memphis. what a city!!
good eats and great people - i LOVE southern hospitality!!
after driving through the night we got into the river city around 10AM and after checking into our hotel (not quite a flea bag but no memphis classic that's for sure) we hit the streets.
we headed to beale street to see what all the fuss was about and the closer we got the stronger the smell of smoky bbq got. we read that before 1pm we could get into tom lee park / the world championship bbq cooking contest for free. excellent!
we walked around in the hottest heat of the day and realized, to our dismay, that you can't do much of anything at the world championship bbq cooking contest without a V.I.P. pass. and there were no V.I.P. passes to be had. none. not for us anyways. we decided that if we want anything to do with this cook off in the future we're gonna need to register with our own
award winning bbq!
walking in the hottest heat of the day really makes ya' hungry. so we hit rendezvous. they don't officially open until 4pm but you can get ribs early on so we did. it's what they're famous for anyways. and they were pretty damn good. as we chugged yuenglings and licked that delightful dry rub off our fingers we couldn't help but notice that two ladies at the next table were washing down their ribs with chardonnay. chardonnay?!
we started out our first full day in memphis at brother juniper's. i had oatmeal with blueberries and cheesy grits. mmm....grits.
i love, love, love grits.
breakfast was followed by a tour of the national civil rights museum. wow. it was one of the most powerful and moving places i have ever been in my life. the museum is actually housed within the lorraine hotel. all i can say is if you're ever in memphis you should definitely check it out. makes you think. and makes you wonder how anyone could possibly hate someone else so much simply for the color of their skin.
after the museum we tooled around the city some more and worked our appetites back up for some of gus's world famous hot and spicy fried chicken.
gus's fried chicken is world famous for good fucking reason. it. was. awesome! we started with some fried green tomatoes which were superb and then the chicken. oh man, the chicken. kp opted for the all white (breast and wing) and i like my meat dark so i went with the thigh and drumstick. the dinners came with baked beans and slaw and it was freakin' heaven on earth. some of the best fried chicken i've ever had. ever.
more tooling around. more beers. and then before we knew it it was time to eat again! for dinner we opted for pearl's oyster house and a dozen oysters on the half shell later and
all was right with the world.
all was even more right with the world when we ended the night (and started the very early morning) at wild bill's. the tunes and the people were fantastic and even the ragin' tin can headache i had saturday morning due to several budweiser 40oz was worth it.
we got a bit of a late start saturday morning (see ragin' tin can budweiser headache) but were still up in time to make it to the farmer's market.
i love farmer's markets.
we were really hungry by this point and though the tell-tale touristy signs of the arcade were blarin' and blastin' the draw of the mystery train was too great. we waited over 30 minutes for a table and 30 more minutes for our food and this would've been ok if the food was worth it but alas it was not. huge disappointment. major strike out. do not bother.
a disappointing breakfast was followed by two really kick ass pieces of music history - the stax museum of american soul music and sun studio.
we were thirsty after all the touring so we headed to boscos. the ed's porter was pretty tasty and if the desire for bbq hadn't been bubblin' up inside of us we probably would've stayed for
with the civil rights museum still fresh in our minds we had beers with some locals friday afternoon before dinner. we were discussing bbq and i mentioned i had several places listed but wasn't sure what we should check out. when i mentioned corky's the local gal made a face and said, "it's owned by jews."
now, there are several ways to approach this situation. this blatant ignorance. this rampant anti-semitism. what i wanted to do was punch her in the throat but instead i said, "well i'm sure jews like bbq!" and then she suggested tops bbq where apparently there is nary a jew.
saturday, our last night in memphis, we decided to test the dumb broad's hypothesis. we embarked on the jews vs gentiles memphis bbq showdown.
first we hit tops.
it certainly looked promising. a lil' rickety and billowing smoke and it smelled pretty good. and it even said "best." in italics no less! we ordered the bbq plate (pulled pork, baked beans and slaw) and a cheeseburger to split. the pork was ok. nothing all that special and the sauce certainly left a lil' to be desired. the cheeseburger was very tasty but this is memphis for god's sakes! i wasn't there for the burgers!
it kinda reminded me of hamburger station. it was memphis bbq's answer to northeast ohio's cheapest, grittiest burger joint.
and this corner - the jews!*
corky's ribs and bbq was packed! to the gills! lucky for us we had perfect timing and were able to score two seats at the bar. with mugs of corky's own brew in hand we ordered the house specialty - a slab of dry ribs with (of course) baked beans and slaw. these ribs were fucking delicious. man oh man these ribs were good. sadly, we were half full of mediocre tops bbq so we barely made a dent in the slab. our significant others benefited greatly since we brought along a cooler and some freezer bags.
the jews won the jews vs gentiles memphis bbq showdown
HANDS DOWN. no question.
as for my final bbq opinion - memphis ribs were really tasty but it was no carolina pulled pork. and the sides were always beans and slaw. beans and slaw. there was no mac-n-cheese or collard greens to be seen!
one side dish i did love though was grits. grits are so delicious and the perfect accompaniment to dippy eggs and toast or a good omelet, hell they even compliment a bowl of oatmeal. what the hell is wrong with us up north? no real bbq and no grits.
i may have been born in the wrong region.
*note - i have no idea the race, ethnicity or religious background of the people at corky's.