One of my favorite barbecue dishes in Memphis is a nontraditional one. We met some friends Downtown at the Local Gastropub on Main Street for brunch on Sunday. As soon as my wife told me where we were going I knew I’d be getting an order of the barbecue brisket tacos. The first time I had them at Local they were a special, but obviously I’m not the only one who loved them because they found a home on the regular menu. Local is a really nice space that is a little north of Beale Street, so you don’t have to deal with Beale Street crowds, and relatively cheap and casual.
The three tacos you get with an order each have a very generous serving of shredded barbecued beef brisket topped with chipotle barbecue sauce, jack cheese, pickled red onion, braised red cabbage and cilantro sour cream. They come with a side of black beans that I largely ignored because they were so bland compared to the tacos themselves. It’s enough food that if you were really concerned with eating healthy you could just eat the filling, toss the tortillas and still have plenty to eat.
As you would expect from a place calling itself Local Gastropub, the restaurant has a good selection of local beers on tap and a pint of Ghost River Octoberfest was a perfect companion to the tacos on a cold, drizzly afternoon. It may seem odd to order a Tex-Mex rendition of Texas-style barbecue at a Downtown Memphis restaurant, but good cooking is good cooking and these tacos are superb.
UPDATE: On a return trip to Local yesterday the brisket tacos had been replaced on the menu with braised short rib tacos that are cooked with traditional barbecue seasonings. It's a different slow-cooked cut of beef, but still delicious. Also, the side of black beans that I said were bland in this post? They've been replaced with macaroni and cheese made with green chilies and bacon that tastes as good as it sounds. It certainly isn't health food, but no one will ever accuse it of being bland.