The Best BBQ Joints in Memphis

Memphis is renowned for its rich barbecue culture, where the aroma of slow-cooked pork fills the air and the debate over the best BBQ joint is a local sport. With a tradition steeped in pit-smoked pork and a unique flair for seasoning and sauces, Memphis offers a plethora of outstanding barbecue eateries. From the bustling streets of downtown to the soulful corners of South Memphis, each BBQ spot has its own character and secret recipes that keep both locals and visitors coming back for more. In this article, we’ll explore the top 10 BBQ joints in Memphis that have mastered the art of barbecue, making them must-visit destinations for any BBQ aficionado.

Key Takeaways

  • Memphis is celebrated for its distinctive style of pit barbecue, especially its succulent pork dishes.
  • The top BBQ joints in Memphis are not just about the food; they each offer a unique atmosphere and a piece of Memphis culture.
  • Central BBQ stands out with its highly praised BBQ chicken and a reputation that brings in both locals and tourists.
  • Diverse locations across Memphis mean you’re never too far from a top-rated BBQ spot, whether you’re near Graceland or exploring Midtown.
  • Memphis proudly holds the title of the barbecue capital of the world, with its BBQ trail being a testament to the city’s love for smoked meats.

1. Central BBQ

1. Central BBQ

When it comes to Memphis BBQ, Central BBQ stands out with its mouth-watering array of smoked meats and unique dishes. Diners rave about the pork plate with ‘bark’, the dark, heavily smoked crust that’s a true delicacy for barbecue aficionados. Not to be missed are the homemade potato chips, seasoned to perfection with Central’s special blend.

Here’s what you can expect at Central BBQ:

  • Hickory and pecan smoked meats
  • A variety of plates and sandwiches featuring pork, chicken, brisket, or turkey
  • Vegetarian options like the portabella sandwich with gouda cheese
  • Appetizers such as the BBQ nachos with jalapeños

Central BBQ is also famous for its heaping plates of barbecue nachos, a must-try for any visitor. Whether you opt for the pulled pork, chicken, turkey, or beef brisket, you’re in for a treat.

Central BBQ has multiple locations in the Memphis area, making it a convenient stop no matter where you are in the city.

For those who love to pair their meal with a cold one, Central BBQ offers a selection of beers to wash down the smoky flavors. With its laid-back atmosphere and consistently high-quality food, it’s no wonder Central BBQ has made its mark on the Memphis BBQ scene.

2. The Bar-B-Q Shop

2. The Bar-B-Q Shop

When you step into The Bar-B-Q Shop on Madison Avenue, you’re not just entering a restaurant; you’re becoming part of a legacy that has tantalized taste buds for generations. This family-owned gem is renowned for its unique offerings, like the mouthwatering Texas toast BBQ sandwiches, which are a must-try for any barbecue aficionado. Don’t miss out on their BBQ spaghetti, a Memphis specialty that perfectly complements their half-and-half ribs, showcasing the best of both wet and dry styles.

The Bar-B-Q Shop’s commitment to tradition is evident in every bite, with recipes passed down and perfected over time. Eric Vernon, the current owner, took over to ensure the family’s barbecue legacy continues to thrive, offering a downhome Memphis-style barbecue experience in a cozy Midtown setting.

Here’s a quick glance at what you can expect:

Rating4.0 (796 reviews)
ServicesDelivery, Takeout, Curbside Pickup

Whether you’re a local or just passing through, make sure to gather around for a communal dining experience that celebrates the smoky delights and sweet treats of Memphis’ soul food and BBQ scene.

The Bar-B-Q Shop is consistently one of the best places to get downhome Memphis-style barbecue in an endearing, homey setting.

3. Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous

3. Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous

Charlie Vergos Rendezvous, affectionately known as Rendezvous, is a cornerstone of Memphis barbecue, steeped in history and tradition. Since its inception in the 1940s, Rendezvous has been serving up its signature Memphis-style dry-rubbed ribs that have become a culinary legend. The secret to their success lies in the unique preparation method: ribs are grilled hot and fast over charcoal, a technique pioneered by Charlie Vergos himself using a spice blend inspired by his father’s Greek chili recipe.

Here’s what you can expect when you visit Rendezvous:

  • A vibrant atmosphere filled with the aroma of sizzling ribs.
  • A menu that has evolved from a simple "meat and three" to an array of mouthwatering barbecue delights.
  • The iconic dry rub ribs, which are a must-try for any barbecue enthusiast.

Rendezvous isn’t just about the food; it’s an experience that embodies the soul of Memphis barbecue.

Located at 52 S. Second Street, Rendezvous continues to be a pilgrimage site for rib aficionados. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, make sure to add this historic spot to your Memphis BBQ tour.

4. Cozy Corner

4. Cozy Corner

When you step into the Cozy Corner, you’re stepping into a Memphis BBQ legend that’s been serving up mouthwatering dishes for nearly half a century. Their unique take on BBQ sandwiches, served on hoagie rolls, sets them apart from the rest. Not to mention, their BBQ bologna is a must-try for those looking to deviate from the traditional pork or beef options. With a 4.3 rating from over 400 reviews, it’s clear that Cozy Corner is a beloved staple in the Memphis BBQ scene.

