Competition makes everyone better
Beyond the competition between local restaurants, Memphis is also home to the annual Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, which draws 100,000 people and over 250 competition teams to Tom Lee Park next to the Mississippi River every year. If there is one agreement on the best barbecue in Memphis it is that there is no agreement. How deep does the debate get? Is the best place for Greek-inspired ribs the famous Rendezvous or the smoke-filled hole-in-the-wall Alex's Tavern? I'm an Alex's man on that debate, but it underlines that there are no universally accepted “bests” in Memphis barbecue. You can eat barbecue in Memphis every day for years and still discover new favorites.
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Craig David Meek is the author of the book Memphis Barbecue: A Succulent History of Smoke, Sauce, and Soul. Before that he wrote the Memphis Que blog about his quest to try every barbecue and soul food joint in the Memphis area.