Rafferty’s flagship is in Bowling Green, Kentucky and its restaurants can be found throughout a handful of southern states. It may be a chain, but it’s a southern chain. Wood-grilled meats, burgers, and yes, hickory smoked pork ribs are the specialties. Unfortunately, the Rafferty’s here no longer smokes pork shoulder. But when it did, it was very good. There are a couple in Memphis, and the one in Cordova near my house. For years, I’ve been tempted by the sight and aroma of wood smoke pouring from their smokestacks every time I stop for gasoline. I give in and get the ribs occasionally, despite the less meaty bones than what can be found in most Memphis restaurants. But the one guilty pleasure that my family can’t seem to get enough of, is the amazing bacon cheese fries. Better than other restaurant versions of the same, the bacon seems smokier (I’ve often wondered if they give their bacon an additional shot of smoke in their pit), the cheese (colby maybe) is liberally melted onto the fries, the scallions add that onion flavor, which goes so well with bacon and the ranch includes chunky bits of boiled egg and chopped onion and is dusted with a savory cajun seasoning. The fries themselves have the perfect golden brown crispiness on the outside, but tender fluffiness inside. Beyond the scallions, one would be hard-pressed to find any health in these cheesy, smoky, fried morsels of heaven on a plate. But I gotta say, they’re good for the taste buds!
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 mostly tender with a nicely developed crust. The only real downside was the amount of meat on the bones. You’ll pay normal rib prices, but the ribs just don’t have much meat on them, which is also probably why they were slightly dry in a few places. Having said that, the meat was mostly moist and when combined with the sides, made a sufficient meal.
- Shoulder-The Rafferty’s here unfortunately no longer offers smoked pork shoulder, but when it did, it was moist with bark included.
- Ribs-Had really nice wood-smoke flavor.
- Shoulder-The Rafferty’s here unfortunately no longer offers smoked pork shoulder, but when it did, the meat had good wood smoke flavor. The sandwich was served with bbq sauce and pickles instead of the usual bbq sauce and slaw found in Memphis. It still worked well, but I missed my slaw. Another meal included pork shoulder, bbq baked beans and other ingredients piled up high on a plate. I can’t remember what all it had, but I remember that it was really good.
Sauce-Had the standard combination of sweet with some tanginess. It worked well with the smoked meats.
Bacon Cheese Fries-Best I’ve ever had. Read my article above for a description of this guilty pleasure.
Thanks for visiting my Memphis bbq blog! Comments, rants, raves, disagreements and downright bbq feuds are welcome below. Tim Shirley