When you need to pick a Memphis barbecue joint, why not go with the one that started it all? Leonard's Barbecue invented the sandwich that took over the city.
Food is an essential part of the South’s identity. Some dishes, like gumbo in Louisiana or low country boil on the Atlantic coast, have been around as long as anyone can remember. Other dishes, though, can be traced to an exact time and place. Leonard’s Barbecue is literally responsible for the barbecue they take so seriously here in Memphis.
Memphians are passionate about their pork. Multiple people told us that if you order brisket in Memphis, you done messed up.
Boy, are they right. After trying the original Memphis barbecue sandwich, we’ll leave the brisket to Texas.
Leonard’s Barbecue pioneered Memphis-style barbecue in 1922, and Dan has been making the sauce for almost 60 years. Don’t get us wrong, they offer all sorts of barbecue staples. They’ve got “lots of things, from fish to chicken,” says our friend Dan. The barbecue pork shoulder, though, is the star of the show. “That’s what they want in Memphis, and that’s what we specialize in.”
We got to go behind the scenes with Dan and put together one of these masterpieces for ourselves. First, we you just take a minute to smell meat that has been smoked for 10-12 hours. It’s the foundation for an amazing sandwich. Then, you set the bun on the grill and load it up with meat. The most important part, though, is the full ladle of sweet sauce (overflowing, so it runs off and sizzles on the grill). Follow it up with a big scoop of their famous slaw, put the top of the bun on, and you’re got a true Memphis masterpiece.
Then, you just have to figure out how to eat it. We suggest diving in with your whole face – nobody looks pretty if they’re doing it right.