BEST BAR B QUE in MEMPHIS (Knoxville, Central: neighborhood, professionals, drywall)
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While there's really no such thing as bad bbq in Memphis (especially compared to most of the slop we have in Knoxville that's called "bbq") my #1 vote would go to Interstate. And when I lived in Midtown I'd go at least once a week to the BBQ Shop on Madison which, in my opinion, has the best bbq sandwiches in Memphis. But Interstate had the best bbq over all, for me at least.
When I fly out west I routinely seek layovers in Memphis just so I can eat at Interstate BBQ in Terminal B.
We do have Corky's up here in E TN, and it does fine in a pinch, but I have actually driven the nearly 400 miles all the way to Memphis just for some honest-to-God bbq.
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their - possession
they're - contraction of they are
there - referring to a place
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lose - opposite of win
Asking which BBQ in Memphis is best is like asking me which of my grandkids I love most
I've very rarely had any in Memphis that I would consider bad. It's nice to see Tops almost at the top of the list. I think they're highly underrated because it's more of a fast food joint, and not a fancy restaurant. I tend to take them for granted since I work two doors down from one of their stores...so I eat there pretty often....for about the same price as lunch at McDonalds!
I usually go to the one near Waring even though I can walk almost next door to the one near National. I find the food at both equally good...I just like to get out of the office for a little while at lunch, so I usually prefer the short drive. Now that it costs me about $40 to fill up my little Miata, I may change that routine soon!
The only other one I can recall visiting in the last several years is the one at Sycamore View and Macon....and it was just as good as the ones on Summer.
I haven't tried the brisket or the rib plates yet - but I did try the rib sandwich, and it was good. I was a bit surprised when I was asked if I wanted the sandwich "bone in" or "bone out". How would you eat a rib sandwich with the bones in???
Believe me, having worked next to Tops for the last 25 years I know exactly what you mean about the smell...makes you hungry for BBQ even though you just had breakfast 15 minutes ago! It's almost as great as the smell of the old Hart's Bakery at Summer and Mendenhall back when I was young....
Joe, yes, I well remember Hart's bakery. I go back to even before it was Hart's. And I remember the old Robilio's BBQ Drive-In on Summer. That's where I got my first taste. But, the Tops you mentioned near Waring is what I call Berclair for lack of a better part of town description. They do a lot of business. And it's minutes from where I am. Central on Summer is even closer. And Brad's was closer than that (until they moved to Moscow - they are quite good btw - better imo than many in Mempho). And at one time we had a Gridley's on Summer in Berclair.
It's been a long time but I seem to recall eating at the Tops on Sycamore, and on Union in the medical center and on Jackson. They are very consistent.
You might say Summer is kinda "bbq alley" - lots of places (two more are Rib Shack and Cozy Corner).
I have been to the one at National many times. But I don't know of much else in that area. In non-bbq there's the Cottage. Have been there a lot. And of course the Greek Church on Highland (that's coming up soon - I'll be there).
Summer was never a "high cuisine" "high society" venue, but truth be admitted I think that's what I really like about it.
Oh, there is a place on Summer with arguably the best flame grilled burgers in town - but I suppose that's a bit off topic...
Joe (and rest of crew here), it's High Pockets Pool Hall in the Cloverleaf Shopping Center on Old Summer (Summer/White Station), next door to the Rib Shack. High Pockets won an award one year for their burgers. Sit at the counter and watch them flame broil it. They cut up the potato in front of you for your fries. And have a cold one while you wait. My usual is two pieces of cheese, lots of onion, lettuce and mustard - the plain yellow sort. I like German beer, so a Beck's goes nicely (I keep reminding myself to suggest they get a supply of Schoengling Little Kings' Cream Ale - it's out of Cincinatti - the best tasting of all U.S. brands of beer - I discovered it decades ago up in Cinncy).
I forgot all about that place! I used to go there pretty often, but haven't been there in years. I'll have to stop by there soon.
