Beyond death and taxes, there are two knowns in life: 1) Everything tastes better fried, and 2) barbecue is what Memphis does best.
This is a story about deep-fried barbecue.
A&R Bar-B-Que, named for Andrew & Rose Pollard who founded the restaurant in 1983 as fast-food take-out, has a motto, "Anyone can put the heat to the meat, but only a few can barbeque." This bold attitude can be tasted across the menu, but the fried barbecue pies take it to a new level.
The barbecue pies are not pretty, but they are tasty. Wrapped with a light and flaky pastry crust, they are definitely hearty enough to be a meal. The filling is generously packed inside the pastry, and it isn't unusual to get two pies for the price of one because the first one burst open while being fried. The chunky but bite-sized meat is heavily coated in sweet barbecue sauce (unless you order hot) and definitely takes center stage.
Available only at the original location in Whitehaven, the barbecue pies are made to order. Choose from beef, pork, or turkey; hot or mild sauce; and even add cheese if you like. The cost is $5.45.
For more traditional pie lovers, A&R serves apple, peach, and sweet potato fried pies at all of their locations.
A&R Bar-B-Que aandrbbq.com
The Stuffed Truck, which hit the streets last spring, was a combination of owner and chef Derek King's three loves — fiancée Hannah Bailey, food, and business. The menu, designed to "stuff" its customers, is American fusion with a focus on gourmet burgers and empanadas. Empanadas are made by folding dough or bread around stuffing, which usually consists of a variety of meat. Among the stuffed offerings is a barbecue empanada with slow-smoked, pulled pork coated in King's own barbecue sauce and topped with fresh-made coleslaw. The result is a tangy and perfectly crisp hand-held meal.The only menu item more popular than the barbecue empanada is the slow-roasted pork carnitas empanada stuffed with slow-roasted, spicy shredded pork, lime juice, fresh cilantro, and chili powder.
The pastry is sourced from New Orleans, but everything else is completely homemade. Each empanada is gently folded by hand and is a feast for the eyes. You can get one for $5 or two for $8.
Stuffed Truck • stuffedtruck.com • @ GetStuffedTruck
Kooky Canuck, which is best known as the "Home of the 4lb Burger" and corresponding "Kookamunga Challenge," is also in on the fried-pork action, although in the form of an eggroll. Their signature BBQ eggrolls ($7.99) are described as "an Asian favorite with a Kooky Canuck twist." The barbecue and slaw are wrapped tight in an eggroll wrapper and fried a golden brown. The result is a crispy, savory sensation. They are perfectly tasty on their own — the dipping sauce is merely a bonus.
Owner Shawn Danko says he and Sean McCarty came up with the concept back in 2004. "We were making Asian Lumpias, or spring rolls, one night when we looked at one another and said, 'What do you think about adding barbecue pork and coleslaw?'" They did just that, but soon discovered that the spring-roll wrapper was far too delicate for the combination. Thankfully, eggroll wrappers worked just fine.
The eggrolls have been on the menu since day one and sell quite well. "We have emails from around the world asking us to send barbecue eggrolls anyway possible," Danko says.
Kooky Canuck • 97 S. Second • 578-9800 • kookycanuck.com
The Double J Smokehouse & Saloon has its own take on the barbecue eggroll. Double J's infused meat is full of rendered fat and has a really strong smoke flavor. They are seriously not kidding about being a smokehouse. The smoked pork eggrolls ($7) are super fat, almost burrito-esque, and bursting with the signature meat and house-made slaw. The accompanying sweet chili sauce is really no match for the smoke, so ask for the regular barbecue sauce instead.
Double J Smokehouse & Saloon • 124 E GE Patterson 347-2648 • doublejsmokehouse.com