BBQ from Texas to Tennessee




The first stop on our whirlwind BBQ tour of the Southern US was at Dyer’s Bar-B-Que in Amarillo, TX. Dyer’s had some good ribs. The brisket was tough, and the kielbasa was too fatty.  I can’t say that I don’t like Texas Bar-B-Que, because I’ve only had one, but for the one that I have had, I wasn’t too impressed. I’d imagine that to get a real taste of Texas Bar-B-Que, I would need to spend a lot more time than one day, more like a week.  A challenge that I would gladly take up one day.

Dyer’s Bar-B-Que Amarillo, Texas

Our next BBQ stop was in Fort Smith, AK. It’s just over the border of Oklahoma into Arkansas.  The first place that we tried unfortunately was closed. But, we took a picture anyway.

Pink Flamingo BBQ, not open the day we were there.

All I can say is that in hindsight, I am mighty pleased that Pink Flamingo was closed. Because the BBQ joint that we found later that evening was amazing! It was called Whole Hog Cafe. They are the winners of way too many awards to mention, and I found out why. They had a six pack of BBQ sauces sitting on the table. They ranged from sweet to hot to South Carolina mustard based (my favorite) to North Carolina vinegar based, and they were all delicious, but the swine was so good, it could have stood alone.

Whole Hog Cafe in Fort Smith, Arkansas

I had a platter that had a pulled pork sandwich and a half of a rack of baby back ribs. And after I finished that plate, I ordered another half rack of ribs because they were that good!! I’m a sucker for good ribs!!

Whole Hog Cafe, Fort Smith, Arkansas. Damn good ribs!

We got up and drove the entire next day to Memphis, the home of Elvis, Blues music and the dry rub rib. We started out at B.B. Kings Blues Cafe on the corner of Second St. and the famous Beale St. The blues were blaring and the place smelled of hickory…my kind of place. Now even though Memphis is home of the dry rub rib, I opted for some sauce on mine. And since we crossed the Mississippi River from the west, we were able to get our first taste of Yuengling in a while!

BB King’s Blues Club

BB King’s Blues Club, The sauce was a tad bit sweet, but good.

Even my son, Grady, got into the action at BB’s!!

Grady at BB King’s enjoying some ribs!

After we left BB’s we went to Pig on Beale. We saw BBQ trophies in the windows and needed to try what all the Memphis dry rub hype was about.  The flavor was fantastic….but it seemed like my ribs were sitting for too long after they had been in the smoker and were dry.  I was very full and a little disappointed.

Pig on Beale. Flavorful ribs…but were dry.

So after walking around Beale St. for a bit, we decided to try the place that is epitome of Memphis BBQ, Charles Vergos Rendezvous. Now I’ve seen this place on countless BBQ shows and read about them in many books, so needless to say, I was very excited to finally get the chance to go there. You have to walk down a little ally to find this place

Charles Vergos Rendezvous Alley

Legend has it, that some of the staff have been there for over thirty years and the younger guys have only been there for ten to twenty years!

Charles Vergos Rendezvous

This place definitely has history! After eating ALL day long, to be honest I wasn’t even hungry. But we only had a few hours left in Memphis and we wanted to make the most of it.

We started out with the sausage. It was good! Dusted with their rub, served with pickles, saltines and cooked to perfection.

The sausage plate at Charles Vergos Rendezvous

I had to get the ribs. No matter how full I was, it had to be done. And I’m glad I did, kinda. The flavor was out of this world! There was no sauce, just rubbed and some jus on the plate to dip the ribs into. But I must say they certainly weren’t the best that I had that day. They seemed like they needed some more time to cook. They were tough and gristly. Some more time on the charcoal would have done justice to those ribs, in my opinion.

Ribs at Charles Vergos Rendezvous












We were glad that we went and would return to Rendezvous, next time we are in Memphis, to give it another shot. The service and ambiance were great.

Charles Vergos Rendezvous

Our next stop was for lunch while driving across Rt. 40.  We stopped in Dickson, TN. This place was a gem! Bart’s Bar-B-Que and Catfish Cooker.

Bart’s Bar-B-Que and Catfish Cooker

This place had it all! Fantastic ribs, great braised greens, awesome beans and moist cornbread! And the server was as sweet as the tea. I can honestly say, if this place was anywhere near me now, I’d be there a couple of times a week.

Ribs and pulled pork platter at Bart’s Bar-B-Que and Catfish Cooker

My wife, Hayley, got the fried catfish platter, which was crisp and flaky and the mac and cheese was flavorful.  I learned a saying from a Southern “gentleman” couple years back when I asked him how to cook the fish I had recently caught, he said that  ” you can either fry it, or f*#k it up” .  This place must have read the same book.

Catfish platter at Bart’s Bar-B-Que and Catfish Cooker

Grady and me at Bart’s Bar-B-Que and Catfish Cooker

The BBQ Gods shined some light on us and saved the best for last. Our last stop was later that same night at Big Boy’s BBQ.

Big Boy’s BBQ

Unfortunately by the time we got there, they had sold out of ribs.  But that was just fine because the pulled pork was awesome!! The beans were porky, sweet and full of flavor. If I were to ever own a BBQ joint, this would be the role model.

Pulled Pork at Big Boy’s BBQ

Delicious smokey, porky beans at Big Boy’s BBQ

The place was filled with BBQ and pig memorabilia.

Big Boy’s BBQ

Big Boy’s BBQ

So, that was a lot to pack into five days, especially driving across the country with a nine month old. After we left Tennessee, we drove to my family’s home in North Carolina and stayed a few days and cooked some BBQ of our own. Next time we decide to do a tour of BBQ across the South it will be more planned out and over an extended period of time. I imagine that I could spend a few days in each state and still not even scratch the surface of what they each have to offer.

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