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May 4, 2009 12:22 PM

Memphis in May BBQ Festival- May 14- May 16

LA Hound attending this festival. Wanted to know what the situation is like, and what booths to try. Is it pandemonium or shall I just head straight to the restaurants themseles? I was recommend by a local chower that the place to go is the Cozy Corner. Obviously rendezvous and Interstate gather attention but I want to see what else there is to offer........

Thanks in Advance!!

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  1. There are a few hotspots that one should hit when coming to our fair town.

    1. Cozy Corner (as you stated)
    2. The BBQ Shop on Madison - Texas Toast BBQ sandwich is great
    3. Central BBQ - Good BBQ and wings
    4. Corky's Kind of touristy, but their ribs are good (couple of locations)
    Rendevous is good for the atmosphere, but it is really inconsistent.

    Have fun. You should definitely go to the restaurants as there is not much actual eating at the competition for non judges.

    6 Replies
    1. re: priceless109

      I'll take RDV over Corky's any day. Both are touristy.


      1. re: Davwud

        Hey, Davwud, you are all over the place...haha...wife wants to try Corkys for the variety, any single location better than the others? We will be in Germantown the day going there for lunch or dinner? Any suggestions? Memphis does not seem that large geographically so willing to drive a bit..after all I live in Toronto region and we are used to driving a lot...thanks

        1. re: ebay3392

          I've only been to the one Poplar. It was fine.

          Mrs Sippi suggest the Germantown Commissary.


          1. re: Davwud

            Ditto. Commissary > Corky's. By far.

            1. re: biskuit

              If you live in Memphis and need to pick up an easy dinner on the way home from work, Corky's is fine. If you are coming from Canada and want to eat some outstanding Memphis BBQ, you should aim higher.

              Memphis is actually pretty spread out geographically, but several of the best places are centrally located. BBQ Shop, Central, Payne's, Interstate are all within 15-20 minutes of each other.

              1. re: Michael H

                Hi, thanks for the tip...I have about a dozen places in mind and will choose five or six depending on situations, long lineups, if some places run out of food, etc...think I will give Central BBQ a try, was thinking of Marlowes but wife thought was too expensive so may nix that one. Same as Cozy Corner, she isn't a cornish hen fan and thought the chicken wing prices were kind of high....and the fact they are only open at lunch I believe...

    2. I would add Payne's on Lamar and A&R on Elvis Presley to that list below. If you get further south, Tom's on Getwell has a really good sandwich, (top 5 in Memphis behind BBQ Shop & Paynes).

      I don't like Central (ok but not great--many i trust do like it) or Corky's (tourist trap).

      1. Cozy Corner is awesome - try the rib tips. BBQ Shop is awesome, especially the sandwich on Texas Toast. Central is awesome - best ribs in Memphis in my opinion. Rendezvous is fun. My personal favorite in Memphis, though, is Payne's. Get a chopped pork sandwich hot and tell me that's not one of the best things you ever put in your mouth.

        I didn't care too much for Corky's or Interstate, but I've only been once.

        You can find some photos and commentary here:

        Someone else mentioned this in the other MIM thread, but another really incredible place that is downtown near the fesitval is Gus' Fried Chicken.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jamiecarroll

          Is Payne's on Lamar about the same as the one on Elvis Presley Blvd? Or is one significantly better?

        2. I'm also going to BBQ Fest for the first time. So, not to ask a stupid question, but do any of these restaurants have stands at the BBQ Festival?

          11 Replies
          1. re: RileyCat

            I've only been to BBQ Fest once, but I belive the answer to that is "no". There are a lot of food vendors, and some of them are barbecue, but most are corndogs, kettle corn, funnel cakes, etc.

            If you want to sample some of the barbecue, I think there is a people's choice thing where you can pay $ and "judge" a few samples of the teams that enter people's choice.

            1. re: jamiecarroll

              Jamie is right. I've only been once as well but do not recall seeing any of my favorites with vendor booths there. The people's choice is $4/visit for 5 samples and you give your verdict on them.

              Local health regulations technically preclude competitors from providing samples to the public.


              It's still fun but one day was enough for me there, the rest of the time was spent trying the various cue restaurants in town (and one visit for fried chicken).

              1. re: Dax

                Thanks everybody for the great suggestions!! Looks like I will have to hit up Payne's, Central BBQ, and BBQ Shop. I wonder if there are any festivities at night because of this? It would be nice to get my meat on and have something to do...... ie go to some cool bars and such.


                1. re: Schweinhaxen

                  By the way, I believe Payne's is lunch only, at least the Lamar location which is the one I prefer. If you get only one pork bbq sandwich in town, this should be it.

                  1. re: Schweinhaxen

                    I would not skip Cozy Corner (only open until 5 PM_. It was my favorite out of Cozy, Central and Rendezvoyus. Didn't get to Paynes or the Commisary (next time). Beale is a little touristy, but some of the bars were fun when I was there.


                    1. re: Dax

                      I am definitely not skipping the Cozy Corner, as I expect to get the hen and the rib tips. Since I am staying at the Peabody, I assume the bar there would be good, but I am looking to see if there are other options. Thanks!!

                      1. re: Schweinhaxen

                        I'm a native Memphian and still live here. I LOVE Payne's BBQ sandwich. Had their ribs this past Saturday for the first time. While the ribs aren't bad, they don't hold a candle to the sandwich at Payne's.

                        Central BBQ has had the best ribs in town for the past few years running. They are always good.

                        BBQ balogna at Cozy Corner (or interstate) is a poor man's delicacy.

                        What kind of bar are you looking for....dive bar, live music, dance club, etc?

                        1. re: Ross B

                          I am looking for some good live music, a nice dive bar near the Peabody, and anything with a nice local scene......

                          1. re: Schweinhaxen

                            Local/dive bars within walking distance of the Peabody are Bardog Tavern on Monroe, Black Diamond (late night) on Beale, Earnestine & Hazel's on South Main and Calhoun's on GE Patterson.

                            Live music kind of depends on the night. A bar may have a great band one night and nobody playing the next night. The Dempseys play Blues City Cafe on Thursday night (the 14th). They are a good fun live band.

                            1. re: Ross B

                              Thanks Ross, that should be sweet. I hope I dont keel over from the amount of pork that I will be ingesting from Payne's, Central, Rendezvous, Cozy Corner, and BBQ Shop. I heard some good things about Earnestine and Hazel's.

                    2. re: Schweinhaxen

                      There's a good band playing at the Roof Top Party of the Peabody Thursday night. Check them out. It usually starts at 6:00 pm and Ladies get in free before 7 (I think).

              2. If you get a chance, drive down to Southaven, MS. It's right across the Stateline only about 20 minutes from downtown. Natural Born Grillers has a bbq joint there. They're the defending 2008 World Champs. It's well worth the short drive.

                1 Reply
                1. re: malcom

                  Darn...i stayed one stop south of there and never saw it...ate at Top's near the I-55 turnoff and Interstate down the road...Interstate was my favorite overall as I ate at Leonards, Corky's, Rendesvous, Central and Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur, AL. BEST pork I had was at cookers caravan tour at the MiM festival but restaurants cannot compare to that I know.