Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Reborn Pit in Atoka - Paradise Grill

I was driving through Atoka on my way to Brighton, TN, last week when I noticed the former Post Office Barbecue building had reopened as a place calling itself the Paradise Grill. The name made me assume the restaurant specialized in grilled seafood and steaks, but I stopped to to ask for a menu to see if barbecue was available as well. If the building still had the pit used to produce the incredible pulled pork that was served up by Post Office it made sense to wonder if the new restaurant was putting it to use.  

After a quick look at the menu I immediately asked for a table. Paradise Pit Barbecue would be a better name for the restaurant, which is run by members of the Paradise Porkers barbecue team. There seems to be a recent trend of barbecue teams opening restaurants. I've been extremely impressed by the barbecue at the recently-opened Ty's Bar-B-Que in the Wolfchase area. And I was already somewhat familiar with the Paradise Porkers, having hazy memories of ending up drinking and singing along with Jimmy Buffett tunes in the team's tent late one night during this year's Memphis in May barbecue contest.

The walls are decorated with some of the trophies the team has picked up on the competition barbecue circuit. The fake parrot is a pretty good indicator of the type of decor exhibited throughout the restaurant. Some people will love it, some people will hate it. I've never worried too much about design aesthetics in barbecue joints as long as the food is good.

I asked about the ribs on the menu but my server told me they are served wet so I opted for the pulled pork plate instead. The meat had a great mix of textures from the inner and outer sections of the shoulder with plenty of delicious bark and a nice, deep smoke ring. The baked beans were loaded with smoked pork to a nearly 50/50 ratio of meat to beans while the slaw was a solid example the vinegar-based style I prefer.

The pulled pork was served unsauced and good enough to be eaten that way. There were bold and sweet varieties of barbecue sauce located at the table, sitting on a paper towel roll beneath a fake window framing a large photograph of an ocean setting. The fake window views are arranged next to tables throughout the restaurant. Once again, you won't find any subtlety in the restaurant's theme. I'm not a fan of sweet barbecue sauces so I tried the bold and it ended up being good enough for me to apply a relatively generous, by my standards, amount to my meat.

The pulled pork at the old Post Office Barbecue packed in some impressive smoke penetration so I was happy to see the building, and its barbecue pit, back in use*. The term "competition barbecue" gets thrown around so much in restaurant advertising that it is as meaningless as seeing "real pit" or "hickory" in a restaurant's name. But the pulled pork at Paradise Grill was genuinely good enough to compete with some of the best I've tried.

In other barbecue related news from the same day I tried Paradise Grill: As I was traveling up Highway 51 I noticed some major work being done on the Barb-A-Rosa's B-B-Q building. Barb-A-Rosa's closed a few months ago. I pulled into the parking lot to ask one of the workers if the building was being demolished or renovated since it was impossible to tell at the time. He said they were doing renovation work and planned to have the place reopened in a few weeks. While I've been pretty underwhelmed by the barbecue at Barb-A-Rosa's in the past the staff has always been very friendly so I'll gladly give the refurbished restaurant another chance when it reopens.

*UPDATE: I assumed that the Paradise Grill was using the same barbecue pit that Post Office used when it was at the same location. It turns out I was wrong. During a return visit I spent some time talking to owner Mike Godwin. The owner of Post Office kept his smoker when he closed the restaurant. Godwin cooks his barbecue behind the restaurant in the same Cadillac Cooker rig that he used for competition with the Paradise Porkers. All his cooking is done with lump charcoal and cherry wood and he doesn't split the cherry logs until right before they go into the cooker's firebox in order to get as much flavor from them as possible.

The Paradise Grill on Urbanspoon


  1. I beg to differ with you but to me (and we are all different) Barb-A-Rosa's has always been the best bbq in North Shelby Co and would beat anything that Tipton Co has to offer too. I have really missed this place! I call myself a expert on BBQ too so I think I know what I am talking about as I have tried just about all the places around West Tn. I would compare them directly with Corky's BBQ. If you like Corky's you will love Barb-A-Rosa. And their slaw is the best I have ever had. THE BEST! I personally cannot wait until they open their doors again!

  2. Anyone that brag's on Corky's doesn't share my view of great BBQ. There are some great BBQ places in Shelby County. Corky's isn't one that people that really know BBQ acknowledge. I'll take Interstate, The BBQ Shop, or Central BBQ over Corky's anyday. I can't wait to try Paradise Grill!

  3. Paradise Grill is a Great Place ! I went for first time November 15th.The service is good. The owner is Memphis Tiger fan & had the game on big screen upstairs. The food is Excellent ! The BBQ egg rolls were well worth the drive from Bartlett. They have super wings as well as Fine Cheeseburgers.Ill be trying the ribs on the next trip, which will be soon. I Highly recommend this place.****

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