City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Grubbing in Memphis

central2The number of weddings that I attend every year is downright staggering. I guess it is a trapping of two extroverts marrying one another – it seems that rarely a month or two goes by without an out of town wedding eating up a weekend. And of course, as luck would have it, virtually none of these weddings are in the Atlanta area.

Despite the long travel times and the seemingly unstoppable barrage of wedding registries, there is a silver lining to all of this wedding business – getting to taste the local food. And last weekend saw me driving up to the home of the Blues, Memphis, TN.

If there is any food that Memphis is known for, it is their barbecue. Specifically, Memphis-style barbecue. And while that encompasses all kinds of pork, when I think of Memphis, I think of one thing: RIBS.

So, like any good tourist, I’ve been to Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous as my default when I head to Memphis, but I wanted to mix it up this time, so I turned to the magic of social networking. A post asking for alternate recommendations from my friends, and there was one standout that I heard from people I trust more than any others – Central BBQ.

And my goodness, my friends were right.

I’ve had some fantastic ribs here in Atlanta, but the half-rack of ribs I downed at Central BBQ this weekend was a nice wake up call for me, a good reminder of where the standard should be set. Predictably, the brisket and pulled pork were not setting any records, but my goodness….those ribs.

As with most Memphis-style ribs, they come either dry or wet, and I opted for dry. The bark was crunchy and the rub imparted a ton of flavor, but adding a few dollops of the tomato-based sauce on the table gave the best of both worlds.

What are some of your favorite regional places for can’t miss spots in Memphis, or otherwise?

- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

25 comments Add your comment


July 23rd, 2013
4:44 pm

Jon, I think the song is called Walking in Memphis. Do some research, LOL


July 23rd, 2013
4:48 pm

Germantown Commissary just outside of Memphis – well worth the drive

Yellow Jacket

July 23rd, 2013
5:11 pm

Dub’s BBQ in Calhoun GA has THE BEST RIBS PERIOD.


July 23rd, 2013
6:44 pm

Memphis is my hometown, and nothing beats Neeley’s Interstate BBQ. Nothing.


July 23rd, 2013
8:30 pm

Cozy Corner in Memphis has a great sausage sandwich. Their specialty is barbequed cornish hens, but I’ve never been able to get past the sausage sandwich….


July 23rd, 2013
8:50 pm

You missed the relatively new Memphis Barbecue Company just across the Mississippi. 3 time World Hog Champion Mellissa Cookson and World Rib Champion John Wheeler opened an incredible restaurant. Melissa’s often seen on Pitmasters–the only female champion.

I too am a Rendezvous fan, and have been eating there since rib dinners were $1.75 and $2.75.

Memphis is a town of wonderful food and beautiful women. Or my wife seems to think so.

Finn McCool

July 24th, 2013
8:57 am

Skylight, Aiden NC
Lexington BBQ, Lexington NC

They make BBQ outside of NC?

Peter Chang’s on Powers Ferry for when you need to strip the old stomach lining off and add a new one. Whoa hot. $55 for crab with 6 chili peppers next to the name? Someone tell me if that is good?

Martin’s (various Cobb locations + Jimminey Carter Blvd) for breakfast biscuits. Large tenderloin and cheese biscuit. ohh oh ohhhh.

Taquieria Del Sol for tacos


July 24th, 2013
9:23 am

I make the best ribs. Just try Alton Brown’s baby back rib recipe and you’ll never go back to any other kind of ribs, ever.


July 24th, 2013
9:24 am

Another vote for the Commissary here….it’s not a big place, and you have to head out to Germantown to find it, but it’s worth the trip. Far better than the touristy Rendezvous, Interstate, or Corky’s.

Finn McCool

July 24th, 2013
9:41 am

Another vote for Alton Brown’s rib recipe. Very easy, very good. Put em in the oven or the grill or in a smoker and they turn out great.


