Friday, July 6, 2012

Surprisingly Good, Affordable Ribs - Back Yard

On Wednesday I celebrated the Fourth of July with some good homemade barbecue ribs a friend prepared in his backyard. The next day I tried some more "back yard" ribs from Back Yard Bar-Be-Cue in Jackson, TN, on Old Hickory near the mall. I'd already been impressed by the pulled pork at the Back Yard in Brownsville, but when I mentioned that to the lady at the counter she told me the two restaurants have different owners. 

Back Yard serves up fast food barbecue similar to Tops in Memphis or Buddy's in Knoxville. But while the beans and slaw I got with my lunch at Back Yard were both the kind of standard fare you'd associate with fast food barbecue, the ribs surprised me with their delicious, smoke-infused flavor.

The half-slab dinner was only $10.99, which is a buck less than Tops charges. That makes the ribs a tremendous value. They were appropriately tender but not falling apart and featured a bright red outer smoke ring with meat that stayed pink all the way to the bone. The sauce that I had served on the side had a great balance of tomato, vinegar, sweetness and spice.

Back Yard also offers a country cooking buffet on Sundays. Based on the ribs I'd guess it is probably pretty good.

The value-priced ribs compared favorably with pricier ones I've had from Central BBQ in Memphis. I was surprised by just how good they were. Back Yard is just a little south of Latham's Meat Company and only a couple Interstate exits away from the Reggi's mother store. A little bit further south you can visit Mac's Bar-B-Que or stop by Ron's at the Farmer's Market. Head west from there and you'll find McKenzie's. As much as Memphis prides itself in its barbecue I have to admit that I've been impressed by every single place that I've tried it in Jackson. And I still need to try the Pig House right around the corner from Back Yard, which was where I originally tried to go Thursday but it was closed.

Being a tourist destination known for barbecue is actually bad for the barbecue scene in Memphis. While my city has plenty of outstanding que, it also has plenty of mediocre examples when you get to tourist-centered areas like Beale Street. I always tell people that for great barbecue in Memphis it is best to find neighborhood places where people go on purpose. Jackson is steeped in the same West Tennessee barbecue tradition as Memphis. But all the barbecue restaurants are aimed at local repeat customers. That makes it hard to go wrong picking one to eat at.

Back Yard Bar Be Cue on Urbanspoon

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