Memphis-style ribs - Creation Studios

Memphis-Style Ribs

Photo by Creation Studios

"Not Since Adam Has a Rib Been This Famous"

- Charlie Vergos

Memphis is known as the Pork Barbecue Capital of the World – and for good reason. What started as a basic technique of tenderizing tougher cuts of pork by slow-roasting, has now lead to more than 100 barbecue joints and a world-famous barbecue cooking contest. We have no problem saying that the best ribs are in Memphis. 

The term “barbecue” means different things to different people. While some think of it as a mere cooking technique, here in Memphis, we consider barbecue one of the basic food groups. There’s pulled pork sandwiches, barbecue nachos and spaghetti, but our ribs are in a category of their own. Ribs are slow-smoked over open coal pits for hours on end until the charred exterior reveals a pinkish line of succulent, velvety meat that literally falls off the bone. There’s no place on earth that does it better than Memphis. We smoke the competition. 

Memphis-style ribs - Creation Studios
Memphis Barbecue Ribs - Justin Fox Burks
Memphis in May Barbecue Cooking Contest - Marvin Garcia
Sweet, smoky barbecue is in the air

Every pitmaster has their grilling technique down to a science. But, that’s where similarities can end. It’s all about the sauce. Some ‘que joints serve their ribs with a tangy, sweet sauce while others prefer a dry rub.
 
So, let’s talk spices. Most dry rub begins with a combination of paprika, black pepper, cayenne and brown sugar. Then individual taste and creativity takes the basics to the next level. In fact, grillmasters face off each year at the Memphis In May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest to battle for prizes and bragging rights for achieving the best technique, texture and flavor.
 
Then, there are those who want the best of both worlds and opt for muddy: dry-rubbed ribs slathered in a thick sweet sauce. We’re talking drip-down-your-chin happiness.  
 
When you’re scouting for the best ribs in Memphis, don’t expect fancy. Most joints may look like a hole-in-the-wall, but the lingering aroma of sweet, smoky barbecue invites you to the table where etiquette is thrown aside for the finger-licking goodness that awaits. 

Where to find the best ribs in Memphis

THE BAR-B-Q SHOP
Serving real pit barbecue for over 60 years

PIG ON BEALE
Hickory smoked ribs cooked on outdoor smoker

CHARLIE VERGOS' RENDEZVOUS
Serving dry-rubbed ribs since 1948

BLUES CITY CAFE
Featured on The Food Network's Bobby Flay Show

CORKY'S RIBS & BBQ
Ribs are cooked low and slow over hickory chips

CENTRAL BBQ
Often voted #1 barbecue in Memphis

LEONARD'S PIT BARBECUE
Servings ribs since 1922

POLLARD'S BBQ
Lip-smacking bar-b-que on Elvis Presley Boulevard

JIM 'N NICK'S BAR-B-Q
Ribs are cooked Southern style: low and slow

TOM'S BARBEQUE & DELI
Serving around 2,000 customers daily

SCHWEINEHAUS BBQ
Bringing customers together over pork and beer

The Best BBQ is in Memphis