A highway billboard along Interstate 40 notes there is plenty of truck parking at Gene's; and sure enough, when we pulled off at exit 216 on the way to Memphis, we found a great big barbecue restaurant surrounded by a spacious lot occupied by semis, pick-ups, and even a few automobiles.
Inside, knotty-pine paneled walls seem right for a place where literally half the customers are wearing hunter's camouflage gear. A hand-written sign advertises purple-hull peas for sale: $11.00 per bushel, plus tax. Long communal tables are marshaled in neat formation; and there is plenty of elbow room between chairs. Every few feet on the tabletops are squeeze bottles of barbecue sauce, plus hot sauce and vinegar peppers, along with ketchup, non-dairy creamer, salt, and pepper. This is a place set up for eating barbecue!
Other customers were enjoying catfish, which looked crisp and thick; but we were happy with our choice of a large rib plate and a jumbo pork sandwich. Both come pre-sauced with a thick, faintly sweet sauce that is not hot at all. The ribs had a good chew and thick ribbons of meat that pulled from the bone with ease; the pork is sliced and pit-smoke tender.
At a nearby table, guys were raving about the apricot fried pies available for dessert. But we felt it was important to spare some appetite for Memphis, and so left pie-tasting to our next visit.