Sunday, November 11, 2012

New Place in an Old Space in West Memphis - Down South Burgers

I had been trying to revisit Willie Mae's Rib Haus on Broadway in West Memphis for several months but the place was closed down every time I'd drive by. I wasn't overly impressed with the ribs there on my first visit but I thought the restaurant showed enough promise that I didn't link my review of the place to Urbanspoon because I wanted to make a return trip to sample the pulled pork before forming my final opinion.

Last Monday I drove past and saw the the space was no longer Willie Mae's. It has been reborn as Down South Burgers and Rib Haus.

Along with burgers, barbecue and catfish the restaurant also serves breakfast in the morning.

The new restaurant already seems to be a hit with local residents. In my previous visit to Willie Mae's I was the only customer there. This time there were plenty of people eating burgers at tables and picking up carry-out burgers. And those burgers looked and smelled good enough that I was tempted to try a double instead of sampling the ribs. But I'm on a barbecue quest so I got a rib dinner. Down South doesn't have baked beans so I an order of onion rings to go with my barbecue and cole slaw.

Like when the place was called Willie Mae's that rib dinner came with just a third of a slab of ribs. But the dinner was less than $10 and the ribs had plenty of meat on them. The sauce was a definite improvement over the syrupy glaze my ribs had been drowning in during my Willie Mae's visit. The had a nice charred crust on them but were still tender and juicy.

The slaw was ultra-creamy, which isn't my personal preference at all. The onion rings were good and should make a great complement to one of the restaurant's double cheeseburgers that I will definitely be trying on my next visit based on the ones I saw other customers devouring. 

The building was cleaned up considerably before it reopened as Down South. There still isn't anything remotely fancy about it; it's just a simple place to pick up some honest Southern food. But from a business standpoint I can easily understand that a lot of potential customers see what I referred to as "the unfakeable, well-earned patina of a true survivor" in my Willie Mae's post as reason to dine elsewhere. A good scrubbing with some fresh paint; new counter and floors; and matching tables, chairs and table clothes definitely creates a more welcoming impression.

Down South Burgers and Rib Haus on Urbanspoon


  1. Greetings! I am curious about one thing, could you be so kind and please share with us your place of origin?

  2. Born in Memphis, raised in Memphis, went to college at University of Memphis.

  3. ...and another one bites the dust.

    Last time I went over here was August 3rd, 2013. The next week, I returned only to find out the place was closed. Tables were dressed, floor was cleaned...everything. Even the list of hours opened on the window was gone. I've checked since then and it's always been closed everytime I examine it, so I'm now under the impression that after a little over a year, it's been closed for good.

    That's too bad, because I really liked their double cheeseburger. Yeah, I know the author of this blog is more of a ribs guy, but the burgers here were really good, and the toppings didn't cost extra. For $6.65, you could actually fill your stomach with a double cheeseburger combo, unlike nearby national chains where you feel like you're barely fed and hardly satisfied unless you shell out $10-$15. The double cheeseburger was as stacked as one of those really hot models, too, so you really got more food for less.

    I'm really gonna miss this place.

    1. A had a double cheeseburger there later and I also thought it was really good. Sad to hear the place is gone.

    2. Glad to see you didn't miss out on that.

      The sign above the doors was taken down earlier this week, too, so now I know the writing on the wall is officially there. Hope that whatever ends up replacing it does well.