When I was at Memphis in May last year, a group of us had lunch at Memphis Barbecue Co. in Horn Lake, MS just before I had to fly back to NC. I was very impressed with the quality of food there. Imagine my excitement when I find out that world champion BBQ pitmasters Melissa Cookston and John Wheeler decide to open a location here in North Carolina. There was one slight problem – the new location is in Fayetteville, about 2 hours and 40 minutes away from me. This past weekend, my wife bribed me with a trip to Memphis Barbecue Co. in Fayetteville if I tagged along with her to some yarn & fiber shops. Lesson here: feed me, and I’ll do pretty much anything you want. So let’s check out Memphis Barbecue Co.!
Memphis Barbecue Co. is the pride and joy of world champion BBQ pitmasters Melissa Cookston (of Yazoo’s Delta Q) and John Wheeler (of Natural Born Grillers), and the restaurant may very well be the only BBQ restaurant in the country that features two world champion pitmasters. Both Melissa and John are familiar faces at Memphis in May as well as on the Memphis Barbecue Network competition circuit. On their About Us page, Melissa and John explain what prompted the duo to join forces in the restaurant business.
“I’ve known John for years and we’ve competed in many of the same contests. The idea for Memphis Barbecue Company began with our combined desire to bring the highest quality Memphis-style BBQ to the general public,” she said. Wheeler has been involved in a number of commercial restaurant endeavors throughout the Midsouth and is extremely passionate about BBQ. “Food quality and flavor are going to be top-notch. We have made sure everything in the restaurant, from the World Championship BBQ to hand cut steaks hot off our grill, are second to none,” he said
When you first walk in to the restaurant, you immediately know you’re walking into a place created by BBQ royalty. The numerous Memphis in May trophies declare such.
Even when taking a trip to the restroom, you’re reminded of this fact.
They have numerous appetizers to choose from, including a rib basket, BBQ nachos, and wings. My wife is a cheese fan. So when we saw the cheese fritters, we just had to go for that! And we weren’t disappointed! These were huge, cheesy bundles of goodness! Heather noted that she got a lot of what she thought was garlic in the cheese fritters that she ate. Regardless of that, she also thought they were very very tasty!
Then it was on to the main course… ribs! Heather ordered the baby back ribs while I ordered the spare ribs. We both ordered our respective ribs sauced. Her sides were onion rings and BBQ beans, while I went for the mac & cheese and potato salad. We both thought our ribs were absolutely delicious and full of flavor! Mine were almost a touch overdone though – they were that tender. All of the sides were excellent. The onion rings were nice and crispy, the mac & cheese was nice and cheesy, the BBQ beans were just right, and the potato salad was nice and creamy. Heather wasn’t crazy about the potato salad though, mentioning how rich it was.
For an appetizer, two entrees, and two sweet teas, the price was around $50. Pricy, but oh so worth it!!
And for a nice surprise, I did get the chance to chat with Melissa Cookston for a brief minute or two (read: I interrupted her lunch break). Our final verdict – this was worth the 2 hour and 40 minute drive! Those familiar with BBQ joints in Memphis may recognize the name Gridley’s. This restaurant has forever been Heather’s gold standard for BBQ joints. When she said it was just about as good as Gridley’s, I knew that was high praise coming from her. Now to see if I can figure out another chance to head out there again…
Address: 1498 Skibo Road, Fayetteville, NC 28303.