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Saturday, September 26, 2015
One & Only BBQ (Memphis, TN)
It's nearly impossible for me to drive through Memphis without stopping for some tasty 'que. My wife, who had just come off of an all-night shift, was sleeping soundly in the backseat as we made our way to Little Rock for the weekend. That gave me free reign to pick any lunch spot that my heart desired. Jackpot. There are still a few of the well-known players to check off of my Memphis barbecue list, but today I set my sights on One & Only BBQ, in part because they would have some non-barbecue options for my wife should she waken from her slumber.
Ironically, One & Only is really "two and only," with dual locations in east Memphis' Audubon Park and River Oaks neighborhoods. I'm pretty sure that River Oaks is the original spot, but I opted for Audubon Park since it's just a little ways off of Sam Cooper and involved the shortest detour. Practicality doesn't always yield the most delicious results, but we had a lot of miles left to cover.
The wifey was still half asleep when I stopped for lunch, so we just ran in and snagged some quick carry out. Much like Liam Neeson in Taken, I have a very particular set of skills that I've acquired over a long career, except that while he's quite adept at murdering kidnappers, I'm just good at eating while driving. A sandwich probably would have been the appropriate to-go choice for the road, but I much prefer my barbecue in plate form.
Their combo options were limited to two- and four-meat platters, as opposed to my customary three-meater. The two-meat barbecue plate is pretty expensive at $16.99, so four meats would likely break the bank. I had briefly considered a two-meat combo that included ribs, but the $22.99 price tag quickly cured me of that notion. I settled for a 2 Meat Platter of sliced brisket and pulled pork, with deviled eggs and sweet potato fries as my side dishes.
Potato salad is one of my standard side dish choices, but today I decided to live dangerously. Fries would also be easier to eat while I drove. These weren't overly crisp, and I actually don't think that sweet potato fries should be. They were cooked well and tasted homemade, although I can't be certain of that. Deviled eggs, which somehow eluded my picture-taking process, were another strategic driving choice. The eggs were creamy and mustardy, with just the right amount of salt and paprika and whatever other deliciousness they had sprinkled on top. There was also a slight sweetness that I really enjoyed. I doubt very many people besides me have driven around the Memphis ghetto while eating deviled eggs, at least I sincerely hope they haven't.
One & Only's pulled pork gets smoked over hickory for fifteen hours straight. That much time in the smoker was sure to produce fantastic results, which it did. Most of the meat had only a moderate, yet unmistakably-hickory smokiness. My plate contained only a few pieces of bark, but they were awesome and packed at least double the smoke level I had found initially. The meat itself was tender and very juicy, as well it should have been. No sauce needed here.
Rather than just being seasoning and smoked like most barbecue, their brisket gets marinated, smoked, sliced thin, and then finished on the grill with some extra seasoning. Honestly, I was a bit weary of the advertised thin-sliced beef, which can often be a devious way to counteract a pitmaster's dry meat. To my delight, the brisket was spectacular! It tasted like thin, smoky strips of steak, especially with the added steak marinade. I also loved the rub, which brought out even more flavor. The best way that I can describe it is that it's kind of like a barbecue/steak/shawarma fusion. Their thin slices also allowed me to wrap the brisket around my fork like spaghetti noodles, which was perfect for driving. This was clearly not a Texas brisket, but it was awesome nonetheless.
My wife, who ordered a pulled chicken sandwich despite my efforts to accommodate her barbecue apathy, said that it was probably the best she's ever had. That's certainly high praise coming from her, and I share her sentiment. I managed to eat my entire plate without making a mess of my clothes, except for the piece of pulled pork that I found later in my shirt pocket. Totally worth it.
One & Only BBQ
567 Perkins Extended
Memphis, TN 38117