Here’s what you can expect when you visit:

  • A sweet and tangy glaze of sauce on ribs that burst with intense wood-smoke flavor.
  • The option to order your sauce mild, medium, or hot – but be prepared for the medium to leave your lips tingling.
  • An unusual twist on the barbecue sandwich with thin-sliced pork or beef tucked inside long, sesame-topped sub rolls.

Cozy Corner’s commitment to quality and flavor has earned it a spot as a top destination for BBQ enthusiasts. With its single, iconic location at 735 North Parkway, it’s a place where tradition and taste collide to create an unforgettable dining experience.

5. A&R Bar-B-Que

5. A&R Bar-B-Que

A&R Bar-B-Que, a Memphis staple since the early 1980s, is renowned for its freshly cooked and smoked meats. Founded by Andrew and Rose Pollard, this beloved joint has become a local favorite, especially for their pulled pork and rib sandwiches. But don’t let the name fool you; A&R offers a wide variety of porkless options as well, including catfish, kielbasa, and brisket, each prepared with meticulous care and bursting with flavor.

Here’s what you can expect at A&R Bar-B-Que:

  • Tender and juicy pork ribs with pitch-perfect seasoning
  • A selection of dry-rub ribs to savor the smoked meats without sauce
  • Classic sides like crunchy coleslaw and fresh, deep-fried pickled okra
  • The irresistible peach cobbler, made fresh daily from Rose Pollard’s secret recipe

Burying your face in an order of A&R Bar-B-Que’s pork ribs is a heavenly experience; the meat falls off the bone, allowing you to fully enjoy the smoky flavors.

Whether you’re in the mood for a classic BBQ sandwich or something a little different, A&R Bar-B-Que has you covered. With multiple locations, including 3721 Hickory Hill Road and 1802 Elvis Presley Blvd., it’s easy to get your BBQ fix. For more information, visit their website at or call (901) 365-9777.

6. Top’s Bar-B-Q – Union Ave.

6. Top's Bar-B-Q - Union Ave.

When you’re cruising down Union Ave, you can’t miss the opportunity to swing by Top’s Bar-B-Q. This local drive-through spot has been giving the commercial fast food industry a run for its money since 1952. Known for its famous barbecue sandwiches and cheeseburgers, Top’s ensures you don’t even have to leave your car to savor some of the best barbecues in town.

Recently, they’ve spiced up their menu with a new addition: the Fire Braised Chicken Sandwich with Memphis White BBQ Sauce. It’s a must-try that’s already making waves among BBQ aficionados. With generous portions, low prices, and delicious consistency, Top’s has cemented its place as a Memphis staple.

With 17 locations in the Mid-South, Top’s Bar-B-Q is not just a restaurant; it’s a Memphis institution that’s as much a part of the city’s fabric as the vibrant music scene.

Here’s a quick look at what makes Top’s Bar-B-Q a must-visit:

  • Famous for barbecue sandwiches and cheeseburgers
  • Drive-through convenience
  • New menu item: Fire Braised Chicken Sandwich
  • A Memphis staple since 1952
  • Known for generous portions and low prices

Whether you’re a local or just passing through, make sure to add Top’s Bar-B-Q on Union Ave to your Memphis BBQ tour!

7. Leonard’s Pit Barbecue

7. Leonard's Pit Barbecue

Step into the historic realm of Memphis barbecue at Leonard’s Pit Barbecue, where the legacy of mouthwatering meats dates back to 1922. Indulge in the Big Leonard, a generous bun brimming with slow-smoked chopped pork, drenched in Leonard’s mild, tangy, house-made sauce. Pair it with their freshly breaded and deep-fried onion rings for a truly satisfying meal. For rib aficionados, the full slab of pork ribs, available wet or dry, is a must-try, each style boasting its own unique flavor profile.

Don’t forget to treat yourself to a slice of the old-fashioned lemon icebox pie, a perfect balance of sweet and citrusy to round off your meal. With a rich history that includes serving icons like Elvis, Leonard’s has cemented its place as a mecca of Memphis barbecue.

Leonard’s Pit Barbecue isn’t just a restaurant; it’s a journey through the heritage of Memphis’s culinary excellence.

Here’s what you need to know before you go:

  • Price Range: $$ – $$$
  • Rating: 4.5 / 5 (214 reviews)
  • Detailed Ratings: Food (4.0/5), Service (4.5/5), Value (4.5/5), Atmosphere (4.0/5)
  • Type of Cuisine: American, Barbecue
  • Address: 5465 Fox Plz Dr, Memphis, TN 38115-1501

For a twist on tradition, try their barbecue Raviolis or the crispy catfish, each dish showcasing Leonard’s innovative approach to classic flavors.

8. Blues City Cafe

8. Blues City Cafe

At Blues City Cafe, located on the iconic Beale Street, you’re in for more than just a meal; you’re in for an experience. With a 4.0 rating from over 3,000 reviews, this place is a testament to Memphis’ rich culinary tradition. The atmosphere is as savory as the food, with live music often complementing the smoky flavors of their famous dishes.

