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Charlie Vergos Rendezvous

52 S. Second St., Memphis, TN - (901) 523-2746
Posted By Michael Stern on September 14, 2002 3:35 AM
The specialty of Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous is “dry ribs.” Although these ribs are must-eats on nearly everyone’s Memphis barbecue hit-list, they are technically NOT barbecue. They are charcoal broiled rather than pit smoked. There is no sauce at all on them. They are blanketed with massive amounts of a paprika-colored spice mixture that bakes onto the meat and forms a kind of pepper-flavored spice envelope around it, holding the juices in and flavoring it at the same time. They are beautiful crusty brown with a red halo, as lean as any rib we have ever eaten, and the meat inside the spice crust is stunningly tender. Even through the heavy veil of spice you taste charcoal smoke and the sweet goodness of the pork itself.

If you are really, really hungry, and if you need food to eat with your 48-ounce pitchers of beer (beer is a virtually essential part of a Vergos meal), there are vast sausage and cheese plates available, as well as charcoal-broiled lamb riblets as hors d’oeuvre. And if, for some strange reason, you don’t want to eat the signature pork ribs, you can order charcoal-cooked chicken or beef ribs or a plate of two slices of pork loin that are so ridiculously tender that they feel almost like baby-food versions of barbecue. Flimsy plastic utensils are provided, and they are all you’ll need. The loin comes dressed with sauce; and if you want more, each Rendezvous table is set with squeeze bottles of hot-tangy sauce and sweet sauce. If you happen to need a meatless meal, the Rendezvous offers a sausage-free red beans and rice plate; and if you plan ahead and order 24 hours in advance, you can have them prepare a spectacular meal of skillet shrimp.

It is a kick to eat at the Rendezvous. You’ll be bowled over by the smell of smoke as you walk down stairs into the cellar-level beer hall, where walls and ceiling are festooned with customers' business cards, dusty old signs, antique firearms, vintage Victrolas, Hummel figurines and Memphis memorabilia. It is noisy, impolite, and heaps of fun, and it smells as much of beer as of smoke from the charcoal cookers.

For overnight delivery of Rendezvous ribs, call 1-888-HOGSFLY.
5 star rating
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Posted By Colorado springs on April 23, 2014 6:21 PM
Contrary to what some might say, it is worth it to wait as long as necessary to get the ribs at the Rendezvous. The combination of vinegar and their rib rub is just outstanding, and the coriander seed is the brilliant secret ingredient. The Rendezvous is just simply on another level from all other BBQ spots.
5 star rating
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ribs
ribs

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Posted By Bill on March 13, 2014 7:29 AM
Honestly folks, there isn't much here beyond name recognition. Waits are long, but aren't much worth it. The ribs aren't BBQ in the strictest sense: they aren't smoked; they're grilled, so they are often tough and chewy rather than tender. The dry rub is good, though. The place itself is cool - back alley entrance, underground and vast almost maze-like seating areas. But the little details here are lacking. For God's sake, they don't even brew tea: it comes from a fountain. And no self-respecting Southern restaurant would fail to brew tea.

Save yourself some money and some hassle: avoid downtown Memphis altogether (unless you visit Cozy Corner for lunch). Vie instead for midtown or Germantown. The BBQ Shop on Madison Ave, Central BBQ on Central Ave, or the Germantown Commissary are all far superior for ribs and sandwiches. Central also has some great chicken and a BBQ portabella if you've got a veggie in your crew who scoffs at the BBQ joint. The Commissary is well the wait you'll have, and in addition to their fantastic meats, they've got tamales & pies that you won't believe.

Do yourself a favor: if you eat downtown, hit the South Main arts district instead. Leave the Rendezvous for the other tourists.
1 star rating
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ribs

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Posted By Marty Noe on September 2, 2013 12:33 PM
Ate here in 2008 on a roadtrip. Great ribs and wonderful atmosphere. Judging from the more recent reviews, though, it seems this place has taken a real nosedive in quality. For myself, though, great food after a baseball game right down the street and some touristing around Beale made for a great afternoon.
3 star rating
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ribs
Coleslaw
Baked Beans

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Posted By Terry Hasek on February 11, 2013 1:56 AM
Bottom line here, it's tourist trap, living on its laurels of the past. Could have been the worst ribs we have ever eaten. A McRib sandwich might be better, and it's not even real.
1 star rating
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pork loin
Pork Shoulder Sandwich
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Rendevous Special Plate
Beer
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Meatless Red Beans and Rice
Red Beans and Rice
Coleslaw
Baked Beans

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Posted By Maria Carter on December 16, 2012 12:51 AM
Enjoyed the ribs and brisket combo. Liked the crunchy/smokiness of the ribs (at one point, almost like eating bacon). Brisket was very good, and like both sauces. While I agree with Michael that you don't need the beans and slaw, DO NOT skip them. Best beans I've had in years. And the slaw is really great too.
5 star rating
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ribs
Coleslaw

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Posted By John on August 6, 2012 11:13 PM
Pathetic sums it up. I love barbecued ribs and these were a big disappointment.

