Travel and Leisure published their list of The 25 Best Places for Barbecue in the U.S. and I was completely flabbergasted that Memphis, Tennessee was nowhere on their list. How can you write an article about the Best BBQ spots and not include Memphis BBQ? What kind of tomfoolery is going on over at Travel and Leisure?
If you have been wondering who has the Best BBQ in Memphis I am taking all of the guesswork out of where to find BBQ in Memphis
Memphis may be known as the “Home of the Blues,” and the “Birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll,” but the city also has another notch in its belt: Memphis is the “Barbecued Pork Capital of the World,” hosting one of the world’s largest BBQ Festivals every May.
There are more than 117 barbecue restaurants in Memphis and out of those, not one made Travel and Leisure’s list of Best BBQ Spots in the U.S.
Memphis is best known for it’s slow-cooked ribs (either served “dry” or “wet”) and our slow-smoked pork shoulder barbecue sandwiches.
The list of the Best BBQ Places Travel and Leisure included in their article are Arizona, Nevada, California, Idaho, and Washington! What kinda Mayo loving, unseasoned BBQ, Avacado toast eating, rhythmically challenged, bitter deviled egg munching list is this?
Clearly, Karen wrote this whitewashed article with her raisins in the potato salad loving ass.
The 10 Best Places for Barbecue in Memphis, Tennessee
1. A&R BBQ
Famous for their hot links, A&R Bar-B-Q is a local favorite. From their pork ribs, pulled pork sammiches and my favorite; their hot links. The meat at A&R BBQ is cooked to perfection and it’s so tender and juicy that the meat falls off the bone.
If you want to experience the flavors of the meat without the sauce masking flavors; order the dry-rub ribs so that you will taste the smokiness of the meat, and you can understand why I have been devouring A&R BBQ since I was in high school. My old high school is right next door to A & R BBQ, and the memories of sneaking out during lunch and running over to A & R are some of my fondest memories.
If you are looking for a local favorite you can’t go wrong with A&R BBQ. They by far have the best bbq in Memphis in my opinion.
2. Cozy Corner BBQ
Cozy Corner is the ultimate hole in wall BBQ spot and it is located in the hood, but do not let the area deter you from missing your blessing. The brisket will melt in your mouth, and the BBQ Gawds speak to your soul as the flavors dance around in your mouth like a slow love ballad.
I am not just saying Cozy Corner has some of Best BBQ in Memphis, but based on the long lines I am not the only person who feels that way. The line moves fairly quickly so don’t be discouraged.
Cozy Corner has made a name for itself by perfecting classics like ribs, rib tips, wings, and brisket. Most people stand in the long lines to try their famous smoked Cornish hen. You heard me right! Cozy Corner prepares daily the most succulent Cornish hen! Its meat succulent and tender, the skin is crispy and paired with a glazed tangy sauce; it’s a match made in heaven.
Cozy Corner has been in operation since 1977 and has established itself as a Memphis BBQ gem. They have been spotlighted on “Diners Drive-ins and Dives” on The Food Network, and have slow smoked some of the best meat in Memphis for generations.
3. Charlie Vergos Rendezvous
Charlie Vergos is one Memphis’ most iconic BBQ Spots and they have been serving barbecue since 1948. I will admit I am not a fan of Charlie Vergos BBQ, but I am in the minority on my view of Rendevous BBQ.
Rendezvous is legendary in Memphis, and where at any given time you might see celebrities with bbq sauce running down their chin and enjoying the goodness of Rendezvous. They also have been featured on both the Travel Channel and Food Network because of their famous dry-rub ribs.
Located directly across from the world renown Peabody Hotel; you can follow your nose down the alleyway to the big red-and-green striped awnings. Straight down a staircase into the basement where you will wait to be seated in a dining room with old tile floors and red-checkered tablecloths, with photographs lining the wall with hundreds, if not thousands of celebs who have come from far and near to eat what is considered to be the Best BBQ in Memphis.
Start things off with the Rendezvous Special, a plate of sliced ham, salami, sausage, and cheese with dill pickles and pepperoncini alongside. Next, dive into the signature ribs, which will arrive perched above a pool of thin, vinegary sauce beneath on a wax paper-lined plate.
