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Done the research- how does this sound--Memphis in August

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aviva5675 May 15, 2010 09:27 AM

Have been trying to do my research for a 3 night 2 day stay in mid-August==19th-22, so after Elvis Week. It is mainly a bbq trip though I'd like to add some soul type food because 3 days of straight bbq will be tough. We did a similar trip to Kansas City about 2 years ago. We will be staying downtown and will have a car. Thoughts please!

Breakfasts: Barkdales, Bryants and Brother Junipers

Lunches and Dinners: Gus' or Uncle Lous. I dont do spicy so I'm thinking Uncle Lous?
Flying Fish or Soul Fish. Was leaning towards Soul Fish but now am thinking Flying has a more extensive menu. Better food?
BBQ: in no order cant decide between Paynes, BBQ Shop, Central, Rendezvous, Cozy Corner. Husband likes fall off the bone, I like something with a bit of chew. Not interested in bbq spaghetti. Rendezvous seems to get some more mixed reviews than the others.

If we do something nicer sounds like Restaurant Iris is the one. We live near Chicago so nice but 'normal' not a necessity.

We will be doing Graceland probably half a day, city tour, river boat tour (?), maybe the Gibson factory tour, walking Beale street or trolley, the Rock and Soul Museum. Belz Museum I'd like but probably not. Thoughts on stuff to do and locations close to our main focus (eating) appreciated!

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    shallots RE: aviva5675 May 15, 2010 01:51 PM

    You do know that Memphis in August is unbearably hot?
    Especially in the city.
    If you have an interest in history and/or nature, a drive up to Reelfoot Lake in the NW corner of Tennessee isn't that far (in an AIR-conditioned car) and there are some good hole in the wall restaurants up that way.

    1 Reply
    1. re: shallots
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      aviva5675 RE: shallots May 16, 2010 10:23 AM

      Yeah I figure it will be. We drop our kid off at college in Champaign/Urbana, Il that day and plan to keep driving south. Its a third of the way from Chicago, so thats how it timed for that weekend...

    2. jamiecarroll RE: aviva5675 May 17, 2010 09:05 AM

      Gus' is really not spicy at all, IMO. I ate there before someone told me that it was supposed to be "spicy" and I was surprised to hear it. But then again I am used to Prince's here in Nashville. The fried chicken at Gus' is delicious, by the way.

      My personal opinion (and I have been there 10+ times) is that Rendezvous is a unique and fun experience, a Memphis tradition, and a fun night out, but the food is inconsistent at best. If it's your first time in Memphis, I would recommend that you do go there, but use it as a jumping off point, because there is much better barbecue to be had in Memphis.

      5 Replies
      1. re: jamiecarroll
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        aviva5675 RE: jamiecarroll May 17, 2010 11:31 AM

        I guess thats a good idea= try Rendezvous first, then go from there --- BBQ Shop, Paynes, Cozy Corner, Central...what do you think of Flying Fish v Soul Fish and the 3 breakfast choices??? thanks

        -----
        Soul Fish Cafe
        862 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104

        Cozy Corner Restaurant
        745 N Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105

        The Flying Fish
        105 S 2nd St, Memphis, TN 38103

        1. re: aviva5675
          jamiecarroll RE: aviva5675 May 19, 2010 08:19 AM

          I have not been to either of the fish places.

          Have been to Brother Juniper's and it is great.

          Let us know how the trip goes!

          1. re: jamiecarroll
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            aviva5675 RE: jamiecarroll May 19, 2010 02:22 PM

            Ribs is a part but bbq in general is the thing, so the places that do the best pulled pork sandwich, Id try the baloney sandwich, etc. So suggestions about which one to do really for ribs, which is the best pulled pork etc would be great too...

            Starting to be worried about Gus--I think Ill try Uncle Lous instead. Supposed to be almost as good but not as spicy. Does that sound right??

