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One BBQ dinner in Memphis - A&R, BBQ Shop, Central, or Corky's for ribs?

I'm in Memphis next week for business for a tragically short time, which means one late dinner out. (I'm hoping to at least order takeout lunch from Alcenia's to get some Southern/soul food in as well.)

This California girl has never been to Tennessee before, much less Memphis. Where I live, BBQ is crap, so I can't wait to try some Memphis BBQ. I'm leaning towards ribs but want to keep my options open.

My research on this board has helped me narrow it down to three: BBQ Shop, Central, and A&R (Elvis Presley Blvd.--mostly for convenience, since I'm staying near Graceland). My client has recommended Corky's, which seems to get mixed reviews here. I will have a rental car.

Here's the twist: a few posts on this board have got me slightly paranoid about safety. Generally, I'm pretty easygoing about that, but since I don't know the area and am a woman traveling alone late'ish at night, I thought I'd reach out and ask: which would you recommend as meeting these three criteria: 1) great ribs, good all-around; 2) easy to find by car; and 3) has parking right by the restaurant if the restaurant is safe but in a dicey-ish area?

TIA!

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  1. Post your question on the Trip Advisor Tennessee forum and you will get some good help. I would not stay around Graceland. Stay downtown and visit Beale Street. You can get good ribs at Rendezvous. I would go to Central. There's plenty of parking next door.

    The best BBQ in Memphis, TN can be found at A & R. BBQ Shop, Central, Rendezvous, Cozy Corner, Interstate, Neely's, One and Only and Payne's.
    A & R Bar B Que @ 1802 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN. 901 - 774 - 7444.
    http://www.aandrbbq.com/
    BBQ Shop @ 1782 Madison Ave., Memphis, TN. 901 - 272 - 1277.
    http://www.dancingpigs.com/
    Central BBQ @ 2249 Central Ave., Memphis, TN. 901 - 272 - 9377.
    Charlie Vergo's Rendezvous @ 52 S. Second St., Memphis, TN. 901 - 523 - 2746.
    http://www.hogsfly.com/
    Cozy Corner @ 745 N. Parkway, Memphis, TN. 901 - 527 - 9158.
    http://www.cozycornerbbq.com/
    Interstate BBQ @ 2265 S. Third St., Memphis, TN. 901 - 775 - 2304.
    http://www.interstatebarbecue.com/
    Neely's BBQ @ 670 Jefferson St., Memphis, TN. 901 - 521 - 9798.
    http://www.neelysbbq.com/
    One and Only BBQ @ 1779 Kirby Pkwy., Memphis, TN 901 - 751 - 3615.
    http://www.oneandonlybbq.com/
    Paynes BBQ @ 1762 Lamar Ave., Memphis, TN. 901 - 272 - 1523.
    The BBQ Shop and One and Only are my favorites but Payne's is famous for their pulled pork sandwich.
    Incidentally Interstate BBQ in Southaven, MS just reopened after a huge renovation.
    Interstate BBQ @ 150 Stateline Road W, Southaven, MS. 662 - 393 - 5699.
    10 Bone's BBQ @ 5960 Getwell Rd # 126, Southaven, MS 662 - 890 - 4472.
    http://www.10bonesbbq.com/
    Germantown Commissary is outstanding if you get out E.
    Germantown Commissary @ 2290 S. Germantown Rd., Germantown, TN. 901 - 754 - 5549.
    http://www.commissarybbq.com/

    1. If you stay near Graceland you might consider Marlowe's. They have a car that picks up patron's at their hotels. Good luck.

      Marlowe's Restaurant and Ribs @ 4381 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, TN. 901 - 332 - 4159.
      http://marlowesmemphis.com/

      1. Littleman and I have addressed the staying-near-Graceland issue before. I suspect that if you are in Memphis on business, you are staying near Graceland because that is where you are doing business. But if not, I would suggest you stay downtown or in East Memphis, both of which are safer and nicer than the area around Graceland. Either Central or BBQ Shop are excellent and superior to Corky's. They are also safe and easy to find. Go to the Central BBQ on Central Ave, not Summer.

        Enjoy your visit.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Michael H

          Thanks much, gentlemen. I know you get a lot of questions about BBQ in Memphis and appreciate you answering mine.

          It's a long story, but I do need to stay near Graceland. However, the hotel itself sounds like it's safe per TripAdvisor.

          I'm looking forward to checking out Central or BBQ Shop. Keeping my fingers crossed that the plane gets in on time!

          1. re: gracie92108

            Central and BBQ Shop would be my first two choices. They are actually not too far from each other. They both have great ribs, but I think Central are a little bit better. That being said, I think BBQ Shop has a better sandwich (it comes on Texas toast but you can request it on a bun), but you can't go wrong with either place.

        2. I can tell you of a quirky kind of place that's really good for lunch--Colletta's Restaurant on South Parkway. It's on South Parkway East (exit 28A off I-240) that goes due north out of the Elvis Presley Blvd. area. The restaurant is right beside I-240 on the right going north.

          When I lived in Memphis, we'd go there weekly for their barbeque pizza and salad lunch special. It was especially tasty--and one of my favorite lunch places.

          I promise you won't find barbeque pizza anywhere but Memphis. I love the stuff.

          Another great place for BBQ is the buffet at Leonard's--the original Memphis BBQ restaurant.
          Go East on I-240 to the Mount Moriah south exit--turn right; Go right on Mendenhall (fork in road) right past Dobbs Ford. Take the first left on Fox Plaza Drive and it's on the right. The BBQ is to die for, and the ribs are very underrated.

          Be careful around the airport/Elvis Presley Blvd. area, and don't travel alone at night around there.

          1. Changing the subject just a bit, can anyone tell me the BBQ place that you go downstairs and they have the red brick walls adorned with photos? My dad is passing through Memphis next week and I wanted to send him there. Thanks.

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