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Memphis Minnies - ugh!

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There seems to be a mixed reaction to Memphis Minnies on here -- I wish I understood the positive reviews.

After reading a bunch of reviews on BBQ in the city on Yelp.com, I figured MM would be the best spot to cure the deep craving for BBQ that had been building inside of me since I moved to the city.

My boyfriend and I each ordered the meal deal (where you get the meat of your choice and two sides). He liked the quality of the meat, even though it was cold. I thought it was worse than the ribs I've had at TGIF (who would've thought that was possible?) ... they were cold, and the sauces looked and tasted like they had been sitting around for months. The side dishes were the worst part of the meal. I had the mac 'n cheese and fries. The only thing I could actually finish were the fries. Ugh!

And to top off the whole experience, the small portions that made up the 2 meals, cost nearly 40$. No where in the South would it ever cost that much for a BBQ meal, especially one of this quality.

As for environment, it was a cold winter night and the front door was left wide open, leaving the food to become even colder than it already was and goose bumps all over our skin.

I don't recommend this place at all!

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  1. Sorry you had a bad meal. Unfortunately, their ribs can be hit or miss. Surprisingly for a restaurant with “Memphis” in the title, their brisket is king. I love their fries and mac & cheese though. Sounds like you probably should have closed the door...

    3 Replies
    1. re: Civil Bear

      The name is not a reference to the style of BBQ - the owner's mom's name was Minnie and she was from Memphis.

      1. re: larochelle

        They claim to do various regional styles: Memphis pulled pork, St. Louis pork ribs, Texas brisket.

        The brisket and pork ribs are pretty darn good when they're hot. I found the sauces and some of the sides too eccentric.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Perhaps I should've ordered the brisket. Sounds like people have enjoyed it there.

          Too bad there's not enough of a desire to even attempt trying another dish at this place.

    2. Brisket ... brisket ... brisket ... MM is only about the briket.

      1. Cold BBQ, jeez. That's disgraceful.

        How $40? The "plates" that come with two sides range from $9 to $15. MM's prices are similar to other BBQ places in SF.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Well, it was closer to 15 for two plates, plus two drinks, and tax = too much for a bad meal.

          Yeah, the prices are similar to other places in SF, but for all BBQ restaurants in the city, it would be nice if the pricing was relative to the quality of food.

          Just living in an ideal state.

        2. I have to concur -- in working my way through Bay Area BBQ, Memphis Minnie's does not rank that highly on my list (preferring Coyote Sam's in Fairfield and Texas Smokehouse BBQ in San Jose). I was very disappointed in MM's sauces and only their collard greens made up for the mediocre meat.

          1. I haven't had the ribs recently, but did takeout a pound each of the brisket and pulled pork recently and both were great. I've had great ribs at MM's in the past; probably should try them again and see if they've changed.

            1. All Bay Area BBQ joints are hit or miss. When I eat at MM's, I'll usually ask the cook if the brisket is moist before ordering. Of course he says it is, but I've noticed that the mere inquiry is enough impetus for the cook to make the effort to give me a juicier, warmer cut.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Benny Choi

                I agree about hit or miss, except I think T-Rex may have it together. Last couple of times I've been the spareribs were perfect.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I don't think there is a BBQ joint in the country that isn't hit or miss at times. Some are just more consistent than others. Imagine it has to do with working with the cheapest pieces of meat. That said, MM's spareribs have been a disappointment the last few times.

                2. re: Benny Choi

                  Yep, I always ask too and almost make 'em swear on a stack of bibles.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    I find so much wrong with this thread that it is embarrassing that I live in a food city. First of all none of the employees would ever swear on a stack of bibles because the owner is Jewish. As for the food, barbeque is not the easiest thing to cook and takes a lot of trial an error to get it right. You will never find Que in this part of the county that will be as cheap as in the south because we are paying 2-3 times as much for rent, wood, meat, ECT here. Lastly if you don’t like the way something is, why not say something while you are at the restaurant, most places will be more than happy to accommodate you, instead you come here and complain where the restaurant has no way to fix a problem that they may not know about.

