For well over a decade now, I’ve made a practice of asking around to discover every nook and cranny in the Memphis bbq universe. Over time, people learned that I was always looking for the next bbq adventure. Several years ago, a colleague asked if I’d been to Tom’s BBQ. It was new to me at the time, so I decided to take the boys, who were wee little sprites then (they’re teens now). Walking up, we saw an outdoor patio and smokestacks, which are
always a good sign for a bbq joint. Entering in, we snaked around through an indoor patio as well, before actually getting into the restaurant to place our order. Glass cases on the left showcased deli foods, such as rag bologna and hoop cheese. An array of desserts were also on display there. Straight ahead from there, were the southern sides, such as mac and cheese, corn bread, beans, yams, deviled eggs and greens. From soul food offerings, to old school deli and desserts, to pit-smoked meats, Tom’s BBQ and Deli has the potential to be a comfort food paradise. From my personal experiences, however, the barbecue has been hit and miss. For more details about what I did and didn’t like, 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:
- On my first visit years ago, I stopped in with my boys after learning of the bbq joint from a work colleague. My spare ribs were very moist and tender. The deep brown bark had a wonderfully developed flavor and the six huge bones of my half slab were so long that the breadth was the same as the length, making one delicious, perfect square of smoky ribs.
- On my second visit, after Tom’s appeared on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri, I tried the rib tips on Guy’s recommendation. They were tender enough to eat without struggle, but I thought the greek-inspired seasoning overpowered the meat. I like this type of seasoning,
similar to the one made by Rendezvous, just with a lighter hand.
- On my most recent return in the summer of 2016, I had ribs again. These were mostly tender, but quite dry and I thought the bark was a little too charred. Note: I also ordered them dry, but was mistakenly served wet ribs, with the exception of a buried bone that didn’t get covered. I was offered another order, but decided to roll with it.
- On that first visit, when my boys were small (they’re teens now), they had the sandwich, which I sampled. The meat was moist and included tiny bits of crust mixed throughout. All of this combined with sauce and slaw made a tasty bbq sandwich, although I prefer more tanginess for any smoked pork sandwich.
- On my second visit (after DDD), I tried the rib tips on Guy’s recommendation. They were tender enough to eat without struggle.
- On my first visit, the ribs had nice smoke flavor.
- On my second visit (after DDD), the rib tips lacked any discernable smoke flavor.
- On my most recent visit in the summer of 2016, my ribs had a visibly pink smoke ring, which should’ve been an indication of finely smoked meat. But these ribs had only slight smoke flavor. I imagine that these ribs were a couple of days old, since they were also dry. Fresh off the pit, they most likely had good smoke flavor, but what you get in an order seems to be a bit of a gamble. It wouldn’t hurt to ask if they have ribs smoked on the day of your visit, or perhaps overnight.
- Shoulder-The shoulder had decent smoke flavor, but would’ve enjoyed more.
- Rib Tips-On my second visit (after DDD), I tried the rib tips on Guy’s recommendation. Mine were smokeless and I thought the excessive amount of seasonings covered up the flavor of the pork.
Sauce-Is a standard, sweet and tangy bbq sauce. I enjoyed it for the ribs and it complimented the sandwich OK, although I prefer more tanginess for any smoked pork sandwich.
Mac-N-Cheese-was creamy, cheesy and delicious.
Deviled Eggs-Were basic, southern deviled eggs-just the way I like ’em.
Thanks for visiting my Memphis bbq blog! Comments, rants, raves, disagreements and downright bbq feuds are welcome below. Tim Shirley