          2. re: aviva5675
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            bulldogx2 RE: aviva5675 May 24, 2010 06:41 PM

            I like Soul Fish better between the two, but maybe that's because I work downtown so I eat at Flying Fish more often and thus it feels a little bit like a rut. If you're staying downtown, it would certainly be easier. In addition to great fried catfish, Soul Fish has really good southern-style side dishes. The sides at Flying Fish are more generic. I think the batter is crispier and tastier at Soul Fish.

            Of the 3 breakfast places you mention, I like Bryant's the best. Frankly, I can't imagine eating breakfast at these 3 places before going on bbq/catfish/fried chicken lunches and dinners for 3 days - I think I'd want to start the day with something simple and light.

            -----
            Soul Fish Cafe
            862 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104

            The Flying Fish
            105 S 2nd St, Memphis, TN 38103

            1. re: aviva5675
              Its Still Mooing RE: aviva5675 Jun 1, 2010 01:05 PM

              Soul Fish is a great place with a delicious menu. Not to be missed. Flying Fish is a location of a small chain of the same drab restaurants, owned by the same company as Flying Saucer. They do faux-local well. But I fear you'll be disappointed, as I have the four times I been there.

              -----
              Soul Fish Cafe
              862 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104

              The Flying Fish
              105 S 2nd St, Memphis, TN 38103

          3. h
            hootch RE: aviva5675 May 19, 2010 07:27 AM

            Looks like you've done your homework. A couple of comments:

            1) You seem to be aiming for ribs as the barbecue mainstay. I'm not a big fan of the ribs at Payne's but I think they're sandwich is the best in town. I get the hot barbecue sauce which is not really spicy and seems to use more black pepper than true peppers. I think it works better with the mustard based cole slaw they serve on their sandwiches. Cozy Corner and Central are my two favorite rib places.

            2) My preference is for Flying Fish though both are good. My view may be skewed since Soul Fish just opened up a location near me and eating there is pretty simple.

            3) I think Gus' downtown is a bit spicy. (The Collierville location is less spicy and a little salty for me.) I like my chicken that way but not everyone. I was downtown a couple of weeks ago and we ordered Gus' and several in the party commented on the spiciness.

            4) Restaurant Iris is very good - upscale Southern cuisine. Another really good restaurant in the same general area of town is Tsunami.

            -----
            Soul Fish Cafe
            862 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104

            Restaurant Iris
            2146 Monroe Ave, Memphis, TN 38104

            Cozy Corner Restaurant
            745 N Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105

            The Flying Fish
            105 S 2nd St, Memphis, TN 38103

            1. r
              Ross B RE: aviva5675 May 20, 2010 01:42 PM

              You've definitley done your homework. I'll add these comments/suggestions.

              1. I agree that the sandwich at Payne's sandwich is GREAT, but their ribs are not my favorite.
              2. You may want to consider the Stax Museum.
              3. This is the cover story from last week's Memphis Flyer regarding BBQ. You may find it helpful... http://www.memphisflyer.com/memphis/t...

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ross B
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                Ross B RE: Ross B May 20, 2010 01:50 PM

                Another recent Memphis BBQ story...

                http://www.gomemphis.com/news/2010/ma...

              2. m
                mem79 RE: aviva5675 May 27, 2010 09:14 AM

                I love the loaded cheese grits at Br. Junipers (not a native southerner so this is the only way I'll eat them) and Bryant's is great - I constantly over order and go into a biscuit coma! I haven't made it to Barksdale's yet.
                If the weather is decent the patio at Central BBQ can't be beat - it just adds to the experience however, if it is hot, you'd catch me indoors at BBQ Shop or Cozy Corner.

                If you wind up going near the National Civil Rights Museum (within a 5 minute drive of downtown) there are a variety of good places on South Main. From a gastropub to cheesecake and beignets, there's a little of everything.

