Last October one of my closest friends decided he wanted to road trip across Tennessee for his birthday with our first stop being the fabulous city of Memphis. Our goal – to eat as much phenomenal BBQ as we possibly could! We knew we were only able to spend one day in Memphis before heading to our next location, so we started our BBQ sampling right after stepping off the plane! Before even picking up our luggage, we hopped over to Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Que in Terminal B of Memphis International to try their famous BBQ spaghetti.
We arrived at 9 a.m. and the line was already forming! This tasty dish was a combination of spaghetti, seasoned pork and Interstate’s own BBQ sauce, a tomato and vinegar based sauce with a hint of spice. The seasonings in both the pork and the sauce provided a great kick. It was definitely worth the wait and is a must try when visiting the Memphis airport!
After a few touristy hours at Graceland we headed to our next stop, Corky’s Bar-B-Q, a location famous for its pulled pork and ribs. We got there around lunch time and were seated immediately. To begin, we started with their amazing bread rolls! They were still warm from the kitchen, fluffy on the inside and crusty on the outside. And, after adding a thin layer of butter, they were even more remarkable.
For our appetizer we ordered a Memphis tradition, the BBQ Smoked Sausage and Cheese Plate. The hickory smoked sausage was out of this world wonderful – it was juicy and had a great snap! Pickle spears and pepperoncini peppers came alongside and melded incredibly well with the smokiness of the sausage and creaminess of the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses.
For my entrée I ordered their BBQ pulled pork sandwich. This marvelous pile of pulled pork comes topped with their famous BBQ sauce and coleslaw (I opted to have the slaw on side). After trying this lovely pork creation, I completely understand why it is so famous; it was everything you want pulled pork to be – lean, tender, succulent and bursting with flavor. Corky’s was a huge success and excited us even more for our next stop of the day!
We checked into The Peabody and saw the Broadway Musical “Memphis” at the Orpheum Theater before heading to our next stop, Central BBQ.
I had heard some pretty astounding things about their BBQ nachos so I knew I had to give them a try – and they lived up to the hype! The tortilla chips were topped with their divine pulled pork, BBQ sauce, cheese sauce and shredded cheese! And if that wasn’t enough, they were then finished off with a light dusting of Central’s BBQ seasoning. They were absolutely heavenly, some of the best nachos I’ve ever had! The chips stayed crisp the entire time while eating them and the tanginess of the BBQ sauce mixed perfectly with the spiciness from the cheese sauce and BBQ seasoning. The pulled pork itself was excellent as well - flavourful, moist and seasoned wonderfully. I also ordered their beef brisket plate. The thinly sliced brisket was fall apart tender and had a great smoky flavor. It was accompanied by two of their homemade sides. I went with the house made kettle chips and their creamy mac-n-cheese – both were very well executed. This was, without a doubt, one of the best meals we had all day.
Wandering around Beale St for a while put us in the mood for our final stop of the day, Charles Vergo’s Rendezvous. I have to admit, I’m usually not a huge fan of ribs; they generally are full of fat and come covered in a sauce that’s too sweet for my liking. However, after experiencing the pork ribs here, my opinion drastically changed.
They use a dry rub at Rendezvous instead of the usual wet BBQ sauce. It’s an unbelievable combination of oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder and paprika. The ribs are first based with a touch vinegar and then the rub is shaken on. This is where I was also taught how to correctly eat a rack of ribs – resting your teeth against the bone and gently pulling the meat away. Since these ribs were cooked so flawlessly it took no effort to get the meat off the bone. They are simply the best - moist, tender, juicy and seasoned beyond perfection.
I could not have asked for a better way to end our incredible tour of Memphis BBQ!
I cannot wait to return to Memphis! However, hopefully next time we will have more than just one day to fill our bellies with BBQ goodness!