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Saturday, December 19, 2015
Payne's Bar-B-Q (Memphis, TN)
It's nearly impossible for me to drive through Memphis without stopping for some tasty 'que. My wife's sole requirement today was that I pick a spot with a Chik-Fil-A nearby for her. Fair enough. Barbecue sandwiches don't often find their way onto my plate. That being said, I couldn't resist grabbing a pork sandwich from Payne's, which is heralded by many as the best there is.
Their "cash only" business model is a bit behind the times, although it doesn't seem to be deterring any would-be customers. Payne's is a simple counter-order joint with limited seating options. It also has all of the ambiance of a DMV waiting room, but that didn't bother me whatsoever.
I ordered my obligatory jumbo chopped pork sandwich, complete with Payne's famous mustard slaw, no sauce. I really really wanted to tack on a smoked sausage dog, but my mother-in-law had an early family Christmas dinner planned and I promised her that I wouldn't ruin my appetite. That didn't stop me from tempting fate and adding a side of beans though. I got everything to-go and headed for Chik-Fil-A, hoping that they wouldn't mind me eating my outside food in their establishment.
The beans were sweet and flavorful, with chunks of delicious meat mixed right in. I also found hints of what tasted like cilantro, but whatever it was, it was dang good.
Payne's chopped pork sandwich is fairly messy to eat, which actually makes it more satisfying. The pork itself was very tender, though only slightly smoky. A lot of the pieces did have some char on them, and they were even more spectacular. Most of the flavor came from the mustard slaw, which added a sweet acidity and a great crunchy texture. It had an interesting spice blend that I couldn't quite identify. The onions also gave this sandwich a nice bite. I do think that a homemade bun would have elevated things here nicely, but that's really my only major complaint.
I was the envy of every person in Chik-Fil-A, who stared longingly at my barbecue sandwich the entire time. Payne's is definitely a must for any Memphis barbecue bucket list.
1762 Lamar Ave
Memphis, TN 38114