Corky’s Ribs & Barbeque in Memphis, TN is good barbeque. Maybe there are places in Memphis that are better and there probably is, but to me there is nothing to complain about this establishment.
Corky’s has been around for years and has 12 locations in 6 states (Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Jersey, Mississippi and Indiana). In Tennessee, there are 6 locations and we ate at the Poplar Ave. location in Memphis. We went at lunch and it was crowded, but the service was friendly and prompt. The clientele is from all walks of life and it was apparent there were both regulars, locals and those from out of town that were there for the first time. In fact there was a limousine outside waiting for a president of a very large protein processing company to finish his lunch. My guess is that his private plane had stopped at Memphis to refuel and they were on their way to New York City for a meeting.
There are entire websites dedicated to the history of American barbeque and the pros and cons of regional variations; Carolina, Memphis, St. Louis and Texas to name a few. I could not even begin to try and post the information that already exists. What I do know is that I know when I eat good barbeque and that is what I did.
The menu has your standard selection of items of main dishes to the traditional sides for a barbeque joint. Corky’s is known for their ribs. I was not feeling the need to sink my teeth into the ribs and in turn the potential for dropping sauce or slaw on my shirt so I opted for the pulled barbeque chicken sandwich topped with their barbeque sauce on cole slaw. We also ordered an appetizer of smoke sausage and cheese for I was curious what was going to be served.
The smoked sausage and cheese appetizer was served first. If nothing else, the sausage was very good which confirms my belief that no matter how good you are at barbequing / smoking meats, you have to start with good sausage. The cheese was nothing more then sticks of cheddar and pepper jack. I am not sure what I was expecting for the cheese; e.g. brie and asiago, but considering Corky’s is a southern establishment, the cheese went well with the sausage.
The pulled smoked chicken sandwich arrived, topped with sauce and cole slaw on a roll that actually had some semblance of a crust. I normally shy away from pulled chicken sandwiches for I find that they are dry and the smoky flavor is too subtle. Not this sandwich. This was an amazing sandwich, the perfect balance of meat portion, flavor and the barbeque sauce and slaw were a great pairing. I eventually broke down and ordered a side of their potato salad which must have had sour cream added. It was very nice but I could not make a meal of the potato salad by itself.
Overall, Corky’s on Poplar Avenue was well worth the experience. I would recommend this location to anyone visiting Memphis.
A few days later I am flying out of the airport in Memphis and I remember that there is a Corky’s in the airport. My flight plans had changed so I decided to have lunch at the location in Terminal A. The selection is limited (no pulled chicken sandwich), so I ordered the pulled pork sandwich topped with barbeque sauce and slaw with a side order of potato salad.
The pulled pork sandwich was very good and once again the portion was perfect with the pulled pork being very flavorful and tender. There was just a hint of vinegar which was a nice counter to the sweetness of the barbeque sauce. I notice that the bun was not as good and the potato salad was nothing close to the potato salad served at the Poplar Avenue location. Overall I could not complain, but I was wishing that I had tried the other barbeque restaurant in the airport in Terminal B: Jim Neely’s Interstate Barbeque.
When I began to write this post I viewed the on-line menu from the Corky’s website and then I realized that not everything is that same at the different locations for Corky’s. The menu on the website is from the New Jersey location. The pulled chicken sandwich, the sausage / cheese appetizer and the special potato salad are not on the menu. This leads me to believe that some of the locations which are franchises do not adhere to the same menu and offerings. This is a shame for consistency of selection and flavors is a part of the experience. With that being said, if you are in Memphis, go and eat at the Poplar Avenue location.