The 10 Best Memphis BBQ Joints That Redefine Smoky Southern Flavor

M-T is big on the big and heavy on the sauce

Memphis-style barbecue is all about pork, especially pork ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. Slow-cooked to perfection, the meat is seasoned with a dry rub that combines spices such as paprika, garlic and cayenne pepper, giving it a flavorful and slightly spicy kick. The sweet and tangy tomato-based sauce is equally iconic. Next time you're in Memphis — maybe diving into its music museums — know that trying some of the best Memphis BBQ is a must on your visit.

The true magic of Memphis barbecue lies in the smoke, as it's cooked low and slow over hardwood coals or hickory wood. This results in meat that's fall-off-the-bone tender, with a smoky, sweet and tangy flavor that's absolutely mouthwatering. It's right up there with Nashville, Austin and Dallas as some of the best BBQ in the South.

The history of Memphis barbecue dates back to the early 20th century. Rendezvous and Payne's Bar-B-Q are among the iconic joints that have played a significant role in shaping the Memphis barbecue scene. These establishments have their own secret rubs and sauces that remain closely guarded family recipes to this day.

In Memphis, barbecue is more than just food; it's a cultural institution. The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is a testament to the city's barbecue fervor, attracting pitmasters from around the globe. So, if you're ever in Memphis, be sure to savor the succulent, smoky and soulful delight that is Memphis barbecue. It's an experience you won't soon forget.

Here are 10 of the most essential barbecue joints in Memphis.

READ MORE: Cross-Country 'Cue: The 18 Best BBQ Towns in the U.S., From Small Towns to Big Cities