Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Leonard's Pit Barbecue

MEMPHIS: Leonard's Pit Barbecue
5465 Fox Plaza Dr
Memphis, TN 38115


Open Sun-Thur 11-8, F-Sat 11-9

It was late in the day, so there is no denying that we had lost that BBQ craving by the time we made it to Leonard's. There's also no denying that when ribs are good, it doesn't matter how full you are.

First up was the Mr. Leonard sandwich. This concoction of pork, sauce and slaw was named after the founder of this joint. Opened by Leonard Heuberger in 1922, Leonard's found it's current home in this location in 1987. That's probably when they installed the Southern Pride pit since gas cookers probably weren't around back in the 20's. In addition to the gas fired pit stoked with hickory is the finishing pit which uses pure charcoal for fuel. Unseasoned pork shoulders are cooked in the Southern Pride rotisserie pit, then finished and crisped in the charcoal fired pit. This creates some incredibly tender, moist meat while also providing a unique smokiness. The addition of the mustard slaw heavy on celery seed and the sweet and vinegary sauce make a great pork sandwich. If the Mr. Leonard isn't enough, then for just $1 more you can opt for the Big Leonard.

The rib plate came with two sides. Beans and BBQ spaghetti were hard to pass up, and those smokey, sweet and thick beans made a great complement to the dinner. I should have read the menu more carefully, and I would have expected the flavors I got when I took a bite of the spaghetti. It was spaghetti with a basic meat sauce. You see, Leonard's serves up ravioli, spaghetti and other Italian favorites, just not BBQ spaghetti. The ribs made me forget all about those sides anyway. The meat gets the double smoker treatment as well creating a crispy crust which envelops the perfectly smoked meat beneath. The rub doesn't overpower but allows the flavor of the meat shine through, and the flavor was excellent. It's no wonder they've been going for nine decades.

Rating ****
Leonard's Pit Barbecue on Urbanspoon


jim mclennan said...

let me be the first to congradulate you,you finally found something you liked.. wow.. i was starting to worry about you..

Chuck Stewart said...

ate their on friday on the way back to dallas. ribs were fabulous.

Harold G said...

Ran across your blog googling for info on another place; I am life timer Memphian; not to be silly but a LOT of pals do not realize Leonards smoke only approach is the real reason we became world famous on pork BBQ! Somehow we never go to the trouble to teach the reality is Memphis Q is descended from struggle of lower or no income folks trying to bring out the best in a cheap cut of meat-they were willing to invest plenty of time to wait on good tasting outcomes from the limited cooking set ups they owned. Leonards hits the bullseye and sets the standard for all other pork based BBQ joints. Thanks for visiting Memphis! ps-if your return and he is still open, Showboat BBQ in Hickory Hill area, meat is good and ribs are great.

Anonymous said...

Went to Leonard's based on these reviews 6/14/13. One of the poorest excuses for BBQ I have ever had. No smoke, no flavor. Just oven cooked. Sauce is bitter, slaw aweful. Only redeeming factors were the beans and the sweet tea.


Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.