As we headed back home from Little Rock, it looked like we would be driving through Memphis around lunch. This was completely unplanned. I looked at the list for options and, being Sunday, there were limited options. Coming through, on the south side, at lunch time (see their hours above) narrowed it down to one – Leonard’s Pit Barbecue. Serving Memphis-style barbecue (ribs and smoked pork shoulders) since 1922, they’ve been open in their current location since 1987.
We were seated in the front room, with the replica of their delivery truck. This is a large barbecue restaurant, with at least three dining rooms, and by the time we left, the “after church” crowd was arriving and they were filling up. They were added to my list from the 29 BBQ Bucket List, but I had also heard first-hand reviews of Leonard’s from our friends at Marie Let’s Eat, where Grant said that they had his favorite ribs anywhere. That’s high praise, given the 450+ barbecue restaurants they’ve reported on.
They have a lunch buffet Sunday – Friday, but it had no ribs on it on Sunday, so we ordered off the menu. My beloved ordered a half rack of ribs, wet, with potato salad and baked beans (it isn’t that she made a choice of two sides – all “plates” are served with potato salad and baked beans).
I chose a ribs (dry-rub) and bbq plate with the two sides that I didn’t want, plus a side of fries.
The sauce was thick and brown and sweet, so I was glad that I had the ribs with the rub (Memphis has a preponderance of barbecue places serving both wet and dry-rub ribs) and wished I had ordered the chopped pork shoulder the same way. The ribs were good – I don’t know that they were the greatest I’ve ever had, but to each his own, and it could have been an off day. The pork had a good smoked flavor, when you found a spot not smothered in sauce. Supposedly, Leonard’s is place that first place slaw on top of their chopped pork sandwich, creating the Memphis-style sandwich that is popular today.
The surprise of the meal for me was when I saw the barbecued bologna sandwich on the menu. “I’ll have one of those, please.”
It’s hard to gauge the thickness of that hunk of bologna, but it was close to half an inch. Smoked well, it was a great sandwich – the best of the three meats that I had. On the road, again…