                    You can please all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time. But you will NEVER please all of the people all of the time.

                    1. re: cowtipn

                      Wouldn't 'swear on a stack of bibles' but does serve pork....

                      Asking if the brisket is moist before ordering is hardly waiting until after the meal to complain without alerting the restaurant!

                      1. re: susancinsf

                        Yep, being direct with the staff before I order and only going during the week (Sunday seems to be the worst bet) does the trick for me.

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          I stick to the stuff I know Memphis Minnie's does well, i.e. the brisket, the pork ribs, and the pulled pork. I think Melanie is right about going during the week. I went last night (Tuesday) and everything was wonderful, whereas going on Sundays has been hit or miss. I would give them another shot....

                3. Memphis Minnie's prices are similar to other BBQ places in town: a spareribs dinner is $13.95 vs. $14.75 at Lilly's (former Brother-in-Law's) or Big Nate's.

                  1. I can certainly understand the sentiment - they're a neighborhood joint for me, so I eat there fairly often. That said, they are wildly unpredictable. We've had fairly dry chicken and fantastic fall off the bone stuff. I've had a very small portion of slightly dry bristket and a mound of moist nearly Texas quality stuff the next visit. The cornbread can be dry tasteless hockeypucks or really good.

                    No place is perfect, but I really wish they had better consistency. I though the last several times there the brisket was darn near perfect - sorry you had a bad outing.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: epicurious_sf

                      Seems like part of the issue with BBQ in the BA (besides economics as mentioned) are there's cultural reasons - healthier food and other options. A $14 buck BBQ meal is competing against a $6 buck burrito or $7 buck rice plate. Without support and competition, this leads to low turn over and thus inconsistencies. I remember when Flint's was great and I recall high turn over. The best inexpensive places always seem to do brisk business which also feeds into fresher food. Oh well...

                    2. This place is expensive: I had a pulled pork sandwich and a side of coleslaw and it was almost $15!!! Outrageous. Especially since the small side container was barely larger than a shot glass. The eating experience was not good either. The the pulled pork had almost no flavor and the meat was completely dry. I'm serious, it was just meat on bread. They threw in two puny containers of sauce - one, a tangy mustard sauce and the other, some kind of red concoction that made me wince. Neither did anything to satisfy my craving for the classic bbq sauce that usually smothers this dish. And the coleslaw was some kind of raw foods nightmare. The flavor and texture were all wrong: no sweetness, just sour with other vegetables mixed in. More like pickles than slaw. Not sure whose idea of bbq this is, but it's definitely not mine. I'd recommend Brother's in Law's for classic bbq.

                      29 Replies
                      1. re: sondrac

                        >I had a pulled pork sandwich and a side of coleslaw and it was almost $15!!!

                        According to their website, the pulled pork sandwich with one side is $7.95.

                        >Neither did anything to satisfy my craving for the classic bbq sauce that usually smothers this dish

                        Bob Cantor is very clear that his barbecue is about the meat, not the sauce. That's why the sauce is served on the side. Everyone's taste in sauce differs. I love the mustard-based sauce with the pork. Their red sauce isn't my favorite red, but for me it really is about the meat.

                        1. re: Mick Ruthven

                          >>Bob Cantor is very clear that his barbecue is about the meat, not the sauce. That's why the sauce is served on the side.

                          Agree 100%. Bay Area joints that serve their Q smothered in red sauce do it for a reason. To hide the meat.

                          Also, traditional pulled pork barbecue is from the Carolinas and is served with vinegar based sauces (w/ added ketchup in the west an mustard in the south). Sandwiches are typically topped with a tart coleslaw that on its own isn't so good, but manages to enhance the pulled pork sammy.