I was on a business trip on July 23rd through the 27th of 2012 in Memphis and we went to the Rendezvous on the last night with a group of 10 people. We were looking for quality and eating on an expense account so cost was not an issue. We wanted to try the famous, great Memphis ribs.

The ribs were dry, meaning way overcooked and tough, with nearly no meat on them. I am not kidding. I don't know what they did with the meat. Maybe made pulled pork? Nothing but bones with a quarter-inch of dried on pork. I had the full rack of ribs and probably had five tablespoons of dried out, jerky-type pork meat on the whole rack. Everyone at the table had the same, and we were all gnawing on bones looking at each other. I needed to go eat after we left!

I did talk to the waiter (Calvin) and he apolgized up and down and told me to come back the next day for a free meal. Why would I? I would rather have a McDonald's hamburger.

I love ribs and have had a lot of good ones. To help others, I want to warn you: do not go here! Maybe they have a big name from long ago but they have totally lost it. I had several wonderful meals in Memphis. The best ribs were at Rum Boogie Cafe on Beale Street, about five blocks from the Rendezvous alley. They were fantastic, tender, with lots of flavor, and very meaty. If you go to the Rendezvous after you read this, I will have to shake my head, and you will sit there and think of this posting as you work on the bones. I am an engineer from Wisconsin, telling it like it it is. Nothing like wasting one of my few nights in Memphis on this place.
1 star rating
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ribs
ribs
Coleslaw
Baked Beans

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Posted By Marty Davin on August 20, 2011 1:01 PM
This was by far the worst BBQ/rib restaurant my family visited in our two week stay in Tennessee. We ate much better ribs elsewhere and the reviews we read were highly exaggerated.

The ribs were not meaty and they were charred on the ends. It was like eating leather; very chewy and tough like they were pre-cooked earlier in the day or the night before and reheated.

The people saying these are the best ribs have obviously not even had good ribs before. My wife smokes much better ribs in our backyard in NY. I would save my money and venture elsewhere as this place has seen its better days.
1 star rating
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ribs

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Posted By John A on August 7, 2011 9:34 PM
We took two-and-a-half hours out of our road trip to experience this restaurant. Maybe our expectations were incredibly high but the ribs were not that great. I also tried the sausage and cheese platter; it came out cold. Service was terrible: my wife felt that the waiter was extremely rude to her.
1 star rating
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Baked Beans
ribs

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Posted By Paul Celli on June 6, 2011 10:10 PM
I've had good ribs here and I've had the worst ribs ever here and that's the problem. It's not consistent enough to brave the crowds and wait time on the off chance it's a good night.
1 star rating
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Posted By Joan Keating on March 26, 2009 3:01 PM
We made a round trip NY to Memphis and back in September 2008 to eat BBQ in both directions (and make a pilgrimage to Graceland) with our cousin from San Diego. Rendezvous was one of three highlights. We used Roadfood as the guide, and there were few (if any) missteps along the way. The food at Rendezvous was ethereal, like a symphony in the mouth. Many locals, including a cab driver we hired to take us on a Memphis tour one afternoon, said "oh, that's dirt on a bone." We just don't get what they didn't like; we will take it!

There was not one item on the menu that was not liked. The sausage/cheese appetizer (thanks Michael) almost brought me to tears it was so good. Ribs of every type in that amazing dry rub; I ordered a football-team-sized order and finished every bite. The atmosphere is wonderful, service is attentive and friendly, and they never get sick of tourists. I stood for some time watching the cooks move the meats around in the smoker. I don't know how it's done, but it's heaven and I need to make a special trip back soon!
0 star rating
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Posted By Robert Gandy on March 10, 2006 9:21 PM
I grew up in Memphis and spent many hours at the Rendezvous. When I was back there recently I visited again, and things were superb! The ribs were perfect. They remain the best I have ever had.

For those of you who might have tried "dry rub" ribs elsewhere, and been unimpressed, the Rendezvous sets the mark. I was skeptical the first time I tried them, but they really are excellent. One of those barbecue chains touts their product as real "Memphis BBQ", but they don't even come close.

Actually, everything is good at The Rendezvous: the food, the atmosphere, and the staff. Kinda tucked away in that little alley - go downstairs and become immersed in all that's there. Folks, go to Memphis and don't miss the Rendezvous! I can't wait until my next trip.
5 star rating
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Posted By James Haynes on February 5, 2006 10:18 PM
Two of the great things about the Rendezvous are the BBQ nachos and the Sampler Appetizer Platter. Both are also served at Memphis Redbirds games, at Autozone Park, just a few blocks away. The BBQ nachos are available in either chicken or pork versions. The sampler platter has sausage, cheese, peperoncini, and kosher spears; all liberally sprinkled with Charlie Vergos' dry seasoning mix. Two of the best bargains in Memphis.
0 star rating
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