Check out my Quick-Fire Guide below and don’t miss full reviews and Quick-Fire Guides of other bbq restaurants from my BBQ Guide.
Several years before Malia’s bbq shack was born, Gregory Graham was already stoking his roadside pit with wood, smokin’ up barbecued meats in Memphis. A real estate agent/pit-master, Mr. Graham worked out of a his pit, his truck and a cooler. That was it. That was his “food truck.” But back then Memphis ordinances relegated food trucks and concessions to events such as county fairs and the like. The only way to
get roadside pit food just like the ones so common in Memphis back in the old days, was to find one on the weekend when city code enforcement offices were closed. Fast forward a few years later after the food truck explosion in the U.S. thanks to the Food Network. Memphis finally dropped the ridiculous ordinances preventing food truck culture and Malia’s “food truck” was born. It’s really more of a mobile concession booth, but it has most of the elements of a food truck.
Named after his granddaughter, Gregory Graham’s roadside pits now smoke fine meats many days of the week. One only needs to follow him on Facebook. Blake and I stopped by during the summer of 2015 and picked up some ‘que for the first time since Mr. Graham upgraded to the food truck. Just as before, smoke rolled from the pits and beautifully crusted, succulent meats were displayed right on the grill grates like a buffet of smoked meats tempting even the most devout vegetarians. This smoked pork buffet included: ribs, smoked pork shoulder, smoked bologna, rib tips, sausages, and more-it was all there.
Just like my first experience, we loved it. The pork had amazing smoke, bark, succulent juiciness-everything I love about perfectly barbecued meats. I walked up to Mr. Graham while he was working his pits and handed him the same real estate business card that he’d given me several years before. We reminisced about his simple beginnings, but I’ve yet to learn why he places a Sprite can in his pit. He assured me that he would explain it next time. My best guess is that it’s there to provide added evaporative moisture. I’ll be sure to update, once he shares his secret. Until then, read my Quick-Fire Guide below for a quick rundown of what we liked about Malia’s barbecue.
Here are a few notes about the ‘que:
- Ribs-On both occasions my ribs were perfectly tender-easy to pull apart and meat pulled easily and cleanly from the bones. It’s also important to note that the meat was not only tender, but also quite juicy.
- Shoulder-was tender, juicy and not at all mushy.
- Ribs-had a wonderfully full wood smoke flavor, but not bitter. Gregory Graham delivers the kind of smoke flavor I like. People talk about the meat being “kissed” by the smoke. I want my meat married to the smoke. I want it right up to the edge of too much smoke, but not yet too much. For those who are not afraid of full wood smoked flavor, Gregory Graham’s gotcha covered.
- Shoulder-had a wonderfully full wood smoke flavor, but not bitter. Gregory Graham delivers the kind of smoke flavor I like. People talk about the meat being “kissed” by the smoke. I want my meat married to the smoke. I want it right up to the edge of too much smoke, but not yet too much. For those who are not afraid of full wood smoked flavor, Gregory Graham’s gotcha covered.
Sauce–was a nice balance of sweet and tangy. It allowed the pork to shine.
Slaw–was a delicious crunchy mustard slaw that complimented the pork very well.
Thanks for visiting my Memphis bbq blog! Tim Shirley
One of the most memorable birthdays in my life. I have been stuff in a truck for days, we passed the most amazing smell ever on the way to drop off at the post office. We stopped at the corner where the smoke was calling our names. The owner was wonderful. We order our food and he offered us a few bites of some interesting delicacy.. I remember being for part of and onion he had used for the smell. I started to snow and we were both trying to get into one jacket.. The lovely owner was laughing as he handed us our plates of heaven. By far the best bbq, and one of the best experiences.
How can I find out what days malias will be open I would like to be there Sunday August
Thanks for visiting! Malia’s has a Facebook page. I believe they’ve listed their number there, but you can always message them. The owner is Gregory Graham. If you go, you’ll be enjoying a little known Memphis bbq gem.