                          1. re: Civil Bear

                            Memphis Minnie's pulled pork is billed as "Memphis sweet smoked pork."

                            I think their sauces and slaw are eccentric even by the standards of the regions that inspired them.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Admittedly, my experience with the Carolina deep-south style of mustard-y sauce is limited, but MM's seems spot on. The "Texas Red" would not be out of place in many of my favorite joints in Central Texas.

                            2. re: Civil Bear

                              Some traditions like sauce on the meat. That is just what is BBQ to some people, although not purists. I try to think of it as an entirely different thing, then I don't have to get mad about it. Sometimes the sauces are good bad/bad good.

                          2. re: sondrac

                            Brothers in Law's is closed.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              But reopened as Lilly's. Hasn't changed much.

                            2. re: sondrac

                              A pulled pork sandwich is $7.95 and cole slaw is $2.25, total $10.20 before tax and tip.

                              I find Memphis Minnie's sauces weird, which means their pulled pork doesn't cut it. I like their "slaw," but it's very eccentric, more like pickles than cole slaw.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                ..also known as "Health Salad" in some East Coast delis.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  I live around the corner from MM's and always get hungry when I smell the white oak smoker going. I'm from Texas and by my standards the brisket is the best you can get out here, now that Rudy's in the Bayview is closed. The idea of serving it on a sourdough roll rather than the cheapest possible white bread makes no sense so I buy it by the pound and use my own bun.

                                  As for the slaw, it's what we call "sour slaw" at home and MM's is certainly expensive for the portion size. However, they shared a recipe some time ago with the SF Chron. I just checked and it's still archived at http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                                  This isn't exactly what they currently serve but pretty close and with some tinkering (use less sugar and add some chopped squeezed-dry tomatoes at serving time) it gets better.

                                  1. re: otis

                                    Never been to MMs but tried VCC Enterprises in San Jose after overhearing a couple guys rave about it. Excellent BBQ, fall of the bone tender spare ribs.Best BBQ I have had in the BA.

                                    1. re: dhoffman1421

                                      I get no results from Google for VCC Enterprises in San Jose. Are you sure the name is correct?

                                      1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                        It's BCC, not VCC (aka Jon Jon)

                                        BCC Enterprises

                                        1305 Oakland Rd
                                        San Jose, CA 95112
                                        (408) 297-5799

                                        Info under the Hoggs report
                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/38082...

                                        From this long report ...
                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/40841...

                                        " BBQ in the Everett & Jones' vein: the church group's place on Old Oakland Rd. a few blocks north of 101, on the west side of the road. Can't remember the name, but your nose should lead you there. Just don't go on the Lord's day or late. They mostly do lunches, early dinner and go home to their families or church.

                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/37343...

                                        Here's a review with picture ... it is in an old gas station
                                        http://www.webdives.com/listings.php?...

                                        "Formerly Bethesda Community Church Enterprises. You can't help noticing if you've passed this place. A converted gas station with a trailer out front and a couple of 55 gallon drum BBQ ""pits"" off to one side. "

                                        So that's what BCC stands for.

                                        Another review (scroll down) with a picture of Jon Jon at the smoker
                                        http://www.metroactive.com/papers/met...

                                        Some pictures of the chow
                                        http://www.jatbar.com/reviews/San_Jos...

                                        1. re: rworange

                                          When I worked in San Jose, about 8+ years ago, BCC (I would have never remembered the name) was a popular group lunch spot. A group of us would pile into a car or two and make the short trip from downtown. Excellent ribs as I recall, totally falling off the bone with no sauce required. I also remember their peach cobbler. Very funky, small place with a long line and lots of picnic tables. Memorable enough to recall I haven't experienced much better in the Bay Area since then.

