Payne’s BAR-B-Q

Posted by on May 14, 2015

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fire icon10Quick-Fire Guide: (Check back in the future for the full review)


I’ve been to this old service station-turned-bbq joint a couple of times. Mrs. Payne was kind enough to allow me to take some photos on my second visit. As a bbq judge, I had the pleasure of meeting Claire Robinson of the Food Network show Five Ingredient Fix while she acted as a celebrity guest judge at the Memphis In May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest a couple of years ago. I’d already seen her review of Payne’s BAR-B-Q on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, and she sang their praises once again, as we discussed some of our favorite Memphis bbq joints. Read my notes of Payne’s BAR-B-Q below, but stay tuned for a full review in the future:

Payne’s BAR-B-Q in an Old Service Station on Lamar Ave in Memphis

Payne’s BAR-B-Q in an Old Service Station on Lamar Ave in Memphis


  • The pork shoulder was tender with just a bit of chew, but enjoyably so-more suited for chopping. Think-nicely tender grilled pork chop, chopped and served on a sandwich with sauce and slaw. I love that the meat stays on the shoulder until ordered. It literally goes from the shoulder right out of the pit, right to the sandwich.
  • The ribs were tender, but a touch dry. I may have gotten some that had been held for a while. I had them on my first visit, which was some years ago.

Smoke-The meat had mild, balanced smoke flavor. Smoke source appeared to be from meat dripping over the coals.


  • The pork shoulder-The exterior of the meat had a nicely developed crusty bark, which mixed throughout the more tender interior to create enjoyable contrast in texture.
  • The ribs had a nice golden  brown crust.

Sauce-Sweet, but balanced. Slight acidity. Near candy apple red color-may include grenadine. I like that it remains warm on a home stove, ready to be mopped onto the meat at service.

Slaw-Mustard slaw provides nice acidity and balances the sandwich. The contrast of the bright red sauce and the bright yellow slaw created a visually enticing.

Thanks for visiting my Memphis bbq blog! Tim Shirley


Payne’s Chopped Shoulder Sandwich with Mustard Slaw

Payne’s Chopped Shoulder Sandwich with Mustard Slaw

Payne's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

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6 Responses to Payne’s BAR-B-Q

  1. Thomas O'Brien

    Good review. I have to go back again soon.
    Maybe not the BEST but unique and very good!

    • Tim Shirley

      I also had the ribs on my first visit years ago. They were good, but I the sandwich more. I have so many reviews to write and photos to post and I’m often going to new places, that I decided to start posting these ‘Notes and Photos’ posts as I gradually write the full reviews. My site is, after all, intended to be a guide. So I’ve decided to get guides up for every bbq restaurant on my list (of the ones still open) as quickly as I can. I’ll be judging at the Memphis In May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest on Saturday Thomas. Will you be there?

      • Thomas O'Brien

        I saw this post to late to reply but no I wasn’t there. I’m too old and slow for such large crowds anymore.
        A couple of other thoughts though. I see Fat Larry’s on your list bit not Elwood’s Shack.
        I got a take-out order of ribs from Fat Larry’s many years ago and my memory fails me but I remember them as being pretty good. I went again about a year ago and ironically ordered a Cheeseburger. It was good but of course not Barbecue. I did just see a picture of their pork sandwich on Yelp that intrigued me. It looked huge, meaty and tempting so I must try them again.
        My thoughts on Elwood’s. I have been a few times. I had the pork sandwich once with their spicy slaw. It was a near perfect sandwich. Beef brisket sandwich I had twice. Both times it was excellent (I did remove the pickles though.) Without doubt the best brisket in Memphis.
        Ribs one time, ordered dry. They were very good. Smokey with a nice ring and Al Dente, pulled easily from the bone but not fall off the bone.
        The wings I have had 4 times. First time I would have rated them as the best, served with a slice of grilled pineapple that was a really nice touch. Second batch of wings were okay. Third batch was again very good. Fourth batch was horrible. Perhaps the worst smoked wing ever which has made me reluctant to try them again.
        I also sampled a friends pork nachos on my last visit and they were a wonderful surprise. Again this visit I opted for a bacon cheeseburger (I have a burger fetish also) but this one will blow you away.
        So in time my friend I hope to hear your opinion on these restaurants.
        Thanks for your blog and informative reviews.

        • Tim Shirley

          I actually have been to Elmwood’s Shack. Somehow, I inadvertently labeled it as Elmwood Grill. Don’t ask me how that happened. By the time you read this I will have corrected it. Thanks. I have been twice and have photos of ribs and a shoulder sandwich. They offer two types of slaw. I opted for the unique one for something a little different. It was made with purple cabbage and blue cheese dressing. I’ll post more details soon. I learned of Elmwood’s Shack from my son’s soccer coach. Next time I go, I want to try the fish tacos or the beef brisket tacos. Since I know you like brisket, I had some good brisket at Memphis Barbecue Co. in Southaven. It’s hard to find good brisket here. The best I’ve had has been in Texas, Kansas City and ahem…my backyard. Speaking of Memphis Barbecue Co., I judged Yazoo Delta Q, Melissa Cookston’s team this year. She and John Wheeler of Natural Born Grillers co-own the restaurant. I actually judged his team last year. He had a restaurant named after his team (NBG) at Snowden Grove in Southaven, but it didn’t last. I did make it there while they were open, though. Next, another team, 10 Bones BBQ opened there. I went to that one as well, then they closed. Anyway, Memphis In May was great. The winner was The Shed from Ocean Springs, MS. I’ve been to their restaurant too down on the Gulf Coast. The meat had no smoke flavor, at least on that visit. Probably because he was away competing, leaving youngsters to run it in his absence. Who knows? Again, thanks Thomas. Take care and feel free to look me up on Facebook. I have an account for the site.

          • Thomas O'Brien

            Okay Tim,
            Now let’s get this right. It is Elwood’s Shack not Elmwood’s, no M in it.
            Again ” Elwood’s Shack.” LOL.

  2. Tim Shirley

    Oh crud! OK. Why stop there? Why don’t I just insert a Z or even character from the Greek alphabet! LOL While I’m at it, I could just rewrite the whole menu! Thanks again, again. I’ll change it.

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