What I Ate at BBQ Alley at Memphis in May

Monk: The Memphis in May Barbecue Fest has a few barbecue vendors inside the grounds and while local health regulations prohibit teams from serving barbecue to the general public if you are lucky you might find some barbecue teams handing out samples – for instance the Traeger team was handing out brisket samples all weekend. Another option for barbecue that weekend was BBQ Alley, a “consumer experience” where you can purchase $15 tickets which give you 5 samples of barbecue dishes from Big Green Egg as well as 3 notable restaurants – this year those restaurants were Paradise Grill in Atoka, TN, Dr. BBQ in St. Petersburg, and B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque in Savannah and Atlanta.

Speedy came in town for a few hours around lunchtime on the Saturday of Barbecue Fest so we decided to check BBQ Alley out. I only ended up having four of the five dishes served but here they are in the order that I tried them.

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Pork loin with rice from Big Green Egg/Leisure Boys

I’m not familiar with them but Leisure Boys appeared to be cooking on behalf of Big Green Egg. This well-seasoned pork loin was a fine start the the BBQ Alley experience.

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Snake River Farms ribeye and pork loin with garlic bread from Dr. BBQ

I didn’t snap a photo but the man himself, Dr. BBQ, was hard at work behind the table working the Green Egg to produce this ribeye from Snake River Farms in Idaho.

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Mike’s BBQ Smoked Wings from Paradise Grill

Paradise Grill is a barbecue restaurant in Atoka, about 40 minutes outside of Memphis, and they brought “Mike’s BBQ Smoked Wings” to BBQ Alley. I remember it being a very solid smoked wing.

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Brisket from B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque

The couple of brisket bites from B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque were the best of the bunch (as to be expected) but the best part was meeting pitmaster Bryan Furman and speaking with him for a couple of minutes. Bryan actually grew up in Charlotte and graduated from West Mecklenburg High School, so we talked about Charlotte a little bit in addition to his restaurant and experience at Memphis in May. Brian is a super nice guy, and was even kind enough for a quick photo. If you are in Savannah or Atlanta, go to B’s!

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Bryan Furman of the awesome B’s Cracklin’ Bar-B-Que in Savannah and Atlanta

All in all, BBQ Alley was maybe a little pricey for what you get but was a chance to try some legit barbecue while at Memphis in May Barbecue Fest.

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Linkdown: 5/30/18

– A quick hit on a few NC food books

– Where to eat barbecue in Atlanta, according to Eater

– The Coach 4 A Day blog visits a classic NC barbecue joint I’ve never heard of, E.H. Bar-B-Q Hut in Rennert

– The Texas BBQ Posse on the choice of fatty, lean, or both brisket

– Gear Patrol’s list of 12 Tools the Best Pitmaster Can’t Live Without includes a few selections from Sam Jones

– The makers of The Great NC BBQ Map are looking for interns

– A reminder that South Carolina’s official picnic cuisine is barbecue

– A review of The Bar-B-Que House in Surfside Beach, whose original location is in Oak Island across the border in NC

– Rodney Scott is on the cover of the latest issue of The Local Palate

Linkdown: 4/18/18

– So Aaron Franklin doesn’t actually eat Texas barbecue and might actually prefer Carolina barbecue?

“I don’t really know. I don’t eat barbecue,” he says. I laugh nervously, but Franklin doesn’t waver. “I don’t eat that stuff, but I love to cook it. If I’m in a special place like up in the Carolinas hanging out with Sam Jones (whose family has been in the BBQ biz for more than 70 years), I’m absolutely going to get a pork sandwich. If I’m hanging out with Rodney Scott (a world-renowned BBQ chef from Charleston), I’m absolutely going to get some of that pulled pork. Time and place, but as far as scenes and stuff, I don’t really keep up with it. My concentration is right here.”