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            My wife and I tried BCC for lunch today. The ribs were dry and not trimmed at all. I hate it when people don't trim off the tips. The Tri-tip was very tender. I don't know if I've ever had smoked tri-tip before, but it was quite a treat. I'm used to the Santa Maria style tri-tip from my college days at UCSB. BCC's smoked version is very tender and the pieces I got were nice and lean. My wife liked the chicken, it was moist and had a great smokey flavor. I love Everett and Jones, but their chicken tends to be dry. My biggest problem with BCC is the sauce, it was too sweet and lacked depth. The one dimentional flavor got overwhelming a few bites into the meal and essentially ruined the tasty meat. The beans were just awful and the potato salad was nothing special, but none of the Bay Area places seem to make extraordinary sides. I usually order links at a BBQ joint, but the ones at BCC looked like Louisiana hot links, and with those I'd rather put 'em on a bun with some mustard as opposed to covering them with BBQ sauce.

                                            In the end, I would much rather prefer a beef and link combo at Everett and Jones or a sweet smoked pork platter at Memphis Minnies.

                                            -----
                                            Memphis Minnie's BBQ
                                            576 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

                                            Jon Jon's
                                            1305 Oakland Rd, San Jose, CA 95112

                                            Everett and Jones Barbeque
                                            296 A St, Hayward, CA 94541

                                      2. re: otis

                                        >Rudy's in the Bayview is closed.
                                        >
                                        apparently Rudy [sic] *can* fail :-)

                                      3. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        >A pulled pork sandwich is $7.95 and cole slaw is $2.25, total $10.20 before tax and tip.<

                                        Has the $7.95 pork sandwich including one side (which could be cole slaw) changed? That's the way it was and the way it is on their website.

                                        1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                          Ah, right you are. Maybe sondrac was overcharged.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Nope. My bill with tax plus a tip was almost $15. I got the pulled pork sandwich with fries and then ordered an additional side of cole slaw. I'm sorry, everything else was such an unpleasant surprise that forgot to mention the fries. They were basic - and cold.

                                            Allowing for differences in bbq style, I can appreciate that this was not what I expected - but that doesn't change the fact that the meat was bland and dry.

                                            Seeing that BCC is more aligned with my taste preferences, I will trek out to Oakland to try BCC. Thanks for the pictures of the smoking drums and the dishes of food - they made my mouth water!

                                            1. re: sondrac

                                              BCC's on Oakland Road in San Jose.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                Noooo!

                                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          A North Carolina cole slaw is a non-creamy vinegary concoction. It can be good. I think of it as the American version of a Vietnamese salad. Actually, that wouldn't be bad- some pulled pork but with a 5 spice/soy based seasoning and vietnamese salad on a crusty baguette. southeastern US BBQ meets southeastern asia.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Yea but the sandwich comes with one side. So you can get the slaw with it. So $8.63 w/ tax.

                                          2. re: sondrac

                                            Brother's in Law no longer exists and even when it did the best that could be said was a poor rendition of classic Mississippi Q.

                                            1. re: larochelle

                                              Brother-in-Law's is now called Lilly's. No big changes, Lilly is brother-in-law's sister-in-law.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                Other than downhill reports, being open even less and daytime shootings (8/7/7 1pm - check the police log.)

                                                1. re: larochelle

                                                  Like I said, no big changes.

                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                    That neighbhorhood has its issues and I watch the police reports fairly carefully, are you saying that customers (people in the restaurant) have opened fire before?

                                                    1. re: larochelle

                                                      Not often enough for them to have installed bulletproof glass, like Do City down the street used to have.

                                          3. Hey, I agree. Ain't nothin' like Southern BBQ. I haven't been to MM yet. I still plan on checkin' it out. However, have you tried 'Rib Shack' in San Bruno. Or the newly opened, 'Gorilla BBQ' in Pacifica ? These two places are good. Nothin' like the South, but alright considering where we happen to be. Good eatin'!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Just pay me in pork

                                              If you like the Rib Shack, then you will love MM's. There is a difference however, as MM cuts their spareribs St. Louis style. If you like the tip portion, you can order them separate.