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Memphis Ribs report

Luvs to shoot clayLuvs to shoot clay Posts: 774
edited 7:21PM in EggHead Forum
I hate to even post this report on the ribs I had in Memphis. The number one place on most lists was "Rendezvous" and several people on the forum suggested other places would be better. Men were they right. We got into Memphis at about 11:30 and went straight to the place and were told all they served at lunch was ribs and I think we already knew this but it didn't make us any difference as that was what we came to Memphis for anyway. To say they were bad would be an understatement. I think they started cooking them when we came in the door and served those 20 minutes later. They were so tough you could hardly pull them off the bone. The membrane on the back side wasn't even removed. I don't know if they were seasoned before cooking but they were covered with dry rub when they came off, I mean DRY rub, almost as dry as the meat but not quite. It almost ruined my trip; I didn't want any more ribs the whole day. The next day we tried PIG on Beale Street. Now they know what ribs and pork are all about. The ribs were as good as mine or anyone else’s and the pulled pork was great as well. There were fixins but we came for the meat. I wish I had tried these first. I had seen a "Corky's" in the airport on the way in so I thought I would try it on the last day on the way out. I had already paid for them when they took them out of a warmer in a vacuumed bag. I was disappointed in this and didn't even open the bag; it's in the freezer at home. I didn't feel like wasting the calories on something in a plastic bag. I will get around to trying them someday.
Elvis Lives! We had a great time at Graceland and on Beale Street and look forward to another trip in a year or two.


  • Spring ChickenSpring Chicken Posts: 10,247
    Spring Hen wants to visit Memphis, specifically to pay homage to Elvis, but probably to eat some BBQ.

    I've heard about Memphis BBQ for years but every year the stories get worse and worse. I'm to the point where I think I'll just get a burger and be done with it when we go there.

    You don't stay home long when you get home, do you? I'm guessing you probably have about a zillion frequent flyer miles and you're trying hard to use 'em.

    Spring "Frequent Stay-At-Homer" Chicken
    Spring Texas USA
  • I do get a bunch of air miles and we don't mind using them. We usually make two or three trips a year and when you only get home 6 times a year, you seem to stay gone more than half the time. It's all good. Still looking forward to getting together some day, can't wait to dance with the chicks at the ranch! I saw a 5' tall metal art chicken at 249 HEB and thought I should bring it over. Figured it might be a little much even for the ranch.
    We really did enjoy "Graceland" and Beale Street. We happened to be there for "Bikes on Beale Street" one night and that was interesting and fun.

  • Bgolf4meBgolf4me Posts: 16
    A real treat for us on Beale St. was the ribs at B.B. Kings. They were some of the best we have had on our road trips and the music was great. Also you have to try the Gumbo at the King's Palace across the street. Incredible.
  • FiretruckFiretruck Posts: 2,679
    Willy, anytime anyone asks my opinion about rendezvous ribs, I tell them I don't like them...for the same reasons you stated. Somehow that place continues to do a good business. I don't know if it's nostalgia, ambiance, or the fact that it's in a dirty alley that attracts folk. I don't tell people not to go because who knows, they may like shoe leather :huh: I mean dry ribs.

    I don't really get around and try too many ribs but I do try the pulled pork. I like Central, Brads, and a little old store at the corner of Macon and Mt Pisgah. Each one has tender juicy meat with sauce that, to me, is just right. The Commissary has good meat but I don't like their sauce and Corky's is about the same.

    I'm glad ya'll had a good time at Graceland. I've lived hear all my life (45 years next week) and never been there. It's on my bucket list. :laugh:
  • Capt FrankCapt Frank Posts: 2,578
    The last time I was in Memphis was 2001. At that time the Rendevous was the best in town, bar none. I am sorry to hear that it has gone downhill. I remember the gentleman who owned it was there, on the floor every day, checking on service, visiting with customers, etc. I know he had started the place in the late 1940's and was still running it. A couple of the waiters had been there from the beginning. Maybe he has sold it or turned it over to someone else to manage, nothing lasts forever, but I am still saddened to learn of its demise.
    Another place you might want to try is Neely's, the folks that are on Food Network. Again, it has been almost ten years, but Pat Neely was just taking over from his Dad, the food was great, the service was excellent, and the folks seemed to really appreciate your business. Pat would make it a point to visit every table in the place to say hello and welcome. :)

    Capt Frank
    Homosassa, FL
  • We went to Memphis in May and ate at the Rendevous because it was "#1" according to the internet and we left hungry!!!! It was bad and the whole place just felt nasty. The next day on the way out we stopped by the Blue's City and got some to go and they were a little better, but not as good as mine on the BGE. I had several people tell me later I should have tried Corky's, so I will be interested in how they are when you eat them. If you are ever in B'ham (and now they have some in ATL) try Dreamland. They are delicious!!!
  • deepsouthdeepsouth Posts: 1,796
    to be honest, i loved all the bbq joints in town, but that was many years before i got my egg and learned how to bbq.

    i think we are spoiled.
  • ClavinClavin Posts: 91
    My layover hotel is 100 yards from The Rendezvous, so naturally I headed there for their famous ribs.

    Wow, were they bad. Dry as a rice cake and almost as flavorful. But I did find the atmosphere cool. It was packed, too.

