Your mouth already waters when you think of Memphis barbecue: smoky pulled pork and fall-off-the-bone ribs. But what about the rest of your meal?
Work up an appetite learning about Memphis' Southern-style greens, delectable mac 'n' cheese, unique cole slaw, potato salad, and baked beans—just a few underrated ways to enjoy a plate of Memphis BBQ like the locals do.
For something truly unique, head to Elwood's Shack and order the special blue cheese and jalapeño slaw. While they serve "regular" cole slaw as well, this extra special version uses ingredients you'd never think of: purple cabbage, slices of spicy jalapeño, and chunks of Maytag blue cheese for a punch of flavor. This slaw goes well with their traditional BBQ dishes as well as atop their uber-popular steelhead trout fish taco, a burger, or an all-beef grilled hot dog.
In Memphis, we insist that you order your sandwich "with slaw" and maybe even an extra order of it on the side. At Payne's their slaw is mustard-based and therefore unique in a land of mayo-based slaws. It's an absolute must to have served atop your pile of chopped pork and between two soft white bread buns. Or order it as a side to your ribs (served sopping with tangy sauce or dry rubbed).
Central BBQ's Mac 'n' Cheese
For that homemade Velveeta-like, thick mac 'n' cheese, head to one of Central BBQ's three area locations and order this as a side dish. The perfectly cooked macaroni pasta, each piece coated generously with the cheese sauce, will make your mouth water just thinking about it. Even better, Central sprinkles a dusting of their BBQ rub on top for an extra jolt of flavor. Order Central BBQ's macaroni and cheese as a side to a pulled pork sandwich, BBQ nachos, or the ever-popular smoked hot wings.
Marlowe's Baked Mac 'n' Cheese
Marlowe's near Graceland in Memphis take its mac 'n' cheese and does the only thing to a bowl of carbs and cheese that could possibly make it better: puts it in the oven with extra cheese to make a crispy crust on top. Try it with some of their famous ribs, and some fried okra to round it all out.
Lunchbox Eats Mac 'n' Cheese
While it's not specifically a barbecue restaurant, the Southern and soul food fusion of the style of food at Lunchbox Eats includes a smoked pork butt sandwich that is topped—not with slaw as previously mentioned—but with a generous heaping pile of their macaroni and cheese. This version is made with three kinds of cheese: cheddar, parmesan, and cottage cheese for extra creaminess.
You can also, of course, order Lunchbox Eat's mac 'n' cheese to go with one of their other sandwiches or entrees (such as the Holiday Chicken Salad, served on cornbread instead of traditional bread or croissant). Take in the atmosphere of the old-school schoolhouse-inspired restaurant while you're there and if you have any room left, take some pie.
One & Only BBQ's Two Kinds of Potato Salad
Here, you can go for either the twice-baked loaded potato salad, which is sour-cream based, or the more traditional mustard-based version. For the twice-baked potato salad, expect a creamy, rich scoop of white-colored salad. For the mustard-based version expect a more tangy, sharp flavor in your side. This goes very well with any of One & Only's meats, especially their dry-rubbed ribs or the thinly sliced tender brisket.
What on earth is BBQ spaghetti? It's simply a variation on the traditional spaghetti bolognese. Instead of a tomato sauce, you have barbecue sauce, and instead of ground beef or meatballs, you add pulled pork.
The Bar-B-Q Shop claims to have inherited the original recipe for this iconic side dish from the original owners, the Vincents. When the Vernon's took over the business in the 1980s, they kept this noodle-y delight on the menu and perfected it. While of course the full recipe is a secret, it's clear that the sauce isn't just straight Dancing Pigs sauce (the Bar-B-Q Shop's proprietary sauce that you can also order online) but a modified version that better fits the slow-smoked meat and tender spaghetti.
While the owners of Interstate claim to have received the same original BBQ spaghetti recipe from the Vincents, they have also perfected the recipe and made it their own.