Central BBQ – Central Avenue Location
2249 Central Ave.
Every Southern State (and sorry purists, I include Texas in the South – well, when it comes to BBQ anyway) believes their version of BBQ is the best. In travelling from State to State, I’ve come to recognize that the differences are not as great as they would have you believe. Yes, there are very fine differences in flavours, sauces, and ingredients, but most people would have a difficult time discerning these. These days, there has been so much cross-pollination of ideas and accessibility of ingredients, that i find BBQ is more about style, skill, and choice.
The greatest differences in BBQ come down to two key things: wet or dry, and choice of ingredient. While many people claim that Memphis-style BBQ is about wet (sauce) BBQ and pork, I found wet and dry preparations of ribs in most establishments. And while they also serve mostly pork, there was some beef, and there was a lot of poultry (chicken, turkey) as well. Choice of wood, temperature, time, rub, I don’t feel there is “regional” exclusivity any longer. I’ve even seen mesquite, traditional Texas smoking wood, used in Memphis BBQ preparations.
So the question meat lovers need to ask is not “which state has the best BBQ”, but which establishment serves the best BBQ that they prefer. Central BBQ is one place in Memphis trying to stake their claim.
Central BBQ has two locations in Memphis, but I was reassured by locals that the original location on Central Ave was the one to go to. As we pull up, we see a smoke shack in the back, billowing smoke into the atmosphere, a fragrant, delicious smell. Our appetites are immediately whetted.