25-30 June 2015
As during previous trips within the US, I have spent a bit time sampling the barbeque from various parts of the country. Again, I usually use ribs as my gauge on how good the barbeque is, instead of other meats like brisket (of which 90%+ of the time is disappointing). And I love ribs, so this is such a fun thing to do. The previous trips saw some very fine items, from fabulous ribs at Roper’s Ribs in St Louis to the succulent ribs at Biemer’s BBQ in Lawrence, Kansas. This trip brought me from the Mid-South to South Florida, and I happily hit the rib joints everywhere.
The first stop was immediately after arriving in Memphis. Right from the airport I headed to the suburb of Germantown and dropped into Germantown Commissary to get some ribs to go. People rave about this place, and if you rave about ribs in Memphis, it’s gotta be good. I drove quickly to my hotel not far away and opened up my dinner.
It looked good but it didn’t taste very good. The speed that they processed this take-out makes me think it was just re-heated quickly. The meat lacked flavour; the smoking was not smooth, and the meat had that re-heated aspect about it. Wow, what a letdown to start this trek…
The next day I made my way to Little Rock and after a busy morning and early afternoon, I stopped in the middle of town at the local place most popular for their ribs, Sims Bar-B-Que. It was a pretty rough area, with the storefronts graced by metal bars. The doors were entry-exit on different sides (to deter crime), CCTV everywhere (including one employee monitoring it) and they forced everyone to remove even sunglasses inside (as it can be construed a disguise). Wow. But I grabbed some food to go and after a bit of a wait I headed out of there and off to my hotel nearby. I opened up my lunch and smiled…
Instead of full ribs I just grabbed a box of rib tips. I love these things, if done right I can eat them forever. Now these were fabulous, cooked perfectly, with excellent flavour. Just fabulous stuff, with the smoke fully in these morsels with just a tiny bit of sauce on the bottom. Fabulous. I’d risk my safety to come back to Sims again. Nice! Was the best food of the day (considering the odd meal I had at South on Main that night, which I chose not to review…).
The next day I skipped the BBQ heading for Oxford as I just ran out of time, so I did not revisit my ribs quest until the day after when I booked the hell out of that disgusting motel in Oxford. No matter how good that dinner at City Grocery was, that motel just ruined the night for me… I had a busy morning and dropped into a small BBQ shack in a rough part of Memphis called A&R Bar-B-Que. I took some food to go as it was pretty grimey inside, and I headed to my hotel. Damn, room wasn’t ready, so I sat in my rental car and had my lunch.
Luckily I ordered tips again, which made it easier in the car. These were good, with a spicy sauce on top. Meat was not as good as the fabulous stuff from Sims, but it really wokred well with the hot sauce, which made this quite interesting. But they didn’t chop this one up as well, so it was not as simple to eat as the ones from Little Rock. Nevertheless very good.
I ran a few more errands that sad afternoon (Chris Squire RIP) before I had a surprisingly good dinner at Robata. I got quite trashed at the hotel bar that night due to the Chris Squire thing really hitting me, but I had to fly out early in the morning so was just trashed but not smashed… I went to my room and remember I had something else from A&R…
Yep, one of their specials, the smoked turkey leg. I apologise for the photo (and the unnecessarily wrinkly skin) as this thing was sitting wrapped in foil since late morning. But it was delicious, the smoke was very deep and made the leg very tasty. With a touch of hot sauce this was heavenly. Definitely need to eat this hot one day, but even cool it was fantastic! It probably saved me from having the hangover from hell the next morning dealing with that hellish thing called Allegiant Air…
Now in South Florida, I missed the opportunity to have lunch the first day thanks to that aforementioned crap “airline” called Allegiant Air. But a fabulous night at NAOE made it up. The next day was very busy as I headed far north, as far as Jupiter before heading on back. I made two stops then back in Fort Lauderdale, the first was to visit the grave of one of my bass heroes, the tragic Jaco Pastorius…
This has so much more meaning after the Chris Squire news the other day… Then I made a second stop at one of the top BBQ places in the region, Tom Jenkins’ Bar-B-Q. It smelled so good from even blocks away… I got my order after a bit of a wait (reassuring, after that Germantown Commissary “quick” turnaround). I hopped back in my car and booked it back to Miami to my hotel and popped my lunch open…
These ribs may look dry, but they are anything but. It was extremely flavourful, no need any sauce. Excellent meat, fabulous flavour. Totally worth running to Fort Lauderdale for these.
So on this trip I’ve had some poor ribs (Germantown Commissary) and some excellent ribs (Tom Jenkins’), as well as some amazing rib tips (Sims) and some excellent rib tips (A&R) — as well as the smokey and awesome turkey leg (A&R). This just reaffirms my love for BBQ of all sorts, of different meats and methods. I can’t wait for another trip just to have more variety of BBQ!
2290 South Germantown Road
Little Rock, Arkansas
1802 Elvis Presley Boulevard
Tom Jenkins’ Bar-B-Q
1236 South Federal Highway
Fort Lauderdale, Florida