July 24th, 2013
9:53 am

Another vote for Lexington BBQ #1!! The absolute best!!


July 24th, 2013
10:01 am

Don’t laugh, because I to am a BBQ purest, But when desperate for some close to the house pretty good baby back ribs, Ruby Tuesday’s has got some good ones. Before laughing,try them


July 24th, 2013
10:39 am

Cafe Eclectic in Midtown Memphis for the best breakfast and coffee!


July 24th, 2013
10:45 am

Cafe Eclectic is great for breakfast. One and Only, new-ish bbq place in town, is fabulous. Gus’s fried chicken, of course. Pho Binh in midtown has the most amazing $5 lunch buffet EVER.

Neely’s is garbage.


July 24th, 2013
11:33 am

Worked in Memphis for four years, and can say that it is the Vatican of BBQ.

Commissary was the go-to for our crew, but Central, Rendevous, Neely’s Interstate, and Corky’s (in that order) served a fine rack that beats any that I have eaten in Atlanta.


July 24th, 2013
4:53 pm

Best I ever had in Georgia was Jack’s Old South BBQ in Vienna, GA. I don’t think it is there anymore, but it was Jack Mixon’s original restaurant before he started franchising. I think there is a franchise in Braselton now.

On my last visit to Memphis, I had BBQ several different places and didn’t have a bad meal anywhere. And I grew-up on Kansas City BBQ (Arthur Bryants, Gates).


July 24th, 2013
5:10 pm

Alton Brown’s ribs are special, I agree. I like Carolina Bar-B-Que but Memphis does it right also. Kansas City Bar-B-Que is just too sweet and sticky for our taste.

Finn McCool

July 24th, 2013
6:26 pm

Cool, JB. i’ll try those Ruby Tuesday ribs!

When all you have is lemons find someone that can make the lemonade! (or google up a good recipe!)
thanks, JB!

Finn McCool

July 24th, 2013
6:33 pm

“Kansas City Bar-B-Que is just too sweet and sticky for our taste”

KC ribs are good, as is most of the best Texas Q joints. I think it’s an acquired taste. I was raised about 20 miles from Lexington, NC so slow smoked pork and apple cider vinegar just kinda …I don’t know…makes my clothes come off? weird? Yeah, but for 20 years I’m only getting that injection whenever I can find the time/excuse to drive up there.

Ha! Funny thing is, growing up there we just thought those places were greasy spoons. didn’t realize what we had was pretty damn good.

Finn McCool

July 24th, 2013
6:42 pm

sorry, I’m rambling:

after college at UNCC I moved back to Greensboro and worked as an illustrator for a signage company for a year and during that time the company hired a sales rep from out of town who had the BBQ bug. It was an open office environment and all the guy seemed to talk about morning, noon, and night was bbq. We didn’t have email at the time so the snide remarks were sent across aisles and I know he heard us a time or two saying he should get a room, a gallon of sauce, and the partner of his choice.


July 24th, 2013
7:20 pm

A couple of months ago a long-time friend suggested we do Memphis for a long weekend. I drove to Knoxville and picked him up and off to Memphis we went. Unfortunately we didn’t hit a single place that would warrant a second visit. Beale Street was short, touristy and mediocre in every respect. It seemed every local was at the Peabody, dressed like the world would end the next day. Over-priced would be an understatement. Memphis is off the bucket list…take it from me and take it off your bucket list.


July 25th, 2013
8:42 am

I’m taking N-GA’s word for it.

the real foodie

July 27th, 2013
1:53 pm

Why would ANYONE take some one else’s opinion about ribs?
If you like ribs you have to try them for yourself.
ALL of them!


July 28th, 2013
9:20 am

Try the Cupboard on Union for awesome breakfast and lunch. Great Southern cooking, especially veggies you don’t see at most places, like speckled butter beans, squash or eggplant casserole, spiced beets, cucumber/onion/tomato salad, etc.