Monday, September 26, 2011

Starting the Quest - Canale's and Captain John's

Canale’s Grocery was closed due to a family illness. Anytime I work in the Collierville area I plan my day so that I can hit the intersection of Houston Hill and Raleigh-LaGrange around lunchtime and grab one of Canale’s outstanding ham sandwiches. Canale’s smokes their own hams and the resulting meat is so flavorful it is almost closer to good barbecue in flavor than it is to the ham you’ll find at a normal grocery store. They make sandwiches with it that they sell for a couple dollars each to the lucky people who are passing by at lunchtime and know about the awesomeness contained inside what looks like a run-down country gas station and convenience store.

Then, one day a couple weeks ago, I was walking up to the store for my lunchtime score when I saw a sign on the door that said, “No sandwiches today.” I was disappointed, but I remembered there was a Gus’s Fried Chicken in Collierville that I could use to fill my hunger for southern goodness. Two weeks later I was back at Canale’s and presented with an even worse sight: Canale’s was locked up tight with a big sign out front that said “Closed due to family illness.”

Dejected and trying to think of a way to settle my jones for some smoked pig, I remembered Captain John’s Barbecue on Highway 72 in Collierville. The pulled pork at Captain John’s hit the spot and I was really impressed with their mustardy cole slaw and potato salad. While eating I thought about just how many independent, locally-owned barbecue places there are around Memphis. I have a mobile job that takes me all over the greater Memphis area and I see them everywhere. But when I want barbecue I tend to stick to a handful of places that I already know and love. So, on the fateful day of September 21, 2011 I made a promise to myself that I was going to sample as many barbecue joints as I could find.


  1. I remember we were going to hit Canales a couple of years ago, but it was closed then too, so you directed me to a place in Arlington or somewhere where we had catfish, hush puppies, and slaw instead.

  2. The catfish came from the Brunswick General Store.