                The river boat tour is interesting, I've done it once but isn't a must do. My family always enjoys the Stax museum - its a hidden treasure but not downtown. You should see the Peabody ducks walk - I think they do it around 5-6. If you want to spend some time down by the river -there's a good public park (Tom Lee Park) that has a good sidewalk system and will help you walk your culinary adventures away. If you do go down to the park besides looking at the river, you get a good look at the mansions that line the river bluff.
                Have a great trip!

                -----
                Central BBQ
                2249 Central Ave, Memphis, TN 38104

                Cozy Corner Restaurant
                745 N Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105

                Barksdale Restaurant
                237 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104

                1. Its Still Mooing RE: aviva5675 Jun 1, 2010 01:08 PM

                  As a side note, I have been watching all episodes of the Food Network's "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," and Memphis is WELL represented on the show, and for good reason.

                  1. Davwud RE: aviva5675 Jun 2, 2010 05:15 AM

                    Mrs. Sippi is a native of Memphis and her favourite is the Rendezvous. It was the first place she took me on my first visit there and it's good.
                    If you want good food and history then it's a fine choice. It's the place that "Everyone goes to."
                    Order the Rendezvous special appetizer.

                    DT

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Davwud
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                      aviva5675 RE: Davwud Jun 2, 2010 12:20 PM

                      Rendezvous definitely on the list. And Ill put Soul Fish and not Flying Fish, thanks! Getting excited....

                      -----
                      Soul Fish Cafe
                      862 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104

                      The Flying Fish
                      105 S 2nd St, Memphis, TN 38103

                    2. s
                      sierraskyesmom RE: aviva5675 Jul 3, 2010 12:20 PM

                      Let me say this about Restaurant Iris - it's PHENOMINAL. The chef was nominated for the James Beard Award and his Surf & Turf (google it) was mentioned on Food Network's "Best Thing I Ever Ate"

                      Just sayin' ... I know fine dining is plentiful, but Restaurant Iris is something special.

                      -----
                      Restaurant Iris
                      2146 Monroe Ave, Memphis, TN 38104

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: sierraskyesmom
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                        Littleman RE: sierraskyesmom Jul 3, 2010 05:00 PM

                        Sierra Skyes Mom...........where is the Cypress Inn Restaurant you like so much. I love Erling Jensen's. It's # 1 in Memphis for me.

                        -----
                        Erling Jensen The Restaurant
                        1044 S. Yates Rd, Memphis, TN 38119

                        1. re: Littleman
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                          sierraskyesmom RE: Littleman Aug 10, 2010 10:04 AM

                          Cypress Inn is in Tuscaloosa, Alabama -- it's on the Black Warrior River and everything on the menu is divine. Not Erling Jensen-fancy, but just well executed and delicious. We do a lot of football games down there, but I would make a trip down there just to eat.

                          I love Erlings, too. The dover sole, lobster pancake, and buffalo tenderloin are my favs!

                      2. s
                        sarahjb RE: aviva5675 Jul 4, 2010 06:37 AM

                        We just returned from a short visit to Memphis and we had some great food there! It was pretty inexpensive too. My husband like Rendezvous. I liked the experience but not the food. I thought the ribs were too dry and chewy and didn't like the feel of the dry rub in my mouth. I'm not used to Memphis style bbq so maybe that's why. We loved Cozy Corner! The sliced pork & beef (served with sauce and slaw) were both great. The bbq bologna is delicious and something you don't find around our area (IA). The bbq spaghetti is interesting but spicy and I'd rather just enjoy the meats! Gus's was amazing fried chicken! I found it just barely spicy. Breakfast at The Arcade Restaurant was fantastic. We stumbled on it. It seemed a mix of locals and tourists. Sweet potato pancakes with ham, eggs, and grits was delicious. My husband had the "Eggs Redneck" which was also great.

