Blues City Cafe – Memphis, TN – Crash

Blues City Cafe – Memphis, TN
There are few moments in life where everything seems at peace and no matter where you are; it was if at that moment you were exactly where you were supposed to be.  It’s at these moments that you feel that you belong to something bigger than yourself and you forget about prejudices and differences and you become engulfed into a culture so much that it consumes you, but instead of fighting for air, you sit back and let it take you a place that transcends class and race and suddenly…you just “are”.
I can recall sitting under a Caribbean sunset washing down a roti with a bottle of CSR and a few ice cold Ting’s listening to Bankie Banx from the beach right next to a bar because I couldn’t afford the cover.
I remember eating .25 cent oysters and $2 Dixie’s in the French Quarter while the sound of brass horns blew New Orleans Jazz through the humid air.
A few more events rolled through my mind and the constants in every episode involved three things: Food, Music, and Drinks, and there was no exception as I stepped into Blues City Café on Beale St.
Walking in to BCC, I was greeted by the sounds of Rockabilly in this diner style setting with a bustling, open kitchen adorned with a large sign telling all who enter to, “Put some south in your mouth!”  I watched the organized chaos behind the counter as old black men with the agility of Olympic athletes put plate after plate of steaks, ribs, and catfish into the window to be run.  It was after midnight, but this place has only started.
I was lead through the packed dining room to my table and ordered a Yazoo Dos Perros from the diverse selection and scanned the menu that boasted all of the MS Delta favorites, right down to the homemade Tamales.
I skipped the BBQ Shrimp, the Gumbo, and the Crab Au Gratin and went right to “The Best Meal on Beale”   Despite the fact that there was still a wait, well after midnight the service was attentive and the food hit the table within 10 minutes.
In front of me was placed a humongous platter with a ½ slab of ribs, a perfectly fried catfish fillet that had been coated in a peppery, cornmeal mixture, grilled Texas toast, steak fries and beans…a plate large enough to feed two.
The beans were great and the fries and catfish were piping hot which I enjoyed with a large splash of hot sauce and homemade tartar sauce.
The ribs were plain with only a faint hint of a BBQ glaze probably brushed on the last 30 minutes of cooking or so.  I was almost disappointed because they didn’t have the typical Memphis dry rub and were not served with sauce, but after picking them up, I knew why.  There was no rub or sauce just for the simple fact that these “fall off the bone” ribs didn’t need them…they were already perfect.
This was a purist’s dream.  This was BBQ in its most simplest form proving that if something is done correctly, you don’t need gimmicks and you definitely don’t need something slathered on, taking away from perfection.  Trust me…if Chef Bonnie Mack thought they needed sauce…it would be on the table.
After my appetite curbed and I sat back for a second and a feeling just short of Nirvana came over me.  I took another bite of rib meat that came off the bone just by touching it and enjoyed another sip of beer while the sounds of the Memphis Blues mixed with the cheers for the Beale St. Flippers creeped through the front door and made its way over to the table. I have been to most BBQ joints in Memphis and North MS and I will admit that I have had better pork.  If I were taking a trip and basing my choices purely on “Q”, this place would fall short behind a few “big name” places (Central, Interstate, Payne’s, Commissary, etc), but as for taking in this mixture of culture, spirituality, history, pain, and celebration, and having it invite you in and told to you in stories of food, music, and drink then this is your place.
“As it is written, Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
As I paid my tab and left, a ghostly lady approached me,
“and she said —
‘Tell me are you a Christian child?’
And I said “Ma’am I am tonight”
138 Beale Street
Memphis, TN 38103-3712
(901) 526-3637
Sunday through Thursday     11 am to 3 am
Friday and Saturday    11 am to 5 am

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