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A&R Bar-B-Que

1802 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN - (901) 774-7444
Posted By Michael Stern on 2/28/2009 10:53:00 PM
Correspondent Sdakin wrote us here at roadfood.com to say that the pulled pork sandwich at A&R is “simply the best in the USA.” As we drove up to the ramshackle smoke house a few blocks north of Graceland, we had very good vibes. All the signals were right: the parking area outside smelled of smoking pork; a big, happy pig was painted on the exterior wall; and customers were walking out the front door with arms full of to-go containers.

At the counter where you stand and place your order you can hear the blissful smokehouse lullaby coming from the kitchen: chop-chop-chop on the cutting board as hickory-cooked pork gets hacked into mottled shreds and pieces for plates and sandwiches. The sandwich is the classic Memphis configuration: pork mixed with tangy red sauce piled in a bun and crowned with a spill of cole slaw. It occurred to us as we plowed through a jumbo that the slaw in a Memphis barbecue sandwich is as important for its texture as for its pickly sweet taste. The cabbage provides such nice little bits of crunch among the velvety heap of pork.

Beyond pig sandwiches, the A&R menu is full. You can have ribs (wet or dry), catfish dinner, hot tamales, meatballs on a stick (!), and that only-in-Memphis treat, barbecue spaghetti. That’s a mound of soft noodles dressed not with ordinary tomato sauce, but with – of course – barbecue sauce, laced with shreds of pork. It’s weird, but in this city, where restaurants also offer barbecue pizza and barbecue salad, it makes sense.

The ambience of A&R is pure BQ parlor: quiet enough so you can hear the chopping in the kitchen while you concentrate on enjoying the meal. It is a big place with a lot of elbow room. Raw brick walls and florescent lights set a no-nonsense mood; and however hot it is outside, you can count on the air conditioning system to be running so high that it’s practically like going into hibernation. Or is the trance we experienced a result of hypnotically good food?

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
pig sandwich
bbq spaghetti
ribs
Ham Biscuit
Bologna Sandwich
Strawberry Cake
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

With slaw is the Memphis way to make a barbecue sandwich. It is an inspired combo, albeit unbelievably messy.
"With slaw is the Memphis way to make a barbecue sandwich. It is an inspired combo, albeit unbelievably messy."
Michael Stern





Lots of good-looking desserts are available, but the bright pink strawberry cake caught my eye.
"Lots of good-looking desserts are available, but the bright pink strawberry cake caught my eye."
Cliff Strutz


Take a slab of bologna, smoke it, grill it, and then add the slaw, and you have a delicious combo!
"Take a slab of bologna, smoke it, grill it, and then add the slaw, and you have a delicious combo!"
Gregg Pill


If you can eat it, Memphis cooks will barbecue it. Barbecue spaghetti is a fairly common side dish in many of the city's pork parlors.
"If you can eat it, Memphis cooks will barbecue it. Barbecue spaghetti is a fairly common side dish in many of the city's pork parlors."
Michael Stern


There is a soothing hush about so many barbecue restaurants: suitable ambience for the dreamy state of mind that good barbecue induces.
"There is a soothing hush about so many barbecue restaurants: suitable ambience for the dreamy state of mind that good barbecue induces."
Michael Stern


Having a clever motto bragging about your own food is always good form for a Southern BBQ parlor.
"Having a clever motto bragging about your own food is always good form for a Southern BBQ parlor. "
Cliff Strutz


Pictures of extraordinarily happy pigs frequently adorn the walls and signs of barbecue parlors throughout the south.
"Pictures of extraordinarily happy pigs frequently adorn the walls and signs of barbecue parlors throughout the south."
Michael Stern


If you are visiting Graceland, this restaurant, just north of Elvis's mansion, is a great place to stop for a real Memphis meal.
"If you are visiting Graceland, this restaurant, just north of Elvis's mansion, is a great place to stop for a real Memphis meal."
Michael Stern



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