Lyndsay Cordell

Central BBQ is a Must-Visit Memphis Institution

Known as one of the BBQ capitals of America, a visit to Memphis, Tennessee means a plate stacked with slab of ribs, but where do you go first? Go on the Reddit forums or ask residents in the streets and they'll all tell you one place: Central BBQ. Opened in 2002, this award-winning bbq joint is always busy, with its flagship location boasting a line out the door daily. In fact, it's expanding to its neighboring state Mississippi in the next few months.

Where is Central BBQ Memphis Located?

Opened on Central Avenue over 19 years ago, the Memphis-style bbq restaurant has it all — pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked sausage, half chickens, mac n' cheese, and hot wings. Fill your tummy with sides such as pork rinds, potato salad, green beans, and homecooked potato chips. And make sure to leave room for dessert for their banana pudding and peanut butter pie.

central bbq restaurant

Lyndsay Cordell

There are currently six Central BBQ locations, four of which are in Memphis, and two in Nashville. All locations feature the same menu. Central BBQ will be opening another location set for this summer in Silo Square in Southaven, Mississippi.

The Reason Why Memphis BBQ is Different

Texas is known for beef bbq, the Carolinas are known for their tangy mustard based bbq sauce, but travel to Memphis and you'll find pork cooked in a pit bbq is king. Served either wet or dry, pork ribs are a staple at BBQ joints across the city.

Marinated overnight and slow-smoked to perfection over hickory and pecan, Central BBQ's rib combo plate is the best deal on the menu if you want to try a variety of what the restaurant serves. For $29.99 receive a half slab of ribs, served either wet with bbq sauce or with a dry rub. The combo also comes with 4 oz. of additional meat, a roll or bun, and two small sides.

What is Central BBQ Famous For?

Central BBQ's tagline is "Smoke is Our Sauce," which sums up one of the best things about this BBQ icon in a few words. Central BBQ uses hickory and pecan wood for their meat, along with a complex, delicious dry rub and plenty of time to grill and smoke their meat. These methods combine to create amazingly tender BBQ meat that's so good that the sauce is an unnecessary addition to the meal.

Central BBQ is also beloved for its atmosphere of southern hospitality. Along with fall-off-the-bone meat and delicious sauces, this BBQ restaurant provides a welcoming, friendly atmosphere that puts customers at ease. Because of this and the top-quality BBQ, Central BBQ has been ranked as the best spot in Memphis for BBQ ever since it opened.

Along with their delectably tender meat, a friend atmosphere and perfectly smoky flavor, this Tennessee mainstay is famous for a few different dishes. Aside from its ribs, Central BBQ has a few menu items that are totally unique.

BBQ Nachos


Lyndsay Cordell

Order them with pulled pork, chicken. sliced beef brisket, or smoked turkey breast! This app features tortilla chips topped with BBQ sauce, cheese sauce, shredded cheese, jalapenos, and a light dusting of BBQ Shake that adds a nice sweet heat.

Smoked Hot Wings

If you're not in the mood for nachos, there are other appetizers that are catered more to the BBQ-craving crowd. The smoked hot wings are the way to go for wings-lovers who want a little extra BBQ before the main. Choose between Wet, Naked, Jerked, Dry Spice, Honey Gold or Sweet Heat, or if you're with a group, get a few different kinds.

Chips & Bleu Cheese

These home cooked seasoned potato chips served with a generous portion of chunky bleu cheese dressing.

BBQ Bologna

This is a one-of-a-kind sandwich! Served with slaw and mild sauce, this bologna sandwich is slow cooked and grilled.

READ MORE: Tootsie Tomanetz: Legendary Texas BBQ Pitmaster and BBQ Hall of Famer

This post was originally published on May 13, 2022.