Don’t forget the cup of baked beans and the chopped coleslaw with a sharp tangy-sweet bite.
Yes, Rendezvous is a tourist trap, but if you have never been to Memphis it is worth the visit to at least say you went and tried the famous dry ribs.
4. Payne’s BBQ
Payne’s BBQ is my mom’s favorite spot and it is located in a former auto mechanic station. Payne’s may not be luxury dining and doesn’t offer up much in the way of atmosphere, but it’s a foodies dream come true.
Payne’s Original Bar-B-Q dishes is one of Memphis’ best-chopped pork sandwiches and has been serving BBQ to local residents since 1972. The menu is not elaborate like some of the other BBQ places I have mentioned, but if you love pulled pork then you are in the right place.
Payne’s pork sandwiches are served chopped, sliced, or smothered in your choice of mild or hot sauce, and topped with a tangy, day-glow-green, mustard-infused slaw. Again, this is my mom’s favorite and she hits up Payne’s at least once a week for the BBQ Sammich.
5. Central BBQ
Central BBQ is famous for their nachos and they are the ultimate in Memphis-Mex. Their pulled pork nachos are served atop a bed of tortilla chips and layered with barbecue sauce, cheese sauce, shredded cheese, and jalapenos.
The nachos are finished off with a sprinkle of Central’s signature barbecue shake. These nachos are considered “life-changing,” and a staple in Memphis. You are offered three options of meat for the topping (chicken, beef, or turkey), chances are you’ll have a spiritual moment in one of these life-changing combos.
Corky’s has been a Memphis staple for as long as I can remember, and the lines are always hanging in the street, but the service is fast so don’t be shy. They offer great BBQ and even better sweet tea according to fellow Memphis blogger Keeping up with Candy.
They call their barbecue sandwiches “Memphis on a bun,” and the most popular item on the menu is the barbecue pork shoulder sandwich.
7. Germantown Commissary
Germantown Commissary is located in the well-known suburb of Germantown. The All-You-Can-Eat-Ribs special has made Germantown Commissary a favorite in Memphis. The special is only available Monday nights and it comes with beans, slaw, a deviled egg, and bread.
8. Leonard’s Pit Barbeque
Leonard’s Pit Barbeque has been serving up BBQ in Memphis since1922. The Deep South Salad at Leonard’s has to be the most popular item on the menu and is said to be the original barbecue salad. Leonard’s barbecue dinner is a classic as well and comes with the pork shoulder sandwich piled high, beans, slaw, and wedge fries. I also love, love, love their fried catfish!
9. One & Only
One & Only has become my all-time favorite BBQ spot in Memphis. Located in a small building next to the Oak Court Mall right of Poplar Ave. It’s the perfect pitstop to help refuel you after a day of shopping.
While they are known for their Memphis-style hotdogs where are topped with a quarter pound of pulled pork, mild barbecue sauce, coleslaw, barbecue baked beans, hot giardiniera, and French fries; I am in love with their fall off the bone ribs.
Don’t forget to try their delicious Brunswick Stew during the winter months and warm up with a steaming bowl of smoked pulled pork, shredded chicken, and fresh vegetables in a richly seasoned, barbecue chicken stock.
10. Blues City Cafe
When you need to have a great place to eat and not break the bank, this is the place. After hanging out on Beale Street all night and you need something to soak up all of the alcohol then Blues City Cafe is your spot.
Try the half rack of ribs or the BBQ Shrimp that come sizzling in a cast iron skillet. Some BBQ places claim their ribs fall off the bone, but at Blues City Cafe they really mean it. I remember my very first visit to Blues City Café; I went to tear a rib off and the bone came right out. I kid you not, fall off the bone ribs.
These were the best ribs I’ve ever had. The sides are just as a delicious too. Our server made sure our drinks stayed topped off and ensured everything was to our liking. If I could give a 6 star I would give it to this place. Blues City Cafe is my second favorite place to eat bbq in Memphis.
What are your favorite BBQ spots in Memphis? Let Passports and Grub know via the tipline or in the comments, and I will update as needed. I would love to hear your thoughts so leave me a comment on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
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