  • Type of cuisine: American, Barbecue
  • Price range: $$ – $$$
  • Address: 138 Beale St, Memphis, TN 38103-3712

Here’s a quick glance at what patrons think:


The Best Meal on Beale Combination Platter is a crowd favorite, offering a taste of everything that makes Blues City Cafe special. Open from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m., it’s the perfect spot for both early birds and night owls. Whether you’re here for the barbecue or the blues, you won’t be disappointed.

Remember, it’s not just about the food; it’s the whole vibe of Memphis that you’ll find at Blues City Cafe.

9. One & Only BBQ

9. One & Only BBQ

Though it was only founded in the early 2010s, One & Only BBQ has quickly become a staple in the Memphis barbecue scene. The secret to their success? Hickory-smoked meats that are marinated for 24 hours, creating a rich taste that’s hard to forget. Their ribs will leave a lasting impression, but don’t miss out on the BBQ quesadillas—they’re a fan favorite. And for those with a sweet tooth, Millie’s banana pudding is the perfect way to round off your meal.

Here’s what you need to know about One & Only BBQ:

  • Rating: 4.5 / 5 (385 reviews)
  • Cuisine: American, Barbecue
  • Price Range: $$ – $$$

If you’re planning a party, consider their sausage and cheese plate—it’s a hit. And did you know? In 2022, guests devoured 8,000 half pans of their Bread Pudding. That’s a testament to its deliciousness!

One & Only BBQ is recognized as one of the top five joints in the city, with meats smoked for 15 to 24 hours on 100% hickory wood.

Whether you’re craving delicious sandwiches, unforgettable ribs, or their famous twice baked potato salad, One & Only BBQ is a must-visit for any barbecue enthusiast.

10. Corky’s Ribs & BBQ

10. Corky's Ribs & BBQ

Corky’s Ribs & BBQ has been a beloved institution in Memphis since the 1980s, offering a menu that’s both classic and inventive. The ribs at Corky’s are simply unforgettable, with a flavor that has been perfected over decades. Not only are the ribs a must-try, but the pulled pork sandwiches, nachos, and unique dishes like pulled pork salad, tamales, and catfish nuggets also stand out.

Corky’s resilience is as legendary as its food; not even a devastating fire could stop them from serving the community. Remember to grab an extra order of their famous rolls before you leave. If you’re feeling adventurous, try their Delta-style hot tamales and chili—a dish that might just have you questioning your family recipes.

Corky’s continues to be a Memphis barbecue staple, with multiple locations ensuring that great barbecue is never far away.

Here’s a quick look at what makes Corky’s special:

  • Unforgettable ribs
  • Classic pulled pork sandwiches
  • Inventive dishes like tamales and catfish nuggets
  • A history of resilience and community service
  • Multiple locations for easy access


As we wrap up our savory journey through the best BBQ joints in Memphis, it’s clear that the city’s reputation as the barbecue capital of the world is well-deserved. From the smoky flavors of Central BBQ to the mouthwatering ribs at The Bar-B-Q Shop, each establishment offers a unique taste of Memphis’ rich culinary tradition. Whether you’re a local or just passing through, make sure to indulge in the succulent pork products, pit barbecue, and the diverse array of sauces and sides that make Memphis BBQ a true American treasure. Remember, this isn’t just about eating; it’s about experiencing a piece of Memphis culture. So grab some napkins, your appetite, and dive into any of these must-try spots—you won’t regret it!

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Memphis BBQ unique?

Memphis BBQ is unique for its focus on pork products, including ribs, shoulders, and tips, and the traditional method of slow cooking the meat in a pit, known as ‘pit barbecue’.

Is Memphis considered the barbecue capital of the world?

Yes, Memphis is often referred to as the barbecue capital of the world, renowned for its rich barbecue culture and history.

What are some must-try BBQ joints in Memphis for visitors?

Visitors must try Central BBQ, The Bar-B-Q Shop, Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, Cozy Corner, and A&R Bar-B-Que, among others.

Can you find good BBQ in different neighborhoods of Memphis?

Absolutely, Memphis boasts excellent BBQ options across various neighborhoods, from South Memphis to East Memphis, Midtown, and the suburbs.

Are there any BBQ joints near Memphis attractions like Graceland?

Yes, there are several BBQ joints near Memphis attractions such as A&R Bar-B-Que and Leonard’s Pit Barbecue near Graceland.

What should I try at a Memphis BBQ restaurant?

When visiting a Memphis BBQ restaurant, you should try the smoked pork ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, and BBQ chicken, all staples of Memphis-style BBQ.

Do Memphis BBQ joints offer options for outdoor seating and takeout?

Many Memphis BBQ joints offer outdoor seating and takeout options, allowing you to enjoy your meal in a variety of settings.

How do I choose the best BBQ joint in Memphis for my taste?

Choosing the best BBQ joint in Memphis depends on your personal taste preferences. Consider the type of BBQ you enjoy, the atmosphere, and recommendations from locals or reviews.

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