Memphis takes its BBQ seriously. Though the variations may be subtle, Memphis citizens are as attached to their particular style of BBQ the way alumni are attached to their schools. Differences in flavor, levels of spiciness and method of preparation are both trade secrets and points of contention with the pork-loving residents of the Bluff City.
Every May Memphis holds the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest in Tom Lee Park on the banks of the Mississippi River. Thousands of contestants, judges and visitors line up for three days of peace, love and pork. Even if you can't get away to the "Super Bowl of Swine" this year, there are several local Memphis restaurants that will ship ribs, sauces, rubs and pulled pork for your own backyard barbecues. The real question is, which one is for you?
Corky's is the undisputed king of outsourced Memphis BBQ. The brand is recognized throughout the region and it's certainly an authentic representation of classic Memphis cooking. The online ordering system is simple, reasonably priced and works like the well-oiled corporate machine that is Corky's. Memphis locals, however, generally shy away from Corky's unless they have out-of-town guests. The Corky's menu is pretty stripped down and the restaurant's atmosphere is obviously geared toward tourists.
You may know Pat and Gina Neely from their Food Network show, "Down Home with the Neelys." Memphians know the Neely family as an absolute staple of Memphis BBQ. Known for their slightly spicy sauce and eclectic BBQ-flavored spaghetti, Neely's has a large and dedicated following in Memphis. Their on line store sells ribs, pulled pork and brisket. If you want a slick professional service, Neely's is a safe bet.
In other cities, hippies are generally known for all-organic and vegan diets. In Memphis, they get their own pork shoulder recipes. Central BBQ is a haven for laid-back, slow-smoked pork shoulder and thick-as-molasses brown-sugar sauce. You can have both shipped direct to you along with a tie-dyed Central BBQ T-shirt to get the full experience.
In a back alley in downtown Memphis, Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous has been slow-cooking ribs since 1948. Dry ribs, the Rendezvous' signature dish, is regarded by many as the finest in Memphis. You can decide for yourself by using their in-house online store at http://www.hogsfly.com.