBQ-vacation in Memphis. Dissappointment will surely follow.
If you have ever eaten good BBQ before, please ignore the "Memphis is a BBQ Legend" thing and eat something else- We have some good fried chicken! Or some very nice restaurants- we will give you many recommendations for those. But BBQ in Memphis?
It constantly amazes us how Memphis grew to a be so entwined with BBQ- most of the commercial BBQ is pretty bad. But, as 95% just have to prove that we are wrong, here are our recommendations:
The Big Names:
Corky's, Rendevous. Ok, if you are not familiar with BBQ that much, Corky's isn't bad. They are very, very busy so at least the products are freshly prepared. The tamales are good! The Rendevous is a tricky one- we don't consider it BBQ, and they (the restaurant) really don't either- it's "charcoal-grilled" ribs and pulled pork. The Sausage and cheese plate is very good and if you like a very tough rib you will be ok here. The atmosphere is one of the coolest hole-in-the-wall joints around, and the rude waiters are a tradition. Both of these restaurants serve mind-boggling amounts of ribs and pork so go on and try them- at least your friends back home will have probably heard of them.
Neely's Interstate BBQ- avoid at all costs. And that is all I will say on this.
The less-well-known places:
Cozy Corner- Nice, family run small restaurant. Try the cornish game hen- awesome.
The BBQ Shoppe-Ok, tried this place recently. Did not like it. At all.
Central BBQ-This would have been my "hands down, it's actually pretty damn good" choice a couple of weeks ago. Then we ate at their second location where the food was pretty bad. I think if you go to the original space on Central Ave. in Midtown Memphis, it's about the closest representation of good BBQ the city has to offer. They make a nice sausage/cheese plate, the BBQ Nacho's are good (if you are unfamiliar with this Memphis classic it's worth your time!) and the pulled pork is as good as it gets in a commercial environment. Worth trying.