Remember when it was Food Fare (or Fair...can't remember which) back when it opened? It was kinda like a big food court at a mall....big center section of tables (where the pool tables are now) with a bunch of food vendors down each side. We used to go there for a quick lunch and then play pinball.
Later, Friend's nightclub occupied one side of the building. Best dance club in Memphis back then
Yes, I remember Friends too, except that for my money the best entertainment in dance clubs in those days was the smoky old Vapors on Brooks. We went there many times and I enjoyed it. There was no where else of that size and popularity. Well, one other popular but smaller nightclub with dancing was the Western Steakhouse & Lounge on Madison. Was there many times too (but we worked all that over in another thread aways back).
I'll tell you something funny about the Vapors. It's what it led to. We finally had to admit the truth - the smoke was just too much, and one day when considering the alternatives discovered we both deep down loved the outdoors. Quite a revelation. We recalled that as kids our parents took us fishing, to the same lake by coincidence - Horseshoe. And that's how we rediscovered a love for "living off the land" meaning fishing (and hunting) after being away from it during those early work years and time spent away in school.
Anywho, to keep this BBQ related, you know one of the little side benefits from being involved in a life afield in the Mid-South? Well, you learn more about agriculture than you ever expected to know and you find no end of new friends who you're on the same page with, but aside from that, you learn all about these small farming communities and in particular where are the good places to eat. You find that a lot of hunting trips turn into eating and drinking expeditions. There are for instance some good BBQ spots within 75 or so miles of Memphis. There's Helen's in Brownsville (the best currently), Brad's in Moscow, Craig's in Hazen (I hope the Pie Lady's still in business across the road), Bozo's in Mason, The Hut in Somerville and others. The best ever outside of Memphis had to be Armstrong's in Helena, gone now unfortunately. You'd go the long way to Arkansas over the Helena bridge just to eat there.
Btw, you really want to know where is found the best BBQ of all? I'll tell you, but the bad news is, there's no way for most to get in on it. It's the BBQ dinners put on by land owners and hunting clubs out in the country and feature a hog that was cooked all that day and served to guests or members at the conclusion of some of your big opening day dove hunts or shoots (always September 1st). At some you'll even find live entertainment. Generally it's a complimentary thing done for one's friends, family and acquaintances, although in a club situation the members cover the costs. And it's a 100 plus year old tradition in west TN, north MS and east AR along with the whole rest of the South including the entire state of Texas. It's a ticket that's hard to come by, but a highly coveted invite for those in that arena, and just another part of our world here...the closest comparison I can think of might be getting invited to snack all you want with the cooking contestants at Memphis In May (if that's what they do)...
BBQ is like wine (I call Memphis "swine country" ). A lot of it is a matter of taste.
With that said, I can't believe Corky's made it on a list of best BBQ...It's almost the equivalent of Pizza Hut being on a list of best New York Pizzerias (a bit of an exaggeration admittedly, but you get the point). At all of the chain's locations in the area, the meat is pre-cooked and shipped in from the Poplar location (the only one worth going to if one must eat at Corky's). It's not bad, but it should certainly never be on a list of Memphis' best BBQ.
The Rendezvous is cool if you are from out of town and want an "experience," but the actual BBQ is OK and slightly overpriced. Heavy tourist attraction.
The Commissary doesn't get nearly enough attention as it deserves from the press. I think this largely stems from the fact that it's located in Germantown and not within the city limits of Memphis. People and food critics probably think, "Oh, it can't possibly be a noteworthy BBQ place! It's in the suburbs!" Once you step inside though, it feels no different than any of the other BBQ places in town. Also, it's in the historic part of Germantown, so it still retains that old-time feel even though it's technically in the suburbs.
Other good BBQ places include Central BBQ and Three Little Pigs.
I actually have never been to the BBQ Shop, oddly enough.
Last edited by waylay00; 05-27-2011 at 05:32 AM..
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