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 BBQ weekend in and about Memphis

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  • Total Posts: 39
  • Joined: 12/13/2003
  • Location: memphis, TN
BBQ weekend in and about Memphis Tue, 03/30/04 12:56 AM (permalink)
I ended up ignoring the diet over the weekend and ate BBQ this past Friday and Saturday, so I thought I'd offer up a report on the results. Friday's stop was Central BBQ in Midtown Memphis, while Saturday I found myself at Bozo's in Mason.

Friday - Central BBQ

I got home from work Friday evening and was a bit wore out from a somewhat stressful week. My g/f was having a girl's night out, so I was left to my own devices for dinner. I decided to head to the nearest grocery store in Midtown and get some beer to start things off right. I got out of the grocery store and phoned in a carryout order to a relatively new Memphis BBQ joint - Central BBQ. The friendly cash register guy answered the phone and took my order - a slab 1/2 & 1/2(that's half wet and half dry, for the unitiated). He asked if I wanted a setup for one or two with that. Being by myself, I decided to not be a complete glutton and got the setup for one, which amounted to a choice of a couple of sides. I am not sure what all they have in the way of sides, but I do know there homeade potato chips are yummy. So I requested an order of chips and an order of fries as my sides. The guy said to give them 5 minutes and it would be ready.

Four or five minutes later, I arrived. It was about 5:30 pm and the place was packed, including the foyer around the counter where you place your order, pay, etc. The line was long and moving relatively slow considering it is just dead pig they are serving. I noticed Anchor Steam on tap at the far end of the counter from the register and was tempted to get a pint while I waited, but I never found a beertender avaialable to take such an order.

I finally reached the register and paid for my order. It was already bagged and ready to go, except for some extra sauce (hot) that I requested upon pickup. I then paid, got in my truck, and drove the 1/2 block to my house to eat.

The slab was a very meaty affair; falling off the bone and piping hot. The dry 1/2 was just that - bone dry with nothing added to it. Not even any of the shake seasoning like you find on a dry order of ribs from Corky's or the Rendevous. The meat had such good flavor that it really stood on its own with no additional enhancement, although I admit to dipping some of it in the extra hot sauce for a change of pace. The wet ribs were nice and flavorful and their wet sauce complimented the meat nicely. I supplemented this with some of the hot sauce too. The sauces are your typical Memphis style - the thick red stuff. Their sauce is not the best in town, in my opinion, but nicely done nonetheless.

I do not recall much about the fries, they are never very impressive to me either way. The homemade chips were good and crispy as usual, if not a bit heavily seasoned and salty. The requisite dinner roll was barely adequate for sopping up excess sauce.

Overall, I think they are worth a visit for the quality of the ribs. Their pork shoulder is equally as tasty and very consistent, in my experience.

The next day, I ended up at Bozo's in Mason, Tennessee for lunch. If there is sufficient interest, I will try to report about that visit in this thread.
    TJ Jackson

    • Total Posts: 4482
    • Joined: 7/26/2003
    • Location: Cincinnati, OH
    RE: BBQ weekend in and about Memphis Tue, 03/30/04 4:53 AM (permalink)
    Most defimitely continue - we love a good roadfood log

      • Total Posts: 509
      • Joined: 2/19/2003
      • Location: Washington, DC
      RE: BBQ weekend in and about Memphis Tue, 03/30/04 5:37 AM (permalink)
      Likewise. Would also be interested in your opinion of Charlie Vergos as I ate there once, but ended up not having their signature dry rub ribs.

        • Total Posts: 39
        • Joined: 12/13/2003
        • Location: memphis, TN
        RE: BBQ weekend in and about Memphis Tue, 03/30/04 9:10 PM (permalink)

        With regard to the Rendevous, it is difficult for me to give an easy answer. When I was a child, I could eat my wieght in dry ribs. On special occasions, especially my birthday, my parents would take me to dinner at the Rendevous. When done right, their dry ribs are probably the tasiest ribs I have ever eaten - primarily due to the shake seasoning they use. I don't know what it is about it, but the seasoning compliments the meat so perfectly.