                        -----
                        Cozy Corner Restaurant
                        745 N Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105

                        1. a
                          aviva5675 RE: aviva5675 Aug 9, 2010 12:39 PM

                          We leave next Thursday, finally. Set on: Arcade, Gus, Cozy Corner, Blue Plate, BBQ Shop, Flying Fish (close to hotel) or Soul Fish (possibly worth the drive). Was set on Rendezvous and am chickening out based on a number of reviews. In any case what about: Roadside in Proctor, AR, or One and Only on Kirby? or Central too....Ive seen alot of reviews of Central and it sounds good but only 1 review each of the other two which raved.

                          -----
                          Soul Fish Cafe
                          862 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104

                          Blue Plate Cafe
                          5469 Poplar Ave, Memphis, TN 38119

                          Cozy Corner Restaurant
                          745 N Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105

                          The Flying Fish
                          105 S 2nd St, Memphis, TN 38103

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: aviva5675
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                            Littleman RE: aviva5675 Aug 9, 2010 01:43 PM

                            If you arrive in Memphis from the W stop at Roadside at Exit 271 off I 40 and get your BBQ out of your system then you won't have to drive all over Memphis in bad traffic. Roadside is outstanding.

                            Road Side BBQ @ 196 St. Hwy. 147, Procter, AR. 870 - 733 - 9208.

                            1. re: Littleman
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                              aviva5675 RE: Littleman Aug 9, 2010 01:45 PM

                              Well we will be coming from the north so not then--have it semi scheduled for lunch the second day- looks like about a 20 minute drive? Or stay around and do Central??

                              1. re: aviva5675
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                                Littleman RE: aviva5675 Aug 9, 2010 02:51 PM

                                Don't drive through Memphis traffic across the bridge and through W Memphis for Roadside. There are too many good ones in Memphis. I like Cozy Corner but the ribs are better at BBQ Shop and Central. Germantown Commissary is my favorite of all Memphis BBQ. A & R has a good sandwich and Payne's gets a good report on it's sandwich.

                                -----
                                Cozy Corner Restaurant
                                745 N Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105

                                1. re: Littleman
                                  Its Still Mooing RE: Littleman Aug 11, 2010 02:37 PM

                                  The bridges over to Arkansas are undergoing construction now. Long waits to get across. Everyone in Memphis has their own fave 'cue place, mine's BBQ Shop, so hit one, two, or more. Central is great too.

                                  Enjoy your time in Memphis!

                                  By the way, Soul Fish IS worth the drive.

                                  -----
                                  Soul Fish Cafe
                                  862 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104

                                  1. re: Its Still Mooing
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                                    aviva5675 RE: Its Still Mooing Aug 11, 2010 03:20 PM

                                    Thanks! I think I will slot in Central or maybe A and R. I'm starting to also possibly rethink Gus' tho I do love fried chicken.

                                    Id love to do Restaurant Iris or Erling Jensen too but I think we wont be going so fancy while we are down there...

                                    -----
                                    Restaurant Iris
                                    2146 Monroe Ave, Memphis, TN 38104

                                    Erling Jensen The Restaurant
                                    1044 S. Yates Rd, Memphis, TN 38119

                                    1. re: aviva5675
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                                      Ross B RE: aviva5675 Aug 13, 2010 11:32 AM

                                      We'd love to hear your reviews when you return.

                                      1. re: aviva5675
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                                        Littleman RE: aviva5675 Aug 13, 2010 01:04 PM

                                        If you arrive in Memphis on I 40 and your hotel is downtown near The Peabody get off I 40 at Exit 1 E on Jackson Ave. going W. Go to N Manassas and take a left. Go to the next street which is N Parkway and take a right. Cozy Corner if right there. After you eat go E back to N Manassas and turn right then go S on N Manassas to Poplar Ave. Take a right and go W to N 2nd St. Take a left and go S on N 2nd St. to The Peabody which will be on your left. If you are staying at The Peabody you can turn into their garage off N 2nd.

