After a bit of a false start, Memphis Barbeque opened up in Crystal City just a little more than two weeks ago. As luck would have it, the restaurant opened less than a week after the long-anticipated Pork Barrel BBQ in Del Ray, leading to inevitable comparisons among casual diners and serious barbecue nerds alike. Eater took a look at the early word for Pork Barrel BBQ a couple of weeks back and now it's time for Memphis to get the same treatment. Here's what the early diners are saying about Memphis transplant Chris George's barbecue restaurant.
The Barbecue Nerd News: Beltway BBQ was not too pleased with the service upon their visit, but Memphis acquitted itself fairly well when it comes to the food: "Thought the sides at memphis bbq so so but ribs pretty good. Tad overcooked (very slightly) but great bark/taste/rub (bit sweet)" The barbecue aficionado also notes that Memphis is a "good addition to the area overall" and at a decent price point. [Twitter]
The Pork Barrel BBQ Comparison News: One Yelper that tried both Pork Barrel BBQ and Memphis Barbeque had the following to say: "The meats we tried were quite good. Unlike Pork Barrel, you could actually taste the smoke, but it wasn't overbearing. Although I can't really comment on the brisket this trip (since I only had it in the brisket enchilada), I did enjoy the pork, although I really would have preferred if it was served unsauced (as it is served at Pork Barrel). Since Memphis BBQ has excellent sauce, it wasn't a big deal, but I like the option whether I want to enjoy my meat sauced or not." [Yelp]
The Good News: One Yelper admits there were some problems but that the future looks promising: "All in all, the service wasn't yet perfect (it was probably one of their first huge lunch crowds) but the food more than made up for it. We were very impressed and look forward to returning. I would encourage others to give the place a chance now that they seem to be getting their rhythm down." [Yelp]
The Great News: Though most reviews seem to ding Memphis on its service, this reviewer gave it high marks because of the service and a manager to dealt ably with gluten-free allergies. They also had the following to say: "I have had a lot of Memphis style BBQ, mostly during the dozen or so trips I've taken to Memphis. So I had high hopes that someone, somehow might eventually bring good BBQ to Arlington. After mediocre experiences at Red Hot & Blue and Old Glory, I was finally pleasantly surprised by Authentic Memphis BBQ." [Yelp]
The So-So News: The Foursquare tips for Memphis are pretty mixed with two users swearing they will never return to the barbecue restaurant thanks to service issues, another user was more generous: "Homestyle mashed taters, yummy onion rings, and easily top 3 bbq experiences in dc. Food took a while but, owner apologized & comped!" [Foursquare]
The Bad News: Another Yelper finds the sides too small, the mac and cheese too flavorless and the meats just OK: "We went to Memphis Barbeque for the Grand Opening. With the months of construction, we had high expectations for this place. Unfortunately, I think it adds to the collection of generally mediocre restaurants in Crystal City, and we currently can't find a reason to go back." [Yelp]
The Really Bad News: But the harshest of reviews were to be found on Urbanspoon, where one reviewer pretty much hated everything: "When my plate arrived, it looked unappetizing - a sloppy pile of soggy pulled pork drenched in sauce, 'garnished' with a sad piece of parsley equally soaked in sauce, and a measly set of dry looking ribs with barely any meat on the bones. Both offerings tasted just like they looked. The pulled pork had ok flavor, but the mushy, pasty texture was awful. It's like the pork shoulder was pulled from the smoker three days ago, drenched in sauce, and left to sit under a heat lamp." [Urbanspoon]