Memphis BBQ

Memphis BBQ Trip – A trip of alliteration brought to you by the letter ‘R’

Racks of Ribs, Redbirds, River City, Rock ‘n Roll, Race Relations, Rendezvous Rub

When the Earth was created there were a few things that were purely magical. One of those things was, and still is, our annual BBQ trip. I now bring to you BBQ Trip: Memphis. Now, as a warning, there is not much to do in Memphis if you are bringing someone younger than 21. If you are above 21, feel free to enjoy the nightlife on Beale Street. Since a member of our two man duo is 19, we decided not to do the night and, instead, rock the day. The first day we did all our driving. There are a few sights including the Mississippi River to see along the way. Warning: 8 hour drive so it is very tiring if driving from a suburb of Chicago.

We dropped our stuff off at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and went searching for BBQ. Leonard’s is open on Sunday so we decided to head there and try something new: a BBQ buffet! Our rating scale is Great, Good, Moderate, and then Poor. If there is an X next to a food then that person didn’t eat that food so he has no judgment on it. Here’s what Al and Eric documented from the restaurant.

Leonard’s BBQ
Al Eric
Brisket – Moderate Brisket – Moderate
Pork – Good Pork – Good with sauce. Without, Moderate
Catfish – X Catfish – Moderate
Beans – Great Beans – Good
Pasta – X Pasta – Moderate
Cornbread – Poor Cornbread – Poor
Flatbread – X Flatbread – Good
Sauce – Good Sauce – Good

Sides include spaghetti, potato wedges, hush puppies, coleslaw, beans, fried ocra, corn, and spinach. A buffet dinner is $12.50 and try to go Tuesday because they have ribs on buffet! After the meal both of the guys headed back to the hotel to sleep after a long day.

The next day began early at 8:30 am and, though the boys had an itinerary they decided to walk around the town. It was very hot but there were a lot of cool things to enjoy. They were also within walking distance which surprised both of us. We walked past  many sights like FedEx Forum, where the Memphis Grizzlies play, AutoZone Park, where the Memphis Redbirds play, Beale Street, where musicians play, and Peabody Place, where nobody plays…probably because the mall was close to deserted when we were there. Another famous thing we passed was the Gibson Guitar Factory in which they made some of their famous guitars. But we didn’t go on the tour…yet. Instead we kept on walking and stopped at the Lorraine Hotel…and then to the Lorraine Motel right behind it. Now, if you know your history you would know that on April 4, 1968 civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot on the ledge outside of his room and died on that spot. Since then, the entire motel was made into a civil rights museum. It was a very cool and humbling journey through our history. At the museum, sights like the bus Rosa Parks was arrested on, rallying protestors, sit-ins, and even Dr. King’s bedroom were remade to show us the reality back then. There are two parts to the museum and the second part was all about Dr. King’s Killer, James Earl Ray, and was positioned across the street from his shooter’s spot. After this we decided to grab the car and visit a BBQ place since all that walking around made us hungry. Tom’s BBQ was in little more than a shack but it was a diamond in the rough. It was also on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network.

Tom’s BBQ
Al Eric
Pulled Pork – Great Beef – Great
Beans – Good Fries – Good
Spaghetti – Moderate Spaghetti – Good
Sauce – Good Sauce – Good

In Memphis they need to have a warning label on their BBQ. It should say never to pick coleslaw as a side because more than likely you’ll have coleslaw on your sandwich too. Since they won’t put it up a label, we will because we care. Now after that meal we decided to drive around and also decided to visit Germantown which is a town nearby. We tried to find a good mall or at least something to do but nothing seemed to be available to us and those that were didn’t look fun. We did see a marching band practice, but that was it. So, on our last trip we did a movie and we decided now was a good time to do it again. We decided on The Ugly Truth and thought it was actually pretty funny. After the movie we decided we were hungry and went to a highly rated restaurant, which looked like another shack. Again, the BBQ place was much better than it looked and the Germantown Commissary did not disappoint.

Germantown Commissary
Al Eric
Ribs – Great Ribs – Good
Beans – Good Beans – Good
Slaw – Good Slaw – X

$22.95 for ALL YOU CAN EAT RIBS but it is only on Monday night. The weirdest side we had actually was here where they served your meal with beans, slaw and…a deviled egg?! It was good but just weird. After this, we decided to head home and watch via iPhone the Cubs game since Memphis only had the Cardinals game on. Soriano grand slammed and we started cheering. After the win we both went to sleep and got energy for the next day.

We got up early but were delayed by a movie on TV. We decided to get a tour at the Gibson Guitar Factory for later in the day. Then we went to lunch at the Cozy Corner.

Cozy Corner
Al Eric
Sausage – Moderate Pork – Good
Corn – Poor Spaghetti – Moderate

It is quite literally BBQ spaghetti. It is pasta enveloped in BBQ sauce and it is just…different. After lunch we traveled on and visited the glass pyramid. It used to host the Memphis Grizzlies until the FedEx Forum was built. After that, we parked of to the side of the mighty Mississippi and played catch while watching barges come through. We left and made it in time for the Gibson Guitar Factory tour. Our guide throughout the tour was knowledgeable and funny and the tour was very cool as we explored what went on on the inside of a Gibson guitar. After the tour, we decided to go to dinner early to see if after it we could go to see the Memphis Redbirds play. So we decided to go to the most highly recommended BBQ in Memphis. The Rendezvous. It is very famous with several celebrities’ pictures on the wall. Talk about saving the best for last.

Al Eric
Beef Ribs – Great Lamb Ribs – Great
Beans – Great Beans – Great
Slaw – Great Slaw – Great

This is the first time we have had Greats across the board for a restaurant. Just so you know, Paprika is used extravagantly and the slaw is spicy. We recommend sharing because both of the ribs are GREAT! After the dinner we headed to AutoZone Park where we got a bobble head of Adam Wainwright who now pitches for the St. Louis Cardinals…oh did I mention? The Memphis Redbirds are the AAA baseball team that goes into the Cards so we were on enemy territory. It didn’t stop us from having fun even though the weather was fickle. The Redbirds were facing the Round Rock Express who feed into the Houston Astros. This game had the most homers that either of us had ever seen which was around nine, seven of those belonged to the Redbirds who crushed the Express 14 – 5. It was a good game but unfortunately the Cubbies lost that night, giving up the lead of the NL Central to the Cardinals, so the Cardinals had a great night. And there ends the BBQ trip of 2009. We wait in anticipation to serve you up some more food ratings next time. If you have a suggestion on where we should visit next for BBQ please comment. Till next time!
Reported by Eric Herbach

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