    ALso went to Blues City Cafe. Don't remember what I had, but I do remember thinking that if I had pulled it off of my Egg, I would have been apologizing for a poor dinner.
  • I held a sales meeting in Memphis in March and took 23 hungry sales guys to Rendevous. I was not impressed based on reputation but held my comments. I was not alone and the next day a local asked me where we ate the night before and when I told him his comment was " just like all the other tourists".

    He was right, don't waste your money there. Find a local and have them point you in another direction.
  • ClavinClavin Posts: 91
    Everything I had heard about Rendezvous didn't lead me to believe it was a tourist trap like those places on Beale St.

    And the fact that I am not a rib guy, I just assume that those were what Memphis ribs were all about.

    I wonder why the food shows all rave about the place. I don't think Diners Drivin Ins and Dives has been there.
  • NotabuttDaveNotabuttDave Posts: 181
    Ribs from an airport joint not good? Don't tell me it is so!

    What would you expect? I bet they were quite pricy too.

    We went to Interstate BBQ, same story. Overhyped on the tube. Good service, lousy ribs and Q.
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 13,011
    Unfortunately, Charlie Vergos passed away earlier this year at 84 years of age. As I understand it, he had Alzheimer's. I was there in 2007 (I think), and wasn't impressed. I suspect that if we had visited Rendezvous when Charlie was more involved in things, we would have been suitably impressed. You don't get a reputation like this place has by serving garbage. I hope the people running it now (Charlie's son, I believe) get the message and go back to their roots.

    It really IS a cool place. Except for the food.

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!


    Central Connecticut 

  • thailandjohnthailandjohn Posts: 952
    I agree with Carolina Q...The Rendezvous is a place to see but lacks good BBQ.

    I have been to Memphis many times and the one joint that has been most consistent and not a real tourist place is Interstate BBQ
  • FiretruckFiretruck Posts: 2,679
    Mr Vargos died recently. Though the quality of the ribs was suffering long before he was. just my opinon
  • The wife and I ate at some diner on Beale street, it wasnt bbq but rather tamales and chili and it was pretty good, entertaining atmosphere. Next day we went to Neely's and it was awful! Took the left over homes and even I wouldn't eat them! Best thing they served was sweet tea!
  • Enjoyed all the replys.
    We had planned on getting to Neeley's (sp) and interstate but after Rendezvous, we kind of lost our taste for ribs. We did spend some hours at BB Kings and the ribs looked good but we didn't try them. Memphis is a great little town and we really enjoyed it. I will open the Corky's when I get home and do a side by side test with them out at the gun club with all my regular rib eaters.
  • CrimsongatorCrimsongator Posts: 5,795
    We lived in Memphis 7 years ago when Charlie was there daily. It wasn't much different!
  • deepsouthdeepsouth Posts: 1,796
    i was there from 1993-2000 and i didn't eat there much at the end, but i seem to remember them being good in the mid 90's....

    of course this was pre-egg.
  • kwdickertkwdickert Posts: 307
    edited September 2015
    I have lived here for about two years. It seems as though the bbq scene has definitely changed. My fiance has lived here all her life. We both agree that Rendevous is the worst thing that ever happened to Memphis BBQ. People come from all over the world just to come chew on a piece of leathery charcoal pork. That's not indicative of Memphis-style at all!!!  If you want great ribs and pulled pork, go to central bbq. Theyre always good and very very very consistent. My attempt at ribs will always be about trying for Central's dry rub ribs.

    Memphis TN - Large Green Egg
  • FoghornFoghorn Posts: 6,496
    I lived in Memphis from 1990-1996.  We went to Rendezvous a few times and were never impressed.  We really liked Corky's and Cozy Corner.  Neely's and Interstate were OK.

    XL BGE, Klose BYC, ProQ Excel, Weber Kettle, Firepit, Grand Turbo gasser, and a portable Outdoor Gourmet gasser for tailgating

    San Antonio, TX

  • Memphis BBQ Breakdown

    Pulled Pork - BBQ Shop or Commissary
    Ribs- Central or Corky's
    BBQ Nachos - Central
    Memphis TN - Large Green Egg
  • I've been in Memphis many times - Rendezvous isn't really a tourist trap, it's just famous. It's in the basement of some building in downtown that you enter from a rather sketch alley. All of the TV shows talk about it because their ribs are *different.* They cook fast over charcoal with a mop and liberally coat the racks with their dry rub after hitting it one last time with the mop. If you go in expecting that, they're not too terribly bad. I didn't expect fall-off-the-bone ribs and I didn't get them. I am a fan of their dry rub - if I have to eat dry ribs. 

    Central is good, but if you want knock your socks off BBQ, go to Neeley's Interstate BBQ. There are a few expansion locations, but you won't find anything as good as the original location. Their BBQ spaghetti is a culinary treat to behold. Their tips are really good as well. 

    Restaurants on Beale are the tourist traps. I've never gotten anything truly remarkable there. I do know at one time the ribs at Blues City Cafe were boiled first - not sure if that's still the case. Beale is fun, but not a place I'd go to more than once or twice. 

    If you truly want the best that Memphis has to offer, forget BBQ completely and head on over to Gus' Fried Chicken. I'm from the south where we know fried chicken and Gus' has it perfected. The line out the door will prove that point - don't go if you're limited on time.
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