Libby and I with her family at Allendale
I guess you can see we had plenty of BBQ on our trip to Tennessee. Actually we did not have Q every day, but some days we did have it twice. We started off early Thursday and headed north. The first day me made it to Little Rock and met part of Libby’s family for dinner and then we were up Friday and headed to Clarksville Tennessee. Saturday found us heading to the families plantation, for the family reunion.
The plantation, Allendale, has been in operation since the 1700s raising tobacco as its main crop. Upon our arrival we were greeted by the family patriarch, William Bailey Allen and his son Bailey. All the family were great and made me feel at home for my first visit. William Bailey’s tour of the home was fantastic but the old brick BBQ pit in the yard is what really caught my attention. This old pit had a gentle flume of smoke rising from it and I knew I had to see what was inside. Bailey was smoking spare ribs using the families vinegar sop. Now I had to find out what was in this sop and where the recipe came from. Well this sop has been used in the family for 3 or 4 generations, so I will give it to John when he gets home nest week and he can be the 4th or 5th generation to use it. Sorry I would love to share it with you, I might get kicked out of the family for posting it on the web. Now these were some excellent ribs, I would consider them a dry rib and they were very good. Bailey shared them as an appetizer prior to our meal and many people including myself added them to the excellent pulled pork that was catered by Red Top BBQ from Tiny Town TN. Red Top had some great sides to go with the Q and their service was fantastic.
After a couple of days at the family reunion we headed down to Franklin. Libby’s cousin Craig lives there, so we met with her Aunts and Uncles there for a few days of touring. The first night Craig took us to Famous Dave’s for a night of Q and fellowship. Dave’s serves their BBQ Feast on a trash can lid and we got two of them. The ten of us had more Q and sides then we could eat. Each lid had three sides placed in the center of the lid and a variety of smoked goodness around the outside. The sides we got were corn on the cob, coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, and fries. The outer edge of the garbage lids contained brisket, ribs, chicken and pulled pork. I thought for a chain restaurant the Q was very exceptional. The only thing that I would say was under par was the sauce on the ribs a little burnt. Looks like the sauced them to soon, but they were good.
Touring the Civil War sites and plantations around Franklin was fun and then we headed to Lynchburg for a tour of the Jack Daniel’s distillery. The tour was excellent and afterwards we went to Miss Mary BoBo’s for lunch. Now Miss Mary’s is not BBQ but it is some fantastic down home cooking, served family style. I would recommend this as part of any trip to Lynchburg, just remember to get reservations way in advance.
Once we finished lunch, we loaded into the truck and headed to Memphis. Now this is the BBQ city I had been waiting for. Our first day there we headed straight to Sun Records and then to the Rock and Roll and Blues Museum. For lunch we headed to Corky’s. Corky’s had been selling ribs since 1984. I ordered a rack of ribs half wet and half dry, Libby got a half chicken and her parents got chopped chicken and chopped beef sandwiches. Everyone loved their meal and the service was excellent. Now my wet ribs were some of the best, but I can’t say that about the dry side. I thought the dry was way over seasoned. It seemed they had just dumped the rub on top of the wet so it would stick. The sides were all delicious and so was the variety of sauces they had, we left full and happy.
Now Corky’s gave us some advice on local favorites, so we stopped at Topps BBQ for supper. Libby and her parents got burgers and I got ribs and pulled pork. They loved the burgers, mom said it was the best burger she’d had in years. Now I can’t say that about the Q. The pulled pork was good but the dry ribs were just ok. Tuesday was capped off with a night for Libby and I on Beale St. Wednesday is Bikes on Beale, and let me tell you the bikes were there. We wandered up and down Beale looked at some beautiful bikes and listened to some excellent music. Before the night was finished we wound up at BB King’s and enjoyed some live music played by the Blake Ryan Band.
Thursday started at Graceland, then the Peabody Hotel to watch the ducks make their entry. We had a quick-lunch then we toured Mud island and had a river boat ride. For dinner it was Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous. Now advice on going to Rendezvous was mixed, but I figured I was going to find out for myself, boy am I glad we did. The dry ribs were great and so was the sauces they had to put on them. Libby once again got chicken and her parents got chopped sandwiches. Libby thought that Rendezvous had chicken a little better the Corky’s, but my in-laws gave Corky’s the nod for chopped. The sides were good also, everyone loved the potato salad and the coleslaw opinions were mixed. Service now that is where other places stood out. Our server was more interested in watching the baseball game on one of the TVs, placed around the restaurant for the guest then taking care of us.
Now having an early dinner meant I could squeeze in a late night run to Central BBQ. This was an excellent decision, even though I had to go by myself. Upon arrival I had to wait outside before I could get inside to order. I tried ribs once again and they were excellent. The ribs came out as a dry rib but were nice and moist. They have four sauces for you to use their regular sauce, hot, vinegar and mustard. I tried them all and they were excellent. This is where the locals were and I could see why, excellent Q and fantastic service. This is an excellent way to end out last night in Memphis.
Friday morning we were up early and heading to Vicksburg for a little touring. When we entered Mississippi we stopped at the Tunica visitors center for some information and maps. Then it was back in the truck heading south to Vicksburg. We hit the little town of Clarksdale about lunch time so we got off the highway and looked for a place to eat. I was hunting BBQ and my passengers were looking for something else. I found an excellent little place called Abe’s. Abe’s claims to have been serving BBQ and Blues since 1924. I believe it, the baby back ribs I got there were excellent. Now I am not going to mention where everyone else ate, I ate my Q in the truck then joined them inside while they finished their meal. Its back into the truck and headed to Vicksburg for out tour, then on to Shreveport for the night.
Saturday we are up and going, heading to Texas and home. I stop in antique shop so the girls let me have BBQ for lunch. Libby googled BBQ in Palestine and finds four locations, one has bad reviews, so we look at the other three and wind up at Bishop’s Brisket House. Now on first look I was not impressed. Bishops is in a mall, not a place I would look for good Q. Well I was wrong this Q was excellent. Being back in Texas I needed brisket, so it was brisket and ribs. Libby once again got chicken, mom got turkey and dad got ribs. We were al impressed with the meats and the sides. The service was great and everyone in the restaurant seemed happy. With a full belly we climbed back into the truck and headed home.
Now this was a great trip, ten days, nine BBQ meals over eight days. Libby’s family reunion was excellent the touring was fun and educating. Surely a trip to be remembered.
Craig, Libby and I at Famous Dave’s
Bailey’s pit at Allendale
Libby and her parents at Corky’s
Carnton Plantation in Franklin
Libby and I at Sun Records
Libby at the Peabody Hotel with their famous ducks
Libby and I with Jack Daniel’s
Libby and her mom with the King of Rock and Roll
Abe’s is near the crossroad where it is claimed Robert Johnson traded his soul to the Devil to learn to play the guitar