Uncle John’s – Crawfordsville, AR


Uncle John’s
5453 Main Street
Crawfordsville, AR  72327
(870) 823-5319

Heading to Memphis, there were a lot of different food experiences we wanted to try. Unfortunately, as on most trips, we had way more places to try than we had meals. For BBQ, there was a lot of debate: Central, Paynes, Interstate, Rendezvous, BBQ Shop, Neely’s.  Fried chicken lead to a similar debate. We knew what we wanted to try, and it was tough choosing one or two places to hit up. For catfish though, there was no question. We had to go to Uncle John’s.

Now, being no more knowledgeable of local geography than what i saw on a map, I had no idea that Arkansas was that close to Memphis. And while i’m not the biggest fan of checklist tourism, I do wish to visit all 50 states at some point, and this was an easy chance to knock one off. Crawfordsville AK is only roughly 30 minutes from downtown Memphis.

Uncle John’s is ostensibly an “Italian” restaurant, but they serve many Southern specialties as well. And on Friday’s, they have a catfish special that is regarded by many to be the best catfish they’ve had.

As we pulled up, everything screamed small town. There was a bench, complete with two suspicious locals who eyed us with trepidation as too many people emerged from a too small rental vehicle, quietly celebrating the end of our torturous ride. They were not impressed. I’m not sure I was that impressed either.

The exterior was a clean, nondescript building with a painting of what I can only assume is the proprietor. It was definitely a bit more modern than i was expecting.

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Central BBQ – Memphis, TN


Central BBQ – Central Avenue Location
2249 Central Ave.
Memphis,TN 38104
(901) 272-9377

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.

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Dadeo New Orleans Diner and Bar – Edmonton, AB


Dadeo New Orleans Diner and Bar
10548A 82 Avenue NW
Edmonton, AB
(780) 433-0930

While there are differences between Cajun, Creole, and Southern food, I couldnt name many off the top of my head. Local and native versus European influence is how i was taught to distinguish between the two, but with Dadeo, this dilemma is solved. They offer both.

Dadeo is an eclectic diner on Edmonton’s spirited Whyte Avenue.  They serve lunch and dinner every day except Wednesdays,  and are open late. I have always found the biggest oddity with them is not the bright, kitschy decor, nor the menu, but the fact kids arent allowed. They function as a restaurant, but are licensed as a bar, so they maintain a strict 18 years and older policy. Unfortunate for the times that i wish to meet friends with kids for lunch, this is very inconvenient, as they serve some good, simple fare.

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The Dadeo menu is an all things to all people kind of menu – which frequent readers will know i dislike. However, what it means is some homework, and some reconnaissance need to be done in order to navigate the extensive menu to find the real treasures – because really good comfort food does exist.

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My favorite entree at Dadeo is the Combo Fabio. Half St. Louis ribs, half fried chicken, it’s a great sample of two good entrees. The seasoned fried chicken has crispy seasoned skin, but invariably ends up a touch dry. The ribs are tender and moist, and doused in sauce. Not my preferred BBQ style, but there is something satisfying about the messy satisfaction of eating wet ribs.

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Po Boys are Cajun style sandwiches served with a variety of fillings. Pictured is crab cake. Often decent, occasionally a bit dry. The blackened catfish is usually quite good, and the blackened chicken is a safe choice as well.  They are on special for lunch as well – so that is the best time to indulge.

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My first memory of Dadeo involved an angel hair pasta with seafood and bananas foster. This classic dish for two is a heart attack waiting in a bowl, but oh my what a way to go. Banana’s with rum flambeed in a pound of butter, brown sugar, and poured over ice cream. The table side service is a nice touch, and the taste is to die for. Rich, decadent, best shared with one or two people.

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Every Edmontonian i know loves Dadeo. I have to say, at this point, it is likely more institution than great dining experience, but it is still worth trying unless you frequent the Southern United States. The food is solid, hearty, and comforting. Definitely heavy, greasy, and good value. These values appeal to Edmontonians – as the long lineups and wait times are a testament to the popularity of Dadeo. It’s not the best food in town, but I never complain about ending up there. Definitely worth a sample, along with a beer. I’d pass on the chili beer though – neither Cajun, nor Creole, it is interesting, but hard to stomach more than a few drinks. Save the room for your meal, you’ll be glad you did.

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