America's Best Barbecue

by Jane and Michael Stern

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE

Assuming you've made your way to Memphis to try out the delights of Cozy Corner, it would be a shame to miss Payne's. The menu is rather limited, but if you are looking for the Memphis signature dish known as a pig sandwich, it's the go-to place. As in most barbecue parlors of the mid-South, the counterman at Payne's won't actually ask if you want coleslaw when you order pulled pork on a bun. It's a given. Tender pork shoulder is hacked apart with a cleaver and put into a bun, with your choice of hot or mild sauce. Then a big pile of pickly sweet slaw goes on top, balancing the meat's smoky profundity. This configuration, first constructed by Memphis barbecue man Leonard Heuberger in 1922, is a tongue-boggling presentation that combines warm meat with cool slaw, spicy sauce with creamy dressing, piggy pork with crunchy cabbage. Perfection.

Payne's
Tel: 901 272 1523

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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