One of the stops on our barbecue agenda this year was a little joint on the edge of an industrial park called Tom’s BBQ & Deli. Since we typically only eat one real meal a day on vacation, it ends up being at odd hours when the restaurants aren’t too busy. So when we entered the little red shack at the corner of Getwell & Raines, the lady at the counter asked if this was our first time at Tom’s. We replied with an affirmative, “yup”, which immediately prompted a rousing chorus of “THEY’RE NEW” across the kitchen. We talked to what we presumed to be someone of authority at the counter for a few minutes and explained to them that we come to Memphis once a year and always seek out a barbecue joint that we haven’t tried. We chose them as one of our stops this time because we had seen them featured on the food network’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, which he referred to as “Triple D”. They mumbled something about hooking us up as we meandered towards the “Pick Up” end of the counter. When they brought the trays out, there were the two plates that we had ordered, ribs and rib tips with two side dishes each, plus a pulled pork sandwich, a beef brisket sandwich, some smoked bologna (aka Tennessee Round-Steak), a cup of each of their three sauces and two deserts. And on top of that, they didn’t charge us for our drinks! We had a mountain of food, more than we could possibly dream of eating, for less than $20. Our conclusion; Tom’s tries to kill newcomers. Haven’t quite figured out why yet though.
And as far as the food goes, it was all excellent! The ribs, though not my favorite cut, were meaty and cooked perfectly. The rub was complex and flavorful without being overpowering. The brisket, shoulder and bologna were all great. The sauce was sweeter than I normally like but otherwise good. The sides were inconsequential, with that much meat we barely ate them anyway. But the standout was the rib tips. They call the particular cut they use “button bone” which is right where the rib meets the loin, and the meat is actually closer to loin. They are nowhere near as fatty as most of the rib tips in town, and there’s just something about that meat that really absorbs the flavors of the rub and smoke. They were “off the hook” as Triple D’s Guy Fieri would say!
I feel like I need to only eat salad and raw veggies for the rest of the week to make up for all of it. In Memphis, for those who aren’t familiar, the only vegetable you can get most of these places is slaw, and it’s usually piled on top of your sandwich. Meanwhile, I am still eating the leftovers today for lunch. Not that I’m complaining.