        The downside, in my experience as well as that expressed in the grumblings I have heard from some other Memphians, is that the quality of the cooked meat itself is not consistent. Sometimes, you end up with a slap-your-pappy good, moist, and tender order of ribs. Other times, it seems to me that the meat itself is overcooked, dried out, and a bit brittle. I still cannot resist visiting them occasionally and hoping for the best. Incidentally, their beans are always consistent and taste good to me - the same goes for their mustard based slaw. A sausgage and cheese plate, including smoked sausage with the signature shake seasoning, is a good starter too. My g/f reports that the lamb is good, although she cannot remember what the cut is.

        All that being said, I keep forgetting to grab some of their dry seasoning at the grocery store. It would have been great to have on hand to compliment those superbly cooked carryout ribs I got from from Central BBQ on Friday night.

          • Total Posts: 39
          • Joined: 12/13/2003
          • Location: memphis, TN
          RE: BBQ weekend in and about Memphis Tue, 03/30/04 9:20 PM (permalink)
          Saturday - Bozo's

          After changing the brake pads on g/f's car Saturday morning, I was determined to put a few miles on my motorcycle. The top end is freshly rebuilt and I needed to continue breaking in the engine. Unfortunately, this meant I was limited to varying my speed and keeping top speed at or below 55 mph. I wanted to go to Clarksdale and try Abe's for the first time, but I wasn't familiar enough with the Delta backroads to plan a slow enough route. My girlfriend suggested Bozo's instead, so I mapped out a 50 mile or so route that would get us their with the break-in in mind.

          I apologize for getting entirely off-topic, but I am always amazed at just how scenic the less travelled roads in West Tennessee are. Interstate-40 is really not indicative of what West Tennessee has to offer. And you never know what lies over the next hill. We were motoring down some nice winding country road and topped a hill to see a small pasture full of critters. I had to keep one eye on the road, but I did spot some mules in that pasture. There may have been some horses too. And I kid you not, there was a ZEBRA standing in that pasture among those mules!

          After a few miles, we reached Gainesville Road, where we needed to proceed eastwardly for a few miles to Highway 70 in Mason - within sight of the big green sign for Bozo's Hot Pit Bar-B-Q. At the intersection of Gainesville Road and Highway 70, a very enticing roadfood aroma caught my attention as I looked left and right preparing to turn towards Bozo's. This mouth watering aroma was undoubtedly coming from Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken, directly across the street. To be honest, I decided at that moment I wanted to eat lunch at Gus's instead of Bozo's(I had pork last night!). I think GQ magazine once recognized Gus's as one of the top ten places to fly to and eat - or something like that. Anyhow, my g/f had her heart set on Bozo's, so that is where we went.

          Not a bad decision, as it turns out. I had forgotten how good Bozo's is. I ordered a BBQ plate - mixed meat (outter brown and inner white meat). She ordered a plate of white meat. This left us each to choose a pair of sides. I settled on fries and onion rings. she got green beans and potato salad. (cont.)


            • Total Posts: 39
            • Joined: 12/13/2003
            • Location: memphis, TN
            RE: BBQ weekend in and about Memphis Tue, 03/30/04 10:04 PM (permalink)
            I tried to post the rest of my Bozo's report a little while ago, but it didn't seem to take (sorry if I am double posting).

            Bozo's (cont.)

            The pork plates were served plain and were very flavorful and tender. There were three sacues to choose from on the table. Sweet, mild, and hot. The hot sauce was my favorite by far. A spicy and thin ketchup (?) and vinegar based concoction. It reminded me of the sauce from my childhood that used to come from those whole pit places in Madison County where my grandma used to buy BBQ by the pound.

            The mild sauce was as advertised and a bit bland to me. The sweet sauce was thick and tasty, and I observed that it would probably top off a jumbo with slaw rather nicely. At times, I found myself mixing the sweet and the hot for a bit of variety.

            The fries looked like fresh cut but tasted a bit frozen or something. Not bad, but not great. On the other hand, the onion rings were yummy - not greasy at all. Some of the best o-rings I have sampled in awhile.

            My g/f reported that the green beans were good, as well as the potato salad (that came with an artery choking dollop of mayonaise on top!).

