Friday, September 9, 2011

State of Q

Memphis is arguably the BBQ Capital of the United States.  Note, I said arguably because I know there are folks in other areas, particularly Lexington, Kansas City & the Carolina's that also lay claim to that same title.  So I don't mean to 'ruffle anyone's feathers'.
BBQ is Serious Business!

Memphis is also home to the Memphis in May World Championship BBQ Contest......a four day kick-off rather, that will just wear you out.  There is no need to go if you don't know a Team because that's where all the food, frolic & fun is.....under the tents!  I learned that nearly 5 years ago when I got here. Um...I also learned that 'jello shots' can kill ya!
The Jumbo

So recently I was thinking, which I have been known to do from time to time, and I asked myself what I thought was a pretty simple question...
I wonder who really has the Best BBQ in Memphis?  It's actually a 'loaded' question because there are several types of Memphis BBQ: Pulled Pork, Dry Seasoned Ribs & Wet Ribs and it seems everyone has an op-ed.  For me it originally came down to Interstate BBQ for pulled pork, The Rendezvous for dry ribs & Neely's for wet.  Realizing tho that I am just a novice in this division, I asked my good friend, mentor & resident Memphis culinary expert Leroy for his input. He turned the question right around on me.  "Who do you think has the best Brother Lou?"  After I told him, he started to laugh. "Interstate...Interstate??  Have you seen their BBQ pit?"  Why no.....I haven't.  "Yea, well neither have they Brother!.....C'mon I'm taking you to lunch at one of the best..... Payne's!" Now I probably would have never bumped into Payne's myself, unless I lost my way, which I have also been known to do.  It's not in the best location, over on Lamar, and nothing to look at, being a converted gas station (it's been there so long no one can seem to remember what brand of gas it use to be) but damn if it wasn't the best pulled pork sandwich I had ever tasted!  Ms. Payne, a beautiful woman, was kind enough to even show me the BBQ pit   I had the 'Jumbo' (Leroy asked me how many Jumbo's I wanted. will do just fine!) BL had the sausage & BBQ bologna which looked equally as awesome.  I decided right then & there....I needed to know where all the best Memphis BBQ is......just in case someone asks me the question: Where's the best??? 
I really had limited myself to Topps, A&R, The BBQ Shop, Central, Corky's, Blue's City and a couple of others.  Upon finishing up at Payne's, Leroy tells me "Next week we're going to Cozy's". (Cozy's Corner over on North Parkway).   Um, this is going to be a real challenge & I am going to need some serious training if I have any hope for survival......
I've come to understand there's a world more of Memphis BBQ out there and I've decided to find out for myself, ala Anthony Bourdain, on
Yankee's Memphis BBQ World Tour 11/12.  

I think I'll even get some t-shirts made!  Locations & dates on the back even.  Damn....maybe I can hook a reality show or at least a cookbook deal out of this.  OK, I'm getting carried away a a lot but what the hell, shoot for the moon and if not the stars at least you'll find yourself with a plate of ribs!
 If ever there was one position in the newspaper business, other than my own, I would aspire would have to be Food Critic.  Eat & get paid for it.  NICE! Admit would too and I'd put a bottle of Rendezvous Hot Sauce on that. 

Cozy's Ribs on Deck
I asked one of our food critics at the paper - DD- for his input and while he agreed that Payne's & Cozy's were among his favorites, he also related that some of the best Memphis BBQ is in Arkansas. YIKES!? This is going to be much tuffer than I originally thought.....and off such a seamingless simple question too.  After all, when one starts off with the premise that barbeque is a sauce & intended to cover one's cooking've got a long way to go!
I'm up to the challenge......only my cholesterol level stands in the way.
Here's to Where Pigs Fly & not how you start but how you finish 8-)
a yankee in Memphis


  1. You Ain't Tasted The Best, until You've Tasted My BBQ!!

  2. If anyone can get to the bottom of the "who's got the best BBQ" question, you can, Lou! Btw, I hear they have those elastic-waistband pants on sale at Walmart... :-)