What Is So Special About Memphis Style Barbeque?

Memphis city is popular for serving best barbeque in the world. It is an important element of their culture. Wondering, what’s so special about Memphis-style BBQ or why does its style differ from other regions. Each state and region are popular for their own smoked meat stuff. For example, East Coast prefers meat sliced and spicy, where as Texas fancies brisket.

Central BBQ and rendezvous are world renowned but there are many other that can be categorized as the best restaurants in Memphis. Let’s get to know what is so special about Memphis-style BBQ.



Traditional Memphis BBQ uses smoked pork, which is served on forms like pulled or ribs on slab. Many pork smokers don’t depend on seasoning alone but use high quality meat and hickory wood. They allow the slow smoking process to improve its natural flavor. The pork produced is tender and tasty even without sauces and rubs.

A family restaurant like Rendezvous still prefer their old fashioned charcoal-broiled method to cook ribs. So the question is not which meat gets used. It is always pork in Memphis but the way they are prepared, pulled and piled or full-slabs slow smoked that works the magic.


The BBQ sauce has a distinctive flavor. The ingredients used differ from one chef to another. It is usually made from blend of spices, tomatoes and vinegar. Generally, it is spicy and watery with a hint of sweetness. It is served alongside dry ribs or poured over the pulled pork.

Dry rubs

Dry style BBQ is very palatable and used often on ribs. It is less messy to eat. In this dry BBQ process, ribs get coated with rub including ingredients like onions, garlic, cumin, paprika, and spices. Then these are placed in the smoker and cooked till it turns tender. Dry ribs get served alongside the special barbecue sauce.

Throw-sides and appetizers

Macaroni & cheese, beans, coleslaw, greens and potato salad are throw-down sides. Some serve homemade chips or barbeque spaghetti. Barbeque nachos is a unique offering that combines pulled pork, barbeque sauce and melted cheese. This sounds odd but is pointblank a hit!

Where to enjoy Memphis-style BBQ?

You can ask as many Memphians you want about the best BBQ restaurant, the answers will all be different. There are more than one hundred BBQ establishments in Memphis. The locals have high standards associated with every BBQ establishment in Bluff City. There is a smoke shack in every neighborhood. Below are some good establishments you can start enjoying Memphis-style BBQ.

  • Bar-B-Q shop restaurant – It is owned by Vernon family and their trademark sauces are sold in multiple grocery stores.
  • Central BBQ – It gets frequently ranked as leading BBQ restaurant and is situated in three locations in Memphis – Downtown, midtown and East Memphis.
  • Rendezvous – Thousands visit this place across Peabody Hotel to get a taste of Memphis-style ribs cooked with dry rub seasoning instead of sauce that president Bill Clinton adored.
  • Corky’s – The specialty of the house is dry or wet rib moistened with trademark sauce and spices.

The list is infinite but you will find a BBQ joint at every corner in Memphis. No local groups agree to who is serves the best pork in town because everyone has their personal favorites and unique family recipes.

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