            I skipped dessert, but she was tempted by the coconut cream pie. She said the crust tasted homemade, the level of meringue was spot-on, and the amount of coconut was just right. Bleh! I think coconut tastes like the way ants smell. I don't know how people it eat.

            In spite of the pie, I had indeed forgotten just how good Bozo's is.
              TJ Jackson

              • Total Posts: 4482
              • Joined: 7/26/2003
              • Location: Cincinnati, OH
              RE: BBQ weekend in and about Memphis Wed, 03/31/04 12:45 PM (permalink)
              Keep up this report, it's great :-)

                • Total Posts: 39
                • Joined: 12/13/2003
                • Location: memphis, TN
                RE: BBQ weekend in and about Memphis Wed, 03/31/04 7:06 PM (permalink)
                Thanks, TJ.

                That was the end of the story, though. Maybe when I get the bike properly broken in, I will find time to take another ride to eat and post a report.

                  • Total Posts: 2902
                  • Joined: 4/21/2001
                  • Location: Round Rock, TX
                  RE: BBQ weekend in and about Memphis Wed, 03/31/04 7:33 PM (permalink)
                  Love it, bluetick. Thanks.

                    • Total Posts: 244
                    • Joined: 6/28/2003
                    • Location: Jackson, TN
                    RE: BBQ weekend in and about Memphis Wed, 03/31/04 10:18 PM (permalink)
                    Over the last five years I have eaten barbeque in many places throughout West Tennessee. I live outside of Memphis and have spent many a Saturday with my brother sampling the great barbeque this area has available. We have visited the so called " big guys" to the little hole in the walls. It is hard to believe how some of the well known establishments can serve a inferior product and receive such great publicity. Here are my comments:
                    Rendezvous-overpriced tourist trap
                    Cozy Corner - great ribs, bar-b-q,and cornish hens. My favorite in Memphis.
                    Interstate- Great bar-b-q sandwich. Hard to beat.
                    Central - Good location in mid-town. Overrated
                    Corky's- The McDonald's of bar-b-q
                    Topp's - Pretty good sandwich for a reasonable price
                    Neely's - Good sandwich
                    Brad's - Good ribs and sandwiches
                    Pig-N- Whistle - Good ribs
                    Mr. Pig- Good sandwich
                    Bar-B-Q Shop- Good sandwich
                    Leonard's - Good sandwich
                    Mason- Bozo's- Old fashioned atmosphere just like it was 40 years ago. Still good but not great like it was up until 4 years ago.
                    Jackson- Latham's--really good sandwiches and ribs.Worth getting off I-40 for. Small town atmosphere.
                    Reggie's - Very good ribs,sandiches,etc.
                    Lexington - Hay's Smokehouse- everything is excellent. I consider it and the Cozy Corner my favorites.
                    Scott's - fair
                    Henderson- Bill's- excellent sandwich.
                    Joyner's -Good
                    Bobby's -real good
                    Bell's- old fashioned drive-in - fair bar-b-q but fantastic cheeseburger's and milk shakes.

                    These are some of the many bar-b-q establishments in West Tn.I will up-date in the future.

                    Reagan- Foster's - fair sandwich, poor ribs

                      • Total Posts: 39
                      • Joined: 12/13/2003
                      • Location: memphis, TN
                      RE: BBQ weekend in and about Memphis Wed, 03/31/04 11:53 PM (permalink)
                      Bobs, I pretty much agree with your assessments of those Memphis joints in your list(although for one reason or another I have never been to Brad's).

                      I would have a hard time picking a favorite though. It would probably come down to Interstate for a jumbo or Cozy's for the Cornish game hen if I *had* to choose. I would add Germantown Commissary and A&R to the list too. A sandwhich from either of those is also hard to beat.

                      All of em are just different enough to set them apart. It is nice having so many different choices.

                        • Total Posts: 11
                        • Joined: 2/5/2004
                        • Location: Paducah, KY
                        RE: BBQ weekend in and about Memphis Thu, 04/1/04 3:11 PM (permalink)
                        Wow! thanks for the heads up on Memphis BBQ spots! My hubby travels through there often and never knows where it's worth it to stop. We live in Western Kentucky and BBQ here means hickory smoked, so that's what we look for. Thanks again!
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