Iron Chef Cat Cora tells us about her favorite BBQ place in Memphis.
Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous is located across the street from the famous Peabody Hotel in Memphis. The nightly line to get into this back alley basement joint speaks volumes for its No. 1-selling menu item, the pork ribs. These ribs are as tender as I have ever sampled. Add their dry rub and signature sauce and you can tell they definitely have a well-kept secret.
Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous
52 S. 2nd St., 901-523-2746
The pork ribs are the star of the show at Rendezvous. In fact, customers line up nightly buying more then 8,000 pounds of ribs a week. Charles Vergos’ tried-and-true technique makes these ribs fall off the bone. Starting with the loin back, the ribs are basted in vinegar before cooking. The dry rub goes on last before serving. Sauce is always optional. “The ribs are not wet, not dry, just juicy,” says John Vergos, Charlie’s son, who along with his brother, Nick, and sister, Tina Jennings, run the joint for their dad.
Visit Rendezvous for the ribs, but stay for the museum of 10,000 pieces of art and memorabilia. Charlie Vergos collected some interesting items and added them to the wall, creating an eclectic décor. The display includes everything from antique guns and the family’s Southern art collection to numerous autographed pictures of celebrities and a signed copy of “The Memphis Blues” by W. C. Handy.
For years, politicians, athletes and rock stars—including Elvis and the Rolling Stones—have frequented this Memphis institution. Justin Timberlake is the latest star to come in for a plate of love. In fact, Rendezvous catered Justin’s tour.
The 61-year-old restaurant has made a real business out of shipping its famous ribs and sauce. Visit the Vergos’ site (hogsfly.com) or give them a call and they will ship to you overnight. It’s hog heaven.