                                        If you go to A & R there's a place on Court and 3rd about 3/4 blocks from The Peabody. You can walk there. Neely's has a place on Madison that's not too far but you will need your car. Huey's has a burger joint close to Neely's that's outstanding. BBQ shop is a little E of The Peabody on Madison and has outstanding BBQ.

                                        Cozy Corner @ 745 N. Parkway, Memphis, TN. 901 - 527 - 9158.
                                        http://www.cozycornerbbq.com/

                                        A & R Bar B Que @ 22 North 3rd Street, Memphis, TN 901 - 524 - 5242.

                                        Neely's BBQ @ 670 Jefferson St., Memphis, TN. 901 - 521 - 9798.
                                        http://www.neelysbbq.com/

                                        BBQ Shop @ 1782 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN. 901 - 272 - 1277. ***
                                        http://www.dancingpigs.com/

                              2. re: aviva5675
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                                Ross B RE: aviva5675 Aug 13, 2010 11:32 AM

                                1. You wrote that you are possibly reconsidering Gus's. Don't reconsider. You need to go to Gus's.
                                2. I think Soul Fish is worth the drive. I'm not a Flying Fish fan.
                                3. There is a new breakfast place near Flying Fish called Cockadoos. You may want to consider that over Blue Plate. It's probably closer to your hotel.
                                4. I still think the Rendezvous is worth the visit. The ribs are hit and miss, but the cheese & sausage plate is ALWAYS good.
                                5. One and Only is really good, but there are at least 10 places that are closer to Downtown that are just as good.
                                6. Central is great.

                                -----
                                Soul Fish Cafe
                                862 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104

                                Blue Plate Cafe
                                5469 Poplar Ave, Memphis, TN 38119

                                The Flying Fish
                                105 S 2nd St, Memphis, TN 38103

                              3. c
                                cookiekelly RE: aviva5675 Aug 11, 2010 08:01 PM

                                Best ribs in town Cozy Corner or BBQ shop. The thing about BBQ is you have to eat it during peak business hours for it to be good. Soul Fish has good catfish, terrible veggies. I wouldn't go out of your way to eat there. Arcade and Brother Juniper's are great for breakfast. If you around on Sunday the Beauty Shop in the Cooper-Young area has an amazing brunch menu. Stax museum is very interesting and very well air conditioned. You're going to appreciate that. If you decide to do fancy definitely Iris. Bring your wallet and a huge appetite. Hope you enjoy your visit.

                                -----
                                Soul Fish Cafe
                                862 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104

                                Cozy Corner Restaurant
                                745 N Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105

                                1. a
                                  aviva5675 RE: aviva5675 Aug 23, 2010 01:39 PM

                                  Ok, finally back from our trip. It was alot of fun, saw the local highlights, and boy was it ever hot. 95 degrees still at 8pm. I mean, hot!

                                  The food was good tho:
                                  On the way down from Illinois we stopped at 17th Street Bar and Grill in Marion. Offshoot of Mike Mills BBQ. Split the ribs and pulled pork, hush puppies and slaw. All good, 3.5 out of 5...Not spicy, the hush puppies were quite standard, the pork was very tender.

                                  That night we ate at Soul Fish, in Memphis, the midtown location. We really enjoyed it. I had the catfish basket, fresh tomato slices, fries. My husband had the blackened tilapia, tomatoes, warm Cajun slaw, hush puppies. Very fresh fish, nice tomato preparation with salt and vinegar, the warm slaw was really good. Hush puppies were the real, home made, not symetrical ball stuff. Tasty. I was hesitating about driving again for dinner or staying downtown for Flying Fish, but am really glad we went here. The area is kind of funky, too, pretty little houses all around.

