Why Memphis is the BBQ Capital of the World

There’s no doubt about it, when it comes to the U.S city with the best barbeque food it has to be Memphis. Sure, there’s great barbecue all over the US, but the home of Blues and Rock & Roll is also the home of some seriously good barbecue techniques, particularly when it comes to cooking pork. From traditional to modern ways of cooking meat, Memphis has a long history of covering its bases and consistently serving up some of the best food in the world. We take a look at why people just can’t get enough of the finger licking greatness that comes from this awesome city. 

It’s all in the technique

From flavoring agents to picking the right wood for the fire, there is so much more to a Memphis style barbecue than simply slapping some meat on the grill. It’s all down to the preparation, which can take weeks. Before the barbecue is even lit, the meat is smoked to ensure a great flavor when it is cooked. Smoked pork is the meat of choice for most barbecues in Memphis, and has been since at least 1540 when Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto brought the first herd of pigs to the area.

Best known for its dry barbecue, the rubs used in Memphis are packed with flavors such as garlic, paprika, onion, and cumin and are ideal for creating super tender meat. The sauces also have their own distinctive flavors, usually made from a base of tomatoes and vinegar along with a combination of spices, which vary from chef to chef, but usually result in a tangy, sweet sauce that is poured all over pulled pork or dry ribs.

World-renowned restaurants

Putting the preparation into action, the restaurants in Memphis have been super busy making sure that the city is firmly in place on the barbecue map.

While there are plenty of other culinary delights to explore in Memphis, its barbecue restaurants are some of the best in the world. Of course, ordering a Memphis barbecue sandwich should be high on your list of priorities if you ever visit, but don’t forget about the amazing array of side dishes that accompany it, like as mac ‘n’ cheese, potato salads, southern-style veggies, and slaw.

One place that delivers all of these Memphian delights and much more is Coletta’s Restaurant, which has been serving Memphis since the 1920s. Coletta’s Restaurant claims to have invented the original barbecue pizza and was regularly frequented by Elvis. Visitors can even sit in his favorite spot and have their photo taken as a souvenir.

The Cozy Corner is another great spot for everything from ribs to pulled pork, and bologna sausage to Cornish hen, all cooked to perfection. Possibly the best-known barbecue joint in town is Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, which is home to some of the best dry grilled ribs and beef brisket around. For some authentic local food, check out The Bar-B-Q Shop where the Dancing Pigs Barbecue sauce will quickly become your new favorite thing!   

Beats the competition

Although the local restaurants may find themselves competing with each other, there is a much bigger competition that takes place in Memphis every year. The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is the biggest of its kind and is held in May, pulling in around 100,000 people along with over 250 competition teams to compete for the highly coveted top spot.

Nearby towns also find themselves competing with Memphis for the title of best barbecue. While many people may think of Nashville as being the nearest rival to Memphis when it comes to music and barbecue, it is always Memphis that wins out. After all, Nashville country music stars are known for sticking around the home of blues to indulge in the pulled pork and ribs combos. Even poker legend Chris Moneymaker prefers Memphis barbecues over those from his hometown Nashville and regularly treats his fellow players to a Memphis style grill when summertime rolls around.

So, there you have it. There is no place like Memphis when it comes to barbecue perfection. Just make sure you leave some for the rest of us!




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