Before I started this blog the original Willie Moore's Family Restaurant on Third just south of Crump was a place I'd drive past at work and think I should stop in just to give it a try. It probably helped plant the subconscious seed for my decision to start trying as many barbecue and soul food places as I could find. Unfortunately the original restaurant was totaled by a massive fire before I ever got a chance to eat there.
Once the restaurant reopened on Main in between Jefferson and Adams I kept meaning to get a picture of the gutted old building to post whenever I wrote about the new location. When I tried to do that two weeks ago the building had already been razed. So determined to stop procrastinating in regards to Willie Moore's I stopped by the new place on Monday.
The new location is definitely in a more inviting spot than the old one. A sign in front of the restaurant boasted that the menu includes 15 different meats and 15 different vegetables every day, which is way more selection than most soul food places. That's even more choices than I had at the Orange Mound Grill on the day I visited.
According to a recent article in the Commercial Appeal,
namesake owner Willie Moore was hesitant to start serving chitterlings
out of concern for the odor from cooking them. But a sign in
the entranceway indicated they are available now. After enjoying my first experience eating chitterlings
I looked for but I didn't see them on the cafeteria-style serving area.
I didn't ask about them because the pork neckbones looked so good that I had
to order them.
The portion of neckbones was enormous. When you look at the picture above, those aren't tiny servings of turnip greens and pinto beans. The serving of neckbones is just that big. As the lady kept adding them to the plate I started to wonder if she was ever going to stop. My total after tax was less than $9. Once I found a table I immediately grabbed some Louisiana Hot Sauce and Bruce's Hot Pepper Sauce from the condiment counter. I ended up not using a drop of either. Everything was already seasoned perfectly. It was all so good that I nearly finished everything on my tray despite the generous quantities.
Obviously people who work in the surrounding area are aware of Willie Moore's quality and value. It was around 2 p.m. when I stopped in, which is definitely not a peak time for a Downtown restaurant, and there was still a steady flow of customers through the dining room. That's a reassuring sight at a cafeteria-style place where you want fresh food being steadily cycled out of the serving pans. I still wish I'd had a chance to visit the original location, but I'm glad to know that the fire that destroyed the building didn't destroy the business too.