                                  The next day we did breakfast at Arcade. Sweet potato pancakes, eggs, biscuit and gravy, grits, bacon- great. We ate here a second time on our last morning. That time we got there right after it opened at 7am since we were hitting the road. She told us up front the grits weren't ready yet and the biscuits had about 10 minutes to go. Most of the food came shortly and was terrific again. The grits never did show up when we left about half hour later. I understand and appreciate the fresh preparations, but maybe start cooking so food is ready when you open? In any case, we really enjoyed both breakfasts here and highly highly recommend it as a must go place.

                                  Lunch after Graceland was Uncle Lous. It is very near to Graceland, and I chickened (no pun intended ) out of Gus' because of the possible spice level. This was probably my favorite meal in Memphis. Best darn fried chicken I've ever had. I had wings and my husband the 3 piece, slaw and corn nuggets. We got half homestyle and half Sweet and Spicy Love mild. Should have gotten it all with the sauce. Sooooo good. After getting through the first snootfull of unexpected vinegariness we gobbled it downl. Husband kept commenting on how juicy it was. This was a terrific meal. Service was great, everyone was friendly, saw Lou, and food came fast.

                                  Dinner was at Cozy Corner. Not alot to say. It was good- you have to expect chewy, not fall off the bone ribs. We were able to get cornish hen, tho we didnt get there till about 7pm. I thought they would be sold out but no. So that was very good, juicy, tender. Not a bad experience at all but probably 3d place of the total 4 we had bbq on the trip. 4th was 17th Street.

                                  Breakfast on Saturday was Blue Plate downtown. Fun, cheerful place. Food was good. We had standard breakfast fare, eggs slightly over cooked, good biscuits, would return.

                                  Lunch we ended up at Blues City Cafe, 2d and Beale. We were going to go to Central, but we were doing a city tour and had an hour stop on Beale street which I didnt expect, so we ate here. It was actually rated best downtown bbq by the tour guide, 2d was Rendezvous. These ribs were fall off the bone tender, good slaw and really good bbq sausage. That was a first for me and like Ive said, I dont do spicy, so I was wary, but- no, not spicy, just right. I was surprised at how good this place was considering it isnt usually mentioned in all the lists of must do bbq in Memphis etc, but I would recommend and return, especially if you are in downtown.

                                  Dinner was BBQ Shop. Best we ate the whole trip. Split ribs half wet/half dry and bbq baloney sandwich. It was really, really good. I put the cole slaw on myself, being the food chicken that I am, got it on the side, and that just made the sandwich. Don't eat it without the cole slaw! The ribs were super tender, we got them with mild, and ended up putting more on also. Got the rib combo with pulled pork, and it was tender. A really good meal. Would return and rate it best bbq we ate on our trip.

                                  Would return to Memphis again for more----but not in the summer!

                                  -----
                                  Blues City Cafe
                                  138 Beale St, Memphis, TN 38103

                                  Soul Fish Cafe
                                  862 S Cooper St, Memphis, TN 38104

                                  Blue Plate Cafe
                                  5469 Poplar Ave, Memphis, TN 38119

                                  Cozy Corner Restaurant
                                  745 N Parkway, Memphis, TN 38105

                                  The Flying Fish
                                  105 S 2nd St, Memphis, TN 38103

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: aviva5675
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                                    sierraskyesmom RE: aviva5675 Aug 23, 2010 03:37 PM

                                    Glad you had a great trip and survived the heat!

                                    1. re: aviva5675
                                      Its Still Mooing RE: aviva5675 Aug 24, 2010 01:40 PM

                                      Great review, glad you enjoyed the visit.

                                    2. n
                                      nexus77 RE: aviva5675 Aug 27, 2010 02:01 AM

                                      Sorry you missed out on Central's ribs. IMHO these are the best fall off the bone ribs ever. I even introduced some loyal Texas BBQ boys to them and they became converts. The thick dark crust is to die for. Cozy corner has the best chewy ribs, but that isn't really my bag per-se. BBQ shop and Commissary have the best pulled pork unless you can find a guy named Scooter in Mississippi. He has a truck that drives around, but I can never find him.

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