Payne’s Bar-B-Que in Memphis, Tennessee is a family owned and family run place, and has been for at least the last 40 years. It’s the kind of place where you come to enjoy the easy chat with the owners, but where you return for the fabulous $5.50 jumbo chopped pork barbecue sandwich. You can toss in a soda for $0.80. Not only is the food fabulous, it’s a super deal.
Payne’s sits in a reclaimed service station. From the outside, you’d hardly know this was even a restaurant. On the inside, the roof drips a bit when it rains, and there is a smoky haze that wafts throughout the restaurant. It has tons of character.
You order at the window, wait a minute or two, and take your sandwich to a table. (Note that Payne’s takes cash only.)
While they also serve smoked bologna and ribs, I always come for the chopped pork sandwich. The jumbo sized chopped pork sandwich is big—so if you’re hitting several BBQ joints, just order the regular sized. I ordered my jumbo sandwich “hot” which comes with a spicy red sauce. It’s not too spicy—but has a nice burn at the end. (I’d guess from Crystal hot sauce.)
Here in the South, a pork sandwich always comes topped with coleslaw. This mustardy coleslaw gives a perfect vinegar-and-mustard counterpoint to the rich and hot barbecue.
And the meat! Oh man. Juicy, with a black pepper background and a wonderful crunch from the chopped in bark. It was so delicious I wanted to eat it by itself, slowly, with a fork, so that I could really savor each bite. Just terrific.
I eat a lot of BBQ throughout Tennessee, Texas, and Arkansas, and think that Payne’s Bar-B-Que is right there at the top. Highly recommended.