Memphis recommendations wanted -- have done some research here
I've been doing some research here on restaurants in preparation for a trip to Memphis, and would like some recent confirmation and suggestions.
There doesn't appear to be total consensus on BBQ places, except that most everyone here seems to like Payne's (either location, for their pulled pork sandwich with slaw) and nobody here seems to like Corky's. There seems to be reasonable positive consensus on:
-Payne's (especially pulled pork sandwich with slaw)
-The BBQ Shop
-Cozy Corner (especially game hens and rib tips)
Rendezvous seems like a crap shoot, with the possibility of the ribs being anywhere from excellent to poor depending on the day. Have seen fewer positives about Blues City Cafe and Interstate BBQ, and none on Corky's or Pig on Beale.
Can anyone recommend the best things to get at Central, BBQ Shop, Neely's, or Blues City Cafe? If I were to brave Corky's or Interstate, what would be the best thing to order? A guidebook I have suggests chopped pork shoulder at Corky's and BBQ spaghetti at Interstate would be their best options.
Which place of all these is the best specifically for BBQ spaghetti? Dry pork ribs? Wet pork ribs? Sides?
For non-BBQ restaurants, there seems to be universal praise here for Gus's Fried Chicken and Automatic Slim's. Any thoughts on Alcenia's, Huey's, or Dyer's? I guess I missed mention of these along the way. Any other food musts, especially in the Downtown Beale Street area?
It also looks like three places listed in the guidebook I have, Erika's, Beale Street BBQ, and the downtown branch of Corky's, are now closed. True?
At Central, I love the BBQ nachos, the dry spice jerk chicken wings, the smoked turkey, and any of their sides. For BBQ Shop, I think they have the best BBQ spaghetti and dry ribs. I also love their sandwiches on Texas Toast, especially the BBQ bologna. Alcenia's is great for soul food. BJ cooks everything there with love, and serves all her food in a great atmosphere. I will say, though, that it's a small place, and if you hit it when it's busy, you have to be prepared to wait. Huey's is a Memphis institution. It's one of those go-to places that's always consistently good without being too pricey. You just have to try Dyer's to know whether you'll like them or not. Other downtown food that you don't want to miss would be Beignet Cafe (try both kinds of beignets), Ernestine and Hazel's (they make the soulburger), Market Cafe (a new place serving lunch only, but all local food), the Inn at Hunt-Phelan (great bar & a great place for a more upscale meal). And the three places you listed are gone.
My wife and her friends loved Central when they were in school in Memphis. We both love Rendevous! I think people don't like it because its plain Jane Memphis dry rub ribs. But they are the original and everywhere else you get dry rubbed ribs is trying to be like Rendevous. Go, get a full rack and put sauce on it as needed(I usually eat half sauce half dry because I can't decide what I like better) Skip the BBQ sandwich at Rendevous though, just stick to the ribs and cheese and sausage platter. I know its not quite like waht you have mentioned, but my wife and I both enjoyed Texas De Brazil Brazillian steakhouse. I would imagine if you have been to one of those you have been to them all but it still was good even though expensive.
I would take care with Automatic Slims. I was great but it is under new ownership and I was not impressed the last two times. On one occasion we were served raw salmon and the service was atrocious.
My pick for downtown restaurants would be Circa. Away from downtown, in Midtown, is Restaurant Iris.