For an additional $0.45 you can get barbecue added to your Tops double cheeseburger. With a realization like that I immediately knew where I was eating lunch that day.
I've been on a sidequest for months now to eat at every Tops location. By Monday I only had one left that I hadn't visited. Believe it or not, after living in Midtown for most of my adult life I had never been to the Tops on Union. Everywhere I've lived in Midtown has been north of Poplar, so the Tops at Jackson and Watkins has always been more convenient for me. And the Union Avenue store's location in the medical district has always made it popular enough to make it more trouble to get in and out of than the one closer to my house.
However, the Union Avenue Top's location next to the Methodist Hospital's pedestrian bridge does make it easy to photograph despite the heavy traffic in front of it.
The review in the Flyer is about a single hamburger topped with barbecue. Since I'm trying to maintain a healthy weight while eating at so many barbecue and soul food places I try to go for a much higher ratio of saturated fat to carbs. So I got a double cheeseburger topped with barbecue.
How have I lived in this city for 34 years without knowing this is an option?
I normally order my double cheeseburger "mustard all the way." But since this one had pulled pork added I skipped the mustard and just got it "all the way" with lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion.
It was a thing of savage beauty. The toasted bun did a surprisingly good job of holding everything together.
I mentioned plenty of times that the pulled pork at Tops is how I define "Memphis average." Looking at the Urbanspoon page for the Union Avenue Tops it seems like most of the comments go from one extreme to the other. People either claim it is excellent or terrible. In my opinion it definitely isn't the best in town but it is solidly and dependably good, especially for the low price and the quick service. Adding barbecue to the $4.95 regular price for a double cheeseburger brought the pretax total to $5.40.
The review of Tops on the excellent Best Memphis Burger blog only gave the cheeseburger three out of five stars. I understand why because the reviewer there made the mistake of only ordering a single. Tops uses thin patties, so a double is necessary to get the full experience. Also, he reviews burgers and fries together and the fries at Tops tend to be awful. But after trying the double topped with barbecue I'd say Tops deserves another visit from him to try this magnificent creation.
I've also heard from a friend that Tops offers homemade pork rinds. During my stop on Union I asked about them, and like my experience on Lamar, I was told they weren't available. Does anyone out there have any experience with these mythical pork rinds? I want to know how to get my hands on some.
Also, since I've completed my sidequest of eating at every Tops location I decided to compile all my entries about Tops into a single list in case someone, somewhere happens to be interested:
November 6, 2011: A short post about the double cheeseburgers from the Tops on Jackson near my house.
December 12, 2011:Since Tops recently started offering pork ribs and beef brisket I sampled the Ribs from the store on Summer near Highland and the brisket from the store on Rhodes near Getwell.
February 9, 2012: After deciding that I need to visit every Tops location I have a double cheeseburger at the Tops on Frayser Boulevard. This one includes a lot of discussion about the problems facing the Frayser community.
February 14, 2012: A visit to the Tops on Stateline Road in Southaven, MS. The Stateline location has the best ribs of any Tops where I've tried them.
February 27, 2012: I love the convenience of having a Tops next to my house. If I want a slab of ribs to go with my scrambled eggs in the morning it only takes a few minutes to run and grab one.
April 13, 2012: A visit to the Winchester location for a pulled pork plate and give the Tops potato salad a try. Also includes pics of the store on Summer near Graham and the one in Marion, AR.
April 23, 2012: A visit to the Tops nest to Bass Pro shops on Macon for a double cheeseburger. This one includes a shout out to the hard working women of the Tops chain.
May 15, 2012: There are two Tops locations along Highway 51; one in Frayser and one in Millington. This post compares the two.
May 20, 2012: I visit the Tops in Olive Branch, MS, and get an order of the consistently underwhelming Tops fries to go with my double cheeseburger. Why doesn't a chain that makes such good burgers pay more attention to its French fries?
June 16, 2012: My next-to-last stop on my Tops sidequest was the Lamar Avenue location where I sample some sliced pork then spent some time discussing the blight along Lamar and what it says about urban planning.