summer love in Memphis. just follow the smoke rising from the restaurant.
With the exception of Elvis Presley and Memphis’ silver medal per Forbes Magazine for being the “Most Miserable City to Live In,” I never thought this place was “king” of anything. That includes barbecue.
But my bad, Memphis. I was wrong. Three tour-de-force bbq joints (two really, but for kicks let’s say three) gave me insight into, what I previously thought to be unwarranted, this city’s bbq reputation.
Cozy Corner’s thick-cut BBQ bologna sandwich
My conversion started with Morris Grocery’s BBQ pork sandwich (see post) and continued with The Bar-B-Que Shop, a surprisingly clean restaurant that served a not-so-clean chopped pork sandwich. While the differences between one pork sandwich and the next are minimal, they’re notable and it’s probably the fine lines that make the difference. The most important difference was the meat’s tender, juicy nature. Most pork sandwiches rely on the sauce for “tenderness.” Here at the Shop, they rely on the hot sauce, if it can even be classified as hot, for a small kick.
Cozy Corner’s BBQ Cornish Hen
What made me a true believer in Memphis BBQ was a lunch at Cozy Corner. While its location on Danny Thomas Blvd. has drawbacks, the restaurant itself seems to be a local favorite among police officers so not to worry (when eating). But still, beware because one wrong turn and you’ll find yourself wedged between a coin laundry and a bail bonds store in a part of town I’d rather not see at night.
Two dishes at Cozy Corner deserve special attention. While the cornish hen is nice, it’s comes last behind a remarkable bologna sandwich and a plate of ribs with an intense smokiness second to none.
Cozy Corner’s Half-Rack of Ribs
First the sandwich. I’m a peasant when it comes to eating high-quality bologna: my memories of thin bologna sheets from Kroger are all I have. This bologna was thick, wonderfully smokey, and smooth. With Kroger bologna, you know you’re eating away one birthday for every bite, but Cozy’s bologna in all its easy-going glory was much less guilt-inducing.
The ribs. That’s where the meat is at, and it’s because of Cozy’s ribs I believe in Memphis, Tennessee. Cozy “out smokes” every restaurant in town when it comes to ribs. You just have to try it. No words will do the ribs any justice.
And while I don’t give much attention to decor and service at BBQ joints, it’s worth mentioning that Cozy is clean and the service is excellent. But even if the tables were dirty and the servers were jerks, I’d still come back. It’s that good.