Memphis and West Tennessee are known for their Barbecue…there is NO question about that. That slow cooked/smoked, fall-off-the-bone yummy goodness, and sweet/spicy/tangy dripping sauce, combined is something you can’t beat. You’re mouth is watering now, because you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Now, when you visit West Tennessee, you can easily become overwhelmed with ALL the different BBQ joints. There’s the well known, now franchised (which are still good) and then there’s the local favorites. Either way you really can’t go wrong. I’m not going to tell you, which I prefer, because honestly everyone has different tastes and they’re all really good in their own way. One place you get the BBQ 1/2 chicken, then another you get the pulled pork sandwich with slaw on the sandwich (of course), and then another you go all in for the ribs.
Let’s take a step back to learn about the origins of this beautiful Southern cooking! According to gastronomical geniuses and historians, there is a difference between grilling and barbecuing. In the culinary world, barbecue means to cook meat low and slow over an indirect flame. Grilling is what everyone can do easily and quickly – meat on direct heat. This technique was first seen in the Hispaniola people, the first indigenous tribes Christopher Columbus encountered. The Spanish explorers, after Columbus, called this cooking method barbacoa. As they traveled further into present-day America, they saw that other Indian tribes were using this method as well. Eventually this cooking method would make its way to the colonies in Virginia.
Now, there is an argument that beef-based BBQ (typically from Texas) and mutton-based (primarily Kentucky) isn’t actually authentic barbecue, only pork-based is. People have actually written many books and articles about this topic. However, in the end, pork was a cheaper and less maintenance then cows, therefore it was typically the meat of choice back in the day. During pre-Civil War years, southern families would consume an average of 5 pounds of pork to every 1 pound of cattle. PIG WINS! But, really who’s to say, if it tastes good that’s fine by me!
Everyone has different techniques for cooking BBQ and opinions about what is authentic barbecue. And really if you’re in West Tennessee eating barbecue, you’re eating the best of the best. So here’s a small list and YOU decide which place is your favorite!
LOCAL 1 & ONLY LOCATION:
Cozy Corner – Cornish Hens (Memphis)
Payne’s Original Bar-B-Que – Pork Sandwich (Memphis)
Rendezvous – Dry Rub Ribs (Memphis)
Bozo’s Hot Pit BBQ – The Pig/Pork Sandwich (Mason, TN)
Germantown Commissary – BBQ Nachos (Germantown, TN)
The Bar-B-Q Shop – Ribs & Spaghetti (Memphis)
Pig-N-Whistle – Muddy Ribs (Millington, TN)
Little Porky’s – Bar-B-Que Plate (Covington, TN)
Tom’s Bar-B-Q & Deli – Ribs (Memphis, TN)
Captain John’s Old Tyme Pit Barbecue – Pork Sandwich (Collierville, TN)
Brad’s BBQ – Pork Sandwich with Slaw (Oakland, TN)
Pig-N-Out – Pork Plate & Ice cream (Halls, TN)
LOCAL BUT MULTIPLE LOCATIONS:
Tops BBQ – Chopped Sandwich Combo (multiple locations)
Central BBQ – Pork Plate & Sides! (multiple location – only in Memphis)
A&R Bar-B-Que – Dry Rub Ribs (multiple locations – only in Memphis)
Corky’s Bar-B-Q – Wet Ribs (multiple locations – only in Memphis)
Interstate Barbecue – Pork Sandwich (1 Memphis, 1 Southaven, MS)