Prior to my last trip to Memphis, I’d sampled three places regarded among the top tier of Memphis-style barbeque – Corky’s, Jim Neely’s Interstate BBQ, and the Germantown Commissary. On my last trip up there, my nephew Ravi really wanted some ‘cue for lunch, and specifically, wanted to get it from Central BBQ, also considered among the Memphis BBQ elite. A chance to see how another well-regarded establishment stacks up against the competition? You don’t have to ask me twice.
Related: Get Your BBQ Fix in Memphis, Posted December 7, 2013
- 4375 Sumner Avenue, Memphis, TN. 2 other locations in Memphis (Midtown and Downtown).
- Hours: 11-9 daily
- Price: $10-15 per person without alcohol
Directions: From IH-40 eastbound or westbound, exit Sumner Avenue (US 64/70/79) and go west. Restaurant is on the left, near the intersection with Waring Road.
As you can see from the photo above, management is clearly run by some serious Memphis Tigers fans…
Because I ended up needing to bring back food for a few family members that didn’t want to tag along, I decided to just get everything to go. Everything on the menu is available to go, but unfortunately, there isn’t a separate to go register. Everybody orders in the same line, and if you want to eat there, a server brings your order to your table, but if you want it to go, there’s a small sitting area out front and they’ll bring it to you in a bag. We were the only people there when we showed up, so we just walked right up and ordered, but not even 5 minutes later, a very large school group came in, causing the line to go out the doors. Moral of the story – if you want to take the food with you, call ahead and order first, especially during peak lunch and dinner times.
While waiting for our food, I took a few photos of the dining area. There is a small dining area right in front of the ordering area, with a larger one ahead and off to the side. I believe there is also a third room further down, but I didn’t get a photo. Needless to say, there’s plenty of room at the inn, so you shouldn’t have to worry about finding a table whenever you get there. The decor is your stereotypical Southern BBQ feel, with wooden chairs, “Pizza Hut” tablecloths, and a faux rustic appearance to the walls.
Also similar to other BBQ and/or steakhouses you’d find in the Deep South, you have your obligatory cheesy mascot, in this case a large red dog wearing a chef’s hat. My 10-year old nephew (the same one that wanted BBQ) found it amusing, so apparently it does the job it’s supposed to.
The food was brought to us pretty quickly, and we headed back to my sister’s house to chow down. I ordered the usual, a pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw. They didn’t have deviled eggs (for shame), so I ordered onion rings instead to go with the sandwich. The sandwich unfortunately got crushed a little at the bottom of the bag, so pardon the dissheveled appearance.
As you can see, the sandwich came with a generous helping of cole slaw. Perhaps a bit too generous, for though the slaw was great, providing a cool, creamy, tangy taste to the meal, it also overpowered the pork. The pork was good; moist and tender, with hints of nice smokey flavor that were drowned out by too much slaw (which created a conundrum, because the the slaw alone was really good). The sauce, meanwhile, had nice sweet-sour notes, though it was a tad runny for my tastes. The onion rings were awesome, delightfully crisp on the outside, sweet on the inside, and breading that wasn’t too thick.
Other items that were part of our order: Ravi enjoyed his sausage sandwich, my wife said her turkey sandwich was fine, and my sister and her husband didn’t like the portobellow sandwich at all. Just goes to show, it can be tough to find a good BBQ joint when you’re vegetarian…
Rating: 4 stars. I’d rate the pulled pork sandwich as the second best I’ve had in Memphis behind the Germantown Commissary, and ahead of Interstate BBQ and Corky’s.