– Austin 360’s response: On Carolina Barbecue and Aaron Franklin’s Texas cred

– The Houston BBQ Festival was last weekend and The Smoking Ho has photos

– WNCT continues their Hidden Gems Barbecue series with Hardison’s Carolina Barbecue in Jamesville

– High Point gets an Indian barbecue restaurant, BBQ Nation

– Travel Noire’s 19 Great Black Owned Barbecue Joints Across America includes a few Barbecue Bros faves

– Tarheel Q gets a write up in the Lexington Dispatch after changing owners last December

Leon said there is some pressure with running a barbecue restaurant in Davidson County due to the county’s barbecue reputation. He added that if the restaurant does a poor job, it not only reflects on the restaurant but the other restaurants as well, because Lexington barbecue is a style and one restaurant’s success means success for the others in the county.

– OH NO

Linkdown: 3/14/18

– Just a few more items from the #BrooklynBBQ controversy last week

– A Brooklyn paper defends Brooklyn barbecue; so does The Houston Chronicle

– Attention Nashville:

– Ribs from Big Bob Gibson was a favorite dish at SoBe Wine and Food Festival in Miami earlier this month

– Evolution of a Filipino Barbecue Cookbook

– [thinking emoji]

– Damn, the food in the Bomb-Ass Biscuit Pop-Up at B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque does indeed look bomb-ass

They opened B’s doors at 9 a.m. on those days (the Riverside restaurant usually doesn’t open until 11 a.m.), slinging Council’s biscuits stuffed with country ham and apple butter or Furman’s fried chicken or sausage gravy. “If you come to a barbecue joint looking for a healthy breakfast, you’re in the wrong place,” Furman says. “We do not do gluten-free here!”

At some point, they added brisket hash to the menu. Then, they started selling beignets. And almost every morning, they sold out.

– WSOC-TV, the local ABC affiliate in Charlotte, has an odd “Best and Cheapest Barbecue in Charlotte” list that almost seems to start like an alphabetical list before stopping after 5

– Congrats to Our State Magazine, writer of some of my favorite barbecue articles

Linkdown: 1/17/18

– As good as the man’s barbecue is, at some point you have to wonder if Ed Mitchell’s business sense doesn’t match up; his Raleigh restaurant and food truck are both currently on hold and don’t look to be moving forward anytime soon

– Due to the fire at the old Lexington Home Brands Plant No. 1 and the expected clean-up time, Uptown Lexington has decided to cancel the annual BBQ Capital Cook-off in April

– A new all wood barbecue joint named Meating Street BBQ has opened in Roswell, GA; it was opened by a SC native

– The team behind General Muir in Atlanta are opening a wood-fired barbecue joint called Wood’s Chapel in the Summerhill neighborhood that will smoke whole hog among other meats

– An eastern NC native is now smoking whole hogs in central Virginia as part of a Carolina Q Pig Pickers catering operation

– The Smoking Ho starts 2018 off with a review:

– Fuller’s Old Fashioned Bar-B-Que gets a mention on this post on where to eat in Fayetteville, NC

– In another travel guide (this time from the Chicago Tribune via The Washington Post), both Henry’s Smokehouse and Bucky’s BBQ are mentioned as “100-mile barbeque”

– When there’s a threat of 1-3″ in the forecast in NC:

 

Linkdown: 12/20/17

– Newsday has a solid list of good barbecue in cities across North Carolina worth a “barbecue pilgrimage”

Although there’s fantastic barbecue found throughout the state, you don’t have to leave the state’s biggest cities for an unforgettable down-home barbecue meal. Instead, loosen your belt at any of these must-visit restaurants for a quintessential North Carolina experience.

– On their list of best Charlotte barbecue restaurants, Charlotte Agenda predictably got some feedback

– ICMYI

– Speaking of Texas barbecue…

– Food and Wine explores the Atlanta barbecue scene including some Barbecue Bros faves

– Greenville, NC native Bob Garner began a regular column for the Greenville Daily Reflector on Sunday in which he might occasionally touch on barbecue

I love to listen as people get downright misty-eyed about food. For me, it’s about rural landscape and seasons, community sense, celebration of finished tasks and observing solemn events.

Monk’s 10 Favorite Barbecue Meals of 2017

Trying something new: a year-end list for my favorite barbecue meals of the year. I used to do this for music, film, and tv but in recent years that has fallen off. Perhaps this will stoke the coals of my list-making motivation in other areas, but at the very least its worth documenting the hobby which has taken up so much of my (and my poor wife’s) free time for the past 5.5 years. Come to think of it, the timeline of this blog lines up almost perfectly with my drop off in listmaking…

In any case, hope you enjoy. This will conclude our reviews and original for 2017, but we will be back in 2018.

