If you ever swing by the blues-tastic city of Memphis (and you’re a meat-eater), then you just have to fuel up at Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous. Because, sweet Lord, these ribs are something special.
After a drive from Nashville and a visit to Graceland, we headed into central Memphis for a night of food and live music. FYI, Memphis is pretty brilliant for both. Piling out of the bus with stomachs rumbling, we headed to our restaurant for the evening, a Memphis institution that’s hosted pop stars, presidents, and even the King himself.
I love a good story behind a restaurant, and Rendezvous’ is simple but memorable. Back in 1948, founder Charlie Vergo was running a diner in Downtown Alley, when he discovered a coal chute below it. Giving him the opportunity to expand his business and show off his skills with a grill, he opened up the downstairs – and the rest is juicy, meaty history. Nowadays, the business is still a family run restaurant, looked after by Charlie’s kids.
The decor in the place is wonderful, and really endears you to the restaurant from the moment you step inside. You can totally see the years of history plastered to the walls…and ceiling…and stairs…and everywhere you look. I absolutely loved the US shaped board where visitors from all over the world had made their mark, surrounded by pictures of celebrities and people from all walks of life enjoying a meal at Rendezvous.
Alright. Let’s talk menu. Unsurprisingly, it’s full of delicious Memphis barbeque specialties.
Ribs are totally the obvious choice – because Memphis does them damn well. The rack pictured above is actually their small portion ($16.25). Yep, they get even bigger. Although they were so tasty, I actually wished I’d got the larger portion because I just wanted to eat more and more until I fell asleep from overconsumption and meat sweats. I slathered them in the Rendezvouz special BBQ sauce and tucked in, sauce and juice dribbling down my fingers. FYI, if you don’t make a huge mess, did you really even eat those ribs?
The meat was amazingly tender, and the BBQ brought out so much flavour and juicy texture. The BBQ sauce was the absolute finishing touch, and I ended up buying a magnet in a local store with a Memphis BBQ sauce recipe in a desperate attempt to recreate it at home. Served up with delicious BBQ beans and crispy fries, this is probably one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Even if I struggled to walk after.
If you’re not feeling ribs, there’s plenty more on offer – with Chicken, Beef Brisket and Pork Shoulder all to be gorged on. If seafood’s more your thing, you can also have a huge skillet of Shrimp, made to order for up to eight people (book in advance). And for a hark back to the old days of Vergos’ business, you can still order one of their awesome sandwiches.
Rendezvous is an absolutely amazing place to sample some of the best that Memphis food has to offer – with huge portions, amazingly cooked meat and a wonderful, welcoming atmosphere.
I fell a bit in love, and next time I’m in town, I’ll definitely be heading back.
Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous
52 S 2nd St, 38103 Memphis