Memphis: Part 1

For BBQ lovers, Memphis is a Holy place. It's one of the true BBQ destinations in our great country. This weekend, Katie and I travelled to this soulful city for a family wedding and managed to sample some of the city's finest "Q" in the process.

We started out early Friday morning and made it just west of Knoxsville before the car and our stomachs were in need of fuel. Naturally, we ended up a BBQ joint in Kingston, TN called Buddy's . After a little online investigating, I discovered that Buddy's has a huge presence in TN with 16 locations throughout the state.

Buddy's looks and operates like a typical fast food joint. The one difference being the inviting aroma of hickory smoke surrounding the place. We ordered our "Q" at the counter and took it to a booth to eat. I ordered a chopped pork plate with beans, slaw, and hush puppies. The pork was smokey and flavorful, but a bit dry. The house sauce was a tangy tomato / vinegar mix that was pretty tasty, lacked the sweetness that I prefer. The meal made for a satisfying lunch, but I left with the hope that Memphis would prove to be much better.

Saturday was all about the wedding. Congrats and best wishes to David and Katie Clark. The service was beautiful and a host of friends and family deserve a lot of credit for putting everything together. Weddings don't happen without the hard work of many behind the scenes helpers. The great thing about Katie's family is how they always come together to help one another. It was a labor of love by all involved and it turned out wonderfully. 

 The early ceremony time and hor d'oeuvres only reception provided another oppurtunity to seek out BBQ for dinner. In search of good ribs for the whole family to enjoy, I chose Central BBQ on Summer Ave. because of the positive online reviews and proximity to the church. Lucky for us, they had a late cancellation and were able to accomodate a group of twenty on short notice.

Central BBQ was near the top of my "Must Try" list. They were voted "Best BBQ" in Memphis by the readers of Memphis Magazine and the Memphis Flyer so my expectations couldn't have been higher. I ordered the whole rack of ribs (half wet / half dry) while Katie ordered the pulled pork sandwhich.

The ribs were tender and smokey, but a bit dry. We ate around 7:30 so there is no telling how long that slab had been waiting to be eaten. Because of the time required, BBQ simply can't be cooked to order. Had we come for lunch, the ribs may have been perfect. As it was, they were just ok.

The same could be said for the pulled pork. It too had good flavor, but was pretty dry on its own. The sauce was traditional dark molassas / tomato base that is typical of Memphis. It was awfully good on the pulled pork sandwhich. The general thought on Central BBQ was that the "Q" was pretty good, but underwhelming. The best part about the experience was that they were able to seat our large group together giving everyone a chance to converse.

Check back later for Part 2 of our Memphis BBQ excursion.

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