Monk

10. Swig & Swine – 4 hogs (review)

The Summerville location of Swig & Swine included a whole hog smoker (whereas their West Ashley location does not have enough space for one), following the popular trend of the past few years. The whole hog was quite good but their brisket and hash and rice wasn’t too bad either, 1990 Old Trolley Rd, Summerville, SC 29485 swigandswinebbq.com

9. Hill’s Lexington Barbecue – 4 hogs (review)

Hill’s claims to be the original “Lexington Barbecue” in name (but definitely not first to serve in that style). They may be a notch below the better places in Lexington, but they are certainly not doing the style any disservice. 4005 Patterson Ave, Winston-Salem, NC 27105 

8. Barbee’s Barbecue – 4 hogs (review)

This was truly a surprise for me. I kinda-sorta knew of this place and had passed by it many times , but I had no idea it would be (as I referred to it in my review) “the platonic ideal of the NC roadside barbecue shack”. A must visit, if only to step back in time a bit. Glenn Falls St, Peachland, NC 28133

7. Bill Spoon’s Barbecue – 4 hogs (review)

In 2017, I am happy to say that I rediscovered Bill Spoon’s after a few years away. It’s about as close as we have to a barbecue institution in Charlotte (54 years and counting), and though they are an eastern NC joint and I’m a Lexington-style fanboy, I simply believe that I need to go more often. 5524 South Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28217 spoonsbarbecue.com

6. Rodney Scott’s BBQ – 4 hogs (review)

While my expectations of the brand new Rodney Scott’s BBQ were sky high, I must say that the whole hog didn’t quite match the perfection of Scott’s BBQ back in Hemingway. Nevertheless, taking it for what it’s worth, we should all be glad that Rodney Scott has made his pork accessible without having to drive in the middle of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. 1011 King St, Charleston, SC 29403 rodneyscottsbbq.com

5. Bar-B-Q King – 4.5 hogs (review)

Bar-B-Q King is another NC barbecue institution, though I only discovered it in early 2017. They do seem to be a little underrated on the NC barbecue scene despite smoking over wood for the past 46 years. Hopefully this will change. 2613 E Main St, Lincolnton, NC 28092 barbqkingnc.com

4. B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque – 4.5 hogs (review)

B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque was just named best restaurant in Atlanta by Eater (note no “barbecue” modifier), and for good reason. Bryan Furman is another one of the torch bearers of whole hog barbecue, but don’t sleep on his brisket or hash and rice. 2061 Main St NW, Atlanta, GA 30318 bscracklinbbq.com

3. Jon G’s BBQ – 4.5 hogs (review)

It appears that Jon G’s has taken a well-deserved break due to the birth of Garren and his wife Kelly’s first child, but I can’t wait until they are back out there slinging some legit Texas-style brisket out of their recently-purchased food truck. Marshville, NC facebook.com/JonGsBBQ

2. Lewis Barbecue – 4.5 hogs (review)

Unlike Rudy and Speedy, I hadn’t really had a taste of true Central Texas barbecue since I sadly haven’t made it out there since the start of the blog. That recently changed earlier this year because John Lewis (formerly of La Barbecue) brought central Texas to Charleston and I tasted is sublime brisket. All hail the king, apparently. 464 N Nassau St, Charleston, SC 29403 lewisbarbecue.com

1. Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge – 5 hogs (review)

In a year where I did not have a meal at Lexington Barbecue (my ride or die) Red Bridges is going to easily take the #1 spot on this list. Sadly, it had been nearly 4 years since my last visit but rest assured, it won’t be that long before my next. After 70+ years, they’ve still got it. 2000 E Dixon Blvd, Shelby, NC 28152 bridgesbbq.com

Honorable Mentions: The Smoke Pit – Salisbury, NC (review), DAS BBQ – Atlanta, GA (review)

Linkdown: 12/13/17

– Sad news as Midwood Smokeshack has closed in Matthews. However, there is some good news in that the employees will keep their jobs at other Midwood Smokehouse locations and FS Food Groupd will be looking to build a full service Midwood Smokehouse in the Matthews area at some point.

– D.G. Martin’s list of last minute book gifts includes one of my all-time favorite barbecue books which was just re-issued on paperback, “Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue” by John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed, and William McKinney

– Charlotte Agenda: “Noble Smoke could give Charlotte a true barbecue flagship”

– However, one recently-elected city councilwoman will not be patronizing Noble Smoke when it does open due to his support of HB2 in 2015

– Carolina Smokehouse brings western NC barbecue to Carolina Beach’s boardwalk

– Congrats to B’s Cracklin’ BBQ!

Das BBQ – Atlanta, GA (Rudy’s take)

IMG_6561Name: Das BBQ
Date: 7/15/17
Location: 1203 Collier Rd, Atlanta, GA 30318
Order: 2 Meat Plate with Brisket and Sausage, Side of collard greens and Mac & Cheese. Separate order of ½ pound of pulled pork.  (link to menu)
Bill: $25

Rudy:  I knew that Monk had already reviewed Das BBQ on a trip to Atlanta, but when I went to visit family they told me they wanted to take me to their new favorite barbecue restaurant. Who was I to complain? I didn’t recall how the place had rated, so it was good to go in without any preconceived ideas of what to expect.

Like Monk said, they have a Texas-style feel to them. That’s evident from the menu and also from the decor around the place. I noticed some photos of some of Lockhart’s most famous joints. It is also has a Texas-style menu (meats by the pound), however when I asked them for a single piece of chicken or quarter pound of pork (feeding Rudy Jr) they looked at me like I had two heads. Most places in Texas you can order almost any increment of weight (even ask for a single slice of brisket, turkey, etc.). From what I heard, the owners spent some time in Texas learning the tricks to the trade before opening their venture in Atlanta.

The time that they spent learning about Texas-style barbecue, specifically in relation to the brisket, was time well spent. I got a piece of moist brisket and it was fantastic. The smoke was not too overwhelming and it had a great mixture of salt and pepper in the bark. I tend to have low expectations for brisket outside of Texas because of my past experiences, but I was pleasantly pleased with the offering from Das.

Monk: Couldn’t agree more about the brisket. They are putting those Franklin-spec offset smokers to good use.

Rudy: I opted for the spicy sausage, which I thought was fine but not one that I was in love with. I didn’t notice that much of a spice from it, more just pepper flavor. The other thing, and this is purely a personal preference, I tend to like jalapeno and cheddar sausage over just jalapeno sausage. I feel like the creaminess from the cheese compliments the spice. I know I shouldn’t count off for that because they weren’t even offering that type of sausage, but these are my arbitrary rankings, so I’m counting off.

Monk: Loyal readers may recall that the sausage is imported from Meyer’s Smokehouse in Elgin, TX so its legit authentic. Although come to think of it, I don’t know that I’ve had a jalapeno cheddar sausage before (we know Speedy definitely hasn’t) but that’s now officially on my list to try.

Rudy: The pork was moist and flavorful. Nothing too special about it, but still very good. I liked it more than the sausage and Rudy Jr definitely did. He opted to eat a decent amount of it before turning his attention to the mac & cheese (priorities).

As far as the sides, they were serviceable. Mac & cheese was standard offering. The collard greens were good, but definitely on the spicy side. I did not mind that, but others with my group were not expecting that and were not fans. One side that I did not order, but tried from another person’s order, was the cream corn. I thought it was by far the best tasting side and also the most unique. It was not just a standard side, but had lots of flavor and spice to it.  That would be my recommendation for someone getting a side.

Monk: While you hadn’t checked out my review before checking it out, turns out we ended with pretty close ratings both overall and by meat. I’d say that’s a continued good sign for the quality of Das on two independent visits over 3 months apart.

Rudy: Overall, I was very pleased with Das BBQ and enjoyed getting some barbecue that tasted very similar to back home while I was out of town. I can definitely tell that they have done lots of studying to make sure that their barbecue tastes as close to genuine Texas standards, which is something that many places don’t do when they are that far from the state. Next time I am looking for barbecue in Atlanta, I definitely will head back to Das BBQ.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Pulled Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs