On our way to take my nephew, Michael to Freed-Hardeman College in Henderson, TN, we stopped at the Bar-B-Q Store, right on Highway 64 as we passed through Whiteville, TN. I’d stopped in a year or so before, but having already eaten I just went in to check it out. The walls were decorated with carved metal silhouettes of country life, along with UT décor. I asked to speak with the owner, because I was also interested in his bbq concessions trailer parked out front. The cashier sent me around to the back of the store, where I found the owner, a well-fed older man in overalls about to dig into a wonderfully charred piece of meat, a charcoal pit-grilled steak. I introduced myself and enquired about the rig, which he told me was not for sale. I also got to see the really huge smoke-filled bbq pits, parked outside where we were in back of the place. After a short chat, we were on our way and I was regretting that I’d already eaten.
In the summer of 2009 we made our way back on our way to the university. Michael made the mistake of grabbing some fast food before we made it to the Bar-B-Q Store, but my wife and I waited for the good stuff. Angelica ordered the bbq beef brisket sandwich and I had the ribs. Despite the fact that we live in pork country, my wife prefers smoked
beef brisket. We took a bbq tour through a handful of places in Texas in ’08, and she’s been a fan ever since. In 2011 we toured through Kansas City, where we fell in love with KC’s smoked beef brisket offering as well-burnt ends. We both enjoy smoked beef, but it’s no surprise to me that she prefers beef over pork, since she grew up on wood-grilled carne asada (steak tacos). After sampling her brisket, I was delightfully surprised to discover really good smoked beef this side of the Mason Dixon line. Texas and Kansas City have perfected barbecue beef brisket (and K. C. has their pork ribs as well), while the emphasis in Memphis and west Tennessee is on bar-b-q pork shoulder and ribs. It’s hard to find really good beef brisket here, but The Bar-B-Q Store was smokin’ up some mighty tasty beef-not bad at all for a Tennessee bbq joint. The meat was tender, had some decent smokiness, a well-developed bark (outer crust) and was complimented by the slightly sweet, slightly spicy bbq sauce (sorry ‘bout that Texans).
The lightly crusted and well-seasoned Tennessee ribs were also good. The meat had decent smokiness and was complimented by the sauce. I had to scrape off a small layer of fat on one side of my ribs, but underneath were tasty, succulently tender ribs with great meaty flavor. I enjoyed making a sandwich out of the ribs, which was complimented by the sauce and slaw. On our next trip to The Bar-B-Q Store, I plan to check out their pork shoulder sandwich and maybe some of those crispy battered and deep fried green beans I saw a picture of in the windowsill.
Update: Unfortunately, The Bar-B-Q Store is now closed.
Don’t miss my Quick-Fire Guide below. Also check out full reviews and Quick-Fire Guides of other bbq restaurants from my BBQ Guide.
Here are a few notes about the ‘que:
- Ribs-were tender and moist. Part of the ribs were covered in a layer of fat, but mostly the meat had a nice well-seasoned crust.
- Beef Brisket-was moist and tender, but not mushy. The beef had proper integrity.
- Ribs-had nice smoke flavor.
- Beef Brisket-had nice smoke flavor.
Sauce-was slightly sweet and slightly spicy. It complimented the smoked meats.
Thanks for visiting my Memphis bbq blog! Comments, rants, raves, disagreements and downright bbq feuds are welcome